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Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World

Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World

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by Judy Rae Grahn, Charlene Spretnak (Preface by)

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In native and prehistoric cultures around the world, a menstruating woman carried out rituals in which she was secluded--not allowed to see light--but emerged triumphantly at the end of her period. Grahn ( Another Mother Tongue ) believes these rites taught women principles of separation and synchronic relationship (reinforced by women's awareness that the menstrual cycle was in rhythm with the moon's phases). This ``menstrual logic,'' she adds, was transmitted to men, who extended it. Stretching the evidence thin to fit her theory, Grahn uses menstrual ritual and ``menstrual consciousness'' to explain the orignis of mathematics, astronomy, marriage rites (the bride's dress in Europe was once red), cosmetics, cooking and mourning customs. Her intriguing excursion through folklore, myth, religion, anthropology and history bespeaks a feminist conviction that male origin stories must be balanced by a recognition of women's central role in shaping civilization. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Best known for several books of poetry ( The Queen of Wands , LJ 12/15/83, among others), Grahn presents a bold interpretation of the rites and traditions surrounding menstruation. Using a wide range of sources in mythology and anthropology, Grahn speculates that early women's recognition of the regular cycle of menstruation, for example, may have first suggested ideas of pattern and measurement that eventually led to mathematics and other sciences. The historical separation and seclusion of the menstruant from the immediate community and the reverence and apprehension with which she was treated had long-range implications for clothing, makeup, and food. A thought-provoking alternative cultural history, Grahn's work will interest readers in women's studies and anthropology as well as informed general readers.-- Patricia A. Beaber, Trenton State Coll . Lib., N.J.

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