In 2000, I published my paintings ("pain-things") on the earliest blogger forum, LiveJournal.
While writing my Master's Degree thesis in Women's Spirituality, I showed over 200 women how to transform their pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) into pre-menstrual power (PMP) by re-membering their lunar consciousness using my astro-mandala system, Monthmatics.
Women who use moonblood in their art are stating that bleeding for days from their vagina is non-violent and that their periods are as intrinsic to their vitality as resting the soil through winter is to sustaining mother earth's fertility. Winter, nightfall and dark moons are a vital part of the life cycle. Women are intimate with blood.
By breaking the taboo we confront our visceral fear of looking into the face of Death. Menstruation is a grievance for human mortality. Gorgon Medusa's slithering serpent hair is a mythic association with the cataclysmic electric discharge event that instantaneously petrified nearly all life forms into rock.
Woman's monthly bleeding cycle signifies that she is a living lunar clock. Yet, women are discouraged from acknowledging the effects of their deepfelt connection to increasing moonlight. Upon reaching full, the moon soon disappears into a void of darkness. Woman's womb is symbolically the moon; it grows to full when it is pregnant with life. A bleeding vagina symbolizes an ovum fatality, or an empty womb.
Ironically, it is precisely the menstruant who is bleeding for days without dying who ignores this significance because tracking the moon's course is unrecognized calendaring in our current patriarchal reset.
Unsupported women all over the world silently endure pain during their 5-7 day menstrual phase. This challenging bleeding naturally correlates with the waning dark moon phase preceeding the gateway to cyclical renewal. I have chosen the rise of a phoenix with outspread wings to be the iconic image of Menstrala. Seeing a red phoenix rising in the sky is the signal of rebirth coming only after a period of mourning. The Sedna and Pegasus myths are also relevant to this theme of rebirth. When Sedna's hair is untangled, she releases abundant ocean creatures. Pegasus, who symbolizes Neptunian inspiration, is born from drops of blood fallen from Medusa's beheading by Perseus.
Furthermore, Her Story Is Not His Story
Math originally was invented to count the number of days & nights between menstrual cycles and lunar cycles.
Mathematics contains the root word "Ma," short for mother. Calendaring is based on mothers counting the number of lunations in their fertility cycle from conception and pregnancy to giving birth.
It is noteworthy that there is a relationship between a mother's 9-month long gestation cycle and the Family of Eclipse Cycles (see astrologer Dietrech Pessin's Lunar Shadows III: The Predictive Power of Moon Phases and Eclipses, 2009).
Several words have menstrual origins:
The word taboo originates from the Polynesian tapua. Taboo originally meant menstruation, the oldest taboo.
The word ritual originates from Sanskrit r'tu, meaning first menarche rite. Women's blood rites of passage (menarche, defloration, giving birth, menstruating, and menopause) were women's original blood rites (women's rights).
Patriarchy changed words' spellings into spells: mourning became morning; awake is viewing a corpse at its funeral; saying "bless you" sounds like a wish for them to be less. Hysterical comes from the medical procedure hysterectomy - removing the uterus, while testicles became old testaments and semen became seminaries of priests.
Cosmetics, or make-up, is sometimes referred to as war paint.
Cosmetics derives from cosmetikos, meaning to apply order to the cosmos through the creation of symbols written on the body.
The stunning similarity between taboo and tattoo is also intentional.
Dr. Judy Grahn's Metaformic Theory (Blood, Bread & Roses, 1993) tells the story of how menstruation created the world, including men's parallel blood rites being woven like a braid into culture. Skin piercing, tattooing, and boy's wearing the blood of their first hunt are parallel r'tu.
In 2008, Red Hot Chilli Peppers' electric guitarist, Dave Navarro, asked me to co-create Menstralas on camera for his reality TV show (unpublished). Dave suggested mixing in his semen, but I declined telling him that only stirring in acrylic clear gloss can seal it. The paintings he started have not been revealed and are listed as separate works from my collection of 88 Menstrala created between 2000-2003.
Menstrala appear (at 18:30) in the 2007 Indian documentary, "A Flowering Tree." The film takes a look at how menstruation is embedded in Hindu rituals and beliefs dating to ancient times. The main character evokes old menstrual rituals and places them in ancient Indian culture. Just before Menstrala appear, she declares: "When the completely gripping pains pass, I begin to feel joyfully renewed and childlike. I come to love this sense of vigor, though it has no social recognition, so I keep it inside, a secret power."
Your art is beautiful, your medium universal.
~ Daniel Reinhold, Baltimore, MD
What you do is absolutely wonderful and awe inspiring. Never before have I seen such wonderful art and witnessed such a powerful artist behind the works. You've made me look at menstruation differently and allowed me to think of myself as a different girl.
~ A. Gabrielle, York, PA
The idea of painting with such a personal, symbolic medium inspires me and makes me reconsider my own relationship to my blood. I believe your artwork carries a very positive message for femininity on its wings.
~ Jennifer, Daytona Beach, FL
Inspiration! Painting, to me, is a dance, moments caught between the seconds, swimming in the reality that hides in the shadows. I paint, or rather, I dance with shapes and colors. I have long now been without inspiration. I have felt within the shadow I used to court. Your work has inspired me to step into the light again, with a whole new medium. I just wanted to say thank you.
~ Shawnaly Tabor, Kalispell, MT
To use something that so many hate...I find such beauty in it. Very few can find the power in that monthly flow...but you have...and I find it beautiful.
~ Serena Orman, Kalkaska, MI
Awe and wonder fill me now as I write these words. What joy you must feel to use your body to create such beauty. I am a man, and was never taught that any part of a woman's body was taboo. As a young man, I was surprised and saddened to learn that some women loath the experience of their period, and its issue. Some even felt deep shame and embarrassment. I always saw it as glorious. If your work helps just one woman to see herself as a font of beauty in this context, you will have accomplished something really great.
~ Sander Roscoe Wolff, Executive Director, LongBeachCulture.org
I wanted to tell you that I think your work is absolutely beautiful - it's the most original concept of celebrating what it is to be a woman that I've ever seen.
~ LMC, Devon, UK
Your artwork is completely stunning. The passion you show toward your technique and belief is truly inspiring. I feel I can learn so much about myself, others and simply life just by looking at one of your paintings. And when I do shun away from a few that shock me, I can still reflect on the matter in a positive way. You really do break that image of menstrual blood, and menstruation in general as something disgusting or something to shun and avoid. I agree with many of your fans/followers that it's wonderful to see something so universal in artwork, and still it's so personal. I hope you continue to create such beautiful artwork. I applaud you.
~ Val, Baltimore MD
So few things are truly universal, crossing the boundaries of time and place, of class and culture. Your art is a visual expression of the emotions, harmony, and turmoil associated with womanhood. So what better medium to use in your creations than your own lifeblood, the very thing that makes a woman a woman? I am touched by what your work represents, and I want to thank you for your courage and ingenuity.
~ Amanda Riley, Knoxville, TN
A friend of mine sent me the link to your gallery thinking I would find the pieces horrific. Nope. I LOVE them. What an inspired way to say that our monthly cycles are powerful and beautiful. The symbolic significance of menstrual blood does raise it far, far above the level of simple body waste. You aren't looking to shock, you are channeling the life force. I applaud you for it.
~ Kerri S. McIntire
Beautiful paintings. Very evocative. And as a medium you've reached for something that shouldn't be extraordinary but of course is.
~ Pete Lang, Sacramento, CA
Your talent is truly delightful. It's good to see such splendid composition with clever titles yielding such wonderful art. Actually, it's more than art. It is a socially significant statement, and a bold (yet soft?) indictment; a step into the light. It's rare, in these days of cookie cutter or formula art to discover a pioneer, but today it happened. Thanks for opening my eyes.
~ Art Bach, Blairsville, GA
The magic of moonblood clearly resides in these paintings Vanessa. This reminds me of some mysterious art gallery where there are so many favorite works of art you can't pick just one. The variety here is amazing considering you are using a limited palette of color and a simple white background. I am so glad you chose descriptive titles for them. Mere numbers or abstractions could not convey the creative fire of the medium nearly as well. Besides the paintings are very individualistic expressions of the Artist herself, and these captions give viewers more information than just a referrant name. All the pieces had something to say but the ones that spoke the loudest to me were: "One Root in a Thousand Seeds," "Floating in the Void," "Mirror Dance," "Astral Entry," and "Mar's Fire." Powerful Art indeed. Although "this is the most hidden blood" I do not think these paintings should be ignored or hidden away, so thank you for sharing them with us in such a nicely presented gallerylike fashion. All your journals (and website) give pleasure, provoke thought and are a feast for the eyes.
~ David Torrey, Chicago, IL