HER BLOOD IS GOLD was first published in 1993. The book has become a classic in the literature of women’s health and spirituality, and continues to be a major inspiration for menstrual activists and educators as well as for individual women. Over the past decade it has sold in increasing numbers every year, and often ranks as the top-selling book on menstruation on Amazon. The book was republished in new editions in 1998 and again in 2008, and was revised and expanded each time.
The book is divided into five parts – the first, Beliefs and Attitudes, begins with an exploration of our current perspective on menstruation in the Western industrialised world, seen from the personal angle of Lara’s own initiation (or rather lack of) into menstruation and fertility, and then from the collective angle of the development of patriarchal culture, the subsequent diminishment of female reality, and the role of industrialisation in severing us from our cycles. The next chapter looks at the eternal archetypes associated with menstruation throughout time and in cultures the world over, in particular the Moon, Blood, Earth and Snake. Chapter Three discusses the behavior and attitudes of societies that have a positive view of menstruation as a source of richness with the potential to nourish both physical and spiritual life.
Part Two, Reclaiming the Cycle, is about being a woman today and how our health and wellbeing are damaged by negative attitudes toward the menstrual cycle. This section discusses ways to work creatively with menstrual symptoms and discover the information hidden in PMS, cramps, and lethargy. It looks at what it is about our lifestyles that so readily creates menstrual disharmony, and how by reclaiming the natural impulses of the cycle we gain not only physical health, but also psychological awareness and spiritual insight.
Part Three, Rituals and Recommendations, describes ways to peel away the surface layers of our conditioning and get down to innate knowledge of the power and beauty of menstruation. Chapter Seven focuses on the practical steps involved in learning to menstruate with more consciousness, describing the four phases within the period itself, and dealing with issues like managing retreat time and using sustainable menstrual products. Chapter Eight goes deeper into a variety of ways to honour bleeding and gain deeper awareness through keeping a journal, dreaming, rituals, meditations and working on creative projects. Chapter Nine is a concentrated compendium of natural remedies for menstrual symptoms from several healing traditions.
In Part Four, Waking up to the Power, three women tell their stories of awakening to the mystery and magic and healing of menstruation. Wendy Alter was a chemical engineer with NASA who changed her lifestyle after recovering from breast cancer, and in the process discovered that her period was the strongest time for her to contact depths of feeling and insight she had abandoned in her search for career success. Tamara Slayton, a pioneer in the field of menstrual education, taught women about the value of getting in touch with their cycles for many years, and was director of The Menstrual Health Foundation. Hallie Iglehart Austen, author of Womanspirit and The Heart of the Goddess, is a pioneer of women’s spirituality and environmentalism. All three women explain how, in different ways, making a strong connection with their cycle empowered and healed them.
Part Five, Living Your Power, looks at how the conscious experience of menstruation intersects with the outer world, and discusses ways in which we can change our lifestyles to incorporate more attention to our cycles, in the context of our relationships with men, women, children, and the workplace. The book ends with a vision of a world in which women are free to menstruate in the way they want and where the wisdom of women is once again seen as a valuable social and political resource.
“Her Blood is Gold is a seminal, thoughtful and enlightening book that explores this most deeply female experience and why it needs attention, gentle consideration and curiosity. Thank you to Lara Owen for her deep contemplation, her scholarship and her vision.” Jane Bennett, author of The Pill: Are You Sure It’s For You and A Blessing Not A Curse: A mother daughter guide to the transition from girl to woman.
“Like the wise-women whose memory she celebrates, Lara Owen is both scientist and poet. In this wonderful book, she shows how “the curse”, when ritually respected and restored to its ancient position, becomes every woman’s crock of gold.” Chris Knight Ph.D., author of Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture (Yale Univ. Press), Professor of Anthropology, University of E. London.
“Her Blood Is Gold is a graceful and empowering book on menstruation, filled with insights that are equally valuable to both men and women. This book should be included in the curriculum of every school on this planet.” Christiane Northrup M.D., author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (Bantam).
“Lara Owen presents a viewpoint on menstruation which is startling in its reversal of conventional attitudes. Her presentation is so lucid and convincing that after reading it one wonders how one could ever have regarded menstruation as a problem. This book is a must for any woman seeking wholeness. This is the rare kind of book that creates culture rather than merely commenting upon it. Lara Owen has sketched the outlines of a new social norm.” Steven Bratman M.D., author of The Alternative Medicine Sourcebook (Lowell House)
“I want to tell you how much your book on menstruation has meant to me…..If I’d had it when I was thirty it would have saved me a lot of pain and confusion.” Scilla Elworthy, author of Power and Sex: A Book about Women (Element Books)
“This fascinating exploration into the rich underworld of the female body is a well-written, passionate and thoughtful plea for a return to body-consciousness and acceptance of what it is to be female.” Lyn Webster Wilde. author of On the Trail of the Women Warriors (Constable and Robinson).
“Lara Owen’s well-researched, beautifully crafted and elegant book offers the reader a profound perspective on the role of menstruation in the life of women and society. It explores the physical, emotional, spiritual and practical dimensions of menstruation and provides a new and powerful view on this still taboo topic. Owen’s book is a classic and a must read for every woman and every man who wishes to understand this powerful part of feminine life. Her book changes lives. You will never look at menstruation in the same way again. Everyone should read this innovative, thoughtful and powerful book. A major contribution.” Gemma Summers, PhD, author of How to Get What You Want Without Losing It: A Woman’s Guide to Resolving Conflict (Bantam)
“A gift for any women who is ready to increase her health and power.” Jean Mountaingrove, in Sagewoman
“It’s been called everything from a “curse” to a “visiting aunt”, but a new book dares to call menstrual periods a celebration……….Lara Owen says a woman’s period is a time when she can tap into her own inner wisdom. The book is written from a personal perspective and supported with medical, historical, political, cultural and spiritual viewpoints as well as interviews and anecdotes from women who have “awoken to the power of their own periods.” Chicago Tribune
“An eye-opening examination of our historical and cultural attitudes. Owen helps women recognize the power of their periods, make the most of the pre-menstrual “altered state” and heal the wounds inflicted by a patriarchal culture.” Moving Words
“Menstruation has long been considered women’s dirty little secret, discussed only when missed…….Lara Owen explores the mysteries and spiritual significance of menstruation.” Elle magazine
“Lara Owen’s book seeks to restore to this vital, natural function the dignity it lost in a patriarchal world that has portrayed it as dirty and threatening.” Gannett Suburban Newspapers
“I highly recommend this book for Lara Owen’s ability to help us look with fresh eyes at a common feature of our lives.” Whole Earth Review
“Owen does a real service here by bringing this issue out of the closet in the way she does. Graceful and very readable. I can’t recommend this book enough. Read it and then pass it on to your sister, your mother, your best friend.” Colleen Devlin, womenwriters.about.com
“This is an extraordinary book that is difficult to put down.” Network for Optimal Aging and Wellness
To buy online, these links will take you directly to the book at Foyles (in London), Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Fishpond (in Australia). If you can, please support your local independent bookstore by ordering the book from them.
Her Blood Is Gold was first published in the US as Her Blood Is Gold: Celebrating the Power of Menstruation (HarperSanFrancisco 1993) and in the UK as Her Blood Is Gold: Reclaiming the Power of Menstruation (Aquarian/Thorsons 1993). A Brazilian edition (Seu Sangue E Ouro) was published by Editora Rosa dos Tempos in 1994.
The book was subsequently reissued by The Crossing Press in 1998 in a revised, expanded edition, with more information on cross-cultural practices, and a whole new section on natural remedies for menstrual symptoms. The title was changed by the publishers to Honoring Menstruation: A Time of Self-Renewal.
In 2008, Archive Publishing published the book in the UK under the original title, combining all the content of the first and second editions to make a definitive version. In 2009 this new and complete edition was published in the US and in 2013 in Australia.
Her Blood Is Gold has its own Facebook page.
Lara Owen writes and researches on menstruation, work, and feminism. Based in Melbourne, she teaches and consults internationally.