Reclaiming Our Sacred Blood

by Wendy Bennett

I am a menstrual artist, a menstrual activist in the service of the Goddess to empower women. My purpose is to reawaken women to the long suppressed power and sacredness of our bodies, our cycles and our life giving blood. Thousands of years of patriarchal devaluing and derision of the feminine have rendered menstruation and our vulvas as taboo; women have carried this burden of shame for countless generations. The shame is so instilled into society that many women don’t even know why they feel it, or its origins, only that it is there. In the moments that we use euphemisms for our bleeding, in the moments we speak of our bleeding in hushed tones around men, in the moments when there is embarrassment about currently bleeding, about leaking, about buying “sanitary” products, we continue to carry the weight of this shame. Our blood is a most powerful force of creation, without it not one of us would be alive. In matrifocal societies womens’ menstrual blood was revered for its power with many of the indigenous male initiation rites created to mimic our “bleeding without a wound.” Honoring the power of our blood and our power as women, embodied vessels of creative potential, whether we bear children or not, is the sacred purpose of my menstrual blood paintings. I work with imagery inspired by the female reproductive system, both external and internal. Some people, particularly women, have found my imagery and use of blood confronting; I welcome this and invite the viewer to enquire into why this occurs for them and ways that they can remember the sacredness of their wombyn body.

Painting with my menstrual blood is a process of complete surrender. These paintings come through me. Each time I begin making art, I create sacred space by honoring the directions and I offer myself to the Goddess as a vessel, a channel for Her to create through. An important preparation in my opening to surrender is to release the wish to control the outcome and particularly to release any fears and the voices of the inner critic, the voices of negative people no longer in my life. A typical internal conversation of inner critic releasing involves countering the statements: “It’s been done before” says the inner critic; “It may have been done before, but not by ME!” I reply. It is a healing experience, with repeated conscious releasing the inner critic has less to say and its opinions are of no interest to me.

Creating art with my menstrual blood began as a journey into the unknown; it was like walking down a darkened, unfamiliar path towards something very powerful, carrying with me only trust, surrender and curiosity. I had no idea if it would work, only the knowledge that I needed to do it. The first question I am often asked is how I ‘get’ my blood, I collect my blood with a Moon Cup. When I first began painting with my blood the experience of surrender was all the greater as I painted only when I was bleeding, I painted as I made it and I used every drop. The unknowns of timing of my bleeding, available time to paint and varying quantities of blood made for an exhilarating and exciting creative process with surrender as the core around which I dance.

While surrender is still at the centre of my art making, I have discovered I can successfully store my blood in the fridge for when I am able to paint, allowing me to absorb into the creating when I am able, rather than being ruled by time which suffocates my creativity. I use a separate jar for each month and as I use a surprisingly small amount in each painting, I have quite a few jars of my blood stored in the fridge now. I find the different months have individual qualities and create variations in texture and color.

My works are 3D paintings on canvas, molded with a lightweight modeling material, painted with my menstrual blood which I mix with a variety of painting mediums to create a palette of effects.

My mission is to reclaim the sacred power of womens’ bodies and bleeding to facilitate a healthy reverence for the power of menstruation in both women and men, for the healing of all women: past, present and future.   

Art Gallery, Volume 3 Issue 4