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

Overview

Blood is everywhere in our society: on nightly T.V., in daily newspaper photos, in religious imagery. Yet menstrual blood is never mentioned and almost never seen, except privately by women. A girl's first period is usually kept secret, a source of embarrassment and irritation. Menstruation in our culture is invisible and irrelevant if properly hidden, shameful and unclean if not. It was not always this way. Long ago, in cultures around the world, a girl's menarchal passage was a time of celebration and ...
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0807075043 Only 1 copy left! Clean, unmarked copy. Hardcover, with dust jacket- In great shape! I can send expedited rate if you chose; otherwise it will promptly be sent via ... media rate. Have any questions? Email me; I'm happy to help! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Blood is everywhere in our society: on nightly T.V., in daily newspaper photos, in religious imagery. Yet menstrual blood is never mentioned and almost never seen, except privately by women. A girl's first period is usually kept secret, a source of embarrassment and irritation. Menstruation in our culture is invisible and irrelevant if properly hidden, shameful and unclean if not. It was not always this way. Long ago, in cultures around the world, a girl's menarchal passage was a time of celebration and initiation, and a time for ceremony, often including special clothing and foods and a period of seclusion. Far more than a biological event, menstruation was a recognized mark of female power, a source of ritual and of awe. The influence of early menstrual rites remains visible in our culture today. According to Judy Grahn, the ancient rites explain much of contemporary material culture - why women wear lipstick and eye makeup and adorn themselves with earrings and hair clasps, or why forks, bowls, chairs, rugs, and shoes originated, for instance. But Grahn also reveals the profound connections between ancient menstrual rites and the development of agriculture, mathematics, geometry, writing, calendars, horticulture, architecture, astronomy, cooking, money, and many other realms of knowledge. Blending archaeological data, ethnography, folklore, history, and myth, she constructs a new myth of origin for us all, demonstrating that menstruation is what made us human. Blood, Bread, and Roses reclaims woman's myths and stories, chronicling the ways in which women's actions and the teaching of myth have interacted over the millennia. Grahn argues that culture has been a weaving between the genders, a sharing of wisdom derived from menstruation. Her rich interpretations of ancient menstrual rites give us a new and hopeful story of culture's beginnings based on the integration of body, mind, and spirit found women's traditions. Blood, Bread, and Roses offers all of us a
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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807075043
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Pages: 384

Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface: All Blood Is Menstrual Blood
Acknowledgments
1 BLOOD ... Wilderness Metaform
1 How Menstruation Created the World 3
2 Light Moved on the Water 24
3 Crossing the Great Abyss 43
4 Wilderness Metaform 51
2 BREAD ... Cosmetikos Metaform
5 How Menstruation Fashioned the Human Body 71
6 Cosmetikos and Women's Paraphernalia 84
7 Ceremony: Let's Cook! 101
8 Parallel Menstruations 123
9 Sex, Matrimony, and Trickster Wolf 138
3 AND ... Narrative Metaform
10 Number, Orientation, and the Shapes of Light 153
11 The Making of the Goddess 172
12 Menstrual Logic in the Visible World 192
13 Narratives: Descent Myths and the Great Flood 209
4 ROSES ... Material Metaform
14 Crafting the Earth's Menstruation: Materialism 229
15 Crossing the Abyss to Male Blood Power 248
16 The Way and the Way Back 272
Notes 283
Bibliography 305
Index 313
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