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There was a European custom found in many religious communities of a mother slapping a girl upon the arrival of her first period; some say that upon bringing blood to her daughter’s cheeks, the mother would then give her a blessing for health and fertility, and a warning to guard her “gates” against premarital entry.Our bleeding time brings about heightened vision and sensitivity, a time when we have direct knowledge of spirit. Historically, Native American women would go into their moon lodges during their cycles and receive visions they would bring back to their tribe. In fact, many important prophecies throughout time have come from bleeding women. The oldest Greek Oracle in history, at Delphi, was ruled by the Moon Goddess. “Delphi” means “womb.”Balinese culture is very rich in symbolism.  A girl may have to kiss a live chicken or duck at her first menstruation ceremony to symbolize her identification and oneness with nature.In Australia, the Aborigines treated a girl to “love magic”. The women teach her of the female powers and the physical changes marking womanhood. When a Japanese girl has her first period, the family celebrates by eating red colored rice and beans. In Nigeria in the Tiv tribe, four lines are cut in her abdomen, being thought to make her a woman and more fertile. In rural India a girl who has reached puberty is given a ceremonial bath, decked with ornate jewels and garments and the girl’s kith and kin are all invited for a ceremony where it is announced that the girl has come of age and celebrations follow. The tradition is quite non-existent in urban India, although some families still hold on to this fast-disappearing tradition.

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