Bleeding Green

If you use tampons, or sanitary pads, then every month you send a whole heap of stuff to landfill or into the water system. Taken over the fertile years of a woman’s life, that’s a lot of throwing away.

 Adverts for sanitary wear are all about being able to carry on as normal (even is most of us don’t habitually skate around in white trousers). It’s about being clean and nice, so that no one will know. Pads are absorbent, keeping all that icky mess away from your skin. Demonstrations of absorbency don’t show anything that resembles blood. Last time I saw an advert, there was a nice, clean, clinical looking blue fluid.

 Hello?

Women bleed. It’s one of the things that sets us apart from men. It is a key thing defining the journey from girl to adult. A critical part of our fertility and sexuality. It ties us to the tides of the moon. It isn’t dirty, it shouldn’t have to be a terrible, embarrassing secret.

Last year I discovered I was allergic to the sanitary pads. They were making me sore. It sent me on a journey. I invested in a mooncup – a nifty bit of latex technology that allows you to choose where your blood goes. Collecting my own blood, I’ve put it on the land. It was a simple, non-ritual kind of thing to do, affirming my connection with the soil, giving back what had come from me. I recommend it as a thing to explore.

I also used my son’s old nappies, cutting them down to size, folding and stitching to make fabric pads that could be used and washed. It’s the kind of thing our grandmothers did, in the ‘dark ages’ before tampons and pads with wings.

And you know, it works. I’ve had the odd leak, but I’ve had leaks with pads too, they aren’t perfect. No more soreness. I save a little money each month not buying the pads. I put less into the bin, which is green. I feel a lot better for it. There’s a sense of cleanness that comes, not from being blood free, but from having a better relationship both with my body, and the planet.

Bleed red. Bleed green. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

25 thoughts on “Bleeding Green”

  1. I am going to applaud you now Bryn for writing a gutsy and daring article on what so many (even women) foresee as the unspeakable. I never understood that….but sheesh, some people are even too embarrassed to buy sanitary napkins or talk about PMS.

    However, in Paganism, I find women seem to celebrate this time with their daughters and so on…but still no one was ever talking about how to make the sanitary napkin more green.

    I even wondered what they used back in ancient times but its NOT an easy subject to research. What did Ancient Egyptian women use…Roman women…Greek Women. What did they use in the Old West when brothels were stalked a mile long down endless streets. I asked a few historians but they kind of cut me a dry embarrassed look and wanted to run.

    How do men react to PMS in your part of the world? Men in the United States (or many) are too embarrassed to buy their wife’s napkins. Now my husband will lol…as he told one of his friends, “NO ONE is going to think their mine so what am I shy of?”

    I wonder if we could research herbs and so forth—natural ways of helping women to deal with the symptoms of PMS?

    Boy you have triggered a direction now…got me wondering all sorts of things.

    Great bold article Bryn—something not even the GO GREEN people are talking about. So I wonder if anyone who does the green seriously has even brain stormed on it. And how will other people who are trying to go green KNOW or clink ideas if no one says a word????

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    1. I agree, Scarlett :-). My husband was always fine to buy my pads or tampons and so were the shop-assistants … except in the little Indian grocery at the top of our road when we lived in Clapham. They got embarrassed.

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    2. lol funny story, I was purchasing some pads and I have never been shamed of having a menstrual cycle, part of life and all. Didn’t I get into the one line up with a male cashier who started in a panicked voice to call over a female co-worker to ring me up, you’d think I was walking up to him in a bomb covered vest and saying, hey you, pull the trigger.

      It was all I could do not to burst out laughing at him.

      In terms of the herbs, I do have something that works wonders when I have cramping. I actually make an herbal tea of Catnip, no laughter here, it is actually a great herb not just for kitties. I purchase organic nip, and grow when my little furry monsters don’t munch it. It is an acquired taste and for new users I suggest to definitely mix with some green tea if not accustomed to earthy flavoured herbs.

      But definitely worth a try if you are ever someone to have heavy flows or strong pains.

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  2. This is wonderful! I’m probably the extreme-opposite as most males are going to get is that I’m fascinated when it comes to learning about menstruation. I never have had a problem buying pads/tampons for sisters, cousins, friends or even girlfriend. There is a lot to love about the female body, including the menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, many males find the idea of it revolting – very few guys want to be around a girl during that time (or even before due to PMS) and that in itself sends a horrible message. If I were a girl, I’d be horribly offended if my boyfriend/husband kept his distance, I feel it’s a rude thing to do because I don’t see how it makes the day any different.

    Maybe the opinion of a guy who seeks to understand menstruation may bias the way I view it, but guys should definitely take more time to learn a bit about it… maybe not “become an expert” – but enough where he can truly love the beauty behind it. Unlike male bodies where nothing tells us regularly about our health, females have the wonders of a cycle which is a great indicator, monthly, of one’s overall health status.

    I understand what you mean about adverts not willing to express the truth about menstruating or skewing what menstruation is about. Something like this creates a very negative air for young girls and even for men, because it invokes the idea that menstruation is an embarrassing subject and the fact that many still refer to it as a “curse”. Without this SO CALLED “curse” – none of us would be alive, so not only is it a blessing, but a thing to love in the female body. I hope my articles will help change the way males see menstruation and even if it changes the viewpoints of 1-2 people just like your article, it will all be worth it!

    Cheers.

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    1. POST THEM BRANDI!!!!!
      I didn’t even KNOW stuff like that existed. I BET YOU I am NOT the only one.

      We were having a discussion one day about survival, etc —what it would be like if everything went south. If cell phones, cars, grocery stores, headache pills…NONE of that stuff existed. Of course everyone was focusing on general stuff….but I was wondering how many women were silently freaking out about ‘personal products’ only they couldn’t bring it up since there were so many men…and many men freak out if you say anything like TAMPON or such lol.

      So I think these ideas of GREEN and alternatives is awesome…not just to apply to now, since we should be trying to be kinder to the environment…but because we should know.

      Awesome discussion.

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    2. Don’t want to steal your thunder, I just happened to have a link available for your perusal… http://www.jadeandpearl.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=18

      I’m not affiliated with them, so I’m not saying “buy it from here” – but I just had the site handy.

      Women ‘back in the day’ (and this was from prior research, I hold no credits, lol) used anything absorbent as protection, squatted over twigs/confined to houses (native practice I believe), just let it flow everywhere (seriously) or you gals could just go back to the good ol’ days where they used belts, LOL.

      There are lots of green alternatives these days, it is nice to see these products come to light, but unfortunately, I’d dare say the majority of the menstruating female populace are still using disposable products because of convenience and because it is just “what they’re used to”… out of all the girls I’ve ever spoke to concerning this matter, only ONE of them actively uses her Divacup, so we still have a long way to go, but every person counts!

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    3. Prexus Swyftwynd, no way you’re not stealing anyone’s thunder! The more links the better around here.

      As for the belt—that would have been dreadful lol. Did they really let it flow everywhere?

      I know there are some religions that treat women as being nasty or whatever during that time…so they lock them away from everybody in special houses/shacks.

      I always thought it was weird how women can become friends with other women and then suddenly their cycles will switch to the same time. In Ancient Times, a woman’s menstrual blood was held very high. Men believed that the Goddess’ could make them immortal. There was actually a drink made with it…can’t remember what it was called…but it was an ambrosia type thing and fountain of youth I guess.

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    4. Yup, Prexus posted it! I have a few links but Jade and Pearl is the best, so we will skip the others, LOL
      http://www.jadeandpearl.com/catalog/index.php

      Many witches and Goddess women I know use these, as they are green and convenient, but also allow for the collection and proper disposal of the blood, instead of “throwing it away.”
      Some women feel that a return of the blood to the earth is best (ie pouring into a garden or next to a tree); others follow the old traditions of collecting their menstrual blood to use for divination purposes (ie, mixing the blood with water bless by the full Moon, and using the liquid as a magickal mirror).

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  3. From what I understand, yes, there were certain groups of people who would just let it flow out…. heck, if you lived in nature, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal – menstrual blood would be the least dirtiest thing when you live in the forest or something. Oddly enough as I was doing some research on fem.hyg products, there is apparently still a market for belted-pads!! I never thought there’d still be people using it today since mainstream FH products are readily available now. I guess the only reason I can think of for using a belt over a conventional pad is if the lady doesn’t wear an undergarment O_o

    http://www.mum.org/ has good articles on how menstruation was dealt with “in the day”… although this rather inspires me to write up an article on this and post it on my blog… I’ll have to scratch that down as one of my topics to cover!

    Menstrual synchronicity has come up as a topic many times between my girl-friends and I. Many of them, especially those who are currently living with roommates for university or what-not claim that there is such a thing and that close-contact regularly with another female over time will bring their time-cycles closer and closer together. Now, not having a vagina, I can’t really attest to that, lol, but I don’t believe there’s complete “scientific backing” to it – although that’s not to say I don’t believe there is/is not a relation.

    There are still a large population of people who hold very closely to cultural/religious principles who deem menstruation or anything associated with it to be “dirty” and “impure” … gladly I’m not part of those cultures/backgrounds or I’d likely to be banished for my interest in it, LOL. I must say though, I’m not sure how hygienic it would be to be drinking menstrual fluid 😛

    You appear to have a keen interest in this, it is very refreshing to see someone who enjoys this topic as much as I do =] Very rare!

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    1. Prexus Swyftwynd,,

      Honestly (and this is just my take on it) but I don’t think ancient cultures drank menstrual blood by the gallons lol —probably more like drops of it in vast amounts of wine. it seems rather taboo now but then, very holy.

      Most words for menstruation in Ancient Cultures meant sacred, deity, spirit, supernatural, etc. Some cultures even believed that it was part or the soul. Normally the blood flowed but they marveled at the time it stopped flowing—to them the blood collected inside the woman’s womb fashioning a child. It was even the beginnings of most creational theories—and how the Goddess created the heavens, earth and so forth. In fact, in most theories when you read of the Goddess and the sea–that is her womb and her life’s blood. Soma was the term of Kali’s primal sea (ocean of blood or also known as sea of milk.)

      As far as the safety of the blood itself…so not a doctor here but it couldn’t have been anymore dangerous than cows milk in my mind. After all milk is the same as blood except for the red blood cells I think? Can’t remember how that goes because a few VERY smart Atheists were breaking it down for me months ago lol.

      Anyway, Egyptians had a drink called Sa–an ambrosia made of wine and the blood of Isis. Pharaohs became divine when they drank it. Celtic Kings drank red mead—same kind of elixir made from mead which was said to have come from Mab.
      You would be totally surprised at all the Goddesses, myths, lore, and rituals which were based on the blood, came from the blood, or revolved around the blood. (menstrual that is)

      Even a form of these rituals were adapted by Christianity only instead of the Goddess—it became the blood of Christ.

      Yeah I have an interest in these types of things lol. We will be odd together lol Now I have to drag myself back to my edits lol. And yeah DRAG since I’d rather sit here and talk about this stuff lol

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    2. Wow, all that information made me head explode, lol. When it comes to menstruation, I’m “part knowledge” and “part fetishist” … haha. I’m not sure where I fall on the line when it comes to my biased opinions sometimes XD

      Perhaps you’re right, blood from creatures, humans or even the flow between a woman’s leg is just blood in itself and can be as safe or unsafe as anything else. I just think what comes to mind is that all the diseases that menstrual blood tends to carry (most notably STD’s and such), but that can be said for any living thing that they may/may not carry such diseases blood-borne. I’m not a big “blood lover” (albeit my interests in menstruation) – so I have no idea what attracts me to the topic of menstruation and feminine hygiene.

      I think I recall learning in history about the lores/myths surrounding blood, but since that was not the “concentration” of the course, it was touched on lightly and of course being in school, they did not “link” it to menstruation. Thanks for opening my eyes to this.

      We would definitely be an odd mix, haha, I have my head deep into the love of menstruation/products and you seem to love blood very much… very complimentary I must say 😀

      Speaking of which, I went to your site… realized, “Wow, I’m talking to a BOOK AUTHOR!!!” – I feel so honoured and prestigious that I have such an opportunity, wow! When I get home, I shall endeavour to add your wordpress site to my blog. I’m hoping my blog will change the perception that men have of menstruation to see it in a positive light!

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    3. Prexus Swyftwynd,

      lol oh please don’t think I am trying to convince anyone to consume menstrual blood lol. I was only stating how it would have made sense or did in Ancient Times. And clearly, these are not ancient times as you, yourself stated. lol TONS of diseases exist now that probably didn’t then.

      Yes the subjects of blood, the occult, and more importantly Ancient Religions and Cultures interest me a great deal. I have spent a lot of years exploring such information and then some.

      lol thank you concerning my site but trust me….I am nothing to get excited about. I did start my research long before I decided to be a professional writer, but I have to say, my interests and things I have discovered has influenced what I have written about in more than one way.
      I had a look at your blog yesterday and have to say, well done. And yes, I think you will probably help other men even if they never tell you so. If anything, simply discussing it without causing a man to cringe is an accomplishment.

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  4. On men and the moon-blood, my husband says he always felt an inner tide too – but then he is a pagan-type and so used to such things. He also had his own version of the menopause – and was a pain in the arse for the relevant months too!

    I wonder if there wasn’t/isn’t a power thing about the moon-blood coming from misunderstanding? The woman can seem to have more power than the man – she gorws and physically produces the child, she may well know better who the father is, etc. For an insecure male this could be difficult. For a society that works from male-domination, as do any of the Religions of the Book, this can be extra difficult as it can be thought to undermine male power. Women were “property-come-slaves” in Britain from the Norman Conquest so that men could be sure only their own seed inherited. Before that, women held power and were worlords at times. Presumably less fear over progeniture when kings were elected :-), rather than ruling by birthright.

    Thanks, Bryn, stimulating post.

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    1. Elen,
      I think you might be onto something concerning the power-thing. On reading up on this last night, it seems men in many Ancient Cultures seemed very connected and positive concerning a woman’s moon and then we see a slow decline in civilizations where men (no offense guys) seemed to envy a woman connection to the Goddess. Thats when the moon blood or interest of, kind of descended. By my guess (and I am still reserching) but about that time, it seems men even started to dress up like women in order to trick the Goddess into sending her divine gifts. lol…then again, maybe those guys just liked being women. As I said, I am still researching it.

      Anyway, we went from societies whose calendars were called Moon Calendars, Goddess Calendars, and even Menstrual Calenders —they were just that—Calendars based on the moon blood of the Goddess–who also resided over the moon. Those were chucked out and so became the 12 month calendar system which we see today.

      In certain times, women made Kings, just as the Goddess made Kings. But even during these times when women were so sacred, they seemed equals with men. Or that’s my understanding. Now we are kind of unbalanced aren’t we. Crazy.

      Elen your husband is a wise, wise man. And yes…men have a time of the month to lol…maybe this is their connection to the Great Mother????? Or to women in general???? Only its denied.

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    2. Chuckle, I’m not letting Paul read about him being wise or his head’ll get so big he’ll never get out the door, LOL.

      Have you read Mary Renault’s Greek series? There’s some interesting stuff in there on god/goddess supremacy and how it might have come about. Her books used to be given to “Greats” scholars at Oxford if they didn’t have much Greek background – even academics thought she was that good :-).

      In Britain there are lots of places called Kingston – this can be from the Celtic “King Stone”, or from the later Anglo Saxon “King’s Tyne”. The Anglo Saxon is about a “holding” or estate, but the earlier “King Stone” is about a king-making stone. Polanski’s Macbeth does this ceremony for Macbeth, he is carried by his people to a hill where the stone is and set down to stand with his foot in/on the stone. I suspect Polanski was taking off the Stone of Scone – perhaps the most famous king-making stone, now back in Scotland. The idea was that the goddess (Sovereignty, the Lady of the Land, Gaia) made the king by accepting his foot on her body – putting his foot in the stone. That has connections back to the Greeks as well. Many of them were Celts from earlier Celtic migrations, apparently originally from what we now know as the Gobi desert – hence perhaps the Takla Mummies.

      The Ogham, which I teach, is a moon calendar. And, for a modern-day use of the moon, biodynamics uses the Moon very heavily through her focussing of each of the 12 constellations as she passes in front of them each month.

      The story, “The Dream of Macsen Wledig” is about king-making. Elen of the Ways, made him king and supposed Emporer of Britain – he was an historical figure but the story and legend don’t quite add to the history. There’s a mosaic of his execution in Aquileia according to Mary Stewart’s research.

      Yes, the power of the moon-blood is as ancient as the blood itself … after all, it too confirms the beginnings of sexual reproduction rather than the asexual form which was how it had been before we got to “I and Thou”. Even the Bible goes on about it – from a masculine perspective! – in Genesis with Adam and Eve!

      To learn to share, to be yourself and not to exclude what is not-self is the task (IMO) that humans took on with sex and duality; and all the expansiveness and conscious inclusiveness that carries with it. I would never want to go back to unconsciousness, I want us to go forward. However, I’m not sure how well we’re doing with it after however many million years of trying! We still seem to live in “either/or” rather than “and/and”.

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  5. Brynneth, Thank you! I am one of those Wiccans that still use wasteful disposable products because I didn’t realize that there was a green alternative out there. But because of this, I am inspired to “bleed green” from now on!

    Also, thank you to Prexus and Brandi for posting the link for jade and pearl’s website. That was a great look at some of the natural alternative products out there for us.

    I’ve often wondered why, in this technologically advanced era, we couldn’t come up with alternatives for menstruation that didn’t involve locking ourselves away, or dealing with the mess of inefficient older products. This is wonderful! Thank you again!

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    1. I’m always happy whenever people consider all their alternatives! In the end, many women will still continuing using disposable items because it does offer a degree of convenience. I just wanted to make note of two other non-mainstream products, Natracare and 7th Generation products which are disposable, but more environmentally friendly (and vaginally-friendly) products. Hope you ladies all find a good variety of menstrual protection needs!

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  6. I made my own pads out of terrycloth in the early 90’s lots of articles and groups sharing info and patterns then. There was also a book published in Canada about Dioxins that bleach create and the bleach used in creating ‘white ‘ tampons and sanitary pads. I bought it at the time but you couldn’t get it in the USA. I can’t remember the title off the top of my head but it does have whitewash in the title. US manufacturers didn’t want us knowing about the book or what it exposed.

    I also have shared my blood with the earth in several places. The first time I shared my blood with the cedar tree in our front yard blood red mushrooms grew where I had poured the blood. I had a very special connection with that cedar tree and it was always very loving, validating and healing. In olden times women shared with he earth where they would plant the crops using their blood as fertilizer. Our blood is sacred because it is the blood that gives life not blood that is spilled in death.

    I also have a blood drum that I made using my menstrual blood. I saw some blood drums that a Native American had made and the blood used was elk blood and the hide was soaked in the blood from the dead elk. I thought the idea was good but wanted a drum made with life-giving blood and so saved my blood the next time I had my period. I added water to it and poured it into the drum I had made on the first day of my period. The hide soaked up part of my blood and I used some to paint a goddess onto the face of the drum. I also saved the uterine lining my body would shed dried it and used it in the head of the beater for the drum.

    Our power is in our blood and there are some great books out there that tell the old stories. I need to unpack all those books still from my most recent move. oh well just adding my 2 cents worth.

    Linda

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