Wise Woman Ways
The actual age at which menopausal
Change begins varies considerably from woman to woman; the norm is 45,
with a normal range of 35 to 55. During these premenopausal years, menstrual
periods may become noticeably different (closer together, farther apart,
scantier, more profuse). Night sweats or hot flashes come, if at all,
only occasionally and are usually blamed on too many blankets or a rich
tonify your entire hormonal system. Menopausal changes occur not only
in the ovaries, but also in the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, pineal,
and pituitary glands. Herbal allies are remarkably safe and effective
the number and amount of calcium-rich foods you consume. No single effort
will repay you more richly. High levels of calcium in the diet protect
you from osteoporosis, heart disease, and emotional swings. Green leafy
vegetables (herbs and weeds) are exceptional sources of calcium.
regular menses. Non-ovulatory menstrual cycles, common during the premenopausal
years, lack a progesterone surge. Lack of progesterone contributes enormously
to loss of bone mass, and vaginal atrophy. Herbal allies can support
regular physical activity to fall in love with. Even gentle exercise,
done regularly, helps maintain peak bone mass, strengthens the cardiovascular
system, and insures deep sleep.
Gain up to
a pound a year for ten years. Thin women have more hot flashes and an
altogether more difficult menopause than heavier women. Fat cells produce
estrone, a kind of estrogen. (If you won't let yourself gain ten pounds,
at least stop trying to lose weight. Dieting decreases bone mass and
weakens the heart.)
Crone's Time Away. The initial step of your initiation is isolation.
As menopausal Change picks up speed at the end of the premenopausal
years, many women find themselves desperate to be alone. Planning now
can help make it a reality when you need it. Like an extended visit
to the moonlodge (a sacred space where menstruating women can be away
from daily life), Crone's Time Away is time when the menopausal woman
is freed from all social responsibility and encouraged to tend solely
to herself. An extended vacation, sabbatical or Crone's Year Away is
ideal, but you can stay home and still take Crone's Time Away.
Wise Woman Ways
Menopausal Climax Years
The menopausal climax years include the year or
two before and a year or more after your very last menstruation. The
average age of a woman in the midst of her Change is 51. But women come
to their menopausal climax in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, as well. Some
achieve menopause by surgical means, some by way of chemotherapy or
radiation, and some just naturally arrive early. (Menopausal climax
before the age of 40 is considered "premature.")
During this 2-5 year climax period, the bones refuse to take in cal-cium
and bone scans will show growing osteoporosis; flashes, flushes, and
night sweats may be frequent; palpitations, emotional sensitivity, and
sleeplessness are common. Depending on the individual woman and her
circumstances, other physical and emotional changes may come with the
Change, or she may experience next to nothing.
for solitude. Although many women feel enormous satisfaction in tending
and nourishing others, as our reproductive years come to a close, it
is appropriate to turn away from care-taking. Hot flashes, sleeplessness,
moodiness, and the like are easier to recognize as allies of wholeness
when you are free to follow your own needs without concern for others.
Take one day to be totally by yourself, or a Crone's Year Away, or anything
with eggs, meat, and butter in your diet. Some women find these foods,
especially if from organic sources, decrease menopausal symptoms. Some
practitioners insist they increase menopausal distress, especially when
from commercial sources.
enjoy your hot flashes. Ride them like waves, feel them in your spine,
ski the edges of your flushes, honor the volcanic heat of your core.
Like labor pains, hot flashes are the outward sign of metamorphosis.
Like labor pains, they are worse when resisted. Herbal allies help those
with unrelenting flashes relax and enjoy, too.
with a journal. Buy a blank book and write in it, draw in it, paste
articles in it. Visions and dreams are particularly vivid and intense
in the menopausal climax years; keep your journal handy so you can record
them. Your emotional energies are readily available during the menopausal
climax years; draw them in your book. Memories abound during these years;
cherish them in your journal. Write your autobiography.
Crone's Crowning. As months pass and the moon waxes and wanes without
drawing forth your menses, you pass through the second stage of initiation,
death. Your identity as Mother dies. Let yourself break all the rules.
Be someone totally different than you thought you could be.
Wise Woman Ways
Post-Menopausal Climax Years
The post-menopausal years symbolically begin on the fourteenth
new moon after your final menstruation. (And continue, of course, for
the rest of your life.) Hot flashes, aching joints, heart disease, incontinence,
vaginal atrophy, and broken hips may diminish the quality and quantity
of these years. Use of Wise Woman ways in the post-menopausal years
can halt and reverse osteoporosis (the bones accept calcium once again),
keep estrogen- and progesterone-sensitive tissues in the vagina and
bladder from weakening and drying out, and maintain a healthy, vigorous
heart and circulatory system.
fruits, and grains instead of meat. Eating meat and meat fat weakens
your bones as well as your heart, promotes cancer, and may contribute
to post-menopausal hot flashes.
walk, stretch, go, inquire, keep active. The essence of vitality is
change. Now that you've been through the Change, don't stop, keep changing.
Break the rules and the taboos. Become an expert on pelvic floor exercises.
Take up belly dancing. Pump iron. Wear purple.
Write a legal
will. And revise it every ten years. Face your own death. Plan for your
own death. This completes the second stage of your initiation.
with every bite. Aging increases our needs for many nutrients while
reducing our digestive ability. Make every bite count toward optimum
vitality and step up digestive efficiency by using dandelion root tincture
before meals. Discover new ways to serve yourself calcium-rich foods
at every meal. Use herbal vinegars regularly. Gradually replace bone-depleting
white flour products (bread, pasta, pretzels) with fiber-rich whole
grains and whole grain products. Drink vitamin- and mineral-rich herbal
infusions instead of mineral-depleting coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
Try yogurt and fresh fruit instead of ice cream for stronger bones and
fewer vaginal infections.
Crone's Ceremony of Commitment to Her Community. Anytime after your
second Saturn return (age 57-61), you are ready for the third stage
of your menopausal initiation: rebirth. You are She-Who-Holds-the-Wise-Blood-Inside.
You are newly crowned, newly born, baby Crone. After isolation, after
death, you rejoin the community. In your isolation, you revisioned yourself.
By giving death to yourself as Mother, you claimed all of yourself.
It is time to share that vision, to name yourself publicly, Crone, woman
"I am the Crone. I feel my way along paths following the energy
and warmth that others have placed here. Trusting the dark, I am guided
not by light, but by the flowing movements I sense. I am like the water
that follows, without sight or foreknowledge, the ancient river's channel."
My Native American teachers tell me that we are in the midst of earth
changes that will culminate around the year 2013. They say the earth
changes will bring heat, and floods, and upheaval on an enormous scale.
I am struck by the fact that 50 million women will have achieved menopause
by 2013. Since we, as women, are one with the earth, is our massive,
collective Change Her Change as well? Can we moderate her hot flashes?
Give her ease from flooding? Soothe her emotional uproar? Emerge transformed
together after our changes? How will we do it? With drugs, against the
problems? With nature, blessed by all we are given? Will it matter to
the Earth, Gaia, what choices I make in my menopause? What stories I
tell myself? What I tell other women?
Menopausal YearsThe Wise Woman Way
by Susun S. Weed
Check out the
Book Review in the November edition of Weed Wanderings with Susun Weed
Read Juliette de Bairacli Levy's introduction:
book should be in the hands of every woman, of every race, no matter
what age, worldwide.