Blood is the Symbol

Breathtakingly lurid, from scarlet to sangria. Sticky; metallic-scented. A crust. Clotted and wet. Rivulets of it – or a mere drop. Blood is a symbol. 

For the uninitiated, dabbling in this fluid is perceived as dangerous and demonic; evoking images of sacrifice and unspeakable horror. Blood is mysterious, for sure, but its magical application, folk origins and symbiosis with the Earth have been sorely misunderstood by many – deliberately appropriated and distorted by misogynistic forces that have been threatened by its potency throughout history. 

WW – Bea Xu, 2020

Blood is a symbol; it is sacred. Blood need not be gore. 

Through patriarchy, we have come to associate blood with violence, carnage and vampirism – but it has a parallel lineage that stems from deep nourishment, solidarity and rebellion against tyranny. Shed from the anatomical crucible of the cis female body, that mystical space in which life is catalysed, menstrual blood signals an ancient practise of timekeeping that corresponds to the phases of the moon. The inner clock, governed by hormone cycles, seeks equilibrium with the orbit of heavenly bodies surrounding it – and so the above prefigures the below. Just as rivers circulate into the oceans of this planet, such blood can flow its potent lifeforce back into the ground that begot it, furthering the connectedness of its progenitor with the Earth. 

Welcome to the House of Blood Magic, which I’ll be dedicating to the study and praxis of the blood, womb alchemy and lunar time. There is decades’ worth of field work and academic literature available when we look into our primordial ancestors’ relationship with Earth’s natural satellite – and the prevailing legacy of that tradition in present-day Indigenous societies. This work is amorphous and ongoing, much as blood ritual can be used to inform alchemical processes, sigilise, cleanse and feed the soil and so much more.

Aurignacian Lunar Calendar / diagram, drawing after Marshack, A. 1970; Notation dans les Gravures du Paléolithique Supérieur, Bordeaux, Delmas / Don’s Maps

To reiterate, blood is a symbol. Dr. Camilla Power of the Radical Anthropology Group claims it was the symbol which catalysed the first ever human (r)evolution, smeared on the bodies of hunter gatherer women – young and old – in solidarity with each other as they formed the earliest sex workers’ picket line against predatory, alpha males. It is the force that ushers together women in red tents – to dream up plans for community governance, bleeding in synchrony with kin under every dark moon. Uniting Himba women in a layer of otjize paste, for example, it is behind the red ochre we uncover as worldwide archeological evidence of an early “cosmetic coalition” of revolutionary action. 

All of this tradition will come to be explored in future cycles, but for now, let me be abundantly clear: The House of Blood Magic aims to dispel any residual, damaging myths around blood that you may have picked up in your religious conditioning. We recognise the Gregorian calendar as a white supremacist, patriarchal construct that is a vestige of the theft of ritualistic power from early matriarchs. We lean into the nuanced, sometimes critical, conversations we in the magical community need to be having around its relationship to gender, colonialism and metaphysics. We realign ourselves, listen deeply to intuitive wisdom, unlocking our inner potency. 

A pressing concern is ensuring this practice is non-exclusionary to trans and nonbinary folk without diluting the basis for its potency. Is the magic of menstrual blood rooted in its materiality as a substance or in its symbolic power – or both, for example? And how can we queer this binary-entrenched space? Is there a way for witches to reclaim our blood rites back from narratives of societal distortion, in order to be fully in service to planetary healing? 

The House believes in pathways for all of the above. After all, menstrual blood is not only a symbol; it is also physically composed of rich genetic information and stem cells that hold infinite biological potential. In this sense, blood gives us the power to turbocharge our intentions, blessings and reality programming, as well as containing immense, otherworldly energy as a message in and of itself. 

Still from Libra Full Pink Supermoon Ritual at 03:33 GMT – Bea Xu, 2020

I should know; through a series of synchronous events one PCOS-dominated summer, my own disrupted menstrual cycle ended up leading me to this work. It is a deeply personal resonance one can develop with this practise, which often formulates as an embodied truth if one tunes in sensitively enough. Alas, the connection is ancient but extremely difficult to restore, given our capitalist realist paradigm which addicts us to digital feedback loops of dopamine dependency and allows relentless technological intrusion into the bio-rhythms of our thoughts. 

What might it actually feel like to slough away the outer skin of noise and overstimulation distracting us from our inner loops? There is a dark, velvety ‘womb-space’ within all of us – literal or not – that is best activated as an alchemical crucible during the highly-charged auspices of every dark (or new) moon. Learning to drop our conscious awareness down to this intuiting space, rife with the pitch black richness of buried compost, in a heightened state of presence that a dopamine detox could afford us, would certainly be a start.  

Recovering a symbiotic relationship of body to land – even if that’s the urban wasteland of the estate one has grown up in – would be a crucial secondary factor. We know that this world we inhabit is post-lapsarian; imperfect, but capable of redemption. There are some of us who endeavor to learn from those still in sync with their inner and outer cycles, without resorting to the kind of lazy cultural appropriation that is endemic in many spiritual circles.

‘LUNARCHY x Heal Her 2019: Re-coding Mythology’ event poster design Bea Xu, 2019

LUNARCHY 2.0 presents such an endeavour. An experimental ‘moon room’ laboratory informed by Radical Anthropology Group’s research, it holds space for play and co-created ritual to re-enchant our relationship with time, space and Self in the late capitalist Global North – in solidarity with BIPOC movements the world over. 

In an upcoming series starting Thursday October 8th, I’ll be co-facilitating for LUNARCHY 2.0: guiding a month-long online pilgrimage of sorts into the ‘underworld’ of the womb-space and charting a full lunar cycle from the waning half moon to the cosmic event that is the full, blue Hunter’s blood moon in Taurus this Samhain. Building on our previous creative workshops, we will be putting the speculative theory discussed in the House of Blood Magic into group, ritualistic praxis and using 2020’s Libra new (dark) moon as a guide for some powerful intention-setting – to retrieve a ‘gift’ from the quantum field of the spirit world to manifest our heart’s desire, in service to humanity in this mortal realm. Reaching into the zone beyond false dichotomies and arbitrary, binary thinking, the focus is on healing the rift between polarities: balance, inner harmony and justice. All of the ingredients critical for fostering interconnectedness amongst us, a supportive cushion of diplomatic understanding ahead of the transformative energies that Scorpio season will soon be calling in. 

Join us if you’re curious and willing.

Until next moon! 

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