Across many ancient cultures, menstruation has been considered a form of purification. Bṛhatsaṃhitā emphasizes the innate and deep-rooted purity of women for this reason, stating: “women are blessed by the Moon with personal purity.” It goes on: “The Brāhmaṇas are pure in their feet; the cows, at the back: the sheep and the horse, in their face; and women, all over their body. Being objects of matchless purity, never are women defiled. For the menses remove their blemishes monthly.” Inherently and very actively within her body is the entire Universe: the cyclical shifting of creation and destruction. With each cycle of the Moon, for a span of time she holds the nourishing space of creation, and for another period of time she becomes more akin to a destructive void, expelling the disorderly— the old and unused. Having both processes within her inherently helps her to maintain an energetic balance and inner purity said to be beyond that of men. The bija of “women” (Stri) स्त्रीँ is that of the Goddess Tara, who is the Ketu avatar of Vishnu. Ketu is the mokṣa (liberation) karaka, helping one to shed and destroy unnecessary excess (to liberate), and to realign with their center. An alternative meaning of mokṣa मोक्ष is “shedding blood”. Even Hebrews 9:22, in reference to the necessity of blood sacrifices for healing/repentance: “almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
I have explored before (such as in my videos on the masculine planet Jupiter and its nakshatra Purva Bhadrapada) how the male body, not having such a process, is prone to potentially dangerous spiritual anabolism. Anabolism on an energetic level is what can lead to many things people associate with inner impurity (through energy gathering and accumulating in odd pathways/areas), such as perversion, error, fetishes, and fixations. In Ayurvedic medicine, Ketu can be correlated to leeches/bloodletting therapies and those associated with “drying” (Śoṣaṇa), as a planet which sucks the moisture from something. Sandalwood, which is used for Shanti (peace) Karma— the magical act associated with Ketu and Tara— is a parasitic plant, sucking the juices from other plants. Jupiter rules the fat of the body, which stores the toxins. The ascetic (Ketu) receives from and lives off of the charitable and generous benefactor with excess (Jupiter), spiritually benefiting both of them.
For a woman, the husband is represented as Jupiter, and Tara is married to him & heals him traditionally. Women have a special spiritual connection to this concept of receiving excess without becoming impure, because they have a defined, rhythmic period for apana vayu (the downward flow of energy) during menstruation. Like Ketu then, they receive/consume but do not energetically “hoard”, and therefore they purify whatever they receive through this bloodshed. In this way, they are a purifying force too for men— she takes the energy and has the innate capability to either nourish, grow, and transform/organize it into something new, or to shed it. In this way, the same purification that takes place for women during menstruation takes place for men when they enter the yoni in the sexual act and experience its transformative & purifying “heat”. The same act of the transformation of excess into blessings is replicated when a priest offers ghee (Jupiter) into the fire-pit (Yoni).
Mythologically, the origin of menstruation is said to stem from the God Indra, who committed the sin of killing a Brahmana. Being unable to flush the sin out himself, he distributed his sin to trees, water, earth, and, finally, women, who bore his sin through menstruation (and wash it away monthly). In this way, they cleansed the King of the Gods of his impurity, just as they do this for their consort, ridding him of the surplus that can become “sin”. The days of menstruation can in this way be linked to Indra’s nakshatra, Jyeshta. This nakshatra is associated with “the eldest” Goddess Dhumavati of infertile or non-receptive space. Ketu exalts in this “dry” nakshatra, as Ketu’s function is to liberate one from excess moisture/accumulation through this drying process (just as Tara is said to save one from drowning), and to pull things that have grown in various shapes, sizes, and directions back to the strength of their roots. A symbol of Jyeshta is the umbrella, protecting one from the rain, which shows the way this nakshatra is in accordance with the drying work of Ketu. Ultimately, this time of shedding, this “destructive" purifying outflow for women is what allows for the rich new spaciousness for creation that comes during ovulation. This may be where the misconception that period blood is itself impure comes in, when it is actually a sacred & powerful substance used in tantra. It is not that period blood is impure that it purifies women, but rather because (like bloodletting) it is a discharge of excess and disorder which keeps her balanced. In the Yoni Tantra, the advanced practitioner is advised to apply menstrual blood to his forehead for the greatest bliss. From Jnanarnava Tantra: “The body is born from a woman’s menstrual blood. So how can that be impure, when by means of it one attains the highest state?”
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