I had an interesting experience yesterday. I had been feeling irritable, tired, out of sorts and cranky. Having recently experienced events that brought up disappointment, grief, sadness and frustration, all that emotion had been simmering in me, just under the surface, over the past few days. I had good reason to be sad and cranky, even if it was a few days before my period was supposed to begin.

Our menstrual cycle, just like the 4 seasons, has 4 phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Each stage brings different energy.

The ludeal phase, just before our menstrual flow, is a period of low tide in our cycle.  Painful emotions and unconfortable issues that we have hidden or pushed down into our unconscious depths are like beached things, driftwood and carcasses and sharp broken shells littering the beach…

So yesterday, I began my menstrual cycle, exhausted from a night of insomnia and feeling low. This time, instead of pushing through my fatigue, I listened to my body. I felt the urge to ‘swamp’ – a process of moving emotions through one’s body.  And so I went into my sanctuary, taking out a comforter, laying down some blankets. I put on my ‘swamp’ music and simply allowed the emotions that were in me to express themselves, letting my body move the way she wanted to move. I wailed and sobbed my sadness, my anguish, my discouragement, my grief.  I used up a lot of Kleenex. I roared out bits of songs, pounded my feet, rocked and rolled around.

And after I did that, I took that energy and transmuted it. My movements slowly morphed from dark, low and stormy, into life-affirming, ‘I am woman, don’t mess with me’ power, and then into sensuality and serenity. I felt a huge shift in my energy.  I ended the process after about an hour, feeling calm, light and centered.

Yes, ‘swamping’ might seem crazy: the mind certainly thinks so, because this process happens in the body.  It’s all about feelings and emotions that the mind often can’t even grasp. But it is a powerful tool for self-care.  I hurt no one.  I just ‘let it all out’ in a safe environment.  I have done this process alone and with other women – and with the presence and energy of others, it can be truly inspiring.

And to top it all off, I noticed what might well be a surprising side effect. Usually, during the first day or two of my menstrual cycle, I have very painful cramps, to the point of feeling nauseous if I don’t take something for the pain.  This time: no cramps! Very interesting.

I might make swamping a regular part of my self-care routine on the first day of my cycle.  It is certainly a very important tool for Goddess Alchemy.  As Goddesses, we need to feel our feelings, move them through our bodies, and use that energy for transformative action.

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