Blog: Repatterning Life Transitions and Initiations

Blog: Repatterning Life Transitions and Initiations

By Isa Gucciardi Ph.D.

Within each of our lives, we have important moments of transition, which we experience in our bodies, that can be understood as initiations into a new way of being. Birth, death, puberty, the sexual encounter, becoming a parent, and, for women, menstruation, menopause, and giving birth, are all potent initiations we experience in our lifetimes. Each of these initiations holds powerful information and the possibility of transforming long held patterns that no longer serve us.

Women have the unique potential to encounter the initiation each month with their recurring menstrual cycles. I have helped hundreds of women understand their premenstrual experience better. In case after case, I have seen that the emotional charges that women experience as premenstrual syndrome are actually there all the time. It is just that most women are able to override their deeper emotional and biological experience most of the month. With the shift in hormones, this becomes impossible.

In traditional Native American societies, women would enter into a space separated from the rest of the tribe as they felt the shift in their hormones.  This space was called the Moon Lodge, out of recognition of the way in which women’s bodies are calibrated to the cycles of the moon – a fact that many modern women no longer recognize.(For more information see Sister Moon Lodge: The Power & Mystery of Menstruation, by Kisma K. Stepanich) During this time, they would use the “thinning of the veil” the shift in their hormones afforded them to look more deeply at their internal experience.

Because modern women do not take this kind of opportunity, much of their deeper emotional and biological experience remains unknown to them. They are primarily aware of it through the disruption they feel in relationship to their menstrual periods, but they usually do not take the time to understand what this disruption might be showing them.

I teach a workshop called The Sacred Feminine that helps women better understand their relationship to their physical bodies and to the initiations they experience as women. In that workshop, we examine how our experience of any one initiation can have an effect on subsequent initiations, as in the case of a student that I will call Susan. And, as we shall see, women’s menstrual periods can provide important information about how we navigated past initiations.

Like most women, Susan did not recognize that her body was offering the opportunity to engage in spiritual inquiry each month. She had always had difficult, painful periods with a lot of premenstrual mood swings. When she began to look at the different initiatory moments in her physical development, she realized that she had a very traumatic experience of her puberty that she really did not understand, and that she was revisiting with every menstrual period.

Susan was born into a family of four older brothers. Her father, in particular, was thrilled to have a daughter. He spoiled her and her older brothers let her play sports with them. She was special to all the men in her family because she was the baby girl they had all been waiting for.

When she went into puberty, however, everything changed. As she grew hips, she could not run and climb as fast. She could not play sports with her brothers in the same rough and tumble way she always had. And, as she grew breasts, her father and brothers did not know how to relate to her. They pulled away from her in different ways, and no one had any way of communicating or understanding why this was happening.

Susan realized, through the meditations in the class, that she had actually tried to suppress her periods so that she could be more in tune with her brothers and her father. She was angry with her body – and she was angry with her father and brothers for rejecting her because of her changing body. She refused to engage sexually with men because she was afraid of experiencing the same kind of rejection.

Susan realized that the pain and emotional turmoil she felt with each period was connected to the experience of the initiation of her puberty. She rejected the change in form her puberty brought to her – and that rejection was demonstrated with every monthly period – and then reemphasized in her rejection of the initiations of the sexual encounter with the other.

When Susan realized how much of her suffering originated in her experience of puberty, she was taken aback. But she quickly set to work in engaging the spiritual lessons her biology had been presenting to her – the lessons of the importance of self-acceptance and self-love.

In the meditations in the class, the essence of the Sacred Feminine came to Susan in the form of a volcano. Again, the image itself was a teaching to her in multiple ways. The contrast between the way she tried to suppress her menstrual blood with the way lava flows was just one of the teachings. The questions she needed to address in order to bring herself into better alignment with her own body, her own experience as a woman and into a fuller relationship with the Sacred Feminine were:

  • How can I free myself from the need for male approval?
  • How can I free myself from the fear of male rejection?
  • What does radical self-acceptance look like?
  • How can I align myself with the flow of the needs of my body?

By examining her reaction to each of these biological initiations, Susan gained access to the spiritual teachings that she needed to heed in order to come into balance with the Sacred Feminine.

Few of us understand that we are walking a spiritual path as we move through the biological cycles our bodies lead us to. Fewer still understand the stages of biological development as initiatory moments as they are occurring.

The good news is that we can go back in time.  We can walk with our younger selves through those initiatory moments where we have lost power or found our power dedicated to someone or something other than ourselves. And we can reclaim it.

If you would like support in the work of repatterning initiatory moments which have already happened or preparing for initiatory moments which are yet to come (e.g., menopause, death), the spiritual counseling process of Depth Hypnosis  or other types of counseling processes that include the participation of spirit can be helpful. The annual Sacred Feminine retreat at Menla is also a good place to dive in. It is a task we can undertake with relish, because we know that all paths will lead to a greater understanding and alignment with the Great Feminine.