Menstruation was (Pet Peeves was Rude drivers (was Re: tad williams (was Re: : fantasy monarchies))

hallieod at hallieod at
Mon Feb 10 05:29:01 EST 2003

>  > >Yes where did this menstruation = moon thing come
>>  >from. I assume women in the middle ages could
>>  count,
>>  >and they would certainly have noticed (if they were
>>  >the traditional 28 days) that their periods didn't
>>  >coincide with any particular phases of the moon. I
>>  >know the english word month comes from moon and the
>>  >english word menstruate comes from the latin for
>>  month
>>  >but I don't think that has anything to do with the
>>  >moon.
>>  I think you're forgetting the usual association of
>>  the moon with
>>  lunacy, and the belief that women's menstrual cycles
>>  made them very
>>  prone to mental instability.  Today I was just
>>  reading about the use
>>  of "flowers" as the most common name for menstrual
>>  cycles in
>>  Elizabethan England.  Sweet, innit?
>My this thread is getting tangled. I still think that
>in any society where people were actually aware of the
>phases of the moon (and I suspect that many modern
>fantasy writers aren't - although JRRT took great care
>with them) would not associate menstruation with the
>moon. I believe there is a statistical link with
>mental instability and the moon, and there is also one
>(in out house at least) between mental instability and
>menstruation, but not between menstruation (28 day
>norm) and the moon (29.5 days). IMHO the menstruation
>moon thing is just some New Age claptrap. Of course as
>all True Knowledge seems to be found on this List
>someone will doubtless be hitting their keyboards with
>citations from medieval texts and Pliny to prove I'm

Close - unfortunately I can't give the original ref so you could 
check it out, but still... This is in answer to the question, "Why do 
the flowers receive their name Menstrua, of this word Mensis a 

Bicause it is a space of time which doth measure the Moone...  Now 
the Moone hath dominion over moist things, and bicause the flowers 
are an humiditie, they take their denomination of the moneth, and are 
called monethly termes: for moist things do increase as the Moone 
doth increase, and decrease as she doth decrease.

 From "Problemes of Aristotle", extract in _A Shakespeare Reader: 
Sources and Criticism_, Eds. Richard Danson Brown and David Johnson.

A little before New Age at least.

The association between mental instability and menstruation I 
mentioned was not a joke - giving you the benefit of assuming that 
your wife and daughters are also laughing heartily over your link 
between menstruation and mental instability. ;-)  In the 19th Century 
women were locked up and/or given appalling "treatment" for this 
mental instability.  ("The Yellow Wallpaper" being a barely 
fictionalised version of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's real life 
experience, as only one example.)  IIRC it wasn't until they started 
seeing shell shock in soldiers in WWI that the assumed link between 
hysteria (from the Greek for "womb" and female nature started to 
break down.


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