Yesterday we had a menarche ceremony in Artemis Pack. In case you’re not familiar, a menarche ceremony is a celebration of your first menstrual period. In our goddessy/ intersectional feminist/school of magic/youth group, a menarche ceremony is something to look forward to. We have several ritual traditions that we’ve created over the years to mark this passage from childhood into adolescence. But there’s one part of the ceremony that changes each time; the part where I connect the ceremony with big picture events happening in the world. Over the past few years, we’ve talked about what we can learn from coming of age during Covid19. What we can learn about resilience from the redwoods that live through the forest fires raging around the globe. Typically, the lessons are about looking bravely at the challenges of our world, but believing in the power of these young people to meet the challenges and make the world a better place.
In a few weeks, the Supreme Court will issue a final ruling on whether Roe v. Wade will be overturned. Teens in my life have been caught up in the anxiety of what this will mean for them. Mostly, they are aware that, since they now have periods they could theoretically get pregnant. And if they get pregnant, they want to have options. They want to be able to choose what is right for them. And of course, I want that basic, fundamental right, for them, too.
But to me, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
So at yesterday’s ceremony, I added a new ritual. I started by making a list of statements that are an empowered response to the possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
I got my period this year
If Roe V. Wade is overturned, what will I do
To protect my right to determine
What is best for me and my body
Now and in the future?
Track my periods so I can understand my own cycles
Treat my body with love and respect, even if the government won’t
Celebrate my physical, emotional, and mental sovereignty - Which means I’m the sacred ruler of my own body
Surround myself with supportive friends and adults I can trust
Seek out radical sex ed resources that can help me make safe, informed choices about my sexuality
Reject shame about my body or my choices. We have to affirm each other, now more than ever!
Plan to live a long time and never stop fighting for safe, legal, abortion. I’m ready for the long game, baby!
Never stop fighting for universal, paid, parental leave & free childcare, so that if I DO want kids, I won’t have to sacrifice my dreams
I will, obviously, smash the patriarchy
I will keep learning about Whiteness and privilege because I know that limited abortion access will be hardest for pregnant People of Color, immigrants, refugees and low-income families. Even if that’s not me, I will keep fighting for all of us.
Align myself with boys and men who believe that women and trans people can make their own choices
Cultivate awesome, powerful, communities that will change the world for the better
Making it THEIRS
I hand wrote these statements onto colorful cardstock paper. When the group arrived for the ceremony, in their fancy outfits, carrying their potluck dishes, I gave them a job. As a group (without adults), I asked them to read through the statements and decorate them with markers. If there were any they didn’t agree with or feel uncomfortable with, they could set them aside.
The ceremony began, and there were so many beautiful moments. The moment of releasing childhood and giving an offering to the fire. The tradition of braiding ribbons, symbolizing the stories and legacies of your ancestors. Having a first sip of red wine to symbolize your maturity.
When it was time for the “special topic”, I turned the cards face down, and had each kid pick two - kind of like drawing tarot cards. “It’s an oracle,” I told them. “A spark of something you can take with you into the future.”
My hope, always, is that decades from now, they will look back on this moment. They’ll remember not JUST that they had this cool and radical menarche ceremony to celebrate their periods, but that they will also remember feeling that no matter what happens in the supreme court, they have choices. And the most important choice is believing that things can change for the better.