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The Magic of Tweens and First Period Ceremonies

A few weeks ago I headed down to Takoma Park, Maryland to visit the Artemis Pack chapter there. It’s been two years now since we piloted the “Pack Leader” program that supports communities who want to start their own Artemis Pack chapter. Takoma Park is led by three moms who work as a team. I provide curriculum, materials and coaching, they lead the group and handle all the local logistics. It’s been such a joy to watch them find their groove as leaders as they grow a relationship with the many Artemis Pack traditions. But there was one tradition that they hadn’t experienced, and which there was much nervous anticipation about: the menarche ceremony.

What’s a menarche ceremony?

A menarche ceremony celebrates getting your first period! Although this is based in a biological moment of puberty, in Artemis Pack we don’t attach it to gender identity or expression. We recognize that it’s a big deal to get a first period. It changes things in a real way. But it doesn’t define who you are.

The Artemis Pack Menarche Tradition

The first time we did a period ceremony in Artemis Pack, it was SO AWKWARD. I will forever be grateful for the 12 year old who trusted me and her pack enough to bravely walk through the experiment of the rituals I so carefully planned. In the years since, we have celebrated dozens of first periods, and with each ceremony it has become an increasingly familiar and joyful experience. Now, in Philadelphia, it’s something to look forward to. Kids plan their outfits, invite friends and plan special snacks to bring for the group. We’ve had treats like red-jam-filled cake and red candy laid out to look like a vulva, all made by the kids. This gleeful lack of embarrassment has taken time to cultivate, but it literally brings me to tears of gratitude.

The actual ritual isn’t something I’ll share in detail, except to say that I (Tara, founder of Artemis Pack), made it up. There are 5 main components:

  1. Letting go of childhood

  2. Honoring the unique gifts of the person being celebrated

  3. Acknowledging ancestors and the power of lineage

  4. A toast

  5. Food and celebration

The Power of The Pack

All of the ritual components I listed could be done at home in private with just family members. But the really revolutionary element here is that the ceremony happens in a group of peers. When tweens witness and support each other through this moment it lays a path of mutual support and trust that is unparalleled.

I went down to Takoma Park to lead the ceremony so that the Pack Leader moms could skip that really awkward first time that I went through years ago. And I was curious to see how a new group of kids who had never experienced the menarche ritual would respond now that it is so familiar to me.

When I arrived, there was a bundle of nervous anticipation in the room. But the group of 10 kids, 3 Pack Leaders and one extra mom (we always invite the mom of whoever is being celebrated), settled right in. Soon they were singing, sharing, laughing and trusting each other.

And then! The best! While the adults retreated to a quiet corner, the Pack of kids turned on pop music and DANCED. They ate too many red velvet cupcakes. They jumped up and down. They were joyful and so cute.

This. THIS. THIIIIIIIS. Is the Power of the Pack. The trust in being vulnerable with your peers. The intimacy of ritual that honors this tender passage. And then the fun of celebrating, being silly and shaking off the nerves together. I know that someday they will look back at this moment and remember that their first period was celebrated with friends. And even if they don’t remember the details, they will remember the feelings. And I would bet that the feelings they will hold onto will be good ones.

The pics below are just a few of the Menarche Ceremonies we've celebrated over the past few years!


Want to explore the possibility of leading an Artemis Pack Chapter? Contact Tara for more information.

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