Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets)
From the earliest human cultures, the mysterious magic of creation
was thought to reside in the blood women gave forth in apparent
harmony with the moon, and which was occasionally retained in the
womb to ’coagulate’ into a baby. Men regarded this blood with
holy dread, as the life essence, inexplicably shed without pain,
wholly foreign to male experience.
Most words for menstruation also meant such things as
incomprehensible, supernatural, sacred, spirit, deity. Like the
Latin sacred, old Arabian words for ’pure’
and ’impure’ both applied to menstrual blood and to that
only. The Maoris stated explicitly that human souls
are made of menstrual blood, which when retained in the womb
’assumes human form and grows into a man.’ Africans
said menstrual blood is ’congealed to fashion a man’. Aristotle
said the same: human life is made of ’coagulum’ of menstrual
blood. Pliny called menstrual blood the ’material substance
of generation’, capable of forming ’a curd, which afterwards in
process of time quickeneth and groweth to the form of a body.’ This
primitive notion of the prenatal function of menstrual blood
was still taught in European medical schools up to the 18th
Basic ideas about menstrual blood came from the
Hindu theory that as the Great Mother creates,
her substances become thickened and forms a curd or clot; solid
matter is produced as a ’crust’. This was the way she gave birth to
the cosmos, and women employ the same method on a smaller scale.
According to Daustinius, ’the fruit in the womb is nourished
by the mother’s blood....The menstruum does not fail the
fruit for nourishment, till it at the proper time comes to the light
of the day.’
Indians of South America said all mankind was made of
’moon blood’ in the beginning. The same idea prevailed in ancient
Mesopotamia, where the Great Goddess Ninhursag
made mankind out of clay and infused with her "blood of life."
Under her alternate name of Mammetun or Aruru
the Great, the Potter, she taught women to form clay
dolls and smear them with menstrual blood as a conception-charm, a
piece of magic that underlay the name of Adam, from
the feminine adamah, meaning "bloody clay,"
though scholars more delicately translated it "red earth."
The Bible’s story of Adam was lifted from an
older female-oriented creation myth recounting the creation of man
from clay and moonblood. So was the
Koran’s creation story, which said Allah "made man
out of flowing blood"; but in pre-Islamic Arabia, Allah
was the Goddess of creation, Al-Lat. The
Romans also had traces of the original creation myth.
Plutarch said man was made of earth, but the power that made a
human body grow was the moon, source of menstrual blood.
The lives of the very gods were dependent on the miraculous power of
menstrual blood. In Greece it was euphemistically
called the "supernatural red wine" given to the gods by
Mother Hera in her virgin form, as Hebe.
The root myths of Hinduism reveal the nature of this ’wine’.
At one time all gods recognized the supremacy of the Great
Mother, manifesting herself as the spirit of creation (Kali-Maya).
’invited them to
bath in the bloody flow of her womb and to drink of it; and the
gods, in holy communion, drank of the fountain of life -- (hic
est sanguis meus!) -- and bathed in it, and rose blessed to
To this day, clothes
allegedly stained with the Goddess's menstrual blood are
greatly prized as healing charms. W.R. Smith reported that
the value of the gum acacia as an amulet "is connected to the idea
that it is menstruous blood, i.e., that the tree is a woman."
For religious ceremonies, Australian aborigines
painted their sacred stones, churingas, and themselves with
red ochre, declaring that it was really women’s menstrual
The esoteric secret of the gods was that their
mystical powers of longevity, authority, and creativity came from
the same female essence. The Norse god Thor for
example reached the magic land of enlightenment and eternal life by
bathing in a river filled with the menstrual blood of ’giantesses’
-- that is of the Primal Matriarchs, "Powerful Ones"
who governed the elder gods before Odin brought his ’Asians’
(Aesir) out of the East. Odin acquired
supremacy by stealing and drinking the ’wise blood’ from the
triple cauldron in the womb of the Mother-Earth, the
same Triple Goddess known as Kali-Maya
in the southeast Asia.
Odin’s theft of menstrual magic
paralleled that of Indra, who stole the ambrosia
of immortality in the same way. Indian myth
called the sacred fluid Soma -- in Greek, "the
body", because the word’s eastern root referred to a
mystical substance of the body. Soma was the object of
so much holy dread that its interpretations were many.
was produced by the churning of the primal sea (Kali’s
’ocean of blood’ or sometimes ’sea of milk’).
was secreted by the Moon-Cow.
was carried in the ’white pot’ (belly) of Mohini the Enchantress.
Or the source of
Soma was the moon.
Or from Soma all the gods were born.
was the secret name of the Mother Goddess and
the active part of the ’soul of the world’.
drunk by priests at sacrificial ceremonies and mixed with milk as a
healing charm; therefore it was not milk. Soma was
especially revered on Somvara, Monday, the day
of the moon. In an ancient ceremony called Soma-vati,
women of Maharastra circumambulated the sacred
female-symbolic fig tree whenever the new moon fell on a Monday.
Some myths claimed the Goddess under her name of Lakshmi,
"Fortune" or "Sovereignty", gave Soma to
Indra to make him king of the gods. His wisdom, power,
and curiously feminine capacity for pregnancy, came from
Lakshmi’s mystic drink, ’of which none tastes who dwells
on earth.’ On drinking it straight from the Goddess, Indra
became like her, the Mount of Paradise with its four rivers,
"many-hued" like the Goddess's rainbow veils, rich in
cattle and fruiting vegetation. The Goddess’s blood
became his wisdom. Similarly, Greeks believed the
wisdom of men or god was centered in his blood, the soul-stuff given
by his mother.
Egyptian pharaohs became divine by ingesting ’the
blood of Isis,’ a soma-like ambrosia called sa.
Its hieroglyphic sign was the same as the sign of the vulva,
a yonic loop like the one on the ankh or
Cross of Life. Painted red, this loop signified the female
genital and the Gate of Heaven. Amulets buried with the dead
specifically prayed Isis to deify the deceased with
her magic blood. A special amulet called the Tjet
represented Isis’s vulva and was formed of red
substance - jasper, carnelian, red porcelain, red glass, or red
wood. This amulet was said to carry the redeeming power of the blood
The same elixir of immortality received the name of
amrita in Persia. Sometimes it was called the
Milk of the Mother Goddess, sometimes a fermented
drink, sometimes sacred blood. Always it was associated with the
and rain becoming vegetable sap,
sap becoming the milk of the cow, and the milk then
becoming converted into blood; --Amrita, water,
sap, milk, and blood represent but differing states
of the one elixir. The vessel or cup of this immortal fluid is
became gods by drinking the ’red mead’ dispensed by the
Fairy Queen, Mab, whose name was formerly
Medhbh or "mead." Thus she gave a drink of
herself. Lakshmi. A Celtic name of this fluid was
dergflaith, meaning either "red ale" or "red
sovereignty." In Celtic Britain, to be stained
with red meant to be chosen by the Goddess as king. Celtic ruadh meant both "red" and "royal." The same
blood color implied apotheosis after death. The pagan
paradise or Fairyland was at the uterine
center of the earth, site of the magic Fountain of Life.
An old manuscript in the British Museum said the dying - and
- resurrected Phoenix lives there forever. The central
Holy Mountain or mons veneris contains both male and
female symbols: the Tree of Life and the Fountain of Eternal Youth, the latter obviously menstrual,
as it was said to overflow once every lunar month.
Medieval churchmen insisted that the communion wine drunk by
witches was menstrual blood, and they may have
been right. The famous wizard Thomas Rhymer joined a
witch cult under the tutelage of the Fairy Queen,
who told him she had "a bottle of claret wine here in her lap,"
and invited him to lay his head in her lap. Claret was
the traditional drink of the kings and also a synonym for blood;
its name literally meant ’enlightenment.’ There was a
saying, "the man in the moon drinks claret," connected with
the idea that the wine represented lunar blood.
Medieval romance and the courtly-love movement, later related to the
witch cults, were strongly influenced by the
Tantric tradition, in which menstrual blood was
indeed the wine of poets and sages. It is still specified in the
Left Hand Rite of Tantra that the priestess impersonating
the goddess must be menstruating, and after contact with her a man
may perform rites that will make him "a great poet, a Lord of the
World" who travels on elephant-back like a rajah.
In ancient societies both east and west, menstrual blood
carried the spirit of sovereign authority because it was the medium
of transmission of the life of clan or tribe. Among the
Ashanti, girl children are still more prized than boys
because a girl is the carrier of "blood" (mogya). The
concept is also clearly defined in India, where
menstrual blood is known as the Kula flower or
Kula nectar, which has an intimate connection with the life
of the family.
When a girl first menstruates she is said to have ’borne the
flower’. The corresponding English word flower has the
significant literal meaning of ’that which flows’.
The Bible also calls menstrual blood the flower
(Leviticus 15:24), precursor of the fruit of the womb (a child). As
any flower mysteriously contained its future fruit, so uterine blood
was the moon-flower supposed to contain the soul of future
generations. This was a central idea in the matrilineal concept of
The Chinese religion of Tao, "the Way",
taught Tantric doctrines later supplanted by
patriarchal-ascetic Confucianism. Taoists said a
man could become immortal (or at least long-lived) by absorbing
menstrual blood, called red yin juice, from a
woman’s Mysterious Gateway, otherwise known as the Grotto
of the White Tiger, symbol of life-giving female energy. Chinese
sages called this red juice the essence of Mother Earth,
the yin principal that gives life to all
things. They claimed the Yellow Emperor became a
god by absorbing the yin juice of twelve hundred women.
A Chinese myth said the Moon-goddess
Chang-O, who controlled menstruation, was offended by
male jealousy of her powers. She left her husband, who quarreled
with her because she had all the elixir of immortality, and he had
none, and was resentful. She turned her back on him and went to live
in the moon forever, in much the same way Lilith left
Adam to live at the ’Red Sea’. Chang-O
forbade men to attend Chinese moon festivals, which were afterward
celebrated by women only, at the full moon of the autumnal equinox.
The Hebrew word for blood, dam, means ’mother’
or ’woman’ in other Indo-European languages (e,g. dam,
damsel, madam, la dama, dame) and also "the curse" (damn).
The Sumerian Great Mother represented maternal blood
and bore names like Dam-kina, Damgalnunna. From her
belly flowed the four rivers of Paradise, sometimes called rivers of
blood which is the ’life’ of all flesh. Her firstborn child,
the savior, was Damu, a "child of the blood."
Damos or ’mother-blood" was the word for "the
people" in matriarchal Mycenae. Another common
ancient symbol of the blood-river of life was the red carpet,
traditionally trod by scared kings, heroes, and brides.
Taoist China considered red a scared color associated
with women, blood, sexual potency, and creative power. White was the
color of men, semen, negative influences, passivity, and death. This
was the basic Tantric Idea of male and female
essences: the male principal is seen as ’passive’ and ’quiescent’;
the female principal as ’active’and ’creative’, the
reverse of later patriarchal views.
Female blood color alone was often considered a potent magic
charm. The Maori rendered anything sacred by
coloring it red, and calling the red color menstrual blood.
Andaman Islanders thought blood-red paint a powerful
medicine, and painted sick people red all over in an effort to cure
them. Hottentots addressed their Mother Goddess
as one "who has painted thy body red"; she was divine because she
never dropped or wasted menstrual blood. Some African tribes
believed that menstrual blood alone, kept in a covered pot for none
months, had the power to turn itself into a baby.
Easter eggs, classic womb-symbols of the Goddess Eostre,
were traditionally colored red and laid on graves to strengthen the
dead. This habit, common in Greece and southern Russia, might be traced all the way back to Paleolithic
graves and funeral furnishing reddened with ochre, for a closer
resemblance to the Earth Mother’s womb from which the
dead could be "born again." Ancient tombs everywhere have shown the
bones of the dead covered with red ochre. Sometimes everything in
the tomb, including the walls, had the red color. J.D. Evans
described a well tomb on Malta filled reddened bones,
which struck fear into the workmen who insisted the bones were
covered with "fresh blood."
A born-again ceremony from Australia showed that the
Aborigines linked rebirth with the blood of the womb. The chant
performed at Ankota, the "vulva of the earth,"
emphasized the redness surrounding the worshipper:
"A straight track is
gaping open before me. An underground hollow is gaping before
me. A cavernous pathway is gaping before me. An underground
pathway is gaping before me. Red I am like the heart of a flame
of fire. Red, too, is the hollow in which I am resting."
Images like these help
explain why some of the oldest mages of the goddess, like
Kurukulla in the east and her counterpart Cybele
in the west, were associated with both caverns and redness.
Greek mystics were "born again" out of the
river Styx, otherwise known as Alpha, "the
Beginning." This river wound seven times through the earth’s
interior and emerged at a yonic shrine near the city
of Clitor (Greek kleitoris) sacred to the
Great Mother. Styx was the blood-stream from the earth’s
vagina; its waters were credited with the same dread powers as
menstrual blood. Olympian gods swore their absolutely binding oaths
by the waters of Styx, as men on earth swore by the
blood of their mothers. Symbolic death and rebirth were linked with
baptism in the waters of Styx, as in many other sacred
rivers the world over. Jesus himself was baptized in Palestine’s version of the Styx, the river
Jordan. When a man bathed seven times in this river,
"his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child" (2
Kings 5:14). In Greek tradition the journey to the
land of death meant crossing the Styx; in
Judeo-Christian tradition it was crossing the Jordan.
That was the same "river of blood crossed by Thomas
Rhymer on his way to Fairyland.
Tantric worship of menstrual blood penetrated the
Greco-Roman world before the Christian era and was well established
in the Gnostic period. This worship provided the agape
- "love-feast" or "spiritual marriage" - practiced by
Gnostic Christians like the Ophites. Another
name for the agape was synesaktism, "the Way
of Shaktism," meaning Tantric yoni-worship.
Synesaktism was declared a heresy before the 7th century
A.D. Subsequently the "love-feast" disappeared, and women
were forbidden direct participation in Christian worship, according
to St. Paul’s rule (1 Timothy 2:11-12).
Epiphanius described the agape practiced by
Ophite Christians, while making it clear that these
heretical sexual activities filled him with horror:
"Their women they
share in common; and when anyone arrives who might be alien to
their doctrine, the men and women have a sign by which they make
themselves known to each other. When they extend their hands,
apparently in greeting, they tickle the other’s palm in a
certain way and so discover whether the new arrival belongs to
their cult.… Husbands separate from their wives, and a man will
say to his own spouse, "Arise and celebrate the love feast (agape)
with thy brother."
And the wretches
mingle with each other…after they have consorted together in a
passionate debauch…The woman and the man take the man’s
ejaculation into their hands, stand up… offering to the Father,
the Primal Being of All Nature, what is on their
hands, with the words, "We bring to Thee this oblation, which is
the very Body of Christ." …They consume it, take
housel of their shame and say:
"This is the
Body of Christ, the Paschal Sacrifice through
which our bodies suffer and are forced to confess to the
sufferings of Christ."
And when the woman
is in her period, they do likewise with her menstruation. The
unclean flow of blood, which they garner, they take up in the
same way and eat together. And that, they say, is Christ’s
For when they read
"I saw the tree
of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit
each month" (Rev. 22:2), they interpret this as an
allusion to the monthly incidence of the female period."
The meaning of this
Ophite sacrament to its practitioners is easily recovered
from Tantric parallels. Eating the living substances
of reproduction was considered more "spiritual" than eating
the dead body of the god, even in the transmuted form of bread and
wine, though the color symbolism was the same:
"When the semen,
made molten by the fire of great passion, falls into the lotus
of the "mother" and mixes with her red element, he achieves the
conventional mandala of the thought of enlightenment."
The resultant mixture is
tasted by the united "father-mother" [Yab-Yum],
and when it reaches the throat they can generate concretely a