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Spooky tales of periods past!

The month of October is often celebrated by many, as the month of Halloween. All things creepy, ghoulish and gruesome are encouraged during this time. We want to celebrate this spooky holiday with some wacky, weird and down right wrong beliefs about our periods through history.
Key words:
Taboo - Derived from the Polynesian word "Tapau" meaning sacred and menstrual flow.
Ritual - Derived from Sanskrit "R'tu" meaning menstrual.
Menstruation - Derived from the Latin "Menstruus" meaning monthly.
                          Old English - "Monadblot" meaning month blood.
Period was first used in 1822 meaning repeated cycle of events - meh!
Here are 6 freaky facts about our times of the month:


In medieval Europe, periods were often believed to have power. The female polymath, Hildegard Von Bingen wrote about period blood and its power to cure leprosy. The musician and poet believed that rubbing menstrual blood on the skin would relieve sufferers of the diseases and cure them.
However, this remedy didn't catch on; as many believed that period blood was actually the cause of leprosy and should a man have sex with a woman as she menstruated, it would corrode his penis. 


The medieval period is renowned for its crazy ideas surrounding all aspects of life. But we know from our history lessons, they had a twisted view on women and magic. As with today, many women suffered from heavy periods and the symptoms that come from this heavier flow. Heavier periods were surprisingly not deemed any worse then regular periods. Some believed that they were just flushing out more impurities and waste. However there was a creative and cruel remedy for those who suffered with heavier menstrual cycles.
They believed that burning a toad in a pot until it turns to ashes, had the power to relieve heavy periods, cramps and pains. The sufferers would put the ashes in a pouch and wear it around their vaginas to rid themselves of their ailment. Poor toads.


In the Roman era, people also had their suspicions about our vagina blood. The Roman author Pliny the Elder wrote:
"Over and above these particulars, there is no limit to the marvellous powers attributed to females. For, in the first place, hailstorms, they say, whirlwinds, and lightning even, will be scared away by a woman uncovering her body while her monthly courses are upon her."
His belief was that a woman has the power to stop storms with her period. He also wrote how women can kill crops and bees when menstruating and they have the power to dim mirrors and rust weapons just by looking at them. What a strange man indeed!


Modern day France can be associated with romance, sexual liberty and maybe a few too many kisses when greeting a relative. However during the medieval period, the French had strong reservations when it came to sex on your period. Even today it is common to feel uncomfortable with the idea of having sex during menstruation, however the French believed something far more sinister was at play. 
The idea that a deformed baby would be created when you have sex on your period was a fear that ran throughout the country. They believed the baby would be "puny, languid and moribund, subject to an infinity of fetid maladies; foul and stinking". So I guess the phrase "just put a towel down" didn't exist in medieval France.


These beliefs weren't limited to Europe. The notion of periods being supernatural spread across continents. In Africa, a type of folk magic called "Hoodoo" suggests that period blood can make for a spicy love potion. The thought is, that by mixing period blood into your husband's, boyfriend's or crush's coffee will create a bond so strong he will fall madly in love with you.
What makes this even crazier is; in 2009 a woman in Hong Kong put her period blood in her boss' soup because she wanted to strengthen the working relationship. Needless to say, it didn't work and she was in fact arrested and charged for this act.


Periods have lots of different names. One commonly used is 'moon time'. A popular belief is that the period is controlled and impacted by the lunar cycle. The word "lunatic" actually comes from the old French "Lunatique", where they believed intermittent insanity was caused by the moon. Many feel that their mood is affected by the full moon and that their cycles sync with others around them, because of the moon. 
Whilst I don't grow hair and sharp teeth when there's a full moon out, I do personally experience a change in mood and emotions and on the rare occasion my period has come on randomly - so maybe there is some truth behind the suspicion.


[1] Thorpe, JR. 2015. " 7 Bizarre Historical Myths About Periods". Bustle.

[2] Bostock J, 1855. "Pliny the Elder: The Natural History". Perseus.

[3] Caster, Y. 2015. "History Period - A look at menstruation through the ages in 15 fantastic facts". Metro.

[4] Team KT. 2018. "The History of Periods. How women have dealt with menstruation through the ages" Knixteen.

[5] Ambers, R. 2019. "Honour your moontime". Personal Blog.