A Book Response
Historically, women’s sexuality has taken a backseat to men’s as its only perceived relevance was in relationship to men's pleasure or demise. But women have always had full sex lives of their own. In fact, women go through powerful initiations in conjunction with their blood rites that propel them into new heights of sexual experience. “The Rhythms of Women’s Desire” by Elizabeth Davis unveils the mystery of women and sex at every stage of life.
In reading this book, I’m brought to reflection on my own journey through the Blood Mysteries and my relationship to sexuality. My earliest years followed closely to that of many American girls. My first experiences of sexuality were centered on curiosity of my own body well before menarche. When my first moon came it went without much recognition. I never bothered to tell anyone except for the school nurse out of embarrassment. My mother later revealed that she only knew I had started bleeding because she saw her menstrual supplies disappearing. Somewhere along the line I knew what to expect, likely from school or a book checked out for me from the library by my mother. But fear of my body eventually crept in anyway, followed by shame and a new focus on maintaining attractiveness from the opposite sex.
It wasn’t until my thirties that I consciously began a relationship with my own sexuality. I learned of the Sacred Blood Mysteries and for the first time I saw my body and sexuality as a connection to my spiritual self. I’ve grieved over the loss of crossing into motherhood many times without the full knowledge of how to really honor the transformation. But I am grateful that the transformations occurred nonetheless. I am who I am today largely because of the revelations I was gifted through the act of giving birth and the challenges of motherhood, trauma and all. Even the most trying experiences all served as a call to a deeper knowing of myself.
The most important thing I take away from this book is that women’s sexuality is a doorway into the soul self. There are many forces that distract women from making time to be in relationship with their sexuality. I’d go as far to say that this, at least historically, is intentional. There is no threat greater to the order of the masses than self-actualized women. However, I believe that real healthy and lasting happiness is only achieved by reclaiming the power within and using that power in collaboration with others. So, I am eternally thankful to Elizabeth Davis for offering an approachable walk through the Blood Mysteries so that once again the wisdom of our sexual and spiritual nature will be common knowledge.
Because of the dedicated women who kept this wisdom alive, I’ve found ways to honor and celebrate my blood now, while I still have it. I feel proud of myself for opening a conversation with my daughter in preparation for her first bleed. Just before it came, I gave her a basket filled with supplies, books and comfort items. She was so excited when her blood came and I will forever cherish that I was the first person she told, with a huge smile on her face. She was sent letters and gifts from a few family members and women that I circled with at the time who I reached out to with her permission. And we celebrated with a special day out with her aunt and cousin, who was anticipating her own first bleed. I know that my daughter’s relationship to her blood and body will be different than how mine began and it means the world to me to have these memories together.
Now that I’ve reached 40, I’m no longer afraid of aging. The challenges that arise at midlife such as stress, anger and relational upsets are very much present. With a span of little kids, adolescents and teens in the house, there are multiple roller coasters of emotions and needs to be met. But they have more and more capability as they age and I have more wisdom at this point on the spiral to know that I am not responsible for meeting every single one alone. There is some grief in letting go but also I feel a new excitement for each of my children to walk their own journeys.
As my husband and I seem to be switching roles sexually and reassessing who we are individually, I have plenty of opportunity to practice awareness and to check in with myself like never before. Sex has always been an important part of our marriage but now it has become more expansive individually and relationally. Another area that I believe this stage offers tremendous ability for growth, personally, is in recognizing codependency. My new focus has been to exercise healthy boundaries, to show vulnerability in asking for help and to practice meeting my own needs in an honest and loving way rather than denying or going without. I feel more at ease in meeting difficulties than ever before because I know myself better and I have more experience trusting myself to get me through.
I look forward to dancing through menopause, reclaiming my blood and becoming the wise woman crone who has begun revealing herself to me from within. Having the fore-knowledge of what my body might do is especially helpful and yet, I’m aware that the unfolding will be uniquely mine. Over the years my mother has become more open so for this loop around the spiral, I will ask her about her experiences and share my own.
These years I am tending to myself in new ways, healing from past traumas and my relationship with myself is only growing stronger and deeper. There is less fear and more openness towards developing sisterhood with other women and that is something that I plan to explore further. The wisdom within the pages of “The Rhythms of Women’s Desire” by Elizabeth Davis is a must read for any woman who wants greater context in understanding the significant transition points in her life, who wants to know herself more fully, and who is interested in dancing through life with more openness and pleasure.