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Chapter 12

Menstrual Logic in the Visible World

IN THE paradox that underlies the workings of the menstrual mind, the more knowledge of the earth and its marvelous but unforgiving laws surfaced in human consciousness and metaformic language, the more fearful, controlling, and rite-driven humans must have become. The better we became at recalling past disasters and fearing future ones, the more often sacrifice became a major part of our actions of insurance and appeasement, and the more certain we were that the deities and spirits needed to be fed or "paid" blood, blood, and more blood.

It is easy enough to imagine how cause and effect became entangled, creating sacrificial murder. Of all the ancestral women bath­ing in the river at the end of their periods -- whether slapping their thighs and exulting or bowing their heads to prevent harm -- once in a while one would have slipped and drowned. Must that not mean the river is hungry for women? So why not go the next step and feed a menstruant to the water, or to the "Snake" of the water -- especially if times were hard -- as a thanks offering or a prayer for plentiful food or to prevent flood.

Tribal accounts of blood sacrifice make it clear that the killer­-shaman-priest identified with the victim, who was feeding the deity with the life force or "essence" believed to reside in blood. Evidently people in virtually every part of the globe once practiced human sacrifice of one form or another as part of the metaformic [p.192]

religious structure that accompanied our human development. Puberty initiates of both sexes sometimes did not survive their fumigation by smoke or their food restrictions. Virgin girls, as correlates of the new moon, were favored victims, but kings, children, young men, almost anyone, could become one of the chosen. Most cultures selected as victims those most representative of their idea of "unblemished." Mayan royal blood fed a dragon of earth energy living under the temples; Aztec hearts were offered to the sun; old blood ogresses of Africa lived in rivers and caves and ate their vic­tims; Hawaiians placated the volcano goddess with human offer­ings; European grain fields soaked up sacrificial blood and left us the figures of Dracula, werewolves, and the evil mother/witch of folklore; and in Greek Dionysian rites women pursued the god in human form and tore him to shreds.

Horrible as these sacrifices may sound to us, they were not done in a spirit of cruelty; nor were the people crazed or out of control during the rite. Many of those who practiced periodic ritual human sacrifice had a reputation for gentleness in general. Farming cultures, in particular, must have felt the need to feed the earth, crop, and rain deities on blood, lest they disrupt the delicate and complex cycle of growth and wipe out their entire people with famine. People thought of blood as payment due to powerful deities, who as we have seen, were metaformic to begin with. It might be said that people were, with sacrifice, "menstruating" publicly for the benefit of the forces of creation. Throughout the development of culture we have remained, like the oldest ancestress, only one step ahead of the jackal, who lives in our psyches.

Sacrifice and Compassion (1)

The summer I turn twelve years old, I suddenly decide to give up my lifelong calling to be a writer and instead to become a physician. Toward this end, l bring home library books on the history of medicine, human and animal anatomy, history of the affects of [p.193]

plagues, lives of great doctors, and so on. I make a stethoscope from a funnel and tubing, and gather bandaids and vaseline ointment into my "doctor's bag" shoebox.

Along about early August in southern New Mexico, huge banks of rainclouds gather every afternoon and release thunderous downpours that invite exuberant children to shed shoes and run screaming around the yard. The water, arriving all at one time on the hard-baked adobe earth, tears down from the nearby mountains in deep arroyos, washing out certain north-south roads and leaving schoolyards and ball fields under a foot of standing water that takes as long as two or three weeks to disappear. During this time an inquisitive child can, by squatting in the mud and peering closely into the puddles, daily follow the remarkable transformations of the tadpoles, from their big­headed fish-shapes to the budding of legs and finally their emergence as golden-eyed toads, which grow quite large and fat and hide in reedy ditch banks.

By summer's end, I am bored with bandaging my dog and the neighbor children. My attention is caught by descriptions and illustrations in the anatomy book of the insides of humans and other creatures. I cannot get enough of the fine colored drawings of muscles and nerves, bones and veins, with thin lines out to Latin names: fibula, gluteus maximus and vena cava. I copy some of them, pretending I am in medical school. One of the illustrations is of the inside of a frog, and I stare at it for a long time, with growing excitement. I could do that, I think.

Menstruation of the Sun and Moon

The religion of Hera included, besides the hieros logos that replicated the menstruant's course, special games, which Carl Kerényi believes originated what became the Olympic games. Among many peoples, not only the menstrual "race" but more elaborate games that embodied understandings of the workings of the cosmos evolved as part of menstrual logos, logic that begins with story. Story was thus the verbal expression of what had earlier been ritual [p.194]

enactments. Just as the menstruant impersonated the moon, protomoon, or sun in her seclusion, so too did the sacrificial victim of sun or moon rites, as public menstruant. Evidently ball games also became a method of involving the entire community in learning the movements of the sun and moon and connecting them to their own survival.

"Of all the ball games that were being played in North, Central, and South America at the time of European contact, the Mesoamerican game, which used a rubber ball and was played on masonry ball courts, was the most elaborate. In the Mesoamerican game, players were divided into two teams which faced each other across the center of the court. These players could not touch the rubber ball with their hands, so they wore heavy padding of leather, wood, and woven materials over the places where they could strike the ball, their hips and knees. [1] Players tried to hit the ball, either through the opponents' end zone or through a ring tenoned into the side wall. That the players could not touch the ball with their hands is completely congruent with the special protections and restrictions surrounding the hands of the menstruant and the prohibitions against touching her own blood, for the balls in this game were equated to blood. According to the Popol Vuh, the sacred text of the Quiche Maya, one part of the ball game series was played on the summer solstice, when the sun and moon were believed to mate in order to conceive the maize. The moon goddess was Xquic, a name that also meant "rubber" and "blood."

Rubber was probably at one time blood also for certain people of the Amazon River area, who coat boys with rubber and then cover them with downy white feathers as part of their puberty ceremony. Rubber is a particularly interesting metaform in that it can be formed into a round object that bounces -- returning along the course of its projection. Hence it could in several ways be equated with the shape and movements of the moon or sun, still retaining its quality as the "blood" of the tree, analogous of course to the blood of women. It seems reasonable to suppose that the reason Mayan ball players were thickly muffled in gloves, helmets, [p.195]

and other padding and could not touch the rubber ball is that the ball was metaformically "the same as" menstrual blood.

The Popol Vuh, which narrates the elaborate ball game myth, makes it clear that the game was not a simple sport but an annual or semiannual rite of world formation. In the myth the belowworld powers, the lords of Xibalba who rule the realm of death, both vanquish and renew the lords of light:  "This ball game played on the vernal equinox would probably culminate with the sacrifice of a player chosen to represent the descending sun. The sacrifice of this player would cause the descent of the sun by sympathetic magic, for the sun is also sacrificed when he descends into the underworld." [2]  The ball game played on the autumnal equinox, conversely, ended with the sacrifice of a player who represented the moon goddess, whose death heralded the return of the sun. Thus the sun and moon both bleed as they go into underworld seclusion. To this basic narrative were also connected the summoning of rain and the mating of sun and moon to produce the corn that was the economic foundation of the Mayan culture.

The sun maize is born in the autumn during the corn rites of first fruit; the moon goddess dies giving birth and is instantly reborn, to take her place in the sky. Temple observatories established precise dates for these events, and some of the names of the deities are also dates in the Mayan calendar. Horizontal space was divided into the four directions, with a fifth at center. Vertical space was imagined in the three layers, sky, earth, and belowworld. In the ball court myth, the earth was imagined as a narrow strip with eastern and western ends. The western end, which swallows the sun or moon, was a jaguar, which as we know was the Mesoamerican version of Wolf, Jackal, Fox, Dog, and Coyote of other mythologies. The eastern end, which spews forth the renewed sun and moon, was -- why are we not surprised? -- a serpent with open mouth.

In this series of ball games a lunar/menstrual logic was at work, equating the movements of the sun -- and also, some authorities on Mayan culture think, Venus -- with the lunar/human cycles of blood, birth, and death. The unity of cosmogony, economy, and [p.196]

spirituality was displayed in one whole enacted thought. The Mayan ball game is an example of how human beings absorbed astronomical observations into the life-and-death mythos of the people. The game was not played for entertainment or to display athletic prowess and courage, though of course it did both. The ball game was a religious rite that also enacted scientific principles with human players, whose real deaths imprinted the lesson as perhaps, at the time, nothing else could have.

Sacrifice and Compassion (2)

I have no trouble acquiring the necessary tools for my dissection. My father has recently given me an exacto kit, so I have sharp blades. My mother's bathroom cupboard yields a bottle of rubbing alcohol and some cotton, and the neighborhood pharmacist matter of factly sells me a small can of ether.

One single turn about the yard of our apartment easily brings a young, light green, gold-eyed toad leaping into my young hands, and from there into a coffee can, until I have made my preparations. As I lay out the knives and the cotton on a white dishtowel, wiping the blades with alcohol, I have the distinct feeling of changing from one kind of person into another. The ether-soaked cotton affects the toad at once, and as I turn the unconscious body over onto the clean white dishtowel, I feel important, logical and clinical, extremely self-controlled. I study the anatomy illustration to make my cuts in the thick, cream-white skin, skin the texture of soft, well-cared for leather.

I marvel at the amount of glistening life held within her bag of skin, amazed at how beautiful the organs are. Far more vivid than the illustrations, they glisten with life and color. The startling beating heart in particular draws my attention, then the tender lungs and membranes, and the sudden surprise of dozens of blue-black eggs richly clustered in her abdomen. For ten minutes or so, I breathe my wonder at her pulsing life force. I have fallen in love with her. [p.197]

Then comes the eye of truth. Her heart is steadily beating; her whole body is vulnerable before me; my "doctor experience" with the miracle of life is completed -- and now what? Nothing in the anatomy texts tell me how to sew her up again. There are no adults around for me to ask; no other children would know the answer either. I am alone with her.

With growing horror, I realize I have to kill her. That I have already killed her. That, by not taking her whole life into account, in choosing to look so far inside her, I chose also to kill her. I realize her eggs will never be born.

I lean over her with the knife tip aiming at her beautiful heart, my own heart breaking with understanding. "I'm sorry," I whisper repeatedly, knowing I will never again trust simple curiosity, knowing too that medicine, making whole, is based in a multitude of cuttings, and deaths. I bury her, throw away the cotton and the dishtowel, tell no one what I have done. I had thought the dissection of the toad would further my knowledge of anatomy and of healing. Instead, it teaches me compassion for "small" lives and deepest shame, the certain knowledge of my ability to do irreparable harm even in the name of doing good. And the gift she gives me is remorse.

Menstruation of the Sky

As human cultures developed, menstrual logic, the stories we tell about the world, fanned out in ever extending arcs. Or rather, I could say that human development was created by the extension out from the hut of menstrual logic, the logos entraining with ever larger visible cycles of nature. Not only the sun and moon, but other celestial figures that follow the east-west course, were swept into the expanding menstrual mind, which provided the "plot" for comprehending natural phenomena and for connecting them to human activities.

The constellation called the Seven Sisters, or Pleiades, was one of the features of the sky that thus became incorporated into [p.198]

metaformic logic. Many peoples connected the little squarish cluster of stars to blood sacrifice and cutting:

The sacrifice of the Mexican savior Xipe Totec, our Lord the Flayed One, took place on the Hill of the Stars at the moment when the Pleiades reached the zenith on the last night of the Great Year cycle. . . .  In ancient India the Pleiades were called the Seven Mothers of the World, or Krittikas, "razors" or "cutters." . . . The Pleiades were prominent in the early cult of Aphrodite, who was supposed to have given birth to them under her name of Pleione. Aphrodite was a castrating Crone-goddess as well as a Holy Dove; and the Pleiades were "a flock of doves." They were connected with sacrificial New Year ceremonies in Greece as in central America and southeastern Asia. The Seven Sisters stood at the zenith on New Year's Eve as if to select the god of the new Aeon. Old Babylonian texts began the year with the Pleiades. [3]

They are "emanations" of the moon goddess in classical mythology and thus are also menstrual blood. That they are so frequently referred to as seven sisters implies that they embodied synchronous flow, associated with blood, sacrifice, and significant times of the year. These associations are explicitly in a myth of the Barasana people of Columbia. The Barasana identify Opossum with the Pleiades, which sets in the west just as the long South American dry season ends and the rainy season begins. [4]

In the myth, the woman Yawira has an appointment with Tinamou Chief. Along the way she is tricked by Opossum into meeting him instead, and she goes to live with the foul-smelling creature for a while. One day she disobeys Opossum's warning not to look downstream, and she sees Tinamou Chief. She goes to him, though he initially rejects her because she has acquired a bad smell from Opossum. Then Opossum and Tinamou quarrel, and Opossum is killed, and at that moment the rains begin.

Tinamou Chief is the Sun, the tinamou being a yellow bird. Opossum is, as we know, a metaform for the moon. In the web of connections between this story and shamanic rite for the Barasana, the woman Yawira is also a form of the mother of the sky, Romi [p.199]

Kumu, who is represented in their ritual as a special gourd (depicting the sky) containing beeswax. The gourd is considered a womb, and the aroma of burning wax has connotations of female sexuality. Romi Kumu is also represented by the Pleiades, whose cycle of east-west rising and setting marks a renewal of the year. The rains are considered Romi Kumu's flow of menstrual blood. "Also, in Barasana thought, the Pleiades can be the wax gourd, and the wax can be the blood. The Pleiades became the source of the rain as the gourd is the source of the wax and the vagina is the source of the blood. From the fall of the Pleiades and the death of Opossum comes renewal.” [5] In the interval between dry and rainy seasons, the Barasana hold their most important ritual, at which the menstrual wax is burned, the smoke is fanned to the four directions, male and female emblems are joined to knit the year together, and certain musical instruments forbidden to the sight of women are played. This interwoven complex of metaforms, part ritual, part narrative, hold the year together, using menstrual logic to teach renewal: Opossum, like the Pleiades and the moon, brings on lifegiving "menstrual" rains and never really dies.

The connective "and" relates two elements in metaphoric conjunction, sometimes giving us incremental addition-- one and two and three -- but also giving us our human idea of cause and effect. "Opossum died and therefore the rains began." This basis of human logic developed a multitude of variations, and gave us both dependency on emotional superstition and wondrous scientific control and observational skills -- mixed, in every culture and era; and capable of change. For the Barasana people, the Pleiades and the mythology and ritual surrounding the constellation's periodic disappearance, or "fall," "brought" the rain, not just any rain, but predictable periodic rain, the monsoon rain necessary to establish agriculture as a human occupation and support system.

Menstruation of the Year

The Barasana myth illustrates how people made ordered use of natural events by imagining the sky as a menstruating female. They [p.200]

were ordering spatial events with menstrual logos. People also applied menstrual logic to time, especially with New Year's celebrations. For many peoples, New Year marks the confluence of at least two cycles, the solar and lunar. Presumably peoples long ago, who had not yet differentiated the two lights, would not have had a New Year. New Year, like New Moon, signified the emergence of a central character -- the sun, the new moon (or both), after seclusion, perhaps followed by the "marriage" of the two principles.

New Year in ancient Mesopotamia was the most important celebration, and can be understood quite literally as the menarche of the year. Origin epics were read, priests led processions through the streets, and at Sumer the sacred marriage took place between the high (en) priestess and the king. Planets as well as the sun and moon were included in the sophisticated logos of the Sumerians. Descriptions of the menarchal and marriage preparations of the planet Venus in the person of the high priestess, and New Year's hymns to the goddess Inanna/Venus, give us a rich picture of the festivities.

The exact Sumerian New Year -- the one day of the "true New Moon" -- was carefully calculated by the juxtapositions of stars and planets "in order to care for the life of all the lands." On the day of the "sleeping" of the moon, a "sleeping" place was set up for Inanna as well, a bed whose rushes were cleansed with cedar oil, which must have made a satisfying red wash. This bed, cleaned of "blood," was then covered with a bridal sheet to make it safe for the king. [6]

During the seven days of the menarche-marriage, the priestess was specially washed and dressed. Her feet were washed by her sister, and she received gifts of clothing and jewelry, and a special dress from the king. A cake was a featured part of the festive foods, and emmer beer; wine and honey were poured for Inanna at dawn. She prepared for her lover by washing and sprinkling cedar oil on the ground. On the seventh day, the priestess and the king went to the marriage bed for a sexual consummation that is wonderfully explicit in the texts: "After he enters her holy vulva, causing the queen to rejoice/Inanna holds him to her and murmurs: [p.201]

O Dumuzi, you are truly my love." They did not then live together, for this coupling enacted the union of male and female metaforms, the Bull with the Morning Star, not the establishment of a new family. Any child born of the enpriestess was killed or put in a basket in the river. The bull god would have represented the herding economy of the countryside, as Inanna represented horticulture and the crafts of the city. They are the prototypes of Adam (Adamuzi) and Eve (Heveh, "life"). Dumuzi and Inanna had fruit trees, including an apple tree, and she was also associated with the serpent.

The New Year's procession in ancient Sumerian cities like Ur and Uruk featured the Kurgarra priests, who sprinkled blood on the throne, and an interesting array of costumed celebrants. Men and women wore the clothing of the opposite sex on half their bodies, female clothing on the left, male on the right, as if in acknowledgment of the fact that to a large extent gender roles are assigned by the menstrual mind. Young men rolled hoops and sang; male prostitutes combed their hair and wore colored scarves; young women and coiffured priestesses carried swords and double axes. Old women chose the cooks for the lavish food, wine, and beer offerings, and people competed in games with jumpropes and colored cords. Over all swelled the variety of drums and tambourines, and the dancing people were very sexual and merry.[7]

While New Moon celebrations and rites were based in the menstruation of the month, New Year celebrations and rites, sometimes including the sacred marriage, marked the menarche of the year. At Babylon on the fourth day after the "true New Year," the creation epic was read aloud, as though to recreate the world at the emergence of both the new moon crescent and the menstruant after three days of seclusion.

Like the Pleiades, the course of Venus is also in the east-west arc, and so the planet acquired the menstrual cycle and its metaformic ritual, including deification as Inanna (also called Ishtar). As the only daughter of the moon couple, Inanna inherited the whole lunar tradition. [p. 202]

Noisemaking with rattles and drums was a feature of menarchal festivities and processions, intended to frighten away the "evil spirits" of the wilderness. Stated another way, the noise reminded the people to stay alert and conscious of their surroundings. Perhaps when noisemaking acquired an orderly cosmetikos, music was the result. It is striking that so many musical scales are five, or as in ancient Egyptian flutes, seven notes, the standard scale played in the West. New Year's worldwide is a special time for making both noise and music, especially horned music. Men in parts of old Africa blow on antelope or other horns at the New Moon as well as New Year. In China, gunpowder was developed to fire strings of red firecrackers at the New Year, to scare evil spirits. My parents celebrated New Year's Eve by lighting candles and drinking whiskey, even my teetotaling mother at times having a special sip. At midnight my mother got an unpleasant, fearful look and covered her ears with her hands, while my father, smiling and trying all by himself to enjoy it, went out to blow a hole in the yard with his thirty-ought-six rifle, which made a fine explosion. I sat on the steps between them, drawn in both directions.

When I was in high school I went out with my friends on Halloween, which is the Celtic New Year, to soap windows as a "trick." We were too tender-hearted for more extreme pranks; but out in the countryside, young people characteristically pushed over out-buildings -- sheds -- and black cats hid for their lives. My mother said when she was a girl, youngsters pulled pranks such as putting a car or carriage up on a barn roof -- things, reminiscent of older rites of the cosmic menstrual emergence of the New Year.[8]

Menstruation of the Earth

Given that ancient peoples drew astronomical events, periodic rainfall, the seasons, and other cycles of time and space into the net of menstrual logos, it is no surprise that they applied the same logical plot to the earth, viewing it as female and enacting religious rites that developed the arts of farming. A yearly menstruation of [p. 203]

the earth was enacted in Greece, when women separated from men to hold the three-day fall festival Thesmophoria. They used the emmenogogue lygos to coordinate their bleeding, and built rude huts of its vines, replicas of the sheds of their ancestresses. The women fasted and performed specific rites on each day, including a sacrifice of piglets, which they carried into a deep chasm in which lived Snake. They emerged from the earth's chasmic vulva carrying barley seed mixed with rotting pig flesh ("menstrual" blood) for sowing.[9]

Even into historic times people saw the dirt of the fields as "flesh," as is suggested by the ancient Jewish custom of letting the land "rest" from agricultural work in a Sabbath, one year in every seven. Application of menstrual narrative logic to agricultural cycles also has had a long tradition in India, where villagers still use menstrual terms to describe certain Hindu agricultural festivals. According to Frederique Marglin, in Wives of the God King, "the meaning of menstrual blood can be explored [in] the festival of the menses of the goddess, called Raja Samkranti."[10] The word samkranti, she explains, refers to the passage of the sun from one sign of the zodiac to another, while menses is one meaning of raja. The menses of the goddess is celebrated just before the bathing festival, which is on the last day of June.[9b]

The festival is celebrated for four days, during which time the earth (pruthibi) is also believed to be menstruating. "The first day is called First Samkranti (pahili samkranti); the second day is called raja samkranti; the third day is called 'burning earth' (bhui dahana); the fourth day is called `the bath of the Goddess' (Thakurani Gadua). The `burning earth' is so called because it is said that the red colour of the earth at that time, due to the earth's menstruation, makes it look as if it were on fire. This is also connected to the belief that if one sowed any seeds during these days they would burn up.”[11]

During the four days of Raja Samkranti, the women are considered to be impure (asauca), as is the goddess. They do not wear their usual vermilion mark, nor do they oil or comb their hair, [p. 204]

following the practices they would during their real menses. The women play, sing songs, and swing on swings made for this occasion, and their happiness is important to the rite. They are not supposed to do any domestic work, and it is the men who prepare the food during these days. The men and women abstain from sexual relations, and as a correlate to this, the men do not plow the earth. "In the words of the farmer: 'Pruthibi is impure (asauca); we as human males and females we live as Isvara and Parvati, so the women observe this festival. We are Isvara and they are Parvati, so when mother goddess is impure, they, being Parvati, are also impure.' " [12]

After Raja Samkranti, the rains are expected to arrive; and when they do, the farmers again plow the earth so that the seeds can germinate: "On the fourth day of the festival, in the morning the women will bathe and the goddess in the temple will also be bathed and her body rubbed with oil and turmeric. On that day ends the prohibition to plow or to use carts for the farmers. The earth's impurity is over, and so is the women's." [13]

In keeping with the course, or plot, of menstrual logos, the festival that follows Raja Samkranti and the Day of Bathing, marking the end of monsoon, is the "Car Festival." The Car Festival centers around four statues, two of the sister goddesses Laksmi and Sarasvati and their husband Jagannatha (Lord of the World) and his older, unmarried brother, Balabhadra.

For their procession, towering wooden chariots or carts are built over a two-month period before the festival. They are painted more than one color but always including red. The wood is chosen by the king, who makes the first ax stroke; the number three plays a prominent part in this rite. The beginning of the Car Festival is timed with the end of the rains; the deified images are carried out for public display, facing east. They are then vigorously washed, and taken into the temple for a "dark period" of fourteen days, in which they are considered to be in a state of illness. The statues are laid on their sides; the temple is dark and silent. The goddesses and gods may be touched only by special attendants. They are "fed" [p. 205]

only raw fruit during this time, and some medicine prescribed by the temple doctor. As the washing has smeared their paint, at the end of their lying down period, with the new moon, they are repainted. One day is set aside for the painting of their eyes. After this, the two gods and Sarasvati are carried out to the decorated carts for a grand procession that is considered a pilgrimage by the faithful, who joyfully crowd the streets throwing fruit, coconuts, money, and jewelry into the chariots. Wooden horses are attached to the huge carts, which men drag through the street by ropes, with accompaniment of drums, bells, and songs. The three sacred figures are taken to a temple used only for the purpose of secluding them for seven days. Lakşmī is taken separately, on a palanquin carried by priests, at night.

The procession of the gods by cart imitates the menstruant's journey. Like her the images emerge facing east. Like her they are washed. They are rubbed with oil and turmeric and repainted with cosmetikos, with special attention to their eyes. Thus, like her, they embody renewal. [14] The Oxford English Dictionary confirms that archaic meanings of "chair" included car and chariot. Related words are "carry," "carriage," and even "career," to rush down a road. From a menstrual point of view, the chair made portable is what created the covered litter, which then only needed wheels (light's shape) to become a cart. The functions of both chairs and wagons -- to contain menstruants, brides, or parallel menstrual officials -- remained the same for millennia. The goddess Car was prominent in Persia, not so far from the Mesopotamian area where the oldest wheeled vehicles have been unearthed by archaeologists, or from the "Car Festival" of India. The ancient place name Cardia, meaning "Car goddess," was named for her, and her name is a correlate of Q'or, Cerridwen, and Kore, the maiden daughter of the earth mother, Demeter.[15]

Variations of the original menstrual sequence became models for the great festivals of agricultural peoples, extending into every aspect of their lives. Agriculture was based in menarchal principles, establishing rules of when to plant, when to wait, when to expect [p. 206]

rain, when to harvest, when to let the land rest. The cycles of menstruation, because they were externalized and thoroughly practiced, allowed people to trust themselves to grow their own food.

Agriculture was more than "planting by the moon." It was first and foremost modeled after the menstrual rite and the sacred wedding. Models of menstruation and sexual intercourse were applied to the earth and the sky, models of male fertility to the plowing of the ground. The menstrual mind allowed humans to spill out beyond the small gathering-hunting clan to form complex villages dependent on farming and animal husbandry of edible metaforms. To state this most succinctly, it isn't that menstrual/lunar principles and analogies were applied to farming. Rather, the externalization of increasingly complex menstrual/lunar principles are what created and developed farming. Farming grew from the application of menstrual narrative logic to certain plants, animals, the ground, and the cycles of seasons, light, and rain.

It is not surprising, then, that "plot" at once means place, area of land, burial spot, and narrative line. Nor is it surprising that, for farming peoples, blood sacrifice has seemed the best hedge against crop failure -- so much of the natural world needed to be influenced by human behavior. Not only farmers but all kinds of cultures have used sacrificial murder and stories of murder, including murder of loved ones, to instruct themselves about the cycles of the world. Blood sacrifice is part of menstrual logic.

The word r'tu, as I have said, has three meanings: the first is menstruation; the second, the special act of sexual intercourse directly following menstruation; and the third, a season or special time of year. By celebrating festivals of the New Year -- the menstruation and renewal of the year -- humans came to understand themselves in relation to seasons and time. The New Year procession at Sumer and the great menstrual and car festivals of rural India are not so far from modern American rites -- both North and South -- with our New Year Rosebowl and other parades featuring decorated cars, carts, and towering images, and our New Year football games; with our Mardi Gras, Carnival, Chinese New Year [p. 207]

firecrackers and parade of dragons, and Celtic New Year masks and parades. All these celebrations mark renewals of the year and have many overlapping ancient elements -- floats, costumes, statues, cross-dressing, games and sports, noise, sexual antics, flowers, and the color red. They celebrate, whether the participants remember or not, the menstrual cycle of the year.

By using the logic of metaform and the entrainment, through myth, of one cycle to another, the menstrual mind has extended out in an expanding net to encompass the movements of stellar bodies, the changing of seasons, the transitions of solstices, the greater lunar cycles, the growth of plants, and the recurrence of natural phenomena such as floods, monsoons, and volcanic eruptions. That people called these cycles "sacred" and incorporated them with ritual underscores the menstrual roots of scientific methods and classifications. In the logic of story, sometimes the sequence of rituals is told in narrative form and sometimes -- as happened when I applied a textbook description to a real toad-story is reenacted in rite. As the word logos implies, we learned to think in storied rites, the hieros logos, that followed the course of the menstruant. Menstrual logos gave us the logical principles of thinking, our reason, which we continually revise and refine.

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