Alexandra: In our last episode we explored the basic energy pattern underlying the menstrual cycle and we introduced you to the 2 creating currents: the via positiva which is connected to the first half of the cycle and is what we call the ‘Way of the Masculine’ and the via negativa which is connected to the second half of the cycle and is the ‘Way of the Feminine.’ These two creating currents give rise to what we call the Inner Seasons of your menstrual cycle. These Inner Seasons really hold the gold on your initiatory journey of getting to know yourself. This is like the ‘workhorse’ of your menstrual journey. So we’re going to unpack the 4 Inner Seasons today. Sjanie would you like to begin by describing the four seasons?
Sjanie: So this is really a lense that you can view your cycle experience through and we’re going to map out how the phases of the cycle relate to the seasons as we describe them. So I’m going to give you specific days but please know that it isn’t that specific as we all have different cycles and they vary from month to month. It’s more about noticing your own shift in energy – it’s an energetic or felt sense when you are moving from one season to the other. Hopefully, as I describe it, it will give you something to begin working with. Let’s start with your menstruation. This is what we call your inner winter. Inner winter really begins a day or two before bleeding and lasts throughout the time of menstruation so that could be depending on how long you bleed, maybe day 5 is when it ends. Then the inner spring is the pre-ovulatory phase of your cycle that starts from when you’ve finished bleeding and goes roughly to about day 11 or 12 of your cycle. Following that is the ovulatory time of your cycle that we call your inner summer roughly day 12 to about day 19. And then the pre-menstruum which we call fondly the inner autumn – day 19 – until you return to your inner winter – couple of days before bleeding. So that will give you a kind of clear overview of these different phases as we describe them. Shall we begin, Alexandra, by describing the natural tendencies that we have in each season and the kinds of powers that tend to be present in these seasons for us? Why don’t we begin with the Inner Winter where it all begins and where it all ends.
Alexandra: Yes that’s a good one let’s begin there. So at menstruation our tendency is to be more inner and to be more withdrawn into ourselves and you probably noticed you have a great need to chill and to do nothing. You might want to drift around, lie around and not want to tend to things. This is as it should be. However, often we are not able to do this even though this actually is a very healthy need. It is classically the archetypal rest moment of the cycle where we rest and repair and remember who we are. Because when we go out into the world we can easily lose bits of ourselves, we forget them and get caught up in things and menstruation is the place where you come back to check in. To check how you doing, recover yourself and put yourself back together again and remember who you are and remember what’s really, really important to you. These are the key tendencies of this time. I think of it as a time where you kind of cleanse yourself of the month that has gone. You get to clean the slate – which is so amazing that we have this every month and then you get to have a chance to completely let go and rest and in that resting begin the renewal and repair process. You are remembering who you are. So there is this revelatory quality to menstruation. Is there anything you’d like to add to that Sjanie?
Sjanie: I think the inner winter metaphor is such a good one because it’s just like in Winter when nothing shows on the surface, not much happens and it looks like things almost are dead but below the ground, below the surface there is reparation and restoration happening and it’s very much the same as what’s happening with us in menstruation. On one hand we do nothing …
Alexandra: I have to come in there – this doing nothing is absolutely the motto of menstruation. All of this restoration happens because you are doing nothing doesn’t it?
Sjanie: That is the key – do nothing and know that behind the scenes in the background there is this incredible bounty that you are receiving and you are in a profoundly receptive state and your whole system is being repaired, rewired and renewed. You are being put back together in the best possible way, as you said Alexandra, you’re coming back to yourself. I like to think of menstruation as home base, plugged back into me and to what really matters and to fill my tank – the pit stop in the menstrual cycle where we can have our tank filled and then we can go out into our cycle full and connected, full and with purpose, full and with meaning. And so like you said ‘do nothing’ is the motto and in doing nothing you will receive the gifts of the season.
Alexandra: And now our tank is refilled and we remember who we are, and we’re coming out of menstruation, the inner winter, and we are going to move into the inner spring of our cycle. And, Sjanie, tell me as a menstruating woman, can you speak for the archetypal woman now, what do you know as the signature cue for the inner spring?
Sjanie: It’s a word you often use that I really relate to which is ‘a rising affirmation’. It’s kind of quite central to this season – rising affirmation, this rising ‘Yes!’ – of possibility of hope, of renewed dignity. It’s a very sweet time and I feel lightness – I feel quite unencumbered – if I have bled well this season, it can feel really liberating and I can feel really free, playful and willing to try stuff. ‘Willing’ is a good word for the season, and also there’s a lovely excitable energy. It’s almost a little bit intoxicating as new life starts to surge through you there’s almost a shiver of…I’m not quite sure what the word is. But as you come out of menstruation, you are still vulnerable so initially in the inner spring there is still a vulnerability, but because of this rising new life that vulnerability generally speaking can be managed and can be positive because you have an openness, you have a positivity… cynicism hasn’t arrived yet. Cynicism will sneak in in the inner autumn. So you really have a clean slate and you’ve got hope and you are optimistic and there’s almost a little of polly-anna-ish energy in the most positive of senses.
Sjanie: I love the way you describe the entry into spring and how that vulnerability allows the full flow of this rising energy flow through you and with that also comes a feeling of natural motivation and enthusiasm. I feel quite driven. This energy can be quite intoxicating and it can be quite a thing to hold the energy as it comes through and I found really helpful to have something and somewhere to direct this energy, so naturally you feel driven and it’s just a question of where you drive it to. So it really helped to have or to find some kind of focus and I think focus naturally comes to in this season. If you can be present to it focus can arise through that experimentation, inquiry, curiosity, focus can naturally arise.
Alexandra: It’s really very lovely and precious and very innocent at the heart of it. You’ve gotten innocence back again and it’s priceless to cherish that innocence. If I was to say what’s the catch cry of this phase: care for that innocent self, because it’s like that innocent self says “why not!” because that’s cynic is not around. You can be foolhardy…and every creative project needs a little fool-hardiness to get off the ground so really cherish lovely foolhardiness and then you’ve got that natural motivation and focus to really support you. It’s a super energy. Ok, so now we’ve been moving through the inner spring. And that initial vulnerability is strengthening now and we are stabilising ourselves in this lovely fresh energy and now we’re going to cross that line into the inner summer. I think I’m going to pass it over to you as you’re living it in such a vivid way as a menstruating woman.
Sjanie: The word you used there – the stabilizing of energy – that significant rush that happens in the inner spring, I think you kind of start to land with it and acclimatize to it. For me, by the time, it comes to my inner summer I have a feeling of being much more grounded in myself and much more stabilized like I have arrived. It is like being carried by a river and I have a feeling of “I am now resting in the current, in the flow”. There is a real sense of flow in inner summer, of harmony. I go with the flow and feel in the magic. …I’m in the stream, I’m in the groove, with a feeling of rhythm… Rhythm is quite a strong one here, a feeling of being in the beat or being in the pulse, a lovely kind of movement that is effortless and feels like I’m being held. So that quality of stabilising I feel is quite important. Alexandra, you have spoken to so many women about this. What are some of the things they say about this season?
Alexandra: Everything that you have said and this feeling really being on the top of their game. There’s a quality of invincibility and and if you have cared for your energy well this is where you have a peak of energy and there’s magnanimity and ebullience, a feeling of generosity like nothing is too much. It’s so amazing here. This is really super woman territory! And your focus is really on the outside world. During menstruation you’re in the inner worlds with yourself and now, in the inner summer, it’s not about you – you can be there for everybody else and it’s a very capable time. Women feel very capable and competent and can get on with things in this phase.
Sjanie: That’s right there’s a feeling of ‘I can do it all’ – a general sense of being able to manage it all and multitask it all and handle it all. I think of myself as a mother and when I’m in this season honestly it’s like it’s one time in the cycle that I feel like “ wow man I’ve got this sorted!” It’s a shame it doesn’t last! It’s about being more emotionally available and that really supports parenting, to show up and be more emotionally available to others. We see how much more physical energy we have at this time so we really can do more and be generous in a practical way, so our capacity to actually produce and do stuff and work hard is high. This is a time when I’m on fire when it comes to work. I’ll work at night and I’ll work early in the morning because I can and it feels very, very doable.
Alexandra: Another thing that comes to mind listening to you is that it is like the opposite of that for some women. For some women it’s the time of utter lusciousness and sensuality and pleasure and so it depends on your nature to which way it goes. But somewhere in there it’s about beauty and pleasure and sensuality and I guess the connecting thing here is the feeling of embodiment and being in yourself. We talk about this inner summer as the time to really show yourself and to share yourself. All the glories of the summer time. This of course is the woman we are valued for and celebrated for. But as we say to women in workshops – if you could hold this place all the time they answer “…ooohhh I might burn out.. I’d lose myself…” but fortunately we have the menstrual cycle. And now the cycle turns and we are crossing from this inner summer season and into the inner autumn of our cycle, the premenstrual time. This brings a whole other tone in and the very particular talents that we have at this time. Our challenge really in these times is that these talents aren’t really the ones that are appreciated in our society.
Now in an earlier episode we spoke about the second half of the cycle as drawing you back inside of yourself and the inner lights starting to come back up and the outer lights starting to dim. That’s the way of describing this transition as you come into yourself more. So let’s just reflect on some of these signature qualities of this inner autumn time.
Sjanie: Something that’s quite classic here is that you tend to feel more critical, more judgmental, able to see what’s not working, things that are not quite right, so you can see all the flaws and all the cracks, and so that critical energy really comes to the fore and with that the rising desire to speak your truth. In the inner autumn you have the capacity to be a truth speaker and it can be quite tricky to hold that down. There is a tendency to be more reactive and we want to say things how they are immediately – call a spade a spade you know…
Alexandra: Yes, I’d like to say that our polite socialized self is replaced with a somewhat more gutsy, more truth- speaking voice that comes bursting through. Really here at this time we are becoming more attuned. It’s like we have awakened other types of intelligence in ourselves, I want to use the word shamanic…But really intuitive, our animal nature starts to wake up so we can sense and feel things more and we can know things without really knowing why, and it’s not until later we understand why we said something perhaps. So we have a really instinctual knowing, a clarity of sight, of insight. You can be intuitive, or almost clairvoyant, you know you can really see into things and like you said see what’s not working. It’s an extraordinary power and it should be respected and cherished. It’s amazing, it’s inner autumn time.
Sjanie: And if you think back to a description of the inner light coming up this is the phase where this starts to happen and this is where your own needs start to come to the fore and your needs start to speak more loudly and you probably want to have more time and space for yourself and the power to say no becomes really crucial here. Just to say no to more, to create boundaries and space for yourself, so that you can start to give yourself and your needs the time that they asking for.
Alexandra: I just really want to follow that up by saying this is the time where you really clarify what your boundaries are – where you end and where someone else begins. It’s really fabulous like that. It’s such an essential piece in our developmental journey. It puts it all in stark relief knowing who we are and who we are not – it’s a fantastic power: boundary setting.
Sjanie: I just want to quickly relate this to the inner spring which is on the opposite side of the cycle which we were saying is quite a dynamic time where there is quite a strong charge that comes through you and that takes time and practice and skill to channel and contain that charge. And the inner autumn is very similar as there is also a strong charge. Channeling these strong forces at this time takes a lot of presence and slowness and pacing to the be able to hold those forces of the inner autumn
Alexandra: So let’s just have a little reflection process right now…Let’s think about where you are in your cycle right now. Do you have a sense of what season you feel you are in right now? Just think for a moment: Do I resonate with any of those experiences?
And what if someone who was listening right now isn’t experiencing what we’ve described? I want to flag that there is an archetypal version of the cycle that is undeniable however this is going to be affected by your character, your nature, your overall health, your life circumstances, how much you are able to care for the cycle and pace it, how you deal with the levels of stress in your life. It can also be connected to the year itself or the moon phase. The moon can really affect your experience of menstruation, so there are all sorts of elements that come in that can affect your experience and that is of course a part of a bigger conversation.
Sjanie: I think it’s really important at this point to say that while we have described the archetypal pattern here, this is not something you have to imagine you need to live up to or what you have to fit your cycle experience into. That’s not what this is about at all. This is just a way of unearthing potential that may be there and inviting you to pay attention to it, to notice what your version of this is.
And that’s our task for you this week! As you are practicing menstrual cycle awareness can you see it through the lense of the Inner Seasons and ask the question “What season do I feel I am in today and what are the energies I am in today that give me a sense that I am in this season?”
So just really inquire about your version of the Inner Seasons as you journey through your cycle. We really want you to know that this is not about you trying to fit your cycle experience into what we’re saying but about you coming into a deeper relationship to what your cycle actually is for you.