I was gorging on a tiramisu donut while ignoring a string of text messages from a Tinder match. On any other days, I would have looked at the donut and think triple before reaching out for that glistening fat disc of sugar and gluten, even if it’s free like this one from my coworker. It’s also unlike me to ignore text from Tinder matches because I am generally thirsty for affection most of the times.
But that day, I allowed myself to deviate from “the usual” because it was six days before my menstruation started according to the period tracker app on my phone. It meant I was fifteen days away from my ovulation period, when things get better, and twenty-seven days away before it all happens again – probably with a huge glass of bubble tea on Wednesday noon this time.
I’ve been keeping track of my menstrual period and the changes in each phase since February 2017, when I was introduced to these period cycle phases from a feminine circle led by my boss and a video from Glamour Magazine. Since then, I am obsessed with how deep it allows me to understand AND predict why and what I am thinking, doing and feeling.
Part of this enlightenment comes from having a real, tangible depiction of who I am at a certain phase of my cycle. This depiction is called archetypes (thanks, CG Jung), the usage of universal, mythical characters to picture abstract traits and feelings into tangible personas.
The four archetypes that represent the woman that you are throughout the menstrual cycle are: the Enchantress, the Wise Old Woman, the Virgin Warrior, and the Mother/Lover. Let me elaborate.
The Enchantress (or Wild Woman, or Medicine Woman) phase happens after your ovulation and before your menstruation. It is also known as the pre-menstrual phase (or,as the intro of this article suggests, the “I’m allowed to do whatever sh*t I want” phase).
Just like the stereotypical evil witches and shamans, this phase of the cycle brings out the darker side of us filled with angst, denial, shame, dread, and other destructive behavior that is also often accompanied by physical discomfort. This is the phase where you are most sensitive, both mentally and physically, that a little portion of fried food will break you out or a wrong Starbucks order will break you down (PS: case scenarios are not based on the author’s real-life situation).
Although it’s arguably the most difficult and hated time of the month, the Enchantress actually plays as our devil’s advocate who challenges most of the thoughts that would’ve been okay on other days. The Enchantress is also the healer or the medicine woman, she is there to remind ourselves to properly channel and purge ourselves of the pent-up frustration inside.
Understanding the presence of the Enchantress has brought so much awareness to me and gave permission to not be at my best at certain times. If dealt properly, the Enchantress will be able to guide you to new realizations that will lead to making big life decisions. I personally still struggle to handle this wild and unpredictable side of mine, but journaling and physical exercise help a lot to channel her in a less destructive way.
The Wise Old Woman
You might be 17 or 45 but once in a month, you can become an old woman. This phase is marked by the bleeding, as you become infertile, sensitive, tired, achy, and reserved, just like an old woman. In the physical state, The Old Woman phase also signifies death, as you literally discharge a potential life when you release your egg and blood.
As an old woman, you are blessed with the wisdom from years of experiencing life. But remember that wisdom comes slow and quietly, it doesn’t come with fanfare or took form in big epiphanies that make you go ‘A-HA!’ all the time. The Old Woman can also be tricky to navigate, as it requires extra attention to tend to her frailness. Even though she is wise, at times she can also be bitter and angry about everything.
To fully get the most of this phase, it requires a lot of soft self-tending and quiet pondering. Acknowledge the Wise Old Woman in you each month. Be kind to her. Learn to love her, even when she doesn’t feel very easy to love. If you do that properly, she will shine her wisdom upon you, allowing you to grow even in your ‘death’ phase.
The Virgin Warrior
If bleeding is death, post-menstruation is your rebirth. In the Virgin Warrior phase, you will usually experience a 180 degrees’ situation compared to the Old Wise Woman phase. The Virgin Warrior is full of life, fueled with fresh and rising energy of youth most times.
Some also say that the word “virgin” used to mean an independent, autonomous woman, a woman who is not owned by anybody except herself. This is probably why it’s one of the best phases because it celebrates life unapologetically. This is the time when I get a lot of things done, start a new project, meet with lots of new people, unleash the 49 percent of my extrovert self, and generally live a more positive outlook on life.
The Virgin Warrior brings the best out of most people, but not everybody can channel her, especially if they don’t even know the existence of the women they could have been! Coax her out by listening and responding to her. She has always been there, but some people might be hesitant to embrace her and silenced her instead, leading to a weaker presence in the times to come.
My personal favorite phase of the month. After the emotional roller coaster you rode across the cycle, this is probably the most comfortable place to be. The Mother/Lover phase is the time when you are the most feminine, emitting deep warmth and tenderness from every inch of your body. This is also the time when you are most fertile as it is ovulation phase, hence the life-giving Mother archetype.
In this phase, you might notice that you are more nurturing and soft. You become kinder to yourself and other people because you are in a good state of mind. Also as the Lover archetype, this is when you will usually feel most beautiful and at your prime physical state: the skin softer, the body healthier, and the mind calmer. I try to arrange Tinder meetups to take place during this phase for obvious reasons. (But then again, if he cannot accept me at my Enchantress, he doesn’t deserve me at my Mother/Lover!)
Even though she is soft, The Mother/Lover is a force to be reckoned with. Just like a Mother, she is more certain about things in life and how to manage them. She is clear-headed and calmer than the highly energetic Virgin Warrior and typically makes better decisions.
To fully embrace the Mother/Lover, allow yourself to be soft and vulnerable. Take a deep breath and exhale the warm air slowly. Pamper yourself and allow your energy to shine through. Give life to things – painting, poem, song, food, whatever goes with the idea of creation. The Mother/Lover phase is truly amazing and I wish everybody can taste this overflowing feminine energy that will bring out the woman they never knew existed in them.
These archetypes usually last about 1-2 weeks each, but as different woman experience vastly different menstrual cycle and external stimulants, so do this time range. Some women may have longer Enchantress period if they are exposed to stress at work, while some other may only very briefly experience the Wise Old Woman due to their short period duration. The other will probably not go through a certain phase during pregnancy,
and most might not even feel a distinct difference because they are in between two or three archetypes at the same time.
Please also note that these archetypes are not a definitive depiction of a woman during her menstrual cycle. In no way I want to reinforce the stigma that women are emotionally turbulent and incapable of handling certain things at a certain time.
A woman can do whatever their male counterparts do right, while bleeding and walking in heels.
These archetypes are meant to give you an awareness of who you might be at different times so that you know what you have to do and when it will changes. I strongly suggest every woman to keep track of their period and how it affects them physically and emotionally, because understanding these archetypes has empowered me in ways I never experienced before. And most of all, it allowed me to forgive myself if I want a strawberry jam-filled sugar donut at midnight. Like right now.
Septhiria Chandra enjoys spending time with her dog a little bit too much. You can easily tell this from her Snapchat story. She recently graduated from Universitas Indonesia with Communication degree.
*Illustration by Eva Pastora