While I was living in Western Australia living a well-developed relationship with the Menstruation Fairy, the Menopause Fairy paid me a visit. That was years ago now, and she has since developed a close, loving relationship with me.
In the very early nineteen-eighties, which coincided with my very early twenties (as I am a decade-baby*), I finally grew some sense, and went off the Pill, something I haven't resumed taking since. Initially, this was both a good and bad decision, as two things happened: the waves of depression that I just couldn't account for in my life stopped which was wonderful, and my supposedly monthly bleeds swung wildly for a while making planning a little difficult and one or two away-from-home incidents a little embarrassing. With time, though, it settled down into a predictable twenty-nine-and-a-half day rhythm, almost exactly the same rhythm as the lunar month.
Later in the eighties, though before the stock market crash in September 1987 (and wasn't that a wonderful birthday present for someone working in the Financial Sector!), I lived a life that was as clockless as possible for someone whose income depended on the stock market, and as electric-lightless as possible for someone who enjoyed reading in the evenings. I had been involved with Magical Paganism since the late seventies, and had bought my faith-ring in 1984, with a promise to myself that if I ever lost my faith and my magicality, I would take it off. It's now 2012, and I'm still wearing it and cannot even see a possibility of taking it off. It lives on my right hand when I am single and on my left hand when I am in a relationship, but it is a statement of faith more than a statement of relationship status. Being gold, it is also my Sun-God ring - my silver pentacle-ring is my Moon Goddess ring, and my copper ring is my Earth-Mother ring. Yes, my spirituality is important to me - I have many other rings, some of them lovely, but those ones are important, and they leave no room on my hands for me to wear other rings comfortably.
In my time of clocklessness I meditated often (and still do), and used to enjoy very much walking around outdoors in a state of meditation. Gradually, I became aware of the lengthening and shortening of the days - without a timepiece to check at sunrise and sunset! And I worked out why the 25th December is such a huge celebration rather than the 21st or 22nd: in the Southern Hemisphere where I live, that is the first day after the date of the Solstice where someone without a clock can really sense the shortening of the days. In the Northern Hemisphere where my forebears come from, it fell in winter. On the Solstice the village shamans would have conducted Fire rituals to encourage the sun to rekindle, to bring warmth and growth back to the world, then sat around watching for the first signs of the lengthening days to know whether the magic had worked. And when it had, on or around the 25th, there'd be a huge community feast with much jollity, overeating and overdrinking, to celebrate!
Living also without clocks or artificially induced hormonal "flats", I was at the same time becoming very aware of my body as a magical organism. Whilst most books on magic talk about active magic and passive magic as being enhanced by certain lunar phases, I found active magic, magic where I projected outwards, worked far better in the days of my menstruation, whilst passive magic, magic where I worked internally on myself, worked far better around the times of ovulation (something to do with being "sexually receptive", I think). For decades, without the deadening influence of the Pill or any other forms of hormonal contraception (and no, I have never had an unintended baby), I worked with my magic and my hormones as intertwined aspects of each other and of myself. I was internally powerful, even in times of outer powerlessness in my life.
Then, as I said, when I was living on the red earth of inland Western Australia, the Menopause Fairy first visited me. I liked her on sight - we already knew each other, and I had been waiting patiently for her to come calling for a few years by then.
Now in that region, the local people indigenous to the area, have a creation myth. I don't know all of it, but one of the elders whom I was friendly with told me some of it, probably the bits of it that I was allowed to hear as a white woman. In the beginning, everything was void. There was no land. Then one of the sky-women started menstruating, and where her blood fell, it solidified and became the rich, red earth. Everything else grows out of that life-bringing earth: trees, rocks, creeks, creatures. The salmon-gums, in particular, with their orange-red timber, are seen as a reminder of that act of creation and are especially valued. I lived on land whose spiritual/symbolic origins were in the gifts that menstruation brings. I found that thought really inspiring and I had a terrific life there, returning to the eastern coastal strip of the continent only because of my teenager's educational needs. Nothing else would have been important enough to drag me back.
The Menstruation Fairy announced Her first visit on a hot, dry desert-summer's day, by a sudden flush of tingling and additional heat that started with my shoulders and upper arms, and spread quickly through me. It didn't feel just like ordinary heat, though - it felt like the movement of magic in my body. I greeted Her respectfully, and made a mental note that next time I would try to direct or make use of that magic surging through my body. That day She visited me eight times, more than She has on any day since. I think I know why - we were just getting acquainted and needed time to get to know each other.
The second time She visited me that day, I noticed that for a few seconds before the heat arrived there was an indefinable sensation of "prior notice" of her visit: a sensation that I cannot describe, but which is quite distinctive. I braced myself, dropped myself quickly into trance (I can do that pretty-well instantly), and waited for the heat. I converted it into a cool, green, tingling energy, and washed myself with it, and was pleased to see some of my mental garbage flowing off me and away with the flow of magic. Yes!
From that day to this one, I have practiced and refined this. Every so-called "hot flush" that comes on a warm day, I grab it before it turns into heat, and transform it into some other form of magical healing, which I use either on myself, my surroundings, objects, or living creatures. It takes only a second or so - at times when this happens during conversation, for example, all that the people with me will notice (even magical people), is that I pause for a moment, then go on talking. Occasionally on very cold days, I'll allow my "hot flushes" to remain as heat - I regard it as a sort of personal central heating!
The Menstruation Fairy continued to visit me for a good few years after that, and I became aware that I was the rope in the middle of a magical tug-of-war between two powerful magical entities, both of whom gave me energies and strengths that I could use. Some time in the second half of last year, after a very long absence, the Menstruation Fairy paid Her very last visit. I knew before it happened that it would be Her last visit. I did all the necessary physical stuff, then did a quiet personal ritual of farewell with the limestone-fossil Cup, a lovely symbol of the womb, that a dear friend had given me for my fifty-first birthday. She was satisfied and She went away, leaving me in the warm, wrinkled hands of the Menopause Fairy.
Since then, completely undistracted by my menstrual cycle as a source of power, I have been using my menopausal "symptoms" (not an illness in any way!) as a source of power. And whilst the so-called hot flushes, or surges of raw magic that She gives me come more and more rarely these days, they are a blessing and a gift. I treasure them all, and I use them all. Mood swings? Nah. My "mood swings" are dependent on life-circumstances, as they should be. I suspect that if I were not utilising this raw energy that the Menopause Fairy chooses to give me, I might feel uncomfortable in my body - and I am supremely comfortable in my body - and if I were uncomfortable in my body, that might cause mood-swings. I can't see that ever happening, can you?
Menopause is the greatest thing that can happen to a woman. Absolutely. It completely eclipses things like orgasm, childbirth, all the other stuff that pre-menopausal women rave about. I really, really recommend welcoming the Menopause Fairy into your life, and utilising the energy that She presents to you.
* Decade-baby: someone of any age born in a year ending with zero.
** Other resources: "In Praise of the Crone" by Dorothy Morrison, published by Llewellyn, 1999. (Note: I have known Dorothy personally from before the writing of this book, and we never discussed it before or after she wrote it).