This past weekend, I went to a natural gynecology workshop. I arrived at a little past 10 on the sunny Saturday morning, to a sort of retaken community space with a big lawn and some skattered, run-down buildings. There was already a group of women sitting on a little half-sunned patio chatting and making themselves comfortable on various mats and blankets, tranquilly allowing the activities to start when they would.
I think that what sticks with me most from today, more than the schema of the lunar-menstrual cycle, natural anticonceptive techniques and homeopathic remedies for infections, were the stories that my workshop-mates shared. We were a diverse group, ranging in age from about 16 to 55, and from the US, Europe and all over Chile, which made conversation either rich or funny. There was a common thread uniting us, though.
As we went around the circle, introducing ourselves or sharing first period stories, I heard again and again stories of shame, discomfort or anger turned to respect and even rejoicing of their bodies’ natural processes. Some people got over their first period trauma by using Diva Cups. Others distanced themselves from an artificial reality on The Pill using natural contraceptive techniques. Just about everyone, though, had had to bushwack their own trail to a place of peace, because neither society nor their mothers were necesarily of much assistance.
There was an incredible hunger, too, for the knowledge that the facilitator was giving us. I think pretty much all the information that we covered is available online, but I also think that our bodies need and deserve an oral tradition to heal them, one that couples social support with remedies for the mind and body. We talked about all sorts of medicine, from different kinds of rock therapies and meditations, to what pills to take for abortions, what teas to drink for yeast infections to three physical ways of measuring your cycle. We squeezed into a tiny room as the sun disappeared and we got cold, letting our body heat replace the vanquished sun as we shared what it had felt like to reach biological adulthood.
We closed with guided meditation. Cierran los ojitos, said the facilitator, y háganse cómodas. She led us, behind closed lids, to a beach where we sunk our toes into the sand before turning and entering a forest. There, amongst the trees, was a house. After finding the key, we entered and made ourselves at home, lighting a fire or an incense stick and cleaning up a bit (if needed) before having to hide the key again and go back to the beach and the real world. The house that you imagined, said the facilitator, is your uterus. We smiled shyly as we described our houses in the woods, most with windows wide open, fires cozy and frames of timber, alternately laughing and groaning sympathetically at each others’ particularly poignant details.
I’m not sure that my cottage was exactly my uterus, and I won’t share what it was, because whether or not it was actually my uterus, it is still intensely mine. But I do think that I have something to learn from the ways that I responded to the guided meditation, and I also have something to learn from all the women who shared their houses, their first period stories, and their reasons for being interested in a part of their bodies that society often shames, but that we all deserve to be able to cherish.
This is the revolution, I thought to myself many times during the day as we sat cross-legged in the patio, sprawled on the lawn or huddled in the tiny room together. We were letting the lifting up, the bushwacking, the peace making be a collective process. We were saying aloud the words that society normally censors (you need look no further than the Rupi Kapur instagram controversy for that one). Vagina. Uterus. Fallopian tubes. Endometrium. Blood. We were learning to couple our power to the power of the moon, and the power of each other.