As a woman and/or menstruator, cycle charting is a great way to (re)connect with your cycle and build a supportive relationship with your body. This is relevant no matter whether you cycle with the blood (natural menstrual cycle, i.e., without hormonal birth control, not pregnant, not breastfeeding) or you cycle with the moon (in all other cases, e.g., when you’ve crossed over into post menopause, you’re pregnant or breast-feeding or you don’t have a cycle or uterus for any medical or other reason).
So, by becoming aware of your own rhythm, of the ebbs and flows that your body moves through every month, you will gain an understanding of how your whole system works. You’ll learn how you do life, what works for you and what doesn’t and how you can support yourself throughout your experience, so the transitions between different phases happen more smoothly and easefully.
By charting the unknown and ever-changing landscape of your cycle, you will recognise and embrace the power and wisdom you already hold within you!
The Archetypal Cycle
Nature is cyclical. And since we are part of Nature, human beings are cyclical, too.
Each cycle can be divided into four distinct phases with similar characteristics to the cycle phases we see in Nature, namely the seasons. That’s why the different phases in our personal cycle are often referred to as “inner seasons” and I love this analogy. But it also holds true for every day, month, year and even for the different phases we travel through over the course of our life.
Here’s a short description of each of them:
Inner Winter (Menstruation / Dark Moon)
Inner Winter is the time of our bleed or menstruation, which lasts approximately from Day 28 to Day 6. It holds the same energy as midnight in a day-cycle, Dark Moon in a month-cycle, Winter in a year-cycle and the Crone/Wise Elder in a life-cycle.
In Nature, this is the fallow season, and for women and menstruators a time for reflection, composting, recuperation and receiving visions (or connecting with our vision). At this time, we usually feel more inward and have a bigger need for rest.
Inner Spring (Follicular Phase / Waxing Moon)
Inner Spring is the lead up to ovulation, also called the follicular phase, and lasts approximately from Day 6 to Day 14. It holds the same energy as morning in a day-cycle, the (First Quarter) Waxing Moon in a month-cycle, Spring in a year-cycle and the Maiden/Young Person in a life-cycle.
In Nature, this is the planting season, and for women and menstruators a time where we can feel our energy coming back. At this time, we can be full of ideas, ready to explore the world and start planting some seeds for what we’d like to have happen in this next cycle.
Inner Summer (Ovulation / Full Moon)
Inner Summer is the phase of ovulation, which lasts from approximately Day 14 to Day 19. It holds the same energy as noon in a day-cycle, Full Moon in a month-cycle, Summer in a year-cycle and the Mother/Parent (be it of a human or a project) in a life-cycle.
In Nature, this is the blooming season, and for women and menstruators a time where we tend to be more outgoing and communicative. At this time, we can feel charged, like a super being ready to take on the world, expressing ourselves and celebrating.
Inner Autumn (Pre-Menstrual Phase / Waning Moon)
Inner Autumn is the luteal phase, or the pre-menstruum, and lasts approximately from Day 19 to Day 28. It holds the same energy as afternoon/evening in a day-cycle, the (Last Quarter) Waning Moon in a month-cycle, Autumn in a year-cycle and the Enchantress/Wild One in a life-cycle.
In Nature, this is the harvest season, and for women and menstruators a time for distilling the lessons of the past cycle. At this time, we might already feel the need to retreat back from the world and be drawn to sorting through what’s working for us in our life and what isn’t (and hat hence can be released during winter).
Please note: This is just an archetypal cycle!
The days for the menstrual cycle are only a rough indication based on a 28-day cycle. The usual length of a normal cycle can vary between 21 and 40 days.
It’s completely possible that your cycle experience is different from what I’ve shared here. Just because the archetypal inner summer is a time of being outward and communicative doesn’t mean you have to feel that way during your personal ovulation/Full Moon. Maybe for you it’s instead a time to retreat back a little, like people in hot countries avoid the noon sun.
We are all different, and so our personal cycle is different, too. That’s why it’s so important to chart your own cycle experience and remember:
Your body is unique and your body is always right!
How to track your cycle – a simple approach
The simplest way to track your cycle and start getting attuned to what’s going on inside of you, is by keeping track of the day of your cycle, the date, the inner season or phase you’re in and three words that express how you are on that day.
Day of your cycle
Every cycle begins with Day 1, which is either the first day of your bleed (if you take no hormonal birth control or other hormones, you aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding), or the day of Dark Moon (in all other cases, e.g., if you’re post-menopause, take hormones or don’t have a cycle or uterus for any reason).
From there on, you just number the days consecutively until your next bleed / Dark Moon, which will be Day 1 of your next cycle.
Record the calendar date of that day.
Record the inner season you’re in.
There can be transition days for you where you aren’t sure of the exact phase you’re in and that’s no problem. You can either record what feels most appropriate to you, or simply write down both.
Finally, record three words that express how you are on that day. It can be anything from physical experiences to mood to energy levels or mental capacity. For example, you could be happy, scattered, energetic, communicative, painful, relaxed, focused, inspired, tight, vulnerable etc.
Sometimes we can feel like we’re all over the place and going through all possible emotions and moods within one single day. And that’s absolutely valid, because very often our emotions are influenced by what is going on in and around us. In that case, sit down at the end of the day and try to find three words for the underlying experience you had throughout the day.
“Today I’m on my Day 20, in my inner autumn / luteal phase and my three words are eager, driven and vulnerable.”
That’s it, that’s all you need to do to start charting your cycle :-)
Following this process over a few months will allow you to recognise certain patterns or rhythms, e.g., certain kinds of words that pop up in a specific phase of your cycle, and make preparations accordingly.