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Judith Boice begins with a prelude parallel to Carol Christ’s introduction to Laughter of Aphrodite. Christ welcomes a Maiden at menarche to the fold. On the other end of the spectrum, Boice invites a Crone to seniority, “You have come to be renewed” (p. 2).

Boice defines menopause, “one year with no menstrual bleeding” and perimenopause, “around the time of menopause” (p. 57). I have often been confused about perimenopausal women discussing their periods. If menopause is the end of menstruation, “moon-pause” in Brooke Medicine Eagle’s words, why do women experience menopause and menstruation at the same time (p. 72)? Perimenopause explains the disparity. I can only guess that the women I overheard were perimenopausal.

Boice draws the connection between women’s hormonal cycles and Goddess spirituality. In “Chapter Four: Hormones: Messengers of Biology, Messages of Spirit,” Boice describes the physical process of menopause and hints at a spiritual transformation tied to the Croning transition.

Boice concludes each chapter with “Reflections,” autobiographies from wise teachers. She includes stories from feng shui instructor, Iroquois Medicine Woman, spiritual ecologist, Catholic monk, aromatherapist, shamanic priestess, organic farmer, Scottish-American dream psychologist, American mystic, Native American co-founder of the Bear Tribe, Dutch reverend, vegetarian, naturopathic doctor, musician, and Celtic priestess. Menopause With Science and Soul can add meaning to any woman’s spiritual journey.

Topics of the book include sexuality, nutrition, exercise, and spirituality. In “Reflections,” contributors disclose losses and gains in sexual interest. Menopause has diverging effects on women. Menopause can increase or decrease sexual libido (p. 149). Aware of a relational society, Boice comments on menopause’s effects on a woman’s partner. Menopause can compromise a partner’s sexual needs (p. 151). The book suggests journaling and meditative techniques for menopausal women. In tune with her body’s changes, a self-aware woman can better recognize her partner’s needs. Together, they can adjust their relationship as one partner transitions.

In the book, Boice accompanies women during spiritual and physical changes. Accordingly, chapters focus on one, often touching the other subject. “Chapter Nine: Nutrition for Menopausal Women: Body Enlightenment” advocates a diet. Nutrition appears in other chapters.

Boice recommends soy for menopausal women (p. 107), contradicting herbalist Susun Weed in “How Safe is Soy?” an article from NewLife Magazine, May 1996. Having not reached menopause, I cannot confirm either’s opinion. I suggest further reading of medical articles before you make your own decision. Bone health consumes Chapter Eleven. For more from Weed, read NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way: Alternative Approaches for Women 30-90 and visit “Menopause Metamorphosis,” an online forum in “Dear Susun” style: http://www.wisewomantradition.com/menopausalyears/

Although menopause might cause discomfort, it is no time to stop exercising. The right exercises can alleviate pain and ensure healthy development. “Chapter Six: The Science of Transformation: External and Internal Landscapes” leads the Crone through challenging terrain. Boice includes meditations on a Mountaintop and Volcano (pp. 133-35). Participation could easily be a mental exercise. The Crone might visualize the Mountaintop and Volcano and compare her spiritual experience to the climb. The exercises might also be literal. I could imagine an aging woman planning a personal pilgrimage. She should plan the journey according to her abilities. The Crone should set goals for herself and decide what she will accomplish in the adventure. As long as she stretches, she will have pleased the Goddess.

Menopause With Science and Soul contains Boice’s original ideas and medical research, spiced with personal stories from spiritual teachers [or from real/experienced women]. I encourage readers to follow the pattern of the Reflections and journal about one’s experience with menopause. Should you choose to share your story, I am sure you will find a women’s magazine to print it. Look for periodicals that focus on women’s health or for a journal issue with a special theme.

Some links from Boice’s website (http://www.drjudithboice.com) are defunct. She does provide her email address and a form to subscribe to the newsletter, “To Your Lifelong Health.” Since I have not tried to contact her, I do not know how quickly Dr. Boice responds. You could send your story directly to her if you feel inclined.

review by Michelle Mueller

Author: Judith Boice

Thorsons, 2002

pp. 149, $14.95

 

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