This week for The Leak, Jane Catherine Severn takes us into a journey deep into the divine feminine.
What an honour it is to be invited to add some words to the swelling chorus of voices in our times calling for acknowledgement of, and provision for, the long-excluded reality of our feminine lives – our menstrual cycles and menopause. Given the dense and distorting history of ignorance, prejudice, demonising and pathologising these aspects of womanly life have suffered for thousands of years, our quest really does need to be, in the most literal sense of the word, one of redeeming – carried out with all the meticulous care and detailed attention of an archaeological dig within ourselves to find the truths long buried under layer upon layer of age-old dirt and neglect.
The art of redeeming asks us to do two things: firstly, to see very clearly that what our menstrual cycles and menopause have been deemed to be (said to be) over the centuries is not what they actually are; and secondly to take into our own hands and hearts and mouths the right to re-deem (give a different account of) those sacred feminine processes from an accurately informed point of reference. That is to say, we need to dare to learn the language of our deeply distrusted hormones on their own terms so that we can begin to understand and speak with resonating conviction from the original source that has never yet been taken into account, let alone given credibility.
As a young woman embarking on my own (at that time very solitary) quest to dig up and reassemble the scattered fragments of our lost feminine knowledge, I quickly realised that our greatest impediment to knowing who we are is that we have only the language of our oppressors, our menstruality-averse cultures, with which to speak to each other, or even think within ourselves, about all the mysterious things that occur in our monthly and midlife changes. At that time, I was just discovering the supremely sacred overarching design of the feminine nature, the whole and holy holographic matrix within which our ‘4M’ life-sequence of menarche, menstrual cycle years, menopause and mature life sings in perfect harmonic resonance with every fourfold pattern and rhythm in Nature and the Universe. Illuminating, exhilarating, life-exploding as this new awareness was, it came with the heart-stopping grief of realising our predicament. Nowhere in the vast lexicons of the English language (or any other I have so far enquired into) could a name be found for the elegant and eloquent, intimate and intricate, perfect and purposeful 4M life-design traversed by most women on Planet Earth. The simplest and most necessary facts of our lives have been withheld from us, and we don’t even know they are missing. There is so much more to us than we realise, but deprived of words with which to build our basic self-knowledge we are standing with our backs to the mirror, unable to see and unable to be who we really are.
I wrote my first book, The World Within Women: the femenome guide to your menstrual cycle, as a catalyst for the foundational process of re-deeming we need to engage in now. Freeing ourselves from the deeply prejudiced and scandalously unquestioned assumptions of mainstream “knowledge” about our menstrual cycles and menopause, and turning instead to the revolutionary method of learning from their own admittedly mysterious ways, invites us to re-purpose some familiar words and create fresh new ones to keep our experience uncontaminated. There can be no more powerful act of re-author-ising our own lives than assembling our very own vocabulary for our very own purpose. I will leave you with a short excerpt from The World Within Women that suggests a starting point in that re-deeming:
“The purpose of this book and its following volumes is to bring a new sound into the world – the sound of women speaking in a whole new way about what has been unmentionable. That sound is the name femenome®.
We have a new name for the un-named feminine metacycle:
menarche/menstrual cycle years/menopause/mature life.
It is called the femenome.
Just as the whole map of a species’ genes is called its genome, so we can now use the word femenome to describe our inherent feminine design. The femenome is the complete lexicon of spiritual and energetic information for being female that is stored in women’s hormonal circuitry. It is the garden in which we grow our Self, the matrix, or motherboard governing our lifelong psycho-spiritual maturation.
The femenome is an energetic entity, the omni-presence of the divine feminine aspect of life itself. And it is at the same time our own individual and personal expression of that entity, that nature, within our female human body. We are the stars in her galaxy, the numberless leaves in her forests, all made of her yet no two alike. She is ours. We are hers. She has been banished into dormancy for longer than human memory can stretch. And now she is awakening.”
Jane Catherine Severn
Jane Catherine Severn is a Psychotherapist, Pascha Therapist, Menstruality Educator and writer living in Christchurch, Aotearoa (New Zealand). She has spent her life discerning and developing a radically empowering new body of knowledge for women called Conscious Menstruality. In 2005 she established Luna House (www.lunahouse.co.nz), an educational and therapeutic service offering women and the men who love them an alternative approach to and support with menarche, menstrual cycles, menopause and mature life. She continues to offer workshops, courses, seminars and talks throughout Aotearoa, as well as training therapists in her newly developed specialist modality – femenome therapy. Her first book, The World Within Women: the femenome guide to your menstrual cycle, was published in 2021 (www.femenome.com) and her second, The Alchemy of Menopause, is on its way.