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General books about menstruation in English and German.

See Leviticus 15, from the Bible.

Books about Menstruation and Religion

Kathleen O'Grady compiled the English-language books and articles about menstruation and religion in the following list. She is the author of Sweet Secrets: Stories of Menstruation (Toronto: Second Story Press, 1997), and generously e-mailed the list to me for you, the visitors to this MUM site.

Please e-mail me other titles for the list, in any language, and with bibliographic data. I'll put your comments with the entries!

Organized by culture and/or geographical region:

Aboriginal (Australia)

Gross, Rita M.

"Menstruation and Childbirth as Ritual and Religious Experience among Native Australians," pp. 277-292 in Nancy Auer Falk and Rita M. Gross (eds.), Unspoken Worlds: Women's Religious Lives in Non-Western Cultures. San Francisco: Harper and Row.


van Beek, Walter E. A.

"Becoming Human in Dogon, Mali," pp. 46-70 in Göran Aijmer (ed.), Coming Into Existence: Birth and Metaphors of Birth. Göteborg, Sweden: IASSA, 1992.

La Fontaine, J. S.

"Ritualization in Women's Life-Crises in Bugisu," pp. 157-185 in J. S. La Fontaine (ed.), The Interpretation of Ritual: Essays in Honour of A. I. Richards. London: Tavistock, 1972.

Nabofa, M. Y.

"Blood Symbolism in African Religion," Religious Studies 21, pp. 389-405.

Odouyoye, M.

"Naming the Woman: the Words of the Akan and the Words of the Bible," Bulletin de Théologie Africaine 3,5: pp. 81-97.


Ancient Women

King, Helen

"Bound to Bleed: Artemis and Greek Women," pp. 109-127 in Averil Cameron and Amélie Kuhrt (eds.), Images of Women in Antiquity. London: Crook Helm, 1983.

Major primary texts:

Aristotle, The Generation of Animals (Book II, 3+4; Book IV, 1+2; specifically 727b; 726b-731b; 775b-778a)

Pliny, The Natural History of Pliny (Book VII, XV; Book XXVIII, XXIII)

Josephus, The Jewish War (Book V, 222-22) and Jewish Antiquities (Book III, 261-275)



Furth, Charlotte and Ch'en Shu-Yueh

"Chinese Medicine and the Anthropology of Menstruation in Contemporary Taiwan," Medical Anthropology Quarterly 6, 1 (March 1992): pp. 27-48.

Momoko, Takemi

"Menstruation Sutra Belief in Japan," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 10, 2-3 (1983): pp. 229-245.

Reed, Barbara E.

"The Gender Symbolism of Kuan-yin Bodhisattva," (see section: "Symbol of Liberation from Women's Suffering"), pp. 159-165 in José Ignacio Cabezón (ed.), Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender. New York: SUNY.



Ahern, Emily M.

"The Power and Pollution of Chinese Women," pp. 269-290 in Arthur P. Wolf (ed.), Studies in Chinese Society. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1978.



Amoah, Elizabeth

"On Being Near the Fire," The Witness 68, 12 (December): p.19.

Hartman, Louis F. (ed.)

"Menstruation," in Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963.

Park, Sun Ai

"Religion and Menstruation," pp. 12-18 in Stella Faria et al. (eds.), The Emerging Christian Woman: Church and Society Perspectives. Indore: Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra, 1984.

Phipps, William E.

"The Menstrual Taboo in the Judeo-Christian Tradition", Journal of Religion and Health 19, 4 (Winter 1980): pp. 298-303.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford

"Women's Body and Blood: The Sacred and the Impure," pp. 7-21 in Alison Joseph (ed.), Through the Devil's Gateway: Women, Religion and Taboo. London: SPCK, 1990.

Selvidge, Marla J.

"Mark 5:25-34 and Leviticus 15:19-20: A Reaction to Restrictive Purity Regulations," Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (December 1984): pp. 619-623.

Soskice, Janet Martin

"Blood and Defilement," European Theology, Heft 2, Tubingen 1994.

Major primary texts:

Bible: Old Testament: Leviticus 15; New Testament: Mark 5:25

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica Pt. III Q. 31 Art. 5; and Q.64 Art 3-4. Suppl;



Apffel-Marglin, Frederique

"The Sacred Groves," Manushi 82 (May/June 1994): pp. 22-32.

Chawla, Janet

"The Rig Vedic Slaying of Vrtra: Menstruation Taboos in Mythology," Manushi 68 (Jan.-Feb. 1992): pp. 29-34.

Ferro-Luzzi, G. Eichinger

"Food Avoidances at Puberty and Menstruation in Tamilnad: An Anthropological Study," pp. 93-100 in J. R. K. Robson (ed.), Food, Ecology and Culture: Readings in the Anthropology of Dietary Practices. New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1980.

Walker, Benjamin (ed.)

"Menstruation," pp. 61-63 in The Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1968.

Major primary texts:

Law Book of Manu (see 4.41; 5.66).



Engineer, Asghar Ali (ed.)

pp. 38-41 in Status of Women in Islam. Delhi: Ajanta Publications, 1987.

Fischer, Michael M.

pp. 204-206 of "Persian Women," in Lois Beck and Nikki Keddie (eds.), Women in the Muslim World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978.

Philips, Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal

"Islamic Rules on Menstruation and Post-Natal-Bleeding." Dar Al Fatah, 1996

Major primary texts:

Qur'an 2:222

von Schlegell, Barbara R.; and Kimball, M.

Muslim Women throughout the World. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Press, 1996.



Abramov, Tehilla

The Secret of Jewish Femininity, Insights into the practice of Taharat HaMishpachah [a reader called this "THE most widely read basic "how-to" book on the subject in the Orthodox Jewish community.]

Antonelli, Judith S.

"Menstruation," pp. 276-287 in In the Image of God: A Feminist Commentary on the Torah. London: Jason Aronson, 1995.

Archer, Léonie J.

"'In Thy Blood Live': Gender and Ritual in the Judeo-Christian Tradition," pp. 22-49 in Alison Joseph (ed.), Through the Devil's Gateway: Women, Religion and Taboo. London: SPCK, 1990.

Archer, Léonie J.

"Bound by Blood: Circumcision and Menstrual Taboo in Post-Exilic Judaism," pp. 38-61 in Janet Martin Soskice (ed.), After Eve: Women, Theology and the Christian Tradition. London: Marhsall Pickering, 1990.

Baker, Adrienne

"The Marital Relationship and the Laws of Family Purity (Taharat Ha Mischpachaah)," pp. 155-157 in The Jewish Woman in Contemporary Society. New York: New York University Press, 1993.

Bleich, J. David

"Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature," Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Thought 21, 4 (Fall 1985): pp. 56-72.

Cohen, Shaye J. D.

"Purity and Piety: The Separation of Menstruants from the Sancta," pp. 103-115 in Susan Grossman and Rivka Haut (eds.), Daughters of the King: Women and the Synagogue. New York: Jewish Publication Society, 1992.

Delaney, Janice, Mary Jane Lupton, and Emily Toth

"Woman Unclean: Menstrual Taboos in Judaism and Christianity," pp. 33-39 in The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1976.

Englard-Schaffer, Naomi Y.

"Review Essay on Blu Greenberg's On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition", Tradition 21, 2 (Summer 1983): pp. 132-145.

Hinnells, John R. (ed.)

"Menstruation," p. 210 in The Facts on File Dictionary of Religions. New York: Facts on File, 1984.

Jacobs, Louis (ed.)

"Menstruation," p. 342 in The Jewish Religion: A Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Neusner, Jacob

"From Scripture to Mishnah: The Origins of Tractate Niddah," Journal of Jewish Studies 29 (1978): pp. 135-148.

Wasserfall, Rahel

"Menstruation and Identity: The Meaning of Niddah for Moroccan Women Immigrants to Israel," pp. 309-327 in Howard Eilberg-Schwartz (ed.), People of the Body: Jews and Judaism from an Embodied Perspective. New York: SUNY, 1992.

Women and Water: Menstruation in Jewish Life and Law, Brandeis University Press, 1999.

Weissler, Chava

"Mizvot Built into the Body: Tkhines for Niddah, Pregnancy, and Childbirth," pp. 101-115 in Howard Eilberg-Schwartz (ed.), People of the Body: Jews and Judaism from an Embodied Perspective. New York: SUNY, 1992.

Wigoder, Geoffrey (ed.)

"Niddah," pp. 524-525 in The Encyclopedia of Judaism. New York: Macmillan, 1989.

Major primary texts:

Torah: Leviticus 15:19; Leviticus 18:19

The Mishnah: Tractate Niddah

The Tosefta: Sixth Division, Tohorot: Niddah

Talmud of Babylonia: Bavli Tractate Niddah

Talmud of the Land of Israel: Niddah


Latin America

Beyene, Yewoubdar

From Menarche to Menopause: Reproductive Lives of Peasant Women in Two Cultures. 1989.

Molina, Anatilde Idoyaga

"The Myth of Nesoge: Hermenuetic Analysis of a Pilaga Relation," Latin American Indian Literatures Journal 1, 1(Spring 1985): pp. 1-12.



Akin, David

"Concealment, Confession, and Innovation in Kwaio Women's Taboos." American Ethnologist 30(3):381400. 2003.

"Ancestral Vigilance and the Corrective Conscience: Kastom as Culture in a Malaitan Society." Anthropological Theory 4(3): 299-324. (Another version will be published in Humiliation and Transformation: Emotion, Subjectivity, and Modernity in Melanesia. Eds. Joel Robbins and Holly Wardlow. Ashgate, expected 2005.) 2004.

Camp, Cheryl

"A Female Initiation Rite in the Neigrie Area," pp. 68-83 in Norman C. Habel (ed.), Powers, Plumes, and Piglets: Phenomena of Melanesian Religion. Bedford Park, South Australia: Australian Association for the Study of Religions, 1979.

Carsten, Janet

"The Process of Childbirth and Becoming Related among Malays in Pulau Langkawi," pp. 20-46 in Göran Aijmer (ed.), Coming Into Existence: Birth and Metaphors of Birth. Göteborg, Sweden: IASSA, 1992.

Clark, Jeffrey

"Gold, Sex, and Pollution: Male Illness and Myth at Mt. Kare, Papua New Guinea." American Ethnologist 20: 742-757. 1993.

Faithorn, E.

"The Concept of Pollution among the Káfe of the Papua New Guinea Highlands. In Towards an Anthropology of Women," ed. R. Reiter. New York: Monthly Review Press. 1975.

Hogbin, Ian

"The Island of Menstruating Men: Religion in Wogeo, New Guinea." Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, Inc. 1996 [1970].

Kigasung, Wesley

"The Value of Bukawa Initiation," Point: Forum for Melanesian Affairs 7, 2 (1978): pp.128-139.

Lutkehaus, Nancy C.

"Gender Metaphors: Female Rituals as Cultural Models in Manam," pp. 182-204 in Nancy C. Lutkehaus and Paul B. Roscoe (eds.), Gender Rituals: Female Initiation in Melanesia. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Meggitt, Mervin

"Male-Female Relationships in the Highlands of Australian New Guinea." In "New Guinea: The Central Highlands." ed. J. Watson. American Anthropologist (special issue) 66(4, pt. 2): 204-224. 1964.

Meigs, Anna

"A Papuan Perspective on Pollution." Man 13: 304-318.1978.

"Food, Sex and Pollution: A New Guinea Religion." New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press.1984.

Roscoe, Paul B.

"The Narandauwa Rites," pp. 59-66 in Nancy C. Lutkehaus and Paul B. Roscoe (eds.), Gender Rituals: Female Initiation in Melanesia. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Wardlow, Holly

Passenger Women: Sexuality, Agency, and Gender in a Papua New Guinea Modernity. Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University. 2000.

Native American

Powers, Marla N.

"Menstruation and Reproduction: An Oglala Case," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 6, 1 (Autumn 1980): 54-65.

Scully, Virginia

"Women's Problems," pp. 287-288 in A Treasury of American Indian Herbs: Their Lore and Their Use for Food, Drugs, and Medicine. New York: Crown Publishers, 1970.

Major primary texts:

Black Elk, The Sacred Pipe, pp. 116-126, Joseph Epes Brown (ed.).



Smyers, Karen A.

"Women and Shinto: The Relation Between Purity and Pollution," Japanese Religions 12, 4 (July 1983): 7-18.



Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam

"Rituals of Gender Identity: Markers of Siberian Khanty Ethnicity, Status, and Belief," American Anthropologist 83, 4 (1981): pp. 850-867.


Sri Lanka

Winslow, Deborah

"Rituals of First Menstruation in Sri Lanka," Man: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15 (1980): 603-625.



Culpepper, Emily E.

"Zoroastrian Menstruation Taboos: A Women's Studies Perspective," pp. 199-210 in Judith Plaskow and Joan Arnold Romero (eds.), Women and Religion: Papers of the Working Group on Women and Religion 1972-73. American Academy of Religion and Scholars Press, 1974.



Bonnerjea, Biren (ed.)

"Menstruation," p. 165 in A Dictionary of Superstitions and Mythology. London: Folk Press, 1969.

Buckley, Thomas and Alma Gottlieb

Blood Magic: The Anthropology of Menstruation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Carlo, Wanda

"Riding a White Horse with a Red Saddle: Women's Folklore," Louisianna Folklore Miscellany 6, 2 (1986-87): pp. 44-48.

Downing, Christine

"Come and Celebrate with Me," Anima: An Experimental Journal of Celebration 9, 1 (Fall 1982): pp.11-27. (Personal reflections on menopause).

Ecker, Ronald

"Menstruation: Seven Lonely Days," And Adam Knew Eve: A Dictionary of Sex in the Bible

Frazer, Sir James

The New Golden Bough. Theodor H. Gaster (ed.). New York: Criterion, 1959 ed. See section 489: "The Taboos Imposed on Girls at Puberty" (pp. 584-587); section 165-170: "Taboo and the Perils of the Soul" (pp. 166-175).

Grahn, Judy

Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World. Boston: Beacon, 1993.

Kitahara, Michio

"Menstrual Taboos and the Importance of Hunting," American Anthropologist 84, 4 (December 1982): pp. 901-903.

Knight, Chris

Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture. London: Yale University Press, 1991.

Logan, Deana Dorman

"The Menarche Experience in Twenty-Three Foreign Countries," Adolescence 15, 57 (Spring 1980): pp. 247-256.

Montogomery, Rita E.

"A Cross-Cultural Study of Menstruation, Menstrual Taboos, and Related Social Variables," Ethos 2, 1 (Spring 1974): pp. 137-170.

Moorey, Thresa

1997. The Goddess: A Beginner's Guide, Chapter 5. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340683902

Müller, Max F. (ed.)

"Woman", pp. 648-654 in The Sacred Books of the East. Clarendon, 1910; Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1966.

Newman, Joan

"Preserving the Status Quo: The Folklore of Women," Australian Folklore: A Yearly Journal 1 (March 1987): pp. 5-24.

O'Grady, Kathleen and Paula Wansbrough

Sweet Secrets: Stories of Menstruation. Toronto: Second Story Press, 1997.

O'Grady, Kathleen

"Menstruation" in Women and World Religions. Serinity Young et al. (eds.). New York: Macmillan, (forthcoming) 1998-9.

O'Grady, Kathleen and Paula Wansbrough

"Menstruation" in A Reader's Guide to Women's Studies. Chicago: Fitzroy-Dearborn, forthcoming 1998.

O'Grady, Kathleen

"Blood and Chestnuts," pp. 121-124 in Jo-Anne Elder and Colin O'Connell (eds.), Voices and Echoes: Canadian Women's Spirituality. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1997.

Opie, Iona and Moira Tatem

"Menstruating Woman," p. 247 in A Dictionary of Superstitions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Paige, Karen Ericksen and Jeffery M. Paige

"Menstrual Restrictions and Sex Segregation Practices," pp. 208-254 in The Politics of Reproductive Ritual. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

Peters, F. E.

"The Menstruant," pp. 731-734 in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: The Classical Texts and Their Interpretation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Sommer, Barbara

"Menstruation," pp. 231-234 in Helen Tierney (ed.), Women's Studies Encyclopedia I. London: Greenwood Press, 1989.

Tuttle, Lisa (ed.)

"Menstruation," p. 203 in The Encyclopedia of Feminism. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1986.

Walker, Barbara

"Menstruation" in The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. New Jersey: Castle Books, 1983.

Wansbrough, Paula

"Sweet Secrets: Researching and Writing on the Internet" in Resources for Feminist Research, forthcoming summer 1998.

See general books about menstruation in English and German.

first page | contact the museum | art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | belts | bidets | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books (and reviews) | cats | company booklets directory | costumes | cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | famous people | FAQ | humor | huts | links | media | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | religion | menstrual products safety | science | shame | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour (video) | underpants directory | videos, films directory | washable pads

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