Her Blood As Power: A Viewpoint on Christian Menstruation

Her Blood As Power

 an excerpt from Theology of the Womb: Knowing God Through the Body of a Woman

 

Our bleeding is an act of God, one that offers us and the world an invitation to understand the power and importance of creating and loving. I have been desperate to connect this internal belief of God with Christianity, but my research began by exploring the history of a woman’s period outside of scripture. Within the church, the woman’s period had always been unaddressed or associated with cleansing rituals, not something to be engaged with by theologians or from the pulpit. Yet mythology, psychology, and secular history considered menstruating women to be powerful; so powerful, in fact, that while menstruating it is believed women hold a power strong enough to heal the sick or even possess increased psychic abilities. The positive beliefs of power and sacredness associated with a woman’s period are prevalent in other cultures. When I began to explore the history of a woman’s period outside of scripture, I was surprised by the positive beliefs of power and sacredness associated with it. Mythology, psychology, and secular history considered menstruating women to be strong enough to heal the sick or possess increased psychic abilities. In Cherokee culture, menstrual blood was a source of feminine strength and had the power to destroy enemies and stop catastrophic natural disasters. Interestingly, it was seen as especially dangerous to men’s power to purify and destroy.

 

One belief that brings me chills and intrigue is seeing the woman’s blood is a divine thing, when it runs out of our body, a belief that the blood itself is “the god is spilling over”.

 

I am filled with wonder and fascination when I imagine my bleeding to be a divine act ordained by God; that when it runs out of my body, the blood itself is “the god spilling over”. Wow, that sounds so much better than bleeding through my shorts. Yet I want to contextualize these multicultural beliefs of bleeding as a power within a Christian worldview. This concept of spilling over is connected to the research of Levitical law; Mesopotamian belief is that the womb is a wellspring. Many cultures commonly used human parts of the body and the natural world in homological correspondence. Homology, or an acknowledged resemblance, indicates that the womb geographically and anatomically acts as a wellspring. Geographically, the wellspring was fed by the ocean, and when the wellspring was full it spilled over to feed the rivers. The analogy here coincides with the woman’s womb as a body of water that continues to feed the earth with life-giving water. I imagine the ocean symbolizing God’s pouring out His life-giving water as Creator to his “wellspring” vessels, female wombs, which spill over and bring life to the earth.

There is a place in scripture for a woman’s bleeding to be seen as life-giving, a well-spring of life spilling over!

The overarching theme is that a woman’s blood holds power, which reminds me of Christ’s blood. Why is Christ’s bloodshed on the cross so powerful? Why are we healed by the blood of the lamb? We must look at the understanding of blood sacrifices. We are all familiar with the Old Testament understanding of covenant with God and people. Covenants are made only in a ceremony with both sacrifices and vows. When God made a covenant, He would sacrifice, or shed, the blood of animals on either side of an aisle; both parties were to walk through that aisle, and thus a vow was solidified in a covenant. This leads us to the linear progression of the next promise, that a Savior will be born of a woman. So, we find ourselves at the scene of the manger where there are animals but no bloodshed because this covenant involves human life. Where is the human bloodshed? Mary’s womb.

Birth becomes the ceremonial act for God’s promise to create and bring life to His people.

It brings to mind the infamous curse in Genesis, that a woman will have pain in childbearing. Although this was a curse, I believe it was an invitation from God to women to participate in the act of covenant-making, of creating. I’ve begun to see birth and the menstrual cycle of a woman as a way of knowing God again after the separation of the fall. Think about the connection of intimacy we as women are invited into when we must endure pain within our own bodies to create life. The God we serve knows all too well the pain it requires to create life; when He saved His children, it caused Him pain. We as women are invited into that process in such an intimate way.

 

Dr. Christy Bauman, Ph.D., MDFT, & LMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voice. She has a podcast entitled Womaneering and she offers story-work consulting, womaneering weekends, and marriage intensives with her husband Andrew Bauman through their organization, Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma. Andrew and Christy host the Therapy Shorts podcast for couples. She is the author and producer of her works: Theology of the Womb, Womaneering Perpetual Calendar, A Brave Lament, and the award-winning Documentary: A Brave Lament. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, part-time professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy’s work can be found at christybauman.com, she works between her Asheville, NC, and Seattle, WA locations.

womaneering the Red Tent

Womaneering the Red Tent

In this episode of womaneering the Red Tent, Tracy Johnson shares a vulnerable story about what it means to build a red tent community with women. Tracy and Christy converse about the hardships and beauty of risking relationships with other women. They discuss Anita Diamante’s book The Red Tent and Christy Bauman’s book, Theology of the Womb. Join us for the conversation at womaneering.com or follow us on IG @womaneering_

 

Womaneering the Red Tent