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The Doorway to The Divine

Many of us utilize tools to maintain a connection with the spirit world within us, while staying grounded to the world around us. There are genius systems that have been channeled around the world that allow us to tap into this universal knowledge, in a way that makes sense to us. Tools like astrology, crystals, and Tarot, gives us the ability to see the patterns of the matrix. They give us clarity, so that we can navigate through life with a sense of purpose and sovereignty.  

 

Divination is the process or ritual to predict, gain insight or understanding around a certain subject. These rituals gives us the ability to touch or be inspired by spirit. One system of divination that has gained popularity lately is Numerology. 

 

Are there certain numbers or number sequences that have always stood out to you? Although you may not be able to pinpoint it, certain numbers carry their own significance. They communicate something to us that is deeper than our surface level understanding of numbers. Numerology is based on the belief that different numbers carry specific personalities and energies. When we examine the energetic patterns these numbers hold, we are able to bare witness to the synchronicities all around us. 

 

Much like astrology gives us personality and situational insights based on where the stars are at, numerology does this with simple equations that break down the numerical patterns that lie in everything. This system shares wisdom from the metaphysical realm, in a tangible way. While it uses your birth time to give you your life path number, you can also break down the numerology of almost anything- like your name, business, and relationships. 

 

Everyday has its own numerological significance. Certain days, however, hold an immensely powerful capacity to propel you in different directions. These synchronistic days create portals for us to dive into, so that we can accelerate our growth and healing. One of these so called “portal days” is November 11th, or 11/11. 

 

Many of us have the tradition of singing or making a wish when the clock strikes 11:11 because of our innate attraction to the energy this number holds. When the actual day falls on 11/11, this number has that much more magnitude. 11 is considered a “master number” along with 22 and 33. The increased pressure given by these numbers whether it’s in your life path or on a certain day, means you may literally feel a strain on your system. 

 

This strain is telling you that it’s time to make a change. You can choose to use this energy to move your creative and healing force through and out of you in a constructive manner, or allow it to invert. This inversion of energy is what creates dissonance, and dis-ease within our beings. It gives rise to anxiety, depression, and general confusion. 

 

11/11 can be used as a sort of new year. It allows you to examine what habits or thought forms have been holding you back, and how you can initiate a new beginning. The number 11 itself looks like a doorway. This imagery shows the significance of your ability to step into a new sense of self.

 

So how do you use this sacred day move your energy outwards? To use the energy of creation to manifest what you are trying to cultivate in your world? You can do this by honoring it in a way that is meaningful to you. 

 

Create a ritual by setting the space. Build an altar. Or adorn one you may have with images and pieces that represent your inspirations, and gifts you have to offer the world. Use the transformative power of fire to cleanse the air with candles, incense, or sacred herbs. Make a cozy nest for you to nuzzle into. Take some grounding breaths to settle into your body before asking yourself…

 

  • What spiritual gift of mine is trying to come through, and into the world?
  • How am I blocking this gift?
  • What sort of thoughts and actions are aligned with my gifts?
  • What steps can I take to allow these gifts to come through?

 

Have your journal ready to record breakthroughs and insights. This process of reflection is often enough to give us a gentle shove in a new direction. 

 

Now is the time to tap into your creativity in a deeper way than you ever have. Examine the currents of your creative force, how you can work with it in a way that feels natural to you. When used wisely, this force can propel you forward into a whole other level of being. Projects come together seamlessly, ideas pour through you, and you find you have more energy than ever before. 

 

It’s time to drop the excuses, and get real with yourself. What exactly are you here for? You are the conduit for a very specific gift on this planet, and it is your divine mission to let move through you. So step through the door of 11, and watch as the magic unfolds.

with magical alignment, Alila Rose Grace CEO of Mahina Menstrual Cup x

What’s the Deal with Pheromones?

Pheromones.

We’re all familiar with the word.

The barely detectable, yet intoxicating scent that draws you to a certain someone. One of the driving factors in reproduction. But really what are pheromones? How are they produced in our bodies? Why are we drawn to certain people’s scents more than others? Let’s take a look and find out just what the deal is with these mysterious molecules. 

 

Pheromones are airborne molecules, that when detected by a member of the same species, like human to human, elicit some type of response. They are considered ectohormones, which means although they are a hormone, they are excreted outside of the body. They are picked up by the olfactory system, which is what allows us to sniff and smell the world around us. Most insects use pheromones to communicate, and while we have many other methods of communication, pheromones may also play a role in this. 

 

Where exactly are our pheromones excreted out of? These genius substances have been found to be in vaginal secretions, urine, breast milk, saliva, breath, and of course- sweat. The most well known human pheromone amongst researchers is called androstadienone, which is in male sweat, and possibly other excretions, and tends to have an effect on women. It’s been found that this powerful molecule helps stir heightened focus and a positive mood in women, increasing the chance of a sexual response. Basically, the idea is that they make you happy so that you can get it on. Woohoo! 

 

While they’ve been able to show some correlation, scientists have not been able to prove exactly how pheromones work in humans, as clearly as they have with other species. This lack of clarity is due in large part to a tiny organ inside the nose called the vomeronasal organ. While humans do indeed have one, ours is not connected to our brain as it is in other animals. Which leads us to wonder- how exactly do pheromones work in the human body?

 

While most of the conclusions people have come to in researching pheromones are still merely hypotheses, there are some factors that have been speculated to affect pheromones in humans. Much of this research has been focused on the effects of pheromones on women throughout their reproductive cycle. Interestingly, one common conclusion is the idea that male pheromones that may be considered stinky other times of the month, become neutral to women who are ovulating. On the flip side, the effect of an ovulating woman near a man may cause his testosterone levels to increase. In caveman talk, this gets him geared up to pursue his fertile friend for the ultimate goal of reproduction. 

 

This brings up a common topic of conversation around hormonal birth control- how does it affect our detection of pheromones? As we discussed in our article about breaking up with your HBC, these methods work by suppressing your natural cycles. Claus Wedekind, a Swiss researcher found that women actually prefer the pheromones of a male who has a different major histocompatibility complex (MHC), or immune system, than them. He very clearly uses the word “odors” to describe his findings rather than pheromones, as he has no evidence to directly relate them to each other. Of course we would want to get it on with someone who has a different immune system than us. The more varied our offspring’s immune system is, the better their chance for survival. 

 

Based off this theory, our diet and how we take care of ourselves overall affects just how attractive we are to mates. Simple things like switching to a more plant based diet, and limiting your intake of sugars, processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol, can keep unpleasant odors at bay. As mentioned by Dr. Wedekind- while this affects our bodies’ odor, we’re not entirely sure that that actually translates to pheromones.

Certain plant molecules or “phyto pheromones” can have aphrodisiac like effects on people. Take sexy sandalwood for instance. Its phyto pheromones actually mimic those of our own- enhancing our natural scent. Other ways to stay aligned with your natural aroma? Cut out toxic conventional deodorants and switch to an organic oil (like coconut), or make your own DIY version. 

 

It’s important to note, that most of the research that’s been done on pheromones is fairly heteronormative and reductive, and doesn’t take into account the vast variations in human sexuality and gender identity. 

 

So how do pheromones work? The jury is still out. As for the role of odor in guiding us to our genetically ideal mate? Let the gentle touch of intuition be your guide. The closer you are to your natural state, the more in tune you will be with what’s right. When we cut back on behaviors that increase inflammation, and other things that keep us imbalanced, our senses are clearer.

We see better, smell better, use better judgement, and our brains work better overall.

This clarity is what gives us the power to make decisions from a place of alignment. 

with all the good smells, Alila Rose Grace CEO Mahina Menstrual Cup

Resources:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232635.php
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3987372/
  3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100113122514.htm
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/09/science/studies-explore-love-and-the-sweaty-t-shirt.html

Embodying Your Sacred Portal: Yoni Eggs

In a world where we live disconnected from our wombs, the sacred space that holds the capacity for life and creation, we often forget the power contained in our bodies. As women, or people with wombs, we have been conditioned from every angle to forget this. Our bodies have been objectified, taken advantage of, victimized, minimized, and torn apart. 

 

We’ve been taught to disregard the abilities that lie within us. To wander through life living in floating heads, forgetting that they are attached to bodies. To limbs that move and weave for us. To feet that carry us through life. To a core that supports and holds us. To organs that vitalize and propel us, pumping life through our beings. In a culture of disconnection, the secret lies inside us. Our ability to reach in and find the depths of our soul that moves through every one of our pores. 

 

An integral part of tapping into this space, the space within us, is rediscovering, reaffirming, and deepening the connection to our yonis. Whether or not you choose to birth children, this space represents a sacred portal. Our ability to breathe life into existence. This could be a creative endeavor, a relationship, a community, or a new human. When diving into self care, we consider our diets, facials, massage, acupuncture- all incredible tools- but we often forget that there’s more to us. Part of living a healthy, integrated life, is connecting to this sacred portal. 

 

As more and more people are awakening to this, we’re now seeing a rise in popularity in self care tools focusing on the vagina. Vaginal steaming, crystal wands, and of course- yoni eggs.

 

Yoni eggs developed in ancient China as a Taoist tool for strengthening the vagina. Taoism emphasizes living in accordance with nature, and the natural flow of life. It is believed that this practice was held secret by the Queen and her concubines in The Royal Palace of China. The revelation of this sacred practice has given countless womb-holders a key to their ability to unlocking their Chi, and their capacity for creation and abundance.

 

The yoni has the ability to transmute Chi, or life force energy. The more we understand the potential for connection and vitality within this space, the deeper our connection with source becomes.

 

While yoni eggs come in a variety of stones, in the beginning of your journey with them, it is recommended to go with Jade. Our Yoni Eggs (shop here) are made from 100% Nephrite Canadian Jade that will hold you in your practice in a gentle and nourishing way.

You then may move onto Obsidian. This volcanic glass holds the power of the Earth’s core within a small sphere. It allows you to root back into your own root, the chakra center that holds stability, safety, and security. It’s detoxifying nature will clear away blocks that are you keeping you from remembering the security within your being.

The next step is to call on the abilities of rose quartz. This ethereal stone contains the power of unconditional love. Love that fills up the places that you have made space for as you’ve cleared yourself of past pains. 

 

Yoni eggs give us a tool to tap into the esoteric, on a very real level. Much like using crystals for meditation, yoni eggs give us a tangible way to feel things that often go unfelt. We use the power of the Earth’s creations to get back in touch with our own power of creation. This potent practice brings us back into our bodies, and back into the physical realm that so many of us have checked out of. 

 

You may be asking yourself if Yoni Eggs are right for you. These powerful stones have the ability to heal us from many of the pains we store in our wombs. They can help to break up scar tissue, and strengthen the pelvic floor. If you are preparing to conceive, or may want to conceive at some point, they can aid you in touching back into your ability to produce life.

The incredible act of breaking through past and stored traumas is often enough to clear the path of fertility. Maybe you have experienced some sort of birth trauma, physically and/or emotionally. Using Yoni Eggs in the postpartum period can help to heal the pelvic floor, and make you feel like your body is yours again. Many people “numb out” as a result of sexual trauma. Your practice can help to thaw any areas that have become frozen. They help to clear your portal of past lovers, and other people’s energy that you no longer want stored in you. They allow you to deepen your connection with your sexuality, to find a more orgasmic, more ecstatic way of living.

 

While you can find many techniques and meditations using your Yoni egg (in fact we include a complimentary mediation when you purchase one through Mahina), it is an intuitive journey. We encourage you to explore, to try different approaches. While we must heal as a collective, it starts with the individual.

Your healing journey is yours to explore.

Your womb is yours to awaken.

Your Yoni is yours to embody. 

 

 

From our sacred yoni to yours, Alila Rose Grace CEO of Mahina Menstrual Cup

The Magic of The Steam: The Sacred Practice of Yoni Steaming

Yoni Steaming. If you’re hip in the world of self care and womb wellness- you’ve probably heard of it. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, we’re here to get down and steamy. To answer some common questions, and see just what the deal is with this incredible practice. If you aren’t a devotee yet, you’ll surely be converted after just one session of what some call “A hug for your vagina.”

 

While it may seem like a new trend in the world of wellness, yoni steaming is a practice that goes back from ancient Mayan healers and midwives performing bajos to Korean healers with the practice of Chai-Yok.

 

Yoni or vaginal steaming gives us the chance to dive into the portal of the divine. To spend time with an area so many of us neglect outside of sex and birth. To purify and clear away the generations of heaviness we feel in our wombs. To deepen the intimacy and connection we have with ourselves, so that we can extend it out to the world around us.

 

Heat and warmth are a necessary part of our healing in many ways. In many traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, cold equals stagnation. Heat allows things to move through. This is especially true in regards to our reproductive cycle and postpartum. Steam allows the sensitive tissues of the yoni to gently open up, while the medicinal benefits of the herbs slowly wrap around your womb, working their magic. 

 

The benefits of yoni steaming are endless. It helps support people through the postpartum time, fertility issues, those with fibroids, or menstrual, bacterial and hormonal imbalances. Yoni steaming helps to regulate periods, as well as ease bloating and cramping. This practice increases sensitivity, improves your sex life, and helps to heal trauma we carry in our second chakra- which is the seat of our fertitlity, abundance and creation. 

 

To set up your yoni steaming area, you will first need a seat. Mahina sells beautiful, wooden seats- lovingly handmade on the island of Hawai’i. Get one for yourself hereSimply place your seat over a 5 gallon painters bucket, with a heat resistant safe bowl to hold your steamy mixture. Many people simply put a pot (reserved for steaming) into their toilet- a built in v-steam seat! For a serious tush workout you can just hover over your pot sans seat. Whatever your option, you may choose to line your seat with a towel to keep from burning your sensitive tissues.

 

Now for the steam itself. You can use our blessed, all organic, wildcrafted, yoni steam herbal blend by ordering online. We always encourage fresh herbs if you have them available. By creating an experience around cultivating and tenderly picking your herbs, you create a ritual around your connection with the land, and the land within you. 

 

If you choose to create your own mixture, here are some common herbs to pick from:

 

Calendula: Has anti inflammatory properties, helps to aid in the healing of scar tissue, vaginal tears, and hemorrhoids, making it great for postpartum. 

 

Lavender: Known for its incredible calming properties, this peaceful plant helps to regulate the menstrual cycle.

 

Rosemary: Another powerful plant packed with antimicrobial abilities. Rosemary helps to inhibit yeast growth and stimulate menstruation.

 

Mugwort: With its wonderful antifungal abilities, mugwort is a great all around addition to your herbal blend. It also helps to balance female hormones.

 

Basil: This beautiful botanical has been shown to help ease painful periods. It aims to minimize cramps, PMS, and other issues.

 

Please do not use essential oils in your steam, as they are too concentrated for the delicate tissues of the vagina.

 

Make sure to allow your to herbs steep long enough to fully reap the benefits. About 5 minutes in boiling water, and an additional 10 with the lid covered and the heat off. Wave your hand over the mixture to make sure it isn’t too hot before taking your seat.

 

Like many self care practices, we urge you to create a ritual around your yoni steam. Start by setting the space- clearing the area, lighting candles, incense or using aromatherapy, dim the lights, and breathe deeply to ground down into your body. Cover you feet and body to keep the warmth inside- especially in the postpartum time.

 

Soak in the magical medicine you have created for yourself for 20-35 minutes, you may need to swap out the water mid-steam if it loses too much of its heat. You can put on calming music, a guided meditation, or simply sit in quiet- taking it all in. 

 

During this deep practice, you may have hidden things coming up. Allow it to move through you, tears, moans- whatever it maybe. Remember that the only way out is through. Feel it, digest it, and let it pass.

 

Yoni steaming is not recommended for those are currently pregnant, have an iud, have open wounds, or are currently menstruating- although it is great in the week leading up to your period. If you are steaming postpartum, wait about 5 days or if you had a c-section 6 weeks. 

with steamy love, Alila Rose Grace CEO of Mahina Menstrual Cup

Conscious Condoms and Vaginal Health

Sex. Most of us are doing it at one point or another. This sacred act is one of our greatest gifts as humans. The ability to connect, to create, and to collapse into another. 

 

The practical act of having sex comes with certain logistical measures that need to be taken. The biggest being preventing sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. While there are numerous options for preventing unwanted pregnancy, there are less when it comes to STDs. 

 

If you are choosing to have penetrative sex, whatever the iteration of your relationship may be, you may also be choosing to use condoms. For many of us, our first experience with condoms was seeing a health teacher slip one onto a banana, or our parents embarrassingly handing us a stack “just in case”. While it is important to practice “safe sex”, what wasn’t discussed was the possible implications of the presence of toxic condoms in our delicate vaginal microbiomes. 

 

The vaginal microbiome are the bacterial communities comprised of vaginal flora- microorganisms that colonize the vagina. A balanced microbiome, much like a balanced ecosystem, helps to prevent STDs, maintain natural hygiene, aid in fertility, and the overall health and wellbeing of people with vaginas. 

 

Part of maintaining a healthy vaginal microbiome, is watching what you put up there. Between latex allergies, toxic ingredients, and other possible carcinogens- condoms can be tricky territory. 

 

Some conventional condom ingredients to watch out for include:

 

Petrochemicals: Just what it sounds like- chemicals obtained from petroleum or natural gas. No thank you! A 2013 study found that women who used petroleum jelly in the past 2 month were 2.2 times more likely to have a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Yikes!

 

Glycerin: While glycerin gives the appearance of moisturizing, it utilizes osmosis. This means that when a product with glycerin is applied to the vagina, the glycerin molecules pulls natural moisture from the vagina, dehydrating it. The opposite of what you want during your intimate moments. When left in the vagina too long, glycerin can turn into a sugar- increasing the risk of yeast infections. 

 

Latex: Latex allergies are fairly common, yet many people are unaware of them. If you experience itching, swelling, and other signs of irritation after sex with a condom, you may have a latex allergy. Luckily, there are wonderful latex alternatives out there these days.

 

Nitrosamines: These are chemical compounds that form during the production of latex. While levels tend to be low in condoms, there is a potential for increased risk of cancer from exposure to nitrosamines.

 

Parabens: Parabens are a common preservative that are used in many personal care products, including personal lubricants and condoms. Parabens have been found to mimic estrogen in the body, causing a disruption of the hormone. This leads to an increased risk of breast cancer, amongst other things.

 

Dry Dusting Powder: This is used to help prevent a rolled up condom from sticking together or breaking while unrolling it. While these are typically made from corn starch, it may contain other ingredients, including harmful preservatives that are there to prevent the breakdown of latex.

 

All hope is not lost. As the demand for sustainable and non toxic products in every industry has grown, it has trickled into the condom community. There are a growing number of companies offering non toxic condoms, redefining the meaning of “safe sex”. 

 

Sustain Natural: These latex condoms are ultra thin and lubricated inside and out- all while being free from nitrosamines, as well as being fair trade. Woohoo!

 

Lovability Inc. : These ultra stylish and millennial focused condoms have a brilliant brand, and an awesome product to back it up. Their condoms are made from 100% natural, vegan latex. They coat them with an aloe infused silicone lube to avoid harmful spermicides, dyes, fragrances, and other toxic chemicals. Even better? They’re cute packaging makes them the perfect accessory. 

 

GLYDE America : This company prides themselves on clean plant based formulas, sustainable ingredients, and ethical processes to produce their vegan and cruelty free condoms. 

 

Sir Richard’s : All natural latex condoms free from parabens, spermicides, and petrochemicals. They are PETA approved, and all vegan. Cruelty free condoms for the win!

 

Whatever your sexual preferences and journey may look like, it is important to understand the effect that the products we expose our vaginas too have implications. Finding the right “fit” can take time and some experimentation, but there is a non-toxic sustainable condom option out there for everyone. So take some of these brands for a test ride, and have at it!

Stay frisky, Alila Grace CEO of Mahina Menstrual Cup

A Woman’s Seasons

The earth goes through natural cycles. The sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes and the seasons have a rhythm of blossoming and falling away.

The earth’s cycles are balanced and rhythmic.

They keep the harmony of all the species that live here. The animals depend on the cycles to know when to migrate, conceive and birth their kin and when to store food for a long winter.

We, humans, also depend on the earth’s cycles, however we have gotten so far away from the natural elements. Kids are more familiar with screens than greens. We had to invent practices like “earthing” to remind people to walk on the earth. Dis-ease is normalized, birth is institutionalized and we have completely handed over our power to forces outside of us.

Women’s bodies are a mirror reflection of the earth and carries out these natural cycles, each and every month.

Every period is a moon phase, a waxing a waning. She journeys within her an entire winter, spring, summer and fall. Our bodies depend on these rhythms for inner balance and harmony. When we throw off or interrupt our natural cycle, we interfere with the whole system. Our body forgets that ebbs and flows are the norm and we forget that there are times of going deep inside and times to express ourselves out into the world.

When we take away the seasons of our bodies, we strip ourselves of the juice of live. Fall colors are dull, spring flowers do not fully bloom, and the body begins to come out of balance, or into dis-ease. We push against the natural flow, we swim upstream and we make everything more challenging then it needs, or wants, to be.

It’s no wonder so many girls and women are suffering from ‘PMS’ symptoms and fertility issues. When the rhythm of life is not honored, the body will offer signals of this imbalance in the form of symptoms. The symptoms get more and more severe the more off balance the body is.

The body wants to be in balance, peace and vitality.

It’s our job to listen and take direction from it.

Hormonal birth control (HBC) is the biggest disrupter of the women’s natural balance. It takes away the cycles and seasons. It alters the ph, hormones, pheromones and chemical balance in the body. It removes us from our natural ebb and flow and puts the power of our rhythm into a man-made pill. This pill is supposed to save us from the worries of conception, and what most don’t realize is it removes us from our primal power and intuition as women.

A women’s power is in her belly. Her power to create, to dream and to see. When we take a women away from her inner sight, she forgets who she is and what her purpose is.

A women in her natural rhythm is a women in her full essence.

She understands the cycles of her body like she understands the cycles of nature. She is not controlled by her monthly shed (period), rather she is honored to greet it. And when/if she is ready to conceive she has an inner intelligence that guides her.

This is one of the greatest gifts of being born in a women’s body.

My favorite way to track my cycle is with Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). It’s a complete method of deciphering the bodies cues to figure out your unique rhythm. It looks at your body basal body temperature, cervix position and cervical mucus. These 3 markers are the most important for gauging where you are in your cycle. Each season, like the earth, has it’s own signature; our temperature rises and falls, the cervix (flower) opens and closes and the mucus (precipitation) varies.

FAM is accurate and empowering. It’s scientific and also deeply intuitive.

I’ve noticed for myself over time, the physical charting has become secondary to the inner knowing of my cycles. After charting for some years, I learned my particular signs and signals and have been able to successfully use this method for both conscious conception and contraception.

The best place to start is by becoming aware of big and subtle changes throughout the month as well as getting in the habit of daily cervix checks. For a cervix deep dive, journey here.

The best books to learn more are “The Garden of Fertility” by Katie Singer and “Taking charge of your fertility” by Toni Weschler.

Remember, your body is your compass, and HBC completely altars your north star.

There is nothing more empowering than learning the cycles and rhythms of your own body and making informed decisions regarding your fertility.

If you’re ready to jump off HBC, take out your IUD or have personalized support with your natural fertility options, feel welcomed to message Alila for a 1:1 empowerment session.

 

with seasoned love, Alila Rose Grace, Founder of Mahina Menstrual Cup  xx

My Body, My Cycle: Breaking up With Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal birth control. Just the word stirs a whole lot of feelings in people across the board. On one hand, it represents feminist movements and revolutionizing females in the workplace, but now that it has been integrated into our society and bodies for some time, we need to take a better look. 

 

An estimated 60% of women of reproductive age are using some form of contraception. Of that, about 72% are using a nonpermanent method, primarily hormonal options (1). That means that a huge portion of the population are on these relatively new medications for long periods of time, perhaps all of their reproductive years. This isn’t to be taken lightly. But before we can understand the implications of hormonal birth control, we need to consider the reasons that people go on it in the first place. 

 

Have a conversation with almost any young woman these days, and she will most likely say that she is either A) on hormonal birth control B) was on it from a young age or C) was the only one of her friends who wasn’t on it. So why are so many young people being put on it, oftentimes before they even start having sex? Some of the most common reasons people claim are cramps, “irregular periods” (periods can take years to regulate after menstruation begins), acne, contraception of course, and sometimes because “everyone else is on it”, or simply because their doctor just handed it to them. 

 

For some, hormonal birth control does offer real relief from conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (2) and Endometriosis (3). These are serious conditions for which hormonal birth control can be beneficial for. But what about people who just go on it for one of the other reasons listed above? Turns out, it may not be as harmless as we thought.

 

While various forms of hormonal birth control work slightly differently, they essentially suppress our natural hormonal cycles and artificially replicate them. Some of the side effects of hormonal birth control are immediately recognized or felt. The most common being weight gain, acne, fatigue, mental fog, mood swings, depression, decreased sex drive, nausea, headaches, and sore breasts. For many, they have been living with these side effects for so long, that they don’t recognize the impact HBC has had on them until they are off of it. We hear stories of women who had been on it since they were 14 go off in their mid twenties, and all of a sudden lose 10 pounds, and feel a significant shift in their overall mental health and well being.

 

While the long term side effects of HBC are largely unknown, some studies suggest that they increase a user’s risk of various forms of cancer. They also increase the risk of a woman developing a blood clot. These are dangerous, as they can potentially lead to stroke and heart attack (4). 

 

The other risk of HBC that doesn’t get talked about enough, is the false sense of security it gives. HBC does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. However with so many people having “unprotected sex” because they believe they won’t get pregnant, they then increase their risk of contracting an STI. There is also a false sense of security around pregnancy itself. While not common, HBC is not foolproof, and you can get pregnant on it. Take the pill for example, while some leave more room for flexibility, others must be taken at the same time everyday. So if a person were to miss their pill one day, they could potentially get pregnant. Getting pregnant while on HBC increases the chance of birth defects, miscarriage, and eptopic pregnancies.

 

Hormonal birth control works by, you guessed it- affecting our hormones. Hormones are more than just about puberty, sex, and having babies. Our hormones are the catalysts that make everything in our bodies happen. From sleep, to mental health, to metabolism, our hormones are powerful, and when we interfere with them, especially on a long term basis- there may be consequences. There is a beautiful natural balance that nature has created for us to be healthy and thriving. HBC throws off this balance, and dis-harmonizes us. One of the biggest themes of widespread hormonal birth control is a disconnection from our bodies and our cycles. With so many young women being put on it from the time they get their period, they never get a chance to understand how their natural cycle works. 

 

With so much fear around periods, cramps, and all things reproductive cycle- it’s easy to see why we have worked so hard to suppress our periods. But this suppression of our nature is just that- and keeps us from being as fully and wholly connected as we are meant to be.

 

It’s important to balance gratitude for the widespread availability of birth control, with an understanding of the reality of the effects it has on our bodies- and our well being. So how do we find a balance between autonomy over our reproductive cycles and choices, without compromising our health? Well HBC is not your only option. 

 

Stay tuned for a break down of non hormonal birth control options. Take back your cycle, and take back your life!

 

♡, Alila Rose Grace, founder of Mahina Menstrual Cup

Sources

 

  1. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/contraceptive-use-united-states
  2. https://www.pcosaa.org/symptoms
  3. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Endometriosis?IsMobileSet=false
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322762.php

Falling into Autumn: Rituals for the Equinox

In the northern hemisphere, after the Fall Equinox, the days get shorter as we move from summer to winter. From a time of liveliness and extroversion, to a time of turning inwards and reflection.

 

No matter where you are in the world, Equinox’s are a time for rebirth. For change.They are a pause in between the extremes. Days of equality. Where night and day are balanced. They are a time for reverence and celebration for all that has come, and all that has yet to come.

 

We love rituals around here, and what better time to create one than the powerful tide of Fall Equinox? On the two days of the year where we have equal amounts of night and day, the forces within us become balanced. It creates this portal with which we can dive into and plant seeds for manifestation, as well as wipe away self limiting beliefs that are holding us back.

 

I invite you to dive in to this magical day open, ready to receive, and ready to unfold. To support you in your Equinox journey, I have compiled a list of offerings and rituals perfect for this potent day.

 

Time in Nature

 

As always, Mother Nature calls us back again and again. She beckons you to put your feet to her ground, to swim in her waters, to feel the air like her breath against your skin. She asks you to feel the shifts as she moves through her seasons. To witness the mirroring of the same shifts happening within you. Savor her last days of late summer. Give endless thanks for all that she does for us.

 

Gratitude is the Attitude

 

Fall is harvest time. While many of us have access to fruitful abundance year round, the Equinox serves as a reminder to give gratitude to the harvests in our lives. Write it out. Make a list, a loving brainstorm, a compilation of doodles- something that allows you to see before your eyes the very tangible abundance that you are giving gratitude for. What harvests have come to fruition at this marking of transition? This could be anything from the food in your garden, opportunities that have flowed in, loved ones in your life, anything. Once you get started, you won’t be able to stop. Share it with your loved ones. The attitude of gratitude is infectious. 

 

Offerings are Everything

 

Keeping in tune with the attitude of gratitude, it’s time to give back in your way. Keeping the channel of giving and receiving open, means offering in ways that feel meaningful to you. Volunteer, offer your hand in support, cook a friends and family meal. One of my favorite ways to show my gratitude to the Earth, is to create an altar with supplies she gives me. Feathers, stones, rocks, fruits, berries. Whatever calls to me. I find a quiet spot in nature, and I create a mandala on the Earth’s skin. Decorating her with the materials she so generously offers. I sit in her peace, and breathe in the mysteries of the Universe. 

 

Nourish The Bod

 

Your body does a lot for you. So much. Talk about gratitude. Wow. Just as the Earth changes with the seasons, so do our bodies, and with that, our needs. Eating seasonally is not only beneficial for the planet, but for your health as well. This is a lovely time to pop into your local farmer’s market and ask your farmer friends what their favorite seasonal goodies are. Seasonal squashes are the first thing that comes to mind. With their hard exteriors, yet rich and delicious center, fall squash are the perfect medium to create medicinally packed meals. Infuse root veggie stews, mashes, and roasts with power packed ginger, garlic, turmeric, and other delectable herbs. Boost up your immune system through your diet before the upcoming sicko season. 

 

As the weather cools down, my taste for tea tends to pick up as well. In this late summer, early Fall time, I’ve been loving a fresh steeping of ginger, hibiscus, rosehips, and chaga mushroom. Experiment making your own fresh teas with herbs and things you find in your garden, or in the bulk section of your local market.

 

Honor Your Intentions

 

Any shift is a time to set new intentions. Tune in to what is truly calling to you in the upcoming year. What would you like to see harvested come next Autumn? Much like the gratitude exercise, writing these intentions out is powerful. Put pen to paper and don’t hold back. Push past any feelings of shame, guilt, or unworthiness, and communicate to the Universe just what it is your heart desires. Hold a ceremony over the list. A really powerful tool I’ve found for manifestations, especially when it comes to shame and guilt, is to use a mirror. Light some candles, set the tone, and stare into your own eyes. Repeat your list of intentions and desires over and over again, maintaining eye contact with yourself. You may cry, you may feel the discomfort of being so present with yourself, but you are saying loud and clear what it is you are calling in. And that you’re not afraid to face it.

 

Come Together

 

Last, but certainly not least, get together with your chosen people. Us humans are here to celebrate, to connect. We forget sometimes, what with all the distractions laid out before us- that this is our purpose. Come together over food, over art, over love, over all that is beautiful. Come together to laugh, to cuddle, to cry, to sing, and to dance. Fall into the network of support and abundant love that holds every single one of us.

Herstory of Period Practices: Past and Present

We’ve been bleeding for as long as we’ve been in these human bodies. This much we know. But how has the natural process of menstruation been taken care of or viewed throughout the ages?

 

Between menstrual cups, tampons, pads, and period panties, we’ve got plenty of options these days. But what did perioding people do before industrialization and online shopping?

 

A good thing to remember when reading through this, is that most of our historical information has been recorded and passed down through men. So while we may be able to get an idea of what sort of practices were employed, it still may not be totally reflective of the women at that time. 

 

Also worth mentioning, for many women throughout time they would have many babies back to back from their teen years on. This means their cycle would be mostly suppressed for much of their fertile years.

 

Given that, it’s fun to wonder what sort of resourceful, radical, or downright cruel things have we done throughout herstory to maintain our feminine hygiene and honor our cycles. Let’s take a peek! 

 

Starting in ancient Egypt, it seems that menstruation was revered much more than in many other places throughout time. Period blood was seen as a tool to use in sorcery. That means that people would utilize it for casting spells, this included drinking it at times. This is also the first place we see something that remotely resembles a tampon. These original tampons were made from papyrus, and soaked in the Nile to soften before insertion. 

 

Onto the next tampon invention…ancient Greece. Supposedly they used pieces of wood wrapped in lint. Youch, did anyone else clench after reading this one? It’s also said that the Greeks utilized period blood for gardening. Mixing it with wine and sprinkling it on their crops to increase fertility…of the crops that is. Some people *cough* us here *cough* still do this. Check out our blog on Moon Time Magic: Making Use of Your Menses https://www.mahinacup.com/moon-time-magic-making-use-of-your-menses/ to hear our take on watering your plant babies with your period.

 

Yet another mention of tampons in herstory, was Roman women making wool tampons to use during their moon time. 

 

There’s the use of the term “on the rag”, which comes from, you guessed it- the use of rags. With modern laundry machines and an abundance of fabric, this seems pretty practical. However in the Victorian times which this phrase references, it was not always that straightforward. The amount of fabric available and resources with which to clean said rags, could be indicative of social status. In times when the human body was shushed, and normal functions and desires were condemned, many were not able to simply hang their rags up to dry. Makes you sure grateful for the freedom we have to even be discussing our periods, let alone have access to feminine hygiene products.

 

The first american patent for menstrual products was in 1854- a belt with steel springs to hold a pad. I’m getting some interesting visuals here.

 

During World War I, French nurses cleverly realized that the cellucotton they were using for bandages could also be used as pads. If it could stop a bullet wound from bleeding, it could hold their period blood.

 

The first modern tampon was invented in 1929…by a dude. In 1929 Dr Earle Haas developed a plug of cotton using two cardboard tubes as the insertion “applicator”. He patented his ‘catamenal device’, which he trademarked Tampax. We see where this is heading. Then in 1969 stayfree strip technology for pads became accessible, now we’re getting somewhere.

 

How about religion? Even these days, I have heard of and been to Hindu temples in Indonesia and Buddhist ones in China where women are not allowed in during their periods, or outright not at all- another conversation, for another day.

 

Today, Nepal is under scrutiny for the practice of Chhaupadi. Where women and girls are exiled to huts during menstruation. These huts are often cow sheds, and other places in unsanitary conditions. In other places, women are forced to sleep unprotected in caves or jungles. This has proven fatal in some cases, causing an uproar from human rights groups.

 

In the Torah, the time of Niddah, aka menstruation, is yet again- considered a time of impurity. Orthodox rules prohibit sexual intercourse, or any lustful or affectionate behavior during this time. Along with other practices contributing to the ideas of impurity.

 

The deeper aspect of keeping women out of certain places during times of menstruation, is the deep shame that’s fostered. Being forced out during their times of sacred portals, leads to programming of being impure and less than. Deeply embedded into the consciousness of the people. Taking it much further than sneakily hiding a tampon in your sleeve before heading to your high school bathroom to change it.

 

How can we have respect and understanding for these beautiful traditions, while doing the same for the natural processes of our bodies?

 

Many of the options we have today are still medieval in the sense that they are toxic for our bodies. Prioritizing concealing your period, versus the health and the safety of the product and the people that use it. This is one of the motivations behind Mahina Cup. 

 

It’s easy to take it for granted that most of use are able to have quality, safe period products within a matter of hours or days simply with the click of a button. Or that we can simply walk to the corner store, or take a quick drive to the grocery store and have the supplies we need. It’s also worth mentioning, that if we do happen to bleed through, we have a closet full of clothes, stain remover, and laundry machines. 

 

This is not the reality for many inhabitants of the world today. Many women, and people with uteruses do not have access to menstrual hygiene products, or drawers full of extra clothes to change into when they inevitably bleed into their clothes. Not to mention clean water with which to clean their menstrual products. Many are forced to miss large amounts of work and school, every time they get their period.

 

This is the driving force behind the Global Sisterhood Project. Our project to help send Mahina Menstrual Cups to menstruating people in need, all over the world. Feminine hygiene should be a basic human right, and we are so proud to be making a difference in this, one cup at a time. 

Navigating Climate Change with Open Hearts

“Nature gives us everything for free. Nature doesn’t charge us money. All that nature asks of us, is that we protect it.” -Unknown

 

Living in cities, being bombarded with screens, and eating food from plastic containers- we sometimes forget that we are of this Earth. That our bodies are a microsom for the world around us. Our relationship with the Earth is a direct reflection of our relationship with our bodies.

 

This is especially true for women and female bodied people. As the Earth houses our bodies, we house the bodies of future generations. Whether we are conscious of it or not, every change that the Earth goes through, we feel in our bodies. 

 

The uprooting or devastation of trees and forests, we feel it in our lungs. The insane amounts of trash clogging our oceans, we feel as discombobulation in our nervous systems. The further we get away from grass, the less grounded we become. 

 

With all that’s happening in our world, it’s easy to become disheartened and disillusioned. But if our goal in these bodies is to become more open hearted, more connected, more loving- then how do we grapple staying aware of the world around us, without being filled with fear?

 

The first thing we need to do is check in with ourselves on the deepest level. In what ways am I choosing fear over trust and love? What steps can I take to first care for my body and soul in a way that I am constantly reaffirming that I am a part of this Earth?

 

This can be done through any number of ways. Breath, it all begins with your breath. Breathing in love and grace, breathing out anything that must be purged and cleansed. Practices that you already hold sacred to yourself such as Yoga, meditation, time with loved ones, and artistic expression. Putting your feet and hands in the dirt, if you don’t have any nearby, try rubbing the dirt from your potted plants in your hands. Go in water. If you don’t have a natural body of water near you, taking a salt bath is an incredible way to neutralize any anxiety, and connect with the elements. 

 

Do what resonates with you to come back to center. From this place, we can then go out into the world, and see what we can do on a bigger level. 

 

How much we stay up to date on current affairs, is such a personal decision. One that we often have trouble discussing, for fear of disagreements- because there is so much emotional charge to it. But part of being an active and engaged citizen of the world, is paying attention to what is happening around us. To do this in a constructive way, I recommend setting limits and boundaries. Use incredible discernment as to where your information is coming from, and where their information came from. 

Set time limits for how long you spend absorbing social media and news. Notice signals in your body, like clenching from anxiety or fear, that may indicate it’s time to sign off. While engaging in discussions and healthy disagreements are necessary for expanding our understanding of the world- it may be necessary to set boundaries as to who you engage with on these topics, and how often. 

 

As we grow our awareness of ourselves and the world, we begin to adopt more and more everyday behaviors as to how we can change our daily habits to lessen our environmental impact. Here are some of the biggest areas that we can change to make a difference.

 

  • Food. Eating is something we do multiple times a day, which means that every time we put something in our mouths, we have the choice to make it as conscious as possible. Shopping locally, minimizing animal products and cutting back on packaging are two huge steps you can take in your food consumption journey. Buying in bulk with your own containers, as well as going to your farmer’s market for produce are two awesome ways of doing this.
  • Self care. Changing the products you use during your moon time can significantly impact your consumption as a female bodied person. “About 43 million women in the United States use tampons. A woman who uses tampons monthly will buy more than 11,000 in her lifetime.” (1) Not to mention the many harmful chemicals in conventional feminine care products. By not using them, you are preventing them from being absorbed by your body, as well as the Earth. By making the choice to switch to a menstrual cup like the Mahina Cup, you are making an impact- one period at a time. 
  • Transportation. Walk, run, carpool, public transportation, dance, skip, crawl, or swim to your destination. If you have the option and ability to not drive somewhere solo- then by all means do so. 
  • Communicate. Communicate what you learn, how you have lessened your consumption, your love and reverence for the Earth. Be open to new ideas and ways of living. Communication is key. Passion and understanding creates a ripple effect.
  • Donate. Your dollar goes a long way when you contribute to organizations making an active effort to protect, converse, and restore our planet. 

 

No matter how you choose to navigate the world of climate change, consumption, and personal impact, I invite you to lead with love. Frustration and fear can make us push up against walls, that can polarize or paralyze us. Coming from a place of love, allows us to be open to what blindspots we may have, and addressing those of others’ from a heartfelt place.

 

Little by little, day by day, we can and will make a change. For ourselves, for the Earth, and for all the beings that inhabit it.

 

More information:

 

  1. http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/healthandscience/cumulative-exposure-and-feminine-care-products/