If you are a follower to any extent of astrology, you know that the placements of the sun, moon, and planets at your time of birth play a role into your personality and inner-being. As the planets orbit around the sun- in and out of retrogrades and conjunctions- they continue to influence daily life, potentially affecting emotional health, and in turn mental and physical health. But did you know the correlation between your menstrual cycle and the moon phases can influence your psyche as well?
As a lover of the sun, moon, and stars, as well as astrology, mystic, and magic, I immediately did a deep dive of research on this for my own curiosity. The history buff in me added to the excitement upon realizing the connections between understanding the effects of the moon and ancient through enlightenment history.
To give a comprehensive overview of how menstrual cycles link to the moon, I compiled a primer on mythology and medicine history that relates to the moon and a guide on identifying the influence of your current cycle alignment.
Ancient History and Mythology
Prior to the physiological understanding of the menstrual cycle, periods were believed to be both a curse and a time of heightened spirituality. Before Abrahamic religions deemed it the unspeakable, pagan religions explained the natural force of the cycle through believing it to be sent by goddesses – coincidentally goddesses of the moon. Here are a few examples:
In Ancient Greece they worshipped Selene, the moon goddess (believed to be the moon herself) who controlled the cycles. Artemis the virgin goddess of the moon also influenced young girls, health, childbirth, and fertility, and Hera the goddess of marriage and childbirth who was believed to have the power to bring on menstruation and worshiping her included menstrual cycles in correlation with the moon.
In Ancient Egypt, Isis the goddess of women, magic, and healing was symbolized by the Ankh, a symbol referred to as the “key of life” and has often been associated with imagery of the uterus. Further, she is believed to be the divine mother to the Pharaohs, descendants of her uterus/cycle being the legitimate power holders of Egypt. When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, with Greek spiritual influence, Isis became associated with the moon.
In Chinese mythology, Chang’e is the goddess of menstruation. In her lore she leaves her husband to become the moon goddess.
In Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest practiced religions in the world, Jahi the goddess of menstruation is personified as the moon.
Many mythological stories also portray a correlation between goddesses of menstruation and war, which could be a whole other article.
The Moon and Medicine
As monotheism began to rise in influence, a shift towards philosophical reason slowly evolved to explain the relationship between the moon and people. As early as the first century AD, Pliny, a roman philosopher, suggested that the morning dew was caused by the moon and during the full moon so much dew is produced that it increases moisture in the brain leading to madness.
The word lunatic arose in the late 13th century, deriving from the Latin word lunaticus meaning “moon struck” and old English monseoc meaning “moon sick” to describe periods of insanity dependent on the moon cycle. For hundreds of years, and into today, the idea that the moon has influence over our psyche remains prevalent. The argument has even been used in law and judiciary settings to argue psychological defense against crimes.
In 1970 the book The Lunar Effect was published claiming that the gravitational pull of the moon which effects tides also pulls on the fluids in our body, causing biological and psychological changes in accordance with the moon cycle.
Physicians have also claimed that the moon can affect one’s health, causing sickness related to the moon cycle. During the mid-1700s, Richard Meade, King George II’s physician claimed that the full moon caused epidemic fevers, noting that the plague began during a new moon and worsened during the tides. He also articulated that the position of the moon on relation to closeness to the earth affect the circulatory system; he believed that when the moon was closest to the earth it would cause the swelling of blood vessels. About forty years later physician Francis Balfour built on Meade’s theory and claimed that the three days before the full moon and three days following were critical to fever diseases.
Menstrual Moon Cycles
Over time, theory began to come together that correlated the menstrual cycle to the moon cycle, which pulled on the ancient lore as well as physiological understanding mentioned above.
Menstruation and moon cycles both have four distinct stages that have been paired together:
Menstruation and the new moon
Follicular (preparing to release an egg) and the waxing moon
Ovulation and the full moon
Luteal (uterus prepares for possible pregnancy and the waning moon
As medicine advanced physicians learned that women do not all follow the same cycle and environmental and biological factors, as well as stressors may affect the consistency and timeframe of cycles. Through which four common cycles have been identified: white, red, pink, and purple. Disclaimer: there is no right or wrong cycle.
White Moon Cycle
The White Moon Cycle, outlined above, is the most common. On this cycle one is in balance with the earth and moon’s divinity. This cycle is associated with the mother phase with a focus on nurturing. Having your period during the new moon is associated with intuition and drawing oneself inward to focus on self and personal needs to rest the body, mind, and spirit during menstruation. This cycle is favored by patriarchy because it is usually focused on childbearing.
Red Moon Cycle
The Red Moon Cycle is the inverted cycle of the one above, menstruating on the full moon and ovulating on the new moon. This cycle is associated with healers, helpers, empowerment, and wisdom. In lore this cycle was associated with witches and witchcraft. Energy is usually channeled outward, and often creative with a passion for community, teaching, and leading with an emphasis on self-actualization and growth. This cycle holds power in one’s own sexual energy, defying the patriarchy and disconnecting from it.
Pink Moon Cycle
The Pink Moon Cycle menstruates with the waxing moon and ovulates with the waning moon. This cycle is associated with a transitional stage of life out of darkness, focused on inner reflection to get to a state of rest. The coming stage will likely be one of strength and power, moving you towards the Red Moon Cycle.
Purple Moon Cycle
The Purple Moon Cycle menstruates on the waning moon and ovulates with the waxing moon. Again, this is believed to be a transitional cycle leaving behind the full moon to a stage of inner reflection, quietness, and shadow self. This is time to take hold of your values and let go of what no longer serves you to transform into the White Moon Cycle.
To repeat myself, there is no right or wrong way to fit into any of these cycles. Take from this what resonates with you and leave behind what does not.