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Moon Leave: What is it? And why is it important?

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

I start many of my blogs with, “We are all different.” That’s what makes the world beautiful right?

So, when I say, “we need moon leave,” I really mean, “many women who feel the same and I NEED moon leave.” Our ancestors knew this.

Many cultures, Indigenous and abroad, traditionally have created healthy and safe spaces for womxn on their moon cycles.

My grandmother taught us not to touch other peoples’ hair (i.e. family or those whose hair we were normally allowed to touch) while menstruating and my mother urged us indirectly to not cook during our moons: “Every time I cook on my period it tastes spoiled.”

I’ve heard other grandmothers give advice that being in solitude, especially away from men, and working on creative projects rather than strenuous ones, can help manage moon pain, avoid fights (yes, that intense energy at moon time is there for a reason: it’s powerful!), and increase introspection, reflection, and self-awareness. Historically, many tribes, Indigenous to the “Americas,” Africa, and beyond have special camps or areas where women go during menstruation.

Some tribes, such as the Oglala Lakota Nation, currently recognize moon leave, and allow female workers four days off per month to honor this sacred time.

So, what happens when womxn, especially those more sensitive to the cycle of their wombs, are thrown into a western world that shames periods and pretends they don’t exist?: chaos.

For myself and many others we are almost in a different dimension during our moon. Not exactly the best frame of mind to be in while communicating with clients and coworkers, making major decisions, or being under other amounts of stress.

Ericka Zamora-Wiggins spoke to the group of womxn at the Ancestral Womb Wellness event to try to plan around your moon if possible. She acknowledged that most careers do not allow you to take several days off of work each month during your moon time.

Instead, she suggests not planning major events, giving yourself a lighter work load if possible, taking off a day or two if possible if the pain or energy is too intense, and to limit extra activities and to make self-care a priority after work. She offered that helping each other during our moons is very helpful, such as cooking for one another. Live alone? Meal prepping before each period can help immensely.

But there are loop holes. What about female food service workers? They may be able to ask to cashier for a few days if their employers are flexible, but if not possible, how do we account for these situations? How aware are we that a woman on her moon may be cooking our food when we eat out? What about sisters who have endometriosis and other womb related debilitating pain and do not have the luxury of working from home each month? I know many who were unable to keep a career throughout the stage of menstruation, aka most of their adult life, because of moon pain. I’ve experienced similar challenges.

It’s not about shame. It’s about energy. Women are their moons are very powerful. We may be processing grief, anger, sadness. Rather than spread this energy, we might consider protecting it, not only so that it does not negatively affect others, but firstly so that our emotions, energies, and bodies have the privacy, rest, and protection this time of healing and cleansing offers.

Dominique (Afro Sappony/Norse-Irish/Polish descent) is a poet/spoken word/hiphop artist, short story writer, clothing line boss babe, + aspiring recreational therapist. She is also the co-founder of Indigenous Womxn In Solidarity Empowered + Rising. She is currently working on her B.S. in Nonprofit Leadership Management with an emphasis in American Indian Studies, and lives between the southeast + southwestern U.S.

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