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Menstrual Blood

From Barbara Walker's Women's 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 century.

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

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). She '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 the heavens'. 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 orche, declaring that it was really women's menstrual blood.
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.

Soma was produced by the churning of the primal sea (Kali's 'ocean of blood' or sometimes 'sea of
milk'). Or Soma was secreted by the Moon-Cow. Or Soma 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. Or Soma was the secret name of the Mother Goddess and the active part of the 'soul of the

Soma was 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 of Isis.

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 moon. "Dew 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 the moon."
Celtic kings 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

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 clan.

The Chinese religion of Tao, "the Way", taught Tantric doctrines later supplanted by patriarchial-
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 Sumaeriean Great
Mother represented maternal blood and bore names like Dam-kina, Damgalnunna. From her belly
flowed the four rivrres 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, heros, 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, negitive 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
curethem. 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

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 tombon
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 Aborgines 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

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. The 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.52 Synesaktism was
declared a heresy before the 7th century A.D.53 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 Blood. For when they read in
Revelation, "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 special bliss…the bodichitta-the drop resulting
from union of semen and menstrual blood-is transferred to the yogi…This empowers his
corresponding mystic veins and centers to accomplish the Buddha’s function of speech. The term
“secret initiation” comes from the tasting of the secret substance. 55

In the occult language of the Tantras, two ingredients of the Great Rite were sukra, semen, and
rakta, menstrual blood. The officiating priestess had to be menstruous so her lunar energies were at
flood tide.56 She embodied the power of rakta, sometimes rendered rukh or ruq, cognate with the
Hebrew ruach, “spirit,” and the Arabic ruh, which meant both “spirit” and “red color.” Throughout
all Tantric and related faiths, the merging of female red and male white was “a profoundly
important symbolic conjunction.”57

The Sufis, who practiced their own brand of Tantrism, said ruh was female and red. Its male
counterpart sirr, “consciousness,” was white. Red and white colors alternated in the Sufi halka or
magic circle, corresponding to the Tantric chakra and called “the basic unit and very heart of active
Sufism.” The Arab rosary of alternating red and white beads had the same meaning: men and
women coupled around the circle, as in most European folk dances.58

Red and white were the colors worn by alternating female-and-male dancers in the witches’ “fairy
ring” of pagan Ireland, where the Goddess was worshipped under the same name as the Tantric
earth mother, Tara.59 With men and women alternating as in a Tantric chakra, the dance moved
counterclockwise or moonwise, as nearly all circle dances still do. Red and white colors
“represented the fairy world.”60

The rites were often governed by old women, due to the ancient belief that post-menopausal women
were the wisest of mortals because the permanently retained their “wise blood.” In the 17th century
A.D. Christian writers still insisted that old women were filled with magic power because their
menstrual blood remained in their veins.61 This was the real reason why old women were
constantly persecuted for witchcraft. The same “magic blood” that made them leaders in the
ancient clan system made them objects of fear under the new patriarchal faith.

Because menstrual blood occupied a central position in matriarchal theologies, and was already
sacer-holy-dreadful-patriarchal-ascetic thinkers showed almost hysterical fear of it. The Laws of
Manu said if a man even approached a menstruating woman he would lose his wisdom, energy,
sight, strength, and vitality. The Talmud said that if a menstruating woman walked between two
men, one of the men would surely die.62 Brahmans ruled that a man who lay with a menstruating
woman must suffer a punishment one-quarter as severe as the punishment for Brahmanicide, which
was the worst crime a Brahman could imagine. Vedic myths were designed to support the law, such
as the myth that Vishnu dared copulate with the Goddess Earth while she was menstruating, which
caused her to give birth to monsters who nearly destroyed the world.63

This was patriarchal propaganda against the Tantric Maharutti (“Great Rite”), in which menstrual
blood was the essential ingredient. In Kali’s cave-temple, her image spouted the blood of sacrifices
from its vaginal orifice to bathe Shiva’s holy phallus while the two deities formed the lingam-yoni,
and worshippers followed suit, in an orgy designed to support the cosmic life-force generated by
union of male and female, white and red.64 In this Great Rite, Shiva became the Anointed One, as
were his many Middle-Eastern counterparts. The Greek translation of Anointed One was Christos.

Persian patriarchs followed the Brahman lead in maintaining that menstruous women must be
avoided like poison. They belonged to the devil; they were forbidden to look at the sun, to sit in
water, to speak to a man, or to behold an altar fire.65 The glance of a menstruous woman was
feared like the glance of the Gorgon. Zoroastrians held that any man who lay with a menstruating
woman would beget a demon, and would be punished in hell by having filth poured into his

Persian religion incorporated the common primitive belief that the first onset of menses must be
caused by copulation with a supernatural snake. People not yet aware of fatherhood have supposed
the same snake renders each woman fertile and helps her conceive children.67 Some such belief
prevailed in Minoan Crete, where women and snakes were sacred but men were not. Tube-shaped
Cretan vessels for pouring oblations represented a vagina, with a serpent crawling inside.68
Ancient languages gave the serpent the same name as Eve, a name meaning “Life”; and the most
ancient myths made the primal couple not a Goddess and a God, but a Goddess and a Serpent.69
The Goddess’s womb was a garden of paradise in which the serpent lived.

Phrygian Ophiogeneis, “Snake-born People,” said their first male ancestor was the Great Serpent
who dwelt in the garden of paradise.70 Paradise was a name of the Goddess-as-Virgin, identified
with Mother Hera (Earth), whose virgin form was Hebe, a Greek spelling of Eve. Virgin Hera
parthenogenetically conceived the oracular serpent Python, of the “Womb-temple,” Delphi.71
Snakes living in the womb of Mother Earth were supposed to possess all the wisdom, being in
contact with the “wise blood” of the world.

One of the secrets shared by the primordial woman and her serpent was the secret of menstruation.
Persians claimed menstruation was brought into the world by the first mother, whom they called
Jahi the Whore, a Lilith-like defier of the Heavenly Father. She began to menstruate for the first
time after coupling with Ahriman, the Great Serpent. Afterward, she seduced “the first righteous
man,” who had previously lived alone in the garden of paradise with only the divine sacrificial bull
for company. He knew nothing of sex until Jahi taught him.72

The Jews borrowed many details from these Persian myths. Rabbinical tradition said Eve began to
menstruate only after she had copulated with the serpent in Eden, and Adam was ignorant of sex
until Eve taught him.73 It was widely believed that Eve’s firstborn son Cain was not begotten by
Adam but by the serpent.74 Beliefs connecting serpents with pregnancy and menstruation appeared
throughout Europe for many centuries. Up to modern times, German peasants still held that women
could be impregnated by snakes.75

Whether initiated by a serpent or not, menstrual bleeding inspired deadly fear among both Persians
and Jewish patriarchs (Leviticus 15). Rachel successfully stole her father’s teraphim (household
gods) by hiding them under a camel saddle and sitting on it, telling her father she was menstruating
so he dared not approach her (Genesis 31). To this day, orthodox Jews refuse to shake hands with a
woman because she might be menstruating. Jews also adopted a rule apparently laid down by
Hesiod, that a man must never wash in the same water previously used by a woman, lest it might
contain a trace of menstrual blood.76

There were many similar taboos. The ancient world’s most dreaded poison was the “moon-dew”
collected by Thessalian witches, said to be a girl’s first menstrual blood shed during an eclipse of
the moon.77 Pliny said a menstruous woman’s touch could blast the fruits of the field, sour wine,
cloud mirrors, rust iron, and blunt the edges of knives.78 If a menstruous woman so much as laid a
finger on a beehive, the bees would fly away and never return.79 If a man lay with a menstruous
woman during an eclipse, he would soon fall sick and die.80

Christians inherited all the ancient patriarchs’ superstitious horrors. St. Jerome wrote: “Nothing is
so unclean as a woman in her periods; what she touches she causes to become unclean.” Penitential
regulations laid down in the 7th century by Theodore, Bishop of Canterbury, forbade menstruating
women to take communion or even enter a church. At the French Synod of Meaux, menstruous
women were specifically forbidden to come to church. From the 8th to the 11th centuries, many
church laws denied menstruating women any access to church buildings. As late as 1684 it was still
ordered that women in their “fluxes” must remain outside the church door.81 In 1298 the Synod of
Würzburg commanded men not to approach a menstruating woman.82 The superstition came down
to the 20th century, when a Scottish medical text quoted an old rhyme to the effect that menstrual
blood could destroy the entire world:

Oh! Menstruating woman, thou’rt a fiend

From which all nature should be closely screened.83

Christian women were commanded to despise the “uncleanness” of their own bodies, as in the Rule
of Anchoresses: “Art thou not formed of foul slime? Art thou not always full of uncleanness?”84
Medical authorities of the 16th century were still repeating the old belief that “demons were
produced from menstrual flux.”85 One of the “demons” born of menstrual blood was the legendary
basilisk with its poisonous glance.86 The legend evidently arose from the classic myth of the
Gorgon with her serpent-hair and wise blood, petrifying men with her glance. The Gorgon and the
red cross of menstrual blood once marked the most potent taboos.87 The very word taboo, from
Polynesian tupua, “sacred, magical,” applied specifically to menstrual blood.88

Just as primitives attributed beneficial powers to menstrual blood along with its fearfulness, so
medieval peasants thought it could heal, nourish, and fertilize.89 Some believed a menstruating
woman could protect a crop by walking around the field, or exposing her genitals in it.90 Peasant
women carried seed to the fields in rags stained with their menstrual blood: a continuation of the
custom of Eleusinan fertility-priestesses.91 Even doctors thought menstrual blood could cure
leprosy, or act as a powerful aphrodisiac. Madame de Montespan used it to encourage the ardor of
her royal lover, Louis XIV.92 Gypsies said a woman could win any man’s love with a potion of her
own menstrual blood.93

As the former medium of reincarnation, menstrual blood was sometimes called a remedy for death
itself. In the tale of Childe Roland, the elven-king roused men from the magic sleep of death with a
“bright red liquor.”94 Early romances associated this universal heal-all with “the blood of a noble
virgin,” as a wise-woman revealed to Galahad.95 The same belief impelled Louis XI to try to stave
off death by drinking young girls blood.

Victorian superstition taught that a child conceived during a menstrual period would be born with a
caul, and would have occult powers.96 Nineteenth-century doctors inherited their predecessors’
notions of witchcraft and evil, and so maintained that menstruating women are not healthy;
copulation with them could infect a man with urethritis or gonorrhea. Dr. Augustus Gardner said
venereal diseases were usually communicated from women to men, not vice versa.97 Speaking of
savages’ menstrual taboos, anthropologists described the women as “out of order,” “suffering from
monthly illness,” or “stricken with the malady common to their sex.”98 A doctor wrote even in the
present century: “We cannot too emphatically urge the importance of regarding these monthly
returns as periods of ill health, as days when the ordinary occupations are to be suspended or
At the present time just as in the Middle Ages, the Catholic church still considers itself on firm
theological ground by advancing, as an argument against ordination of women, the notion that a
menstruating priestess would “pollute” the altar. This would not preclude ordination of post-
menopausal women, but different excuses are found for those. The holy “blood of life” used to be
feminine and real; now it is masculine and symbolic.

1. Briffault 2, 412-13, 444. 2. Frazer, G.B., 243 3. Briffault 2, 444-45.

4. Avalon, 305. 5. Silberer, 136. 6. Chagnon, 38. 7. Hooke, M.E.M., 110.
8. Gaster, 20. 9. Cumont, A.R.G.R., 107. 10. Graves, G.M. 1, 118.
11. Lederer, 139. 12. Harding, 62. 13. Briffault 2, 416, 631.
14. Turville-Petre, 79. 15. O’Flaherty, 148. 16. d’Alviella, xvi. 17. Rees, 75.
18. Hays, 214. 19. Knight, S.L., 119. 20. Budge, G.E. 1, 43; 2, 298.
21. Larousse, 39. 22. Jung, M.H.S., 55. 23. Budge, E.M., 127.
24. Budge, A.T., 137. 25. Zimmer, 60. 26. Rees, 75. 27. Graves, W.G., 354.
28. Joyce 2, 90. 29. Baring-Gould, C.M.M.A., 256.
30. Sargent & Kittredge, 64; Gaster, 31. 31. Hazlitt, 384. 32. Rawson, A.T., 32.
33. Stone, 60. 34. Mahanirvanatantra, 88. 35. Graves, W.G., 28-29. 36. Stone, 26.
37. Briffault 3, 91. 38. Lindsay, A.W., 49. 39. Brasch, 33.
40. Rawson, E.A., 149, 234. 41. Larousse, 383. 42. Bullough, 244.
43. Encyc. Brit., “Shaktism.” 44. Briffault 2, 413. 45. Hays, 351.
46. Briffault 2, 417. 47. Silberer, 143. 48. Pepper & Wilcock, 76. 49. Hays, 373.
50. Larousse, 359. 51. Graves, W.G., 406. 52. Bullough, 105.
53. Sadock, Kaplan & Freedman, 23. 54. Campbell, C.M., 159.
55. Tatz & Kent, 128-29. 56. Rawson, A.T., 32. 57. Rawson, A.T., 33.
58. Shah, 21, 380. 59. Keightle, 367. 60. Jung & von Franz, 272. 61. Gifford, 26.
62. Frazer, G.B., 700. 63. O’Flaherty, 90, 196. 64. Goldberg, 70; Edwardes, 50.
65. Edwardes, 8. 66. Campbell, Oc.M., 199. 67. Briffault 2, 669. 68. Hays, 101.
69. Potter & Sargent, 224; Graves, G.M. 1, 27. 70. J.E. Harrison, 129.
71. Graves, G.M. 1, 80. 72. Larousse, 318. 73. Briffault 2, 666.
74. Tennant, 154. 75. Briffault 2, 664. 76. Briffault 2, 337. 77. Graves, W.G., 170.
78. Simons, 39. 79. de Lys, 46. 80. Morris, 106. 81. Morris, 110.
82. Briffault 2, 396. 83. Pearsall, W.B., 209. 84. Bullough, 176.
85. Robbins, 357. 86. Silberer, 139. 87. Harding, 57. 88. Spretnak, 270.
89. Crawle, 241. 90. Briffault 2, 411. 91. Spretnak, 269. 92. Montagu, S.M.S., 113.
93. Trigg, 44. 94. Wimberly, 214. 95. Gaster, 514. 96. Hazlitt, 99.
97. Barker-Benfield, 278, 298. 98. Briffault 2, 369, 382. 99. Ehrenreich & English, 100.