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Women’s Mysteries: Ancient and Modern by Esther Harding

Today, symptoms whether of physical illness or of emotional disturbance are dismissed as neurotic or imaginary, while their meaning is overlooked.

It would be more intelligent to take as symbols these indications from the unconscious, which show themselves as taboos or as the physical symptoms of illness and to interpret them into psychological terms where they are indeed realities.

The effort to overcome nature by undermining the factual basis of the superstition or the symptom would then take its rightful place.

For the difficulty may well be an indication of some disturbance in the unconscious, emotional or moral, of which the sufferer is unaware.

To consider menstruation merely as “the curse,” I borrow the college girls’ slang, to be submitted to or tolerated for the one and only reason that it cannot be avoided, means to lose the deeper experience of an essential part of feminine nature, to lose, what Keyserling would call, “one aspect of consciousness.”

For if a woman is in resistance to any part of her own nature she cannot garner its values, but experiences only its negative aspect, in this case the physical and psychological disabilities which menstruation undoubtedly carries with it and which, indeed, on account of her own resistant attitude, are almost inevitably enhanced.

The realization that her symptoms indicate that her conscious attitude is not in harmony with the deeper needs of her own nature would enable her to approach the problem in a more intelligent and constructive way.

The significance of the old taboo customs is to be sought along two avenues of approach.

First, the question of what is the meaning to the woman herself of her seclusion and second, what is the meaning of her exclusion from the life of the group. ~Esther M. Harding, Women’s Mysteries, Page 90