A Menopause Monologue

“A cyclical shape/structure ( as opposed to linear Aristotelian male orgasm shape/structure) is a female shape/structure, like the Wheel of The Year, like the cyclical menstrual cycle.

What else?

This circular repetitive structure is ubiquitous in paganism – Wicca etc. Like the Maiden Mother Crone cycle, like the Wheel of The year. Paganism perceives life as cyclic, circular, repetitive, coming around again. Connecting with menstruation, and  menopause is the ending of that cyclic life structure.

Do you remember your last period?

Menopause is something that you only become aware of after it has happened.

Do you remember your last period?

Panos by Carina Úbeda

Panos by Carina Úbeda

Our culture makes menstruating women invisible – tampons conceal the blood, sanitize and…what is the word? …Sanitize and deny the existence of menstruation. So that when it ends nobody’s any the wiser.

During the last 3 or 4 years of my periods I consciously chose to use reusable sanitary towels which had to be washed and dried and folded between uses. There was a kind of flappy thing with press studs that popped into my knickers and the clean towel was tucked into this sling. I had to change the towels every time I bled – like every little flow or drop stained the towel. In order to cut down the mess and to stay hygienic  each towel  had to be soaked in water immediately after removing it – or they became permanently stained. They were made in a fluffy kind of brushed cotton, and off-white – they stained easily.

Because the towels had to be changed and soaked at every drop and drip it was difficult to leave the house, a job of work was impossible. I managed a bookshop at the time – a front-facing customer service role – and I couldn’t have just left the floor, gone to the loo, put the soiled towel into a bucket of salt water and left it in the staff toilet, so I arranged to stay home during my periods, I used my holiday allowance visiting ‘auntie’. This made it important, it made my periods  important, it made me aware of them , to respect the blood flow. I felt I got to know my body more in those few years, how my cycles and needs shifted, than at any other time. It was very empowering, very empowering. I made my cycle visible, acknowledged, not denied, not hidden.

Do you remember your last period?

What else?

Invisibility. Invisible if you’re pregnant, invisible if you’re a mother, invisible if you’re childless.

This is all fitting together. Invisibility, invisibility of periods, cyclic periods, cyclic structure, cyclic time, cyclic pagan-time, cyclic pagan-year.

Do you remember your last period?

Is Paganism feminist? It can be goddess-oriented, but I’m not sure it’s Feminist. Is goddess-worship the same as Feminist? Pagan feminists? Feminist pagans? I don’t know. Just because my Paganism is green, feminist, goddess, earth, animal welfare oriented, I don’t think most Pagans are. In fact, the vast majority of Pagans are…I don’t like this train of thought. Think something else.

What else?

Maiden Mother Crone

(chants) We all come from the Goddess and to her we shall return, like a drop of rain falling to the ocean. Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again.

Cyclic.

We are a circle within a circle, with no beginning and never-ending.

Starhawk, obviously, Spiral Dance. Feminist Pagan Eco-Warrior, par for the course.

What else?

What else?

I remember my last period.

It was Lammas sunset seven years ago. I hadn’t had a period for over six months.

I was at a Pagan Ritual Camp with 200 or 300 other Pagans. It was the last night  of the camp and we had built the Wickerman , processed him through the fields and were taking him to the fire-pit to be burned and I remember passing the Priestess, Carol, skyclad under an Oak, welcoming the procession into the field and I felt SO happy, So fucking happy, so completely at one  with it all, In that place, in that ritual, in that time.

We were casting the circle, and they lit the Wickerman, and suddenly  I burst into tears, I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop. I had to leave the ritual circle and go cry in my tent. I cried hard night long.  I cried a cosmic grief in the pain of the childless mother.

Next morning I woke up and there was blood in my knickers and I thought “Oh wow! That’s what that was all about”.

Lammas is the harvest  ritual, is about reaping what you sow, is about reward.

My reward that year was infertility, barrenness, I don’t like those words – I wish there were more positive words for childlessness.

What else?

Is it over yet?

Has time run out for this monologue?

Or is it just my time that has run.”

This piece was originally written during a week of theatre workshops with RashDash physical theatre group, and was subsequently performed with Scramble Ensemble -women’s theatre collective, on 6th September 2017 at J2 The Cambridge Junction.
The image is of Panos by Carina Úbeda, a chilean artist who created an installation with used cloth sanitary towels mounted in embroidery hoops, embroidered with solgans.

Bella Basura 2017

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Jean Dark

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Thee Telepaths

Thee telepaths logoWhen I was a child I dreamt of running away with the circus, but now I’ve seen Thee Telepaths I want to run away with a psych rock band. Last Friday they played at The Cat Basket Psychedelic Delights  event at The Blue Moon in Cambridge, alongside local stalwarts Psychic Lemon and Warning Shadows. As I was  to compere the event I spent all week  listening to their Neon Spiral EP online, but hearing them perform War In My Head left me gasping “Oh, its just like Sister Ray said!”. Needless to say, they credit The Velvets  as influences, alongside  The Stooges, The MC5, Black Sabbath, Suicide, The Modern Lovers, Can, Neu!, Billy Childish, Loop, Mudhoney, Spacemen 3, The 13th Floor Elevators, Hawkwind, all these distinctive sounds smear through their music.

Seeing them live I was swept up in their raucous energy, and I was reminded most that they name-check Nuggets and Pebbles ’60s Garage Band compilations on their Facebook page.

Added to this Thee Telepaths have a heart-lurching stage presence that gleamed in the backroom gloom of The Blue Moon. A Wilko Johnsonesque wide-spread low-slung sprawl from bassist Tim often overspilled the space, at times he straddled the stage and dancefloor, so wide did he spread his lean thighs. Singer Dean seemed lost in possession, veering around the tiny stage like Ian Curtis on acid. Clasping his head in the crook of his elbow, grimacing, gurning, jerking a hand-jive that shook his whole body, crouching on the ground, staccato movements that wouldn’t look out of place at a Voodoo ritual. The Singer Loa-ridden called forth Papa Legba, and Baron Samedi on keyboard at his side. Tom, on keyboards, guitar and effects, was strutting confidence, spinning  on the spot, manipulating piano keys, effects pedals and guitar strings with assured dexterity. The drummer, Vincent, an eight-armed Hindu god blurred in motion, beat out insistent in the gloaming upstage.

The whole a heavy writhing spellbound pandemonium, while pinprick coloured lights swept across my eyes and the ceiling.

Thee Telepaths are clearly a band with social media savvy, they are visible on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Youtube, but as they are touring  right now, you would be doing yourself a big favour to catch them live.thee telepaths poster

 

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Jean Dark

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Bella Basura Live in March

Two performances for Bella Basura coming up this month…

Scarecrow Corner Springtime Benefit Gig, Cambridge
At The Devonshire Arms, 19th MarchScarecrow Corner S[ringtime Benefit Gig

Poetic Springs Bury St Edmunds

Poetic Springs, Bury St Edmunds
Anselm Community Centre, 23rd March

Limited copies of The Short Answer chapbook will be on sale at both events.