Red moon and white moon cycles - What are they, and do the phases of the moon have an impact on your menstrual cycle? Or, is the red moon, white moon theory yet another myth surrounding menstruation that serves to divide and label women?
I talked to Dana Gillespie, the founder of My Moontime , an app that tracks your unique cycle in conjunction with movement of the moon, to find out.
- What Are Red Moon And White Moon Cycles?
- Red Moon And White Moon Cycles - Fact Or Fiction?
- Lunar Phases And The Link To Menstruation
- The Menstrual Cycle And Female Archetypes
- Working With Your Unique Cycle
- Menopause And The Power Of The Moon
- Working With Dana And The My Moontime App
- The Bottom Line
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Gillespie says, "My interest in studying moon cycles as it relates to menstruation really began when I experienced first hand at work how the energy of the full moon would affect all of us. And, depending on where I was on my menstrual cycle - this became something I needed to pay attention to so I could enjoy a smoother day at work and in my personal life; and something I really wanted to focus on. This is when I began creating the My Moontime App. "
While Gillespie believes wholeheartedly that the energy of the moon affects all of us, and that knowing the how the phases of the moon connect to your unique cycle is self empowering, she rejects the red moon/white moon theory as disempowering to each woman's unique cycle.
In this interview, we'll explore the definition, origins and scientific validity of the red moon white moon cycle with Ms. Gillespie.
What Are Red Moon And White Moon Cycles?
So, what are red moon and white moon cycles? And secondly, how did the belief that lunar cycles and menstrual cycles are connected come about?
Red moon and white moon are simply terms that many ancient cultures have used to denote when a woman bleeds. Even today, many still subscribe to the theory that the moon dictates menses. In many cultures women gathered together in women's circles to support and nurture each other during this time.
If a woman bleeds on the full moon, she's said to have a red moon cycle. If she bleeds on the new moon, she's said to have a white moon cycle.
The red moon/white moon theory maintains that a woman who bleeds on the full moon embodies the characteristics of a healer, priestess or shaman archetype; Red moon cycle women are said to naturally focus their energy inwards in order to self actualize. They were known as strong, confident, independent women, what we might think of today as the sigma female. Historically, these women were denounced as witches and vilified by the patriarchy.
Women who bleed on the new moon (white moon cycle) are said to embody the mother archetype. White moon cycle women are said to be natural nurturers. Their energy is focused outward towards their family. Because a woman's most fertile time is during ovulation, a woman bleeding on the new moon would be ovulating during the full moon. In essence, a white moon cycle is most closely linked to the natural phases of the moon. The patriarchy historically honored white moon cycle women, believing that a woman's place was to support and nurture to her family.
It's easy to see how the moon has become linked to a woman's menstrual cycle. After all, the lunar phases and the menstrual cycle are both cyclical processes that are roughly the same duration. But, is it true that the moon dictates a woman's cycle?
Red Moon And White Moon Cycles - Fact Or Fiction?
1. What do you think about the red moon and white moon cycle being a mirror of the cycles of menstruation?
We know through science and clinical practice that a female's menstrual cycle length and timing has to do mostly with light exposure, age, and stress. A healthy menstrual cycle is anywhere from 26 to 33 days long.
The moon’s cycle experienced from earth is a 29.5 day cycle. So, if a female is on a 27 day cycle on average - she’s not often going to ovulate and bleed in alignment with the full moon and new moon phases (or vise versa), as this concept alludes to.
Gillespie goes on to explain that the menstrual cycle is greatly affected by where one lives on earth and how much light she's exposed to. “Blind women menstruate earlier, on average, and their cycles are shorter. City dwellers, exposed to more artificial light such as street lighting and never experiencing a truly dark night, mature sexually earlier than rural boys and girls. Further evidence showing the relationship between light and the reproductive system includes: an increase in gynecological abnormalities in women who live in Polar Regions, particularly during the long dark arctic winter.” - ‘Lunar Fertility’, by Jane Bennett and Francesca Naish page 15.
During the summer months, for example, in the Northern Hemisphere where the sunlight hours are longer - females tend to notice their cycles shift a bit. As well as when the sunlight hours become shorter in the fall and winter.
Of course there is the circadian cycle (Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark and affect most living things, including animals, plants, and microbes reference link)
A lot of people think our ‘natural’ menstrual cycle should be to bleed with the new moon and ovulate with the full moon based on the circadian cycle (the white moon cycle.) But, we as humans are part of nature. We are not machines that start and stop our cycles on a mechanical clock. Our bodies are always responding to nature and life. For instance, we don't experience the same light exposure every single day. It changes.
I feel the concept of white or red moon cycles really negates each woman's personal experience, the wisdom of their own cycle, and what it's doing to help support their own body. Each woman's cycle is unique. It's deeply validating to understand your own personal experience outside of the white moon or red moon cycle false projection.
I also don’t agree with the idea that there is a subconscious meaning that we are either in a ‘mothering’ phase or a ‘powerful healer’ phase depending on when we bleed. We know scientifically that the most deadly animal on earth is a mother via maternal aggression. Maternal aggression is a robust aspect of our evolution. (Dr. Robert Sapolsky: Science of Stress, Testosterone & Free Will | Huberman Lab Podcast #35 timestamp 23:00) So this concept of a ‘powerful’ healer that is separate from a mother is thrown out the window.
If someone is wanting to work with the subtle energy currents of the moon - the moon is always there and can always be connected to. It may not be visible, but it's thankfully still there.
This is partly why I created My Moontime App - so I can easily check in and see where I am on my menstrual cycle, AND where the moon is each day. It allows me to work with the energy that is truly present to me at the moment.
If I’m in my pre-menstrual phase and it's the beginning of a full moon - I know I will move a bit slower, and I'll have more compassion for myself throughout the day. I'll allow in extra laughter for anything that may seem to go awry so I can try to flow in balance.
I think this red moon/white moon cycle theory came about as a way to romanticize the past when humans were considered ‘healthier’ and were thought to live more in alignment with nature and the seasons.
The red moon and white moon cycle theory has also evolved as a way to honor the menstrual cycle. And, I do believe the menstrual cycle is incredible! There are beautiful and useful similarities between the menstrual and moon cycle, and there are many empowering ways to work with the moon phases. You can connect with the moon phase every single day if you're looking for a connection there.
But, the red and white moon cycle concept is not accurate at all. I hope more females begin to realize the beauty in their cycle just as it is. Each human is whole, complete and perfect in every moment. My hope is that each person can experience this.
Lunar Phases And The Link To Menstruation
2. Would you agree that each phase of the moon corresponds to a different phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle?
I do see the similarities between the moon phases and the menstrual cycle. Yet, we do find some discrepancies between what's been theorized and what's accurate.
For instance, it's widely believed that the new moon is the ideal time to plant seeds. Yet, it’s been found through research and data that 2 days before the full moon is the ideal time to plant seeds (‘Lunar Fertility’ Jane Bennett and Francesca Naish page 6).
I work to keep an open mind and respond to data in the present moment ; I’m always learning and open to new possibilities.
What we are currently experiencing with female menstrual cycles having all sorts of issues is layered. For instance, most females are exposed to far too much bright light past 9 pm, and they consume too much caffeine throughout the day. Because of this they can't experience deep, restful sleep. Too much sugar consumed each day - damaging the gut microbiome, ingestion of chemicals and ingredients bodies can't naturally process, and chronic stress all have an impact on a woman's cycle.
Physical and structural issues also play a role in the menstrual cycle. It’s very common for females to have a structural imbalance in their reproductive organs. Licensed Osteopaths and Mayan Abdominal Massage Practitioners are very skilled at helping with physical and structural issues. They don’t use the same techniques, but both are very effective. I personally go to both practitioners. The healthier my body, cycle and fertility is - the healthier my overall life experience is.
The Menstrual Cycle And Female Archetypes
3. How do menstrual cycles and lunar cycles correspond to female archetypes?
In My Moontime app - we utilize four archetypes as energy symbolism to help each user get a general idea of the subtle energy potential present in each hormonal phase. But these are generalities.
I show the archetypes for both the present moon phase and your present menstrual phases, so you can work with the unique energy present to you. (*see the diagram above from the My Moontime app.)
I always recommend that you get grounded and present. Notice what you may be experiencing for yourself, and go with that. Personally, I've had plenty of premenstrual phases where I didn’t even notice any difference in my life until I noticed I began bleeding.
Each person will have a unique experience that is always changing as their body is responding to life. I encourage individuals to always check in with themselves first. If there is pain or discomfort - that’s typically a sign from the body that there is an imbalance, and it needs attention.
Then, work with the archetypes after you've checked in with yourself to cross reference. See if there's anything you can work with to help you experience a brighter, easier, more joyful day.
Working With Your Unique Cycle
4. Can a woman organize her life to support her best performance in alignment with the phases of her cycle?
Absolutely. I find the key to this is awareness and space. Check in each day with how you're experiencing life in that moment - for that day; and notice where you may be on your menstrual cycle - that alone will shift so much for you.
Giving yourself the awareness, space and compassion of where your potential energy levels may be can make all the difference in the world.
I will say that I’m not a fan of the idea that menstruating women shouldn’t work during our bleeding phase as a rule. Life is not black and white. If resting when you’re bleeding feels the most nurturing - great. Go with that.
We might not be as sparkly when we are bleeding, but we can still function. I’ve had some of my best times at work while I was in my bleeding phase. Again, these black and white rules people make up never hold true. It’s really a case by case basis.
Check in with yourself in the present moment and find your own truth. Maybe taking the day off when you’re bleeding IS what's best for you - great. Everyone is different and there’s no hard and fast rules. It needs to work for you.
Menopause And The Power Of The Moon
5. What about women who are in the menopausal or post menopausal phase of life?
It has long been said that women who are in menopausal stage of life are walking wisdom. Their body has absorbed the chi of their menstrual cycle and their cycle is now the moon’s cycle. I love this on so many levels. This is also the same for anyone who had their uterus removed.
When one’s menstrual cycle ends - their cycle is now the moon’s cycle. There are beautiful things one can do to support this phase of life. I really love the Mayans' healing wisdom of this phase of life. Dr. Laura Brown of Radiant Moon Medicine and Pilar Chandler of Pilar’s Wellness Collective really offer incredible knowledge, treatments and herbs to support this. I really have enjoyed the book ‘Rainforest Home Remedies: The Maya Way To Heal Your Body and Replenish Your Soul’ by Dr. Rosita Arvigo for their perspective and tips. Rosemary tea to help support the body as it goes through this change?! I love it!
Working With Dana And The My Moontime App
6. Can you talk a bit about how My Moontime assists women with their natural flow? Are you working on any other projects readers might be interested in?
My Moontime app helps users check in to see where they are most likely at in their menstrual cycle, and what that phase of the menstrual cycle might be like for them. It also shows users the current moon phase and generates a little affirmation of those two energies combined each day to help inspire.
I find it’s such a validating space to check in with yourself each day and see what you may need or want to help experience a great day. It’s helped me tremendously function well at high profile, high stress jobs. I’ve also received so many messages from my app users that My Moontime app really helped them appreciate their menstrual cycle, and it's helped them track their cycle more effectively. It's always wonderful to hear messages like that.
I have been working on creating an online workshop to teach people how to track their cycle by hand. I find apps and technology have created so many issues around menstrual awareness and accuracy.
I really want to help empower people to know how to track their cycle, so no matter what’s going on - they know where they are on their cycle and are not dependent on outside factors for this. If you’re interested - there’s an email signup to be notified for the free workshop that will launch first HERE.
I’ve also been moving over into the mental health coaching world. I find it so exciting and rewarding to help clients be able to clear the way their mind is processing data so they can deeply relax, feel whole, at peace, sleep deeply and enjoy their lives fully.
Helping clear subconscious programming so each person can feel whole is priceless to me. And, often my clients report after working with me - how much more money started flowing to them as a by-product of our work together. It’s absolutely amazing and rewarding.
Usually lots of laughter occurs in each session. And since so much of our health and menstrual cycles are tied to our nervous system and stress levels - mental health coaching to help one's menstrual cycle is a wonderful piece to all this. Which isn’t often gotten to through traditional therapies. I’m deeply grateful for my teachers who came up with the tools I most work with - Rapid Resolution Therapy and Core Transformation.
If you want to delve deeper into the power of your own cycle, you can book a holistic coaching session with Dana.
The Bottom Line
The moon has been a source of inspiration and fascination for eons. It's litte wonder that the magic of the female cycle has been linked to the most magical of celestial bodies.
Wherever you stand on the red moon and white moon cycle, we can all agree that the moon has an allure that's inspired some of the world's greatest poetry and music. Perhaps finding alignment with its phases brings a certain kind of comfort and awe to our everyday lives.
However you choose to use the energy of the moon, I hope it brings you into closer alignment with your most authentic self.