From Developing Girl to Changing Woman

Found In: First Menstruation

By Diann L. Neu | Complete Ceremony

Background

Transformation can be so ordinary that its very familiarity renders it invisible. This is often true of menstruation. Girl children experience first menses. Women know the full meaning of this passage to womanhood. Every girl who so wishes needs to have a celebration of this special time in her life.

This ritual invites women to share with the next generations the treasures of womanhood. Use it as a guide to create the celebration that you and the women in your life need. You may wish to create a ceremony for one or for several girls who are passing into womanhood at approximately the same time.

Preparing the Ritual

Buy a tambourine, red ribbons, a decorative egg, a ring and herbs that will be given as gifts. Place a red candle, a green one and a purple one in the center of a circle of chairs. Put a basket of red fruits and pitchers of red drinks along with them.

THE RITUAL

Welcoming the Participants

Welcome to this celebration for _________ (name of girl passing into womanhood). We gather today to welcome you, _________ (name), to womanhood. You are a symbol of the passage to womanhood that each of us here and women of every culture experience. We gather today to honor menarche. We gather today to reclaim our sacred power as women.

Our flow of blood represents our life-giving powers. As changing women, we celebrate the transmission of our fertility, our creativity, our spirit and our intuition. As changing women, we dedicate the fertility of our life force to the next generations.

Naming the Circle

Our flow of blood represents our life-giving powers. As changing women, we celebrate the transmission of our fertility, our creativity, our spirit and our intuition. As changing women, we dedicate the fertility of our life force to the next generations

Let us begin by naming our circle here. Think of what the time of first menstruation means to you, what it did mean to you or what it will mean to you. (Pause)

Let us create our circle by speaking our names, sharing a word or phrase that comes to mind when thinking of menses, and giving a hand to the person on the right saying, "I am a woman" or "I will be a woman." (Sharing). [i.e. I am Diann. I reclaim women's sacred powers.]

Blessing

(The woman who started the naming completes the circle by raising the joined hands and saying:)

We are women together and our life-giving circle is sacred. May we be blessed beneath the wings of Shechina. May the Holy Source of Life wrap us in the mantle of Her love and protection. May ___________(name of girl passing to womanhood) be blessed with the power of women's energy. May we each be blessed with the power of ______________ (name of girl passing into womanhood).

Amen. Blessed be. Let it be so.

(The namer begins a swaying movement joining hands as the singing starts. When the song ends, everyone lets go of hands.)

Lighting the Candles

We light three candles today to capture our experience as women. The red one is for those who are fertile, those who bleed each month. (The young woman honored in the celebration lights the red candle.)

The purple is for the wise women who have passed beyond the biological capacity to give birth and have channeled their energies through their whole bodies: mind, spirit, and body. (A menopausal woman lights the purple candle.)

The green is for the young girls who will soon pass into womanhood. (A young girl lights the green candle.)

The mother of the maidele (young girl) of honor holds up a crescent shaped tambourine which she has decorated with symbols and inscriptions including moons, Magen David (Star of David), the date (Nisan 1, 5748), her daughter's name, and the words: "Miriam took her timbrel out" (Exodus 15:20). The tambourine is passed around the circle. As each woman holds it she attaches a streamer and tells Hannah of a blessing that she individually has received as a Jewish woman..

Excerpted from WaterWheel (Summer 1993). Reprinted with permission of Diann Neu, codirector of WATER, the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, dneu@hers.com, www.hers.com/water.