All of reality exists inside the cosmic womb of the goddess. People, planets, animals, etc, were all created when she bled into the universe, birthing life to all things. The faith honors this event in a week long celebration which takes place once a year during the growing season.

The religion in question is matriarchial, and is led by a priestess-queen along with the priestess under her. As such, females are celebrated in the theology, and a woman's period is considered sacred instead of being a shameful subject. At the end of this week, the male priests of the church cut themselves into a bowl during a ritualistic ceremony known as the Sanguinala, as they do not bleed every month. This process is meant to honor the sacrifice of the goddess, and allow them to symbolically take part in the life giving process.

Since this setting includes certain biological processes that is often considered taboo to discuss openly, how would this play with modern society? Would it be considered too disturbing or disgusting? How do you avoid offending the audience and how much should you focus on it?

  • 6
    Menstruation, or bleeding, is not a "life giving process." In fact it is the opposite: It means ovulation occurred and the egg was NOT fertilized in time, so it and the lining of the uterus are discarded, via the vagina. The life giving process is, if anything, conception. Until quite recently, men have always participated in that quite naturally, typically with much enthusiasm.
    – Amadeus
    Dec 17, 2017 at 21:39
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    @Amadeus What I understood from the description is that in the goddess's case the menstruation IS what created the universe, not conception and birthing. Perhaps the menstruation is considered sacred as it is understood as being a vital part of the life giving process, but that only a being as powerful as the goddess can give life without conception.
    – sudowoodo
    Dec 18, 2017 at 0:00
  • This reminds me of in Catholicism, when the Eucharist is accidentally dropped on the floor: great care must be taken to pick up every piece and either consume it or dispose of it directly to the earth. Maybe this religion reveres the unfertilised egg in a similar way?
    – sudowoodo
    Dec 18, 2017 at 0:00
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    @Amadeus - “Until quite recently, men have always participated in that quite naturally, typically with much enthusiasm.” Um, and now men don’t? ;)
    – Obie 2.0
    Dec 18, 2017 at 4:51
  • @Obie2.0 Not always, I meant that literally. And not naturally, also meant literally. Modern medicine means men can be replaced, and participate by other than natural means. For example, a man can be both a father and a virgin; or a father without ejaculation: Sperm can be extracted by needle (even from the recently dead). I suspect in the next 20 years (if not already done secretly) women will be able to clone themselves, with the help of a lab, or genetically mate with other women (an X chromosome from each) to have a female child with two parents. Men will soon be truly expendable.
    – Amadeus
    Dec 18, 2017 at 11:39

3 Answers 3


Lean into it.

Don't treat it as shocking -- a reader too scandalized by your subject matter probably shouldn't be reading this book to begin with.

Instead, use all the tools of worldbuilding and exposition to portray this world as it is to its people. It isn't taboo for them; and that's the society you're portraying.

As long as you're presenting their point of view, they see menstruation as deeply significant. You need to construct that significance; lead the reader into being able to understand it. This is no different than presenting any other worldbuilding element that differs wildly from our own -- except that you'll be anticipating a slightly different reaction from the reader.

In this particular case, I'll point out that there are plenty of people who do not consider menstruation a taboo topic by any means. Definitely ask some women, and some outspoken women's hygiene advocates, for an opinion on your manuscript once you've gotten through a draft or so.


My first thought is: If you're concerned that this religion you're inventing will be too uncomfortable to describe for many of your readers, why not just come up with something different so it's not a problem?

If for some reason this idea is essential to your story, you could probably avoid making people uncomfortable by describing it briefly and clinically. If I read a story that says, "Sally got so sick she threw up", I'm unlikely to find it distasteful or disturbing. But if the writer goes into detail about her stomach wrenching and how she felt the bile coming up her throat and what it looked like and smelled like, that would be very unpleasant to read. Odds are I'd quit reading such a book, because I read a novel for pleasure, not to be revolted.

Likewise, if you said, "Their religion was based around women's menstrual cycles", I suppose a few might find just the mention of the idea upsetting, but most would not. But if you go into great detail about the process and what it looks like and feels like and smells like and so on, I think many readers would say, "This book isn't fun to read; it's just unpleasant."

(I sometimes read non-fiction books that are extremely unpleasant because I think it's information that's useful to know. Reality is sometimes unpleasant. But I expect a novel to be fun.)

I suppose there are some number of readers who think it's cool to read about unpleasant bodily functions. I don't have any surveys on the matter, but I strongly suspect they're a small minority. But if you're looking for a niche market, etc.


There are no taboo subjects. The way you present the story. will determine of anyone wants to read it.

Rape, abprtion, child molestation (Piers Anthony's Firefly was banned in dozens of countries; he didn't care), ghetto speech - it's all been done. Many have gone on to become bestsellers.

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