I Shamelessly Use 'Blood Tea' For My Houseplants--Here's What You Should Know

There is life, love, and energy in blood.

I Tried It

I've never really felt any shame around my period.

Not really anyways.

There were some behaviors like hiding my tampon in the presence of people (namely men) that I have become more aware of but not any deep-rooted trauma and shame. That's the thing about me, I've always been relatively shameless when it comes to matters of the human body. I recall wearing pads around the house well before I began my period, excited for the possibilities. I don't mind the mess of period blood, now I'm not going to go smearing it on my face but really I have more of a visceral reaction to loose hair than I do to menstrual blood.

However, I did grow to feel some disappointment and resentment towards moon day because it has come to feel like an inconvenience. Which at times, it is a challenging experience but it's also a beautiful one. And this is what I'm coming to realize! For so many years, my period was just something that had to happen to me. I disassociated from the experience, outside of the pain of PMS. I could never tell the doctor if my period was coming or going. I knew the bare minimum when it came to my period. But, no shame.


I say all of this to say that when I saw and heard of blood tea for the first time -- a moon blood, water mixture -- I didn't cringe so much as my curiosity was piqued. Curious because, well, what is life if we're not always searching and exploring the roots of ourselves and those who came before us? Especially sans colonization! I understand this cocktail to be an offering to Mother Nature. A celebration of feminine energy--of Earth.

If we are Queens and our bodies are as sacred as our ancestors believed -- throwing that energy down drains and into landfills is ungodly and wasteful.

Feng shui principles similarly believe that you shouldn't leave your toilet seat up because it is a portal where energy can flow into, so imagine thinking it's the rightful place for something as sacred as menstrual blood. There is life, love, and energy in that blood. Per ancestral guidelines, you're better off giving your blood back to nature. Traditionally, in some cultures, it is given back to the oldest tree in your yard. But, recycling your blood back into your garden is also sufficient. There's a quote, "When the women give their blood back to the earth, men will come home from war and earth shall find peace." And as I read it, I'm reminded of how our periods were once held to the highest esteem.

Interested in shifting the way I experience menstruation, I began returning my blood to the earth via my houseplants.


Plus, like so many others I had become more invested in gardening as a hobby back in March, as we slowly came to realize 1) the summer would be spent in the house and 2) the possibility of living through a global food shortage was real. My thumb is not the most pigmented shade of green, so I had a few plants that I was willing to test this knowledge out on. I bottom watered them by using menstrual blood easily from my menstrual cup and pouring it into a bottle filled with water. Watering it from the bottom leaves less room to attract gnats since the top of the soil doesn't stay wet. If and when I can, I use rain water to water the plants in an attempt to give and take from nature as much as possible. And very quickly, I was able to see my plants perk up, then within 24 hours, new blooms had come through.

Although I was less interested in the journey it would take me on when I began doing this, I have come to realize the plant and I am sharing a journey that is one and the same. We are both life forces.

Here are the lessons that came from fertilizing my plants with moon blood -- for myself and my green thumb.

1. Life Force

Blood in general is rich in phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. These are the major minerals needed for plants to thrive!

Our blood has the ability to give life to all things great, all life forms including babies and nature alike.

And sure there's blood meal, but therein lies the problem -- we're already too far removed from what is natural and wholesome. Plants shouldn't nourish from unknown/unnatural sources anymore than we should.

2. Synchronicity

I became more connected as the ritual intends. Like I said before I had no clue of when to expect my period. Now I'm far more observant of what's to come, by either looking to the moon or looking at the condition my plants are in. I have Pothos plants that get watered on the same cycle of my menstrual cycle, when they start to wither I know they're in need of sustenance. In turn, I've become more in sync with my needs and when I can anticipate them.

3. Purpose

I feel more whole in the act of seeing the life my menses brings to my plants; the capabilities of my body helps me to feel a bit more firm in my purpose here on this earth.

Our duty to put back into nature rather than take from it. We are natural nurturers and in addition to standing in that role,

I've come to understand there are many things in our environment that require nurturing--human babies are not the only things we're supposed to give life to.

As I continue gardening, I'll be looking to the gradual changes and observations that manifest on behalf of this ritual.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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