Labyrinth walk into Winter Menstruating
In the autumn phase I am reminded of the changing leaves and the withdrawal as energy focuses inwards.
Autumn can be a challenging time of navigating the emotional pulls from an outward phase to the inner self. It has the reputation of premenstrual stress as fluctuations in our body chemistry can be hard as we are oulled away from one direction to focus on another. These changes are totally unique to each one of us and even unique to each cycle. This is where my discernment comes in as we have skills in this phase to say without doubt “this is for me right now and this is not”. In this phase I start prepping the food stocks, getting the washing done. Proceeding mindfully though, so not to over do it as this is the phase that will have me asking for help. Useful to be informing our significant others of what we need and how we need it. For me this is when I can get far too hyped with the cleaning and the nesting until complete exhaustion and asking “what am I doing?” but I have already pulled out the sofa and got polishing the skirting boards.
Cortisol “stress hormone” can be testing constraints along with the progesterone level peaking so a heightened sense of security and monitoring comes in. This is responsible for hypersensitivity and everything just so. It is also worth considering that trauma responses and triggers are recognised here, this is the week I notice more than the other weeks in my cycle of my actions and reactions. PMS (premenstrual stress) and PME (premenstrual exhaustion), PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) can be related, in my opinion, to past trauma. Hyper security and hyper sensitivity are related to trauma responses. If you have stress exhaustion, dysphoria and a past history of trauma then this week needs tending. For me I signpost that this is exactly what is going on. That the thoughts and feelings are in hypersensitivity and hyper security levels, this is where tracking the cycle is needed so that it is charted and recognised, it is visible. Asking myself “what is it that needs addressing”, the root of this is key for me. It is usually something bothering me and once removed it feels ok. Just like any security issue, once the threat is removed, I settle. This could range from a request for me to act or be responsible for something. If I am able to pass it on to someone else, I feel better. But getting to that understanding is not in my “normal mind”. It takes a while. This is why the journal prompts are so useful to me. It allows the unseen in a situation, usually writing things down can lead to a flow of free writing which unearths the feels.
Physically at this time the progesterone peak is responsible for the ability for deep rest as it aids sleep so naps are helpful. Think of this as the resting instinct, it is a chemical response to our hormonal changes. As we are seeking to arrange our environment for things to be just right, yes Goldilocks was a cyclical being and aren’t folk tales just a form of storytelling from the elders?! This chemical change brings in hypervigilant and precision~to~detail functionality. So in the material world our projects and reports will be sharpened masterpieces when looked at this week. “The eyes of autumn are all seeing”. By that I mean there is no woolly hat over my eyes! We are all seeing, sensitive, intuitive beings but we have a limited amount of surplus energy diminished from summer reservoirs. I need to be gauging my activity as well as providing nourishment for the body so self-care is on the top of my list. The body knows best and there is craving for the sweet stuff, if it is chocolate I look at the iron and magnesium requirements. This matches my craving for seeds, I love pumpkin seeds at this phase, minerals all the way.
Preparing for this phase in our lineage society when we get pushed outwards is tricky. When I am wanting my blanket and a book to cover my snoozing face the world keeps on with its expansive wants and needs. I don’t have any answers here to change the system but what I can say is talking about cyclicity to our partners, family, friends and colleagues helps. When our others become aware of cyclical terminology of inner landscapes and changing requirements, it helps society. For me, listening to others’ observations was helpful as my autumn phases changed my home behaviour and my frantic cleaning and organising was an insight from those around me. When I feel so overwhelmed I need to explain what chaos is running in my mind and ask for help. It opened up for some helpful conversations and made the load lighter. I have no research to offer you about navigating here, but I know from my own patterns and behaviours and I am able to sit with my phases far more consciously since I have charted and observed myself. I have recognised that by consciously cycling I have been entering into perimenopause with more body awareness. Pushing against my biochemical rhythms is very much like hitting my head against the wall, literally.
Enter into the Labyrinth
If autumn and winter are challenging this is where a journey mentality can be useful. It can be described as an inward and outward walk through the shadow. This is where a map such as a Labyrinth walk can be useful. As we enter inwards, we go equipped, the aim is to uncover insight to bring back into the world. Labyrinths have been found in ancient cultures throughout the world from Egypt to Greece to South America and everywhere in between. A labyrinth is a single path or tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. It is a metaphor for the journey to the centre of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are, enabling you to move forward confidently and consciously.
If this time is especially challenging we can use the labyrinth as a guide. The journey starts with preparation, this is the beginning of the path inwards. It is seeing to the lists, the bag packed (see winter phase post) then as I bleed I am in the centre. I navigate out of the labyrinth as an exit from the winter phase. This phase is useful for me, to see the outward path visibly, to keep drawings of the labyrinth around my space so I know the Map and can see the navigation occurring. This is a journey to be done with an alley and if you don’t have a friend, a sister-kind to do this with, you can ask for a spirit guide, a Goddess, a deity or use an oracle or tarot deck. If you need an actual person on the other end of the phone, talk, ask them ahead of time.
I like to pick a crystal and some jewellery as well for this time as a talisman. These have been used throughout the ages as a comfort, a companion, a good luck charm etc. Your talisman is something to carry with you and something that carries you throughout the journey so pick a symbol that is meaningful to you. And remember to cleanse and clear it after the journey.
The shadow aspect of our autumn phase is similar to the waning moon so think of your energy at this point. Taking a physical journey at this point may leave you feeling exhausted at the thought of it. But let the path unfold as the shadow side of this phase is where we find useful information, take my cleaning for example, no hoovering is going to make my space any safer. Releasing myself from overcommitted responsibilities does.
This phase of the journey can be sketched, journaled and a well crafted endeavour, it will let you see that there is a beginning, a middle and an end to this part of your cycle. I spent years wishing the PMS and menstruation would end, I didn’t want the journey, I just wanted another spring to appear, now I appreciate the rest and sleep. Pacing myself is the key as well as an understanding that this week I will be slower and quieter than normal.
A good place to start is always with pen and paper so here are the journaling prompts for autumn and I wish you well on your journey into the labyrinth.
Journal prompts for autumn include;
What am I needing to clarify at present?
What is my current emotion?
How am I addressing this emotion?
What gives me comfort right now?
What am I worrying about?
What am I anxious over?
What feelings are prominent?
What is my body telling me today?
What can I cancel from my diary?
What can I communicate to my loved ones today?
What can I prepare today that my future self will thank me for tomorrow?