Return To The Red Tent

by Teresa Maria Bilowus

“Return To The Red Tent” was first published in Starflower Living Naturally, Issue 2, July 2014

“How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you? A place for you to go…a place of women, to help you learn the ways of women… a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining you and steadying you as you sought to become yourself. A place of women to help you find and trust the ancient flow already there within yourself… waiting to be released… A place of women…” ~ Judith Duerk, Circle of Stones

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Photograph © Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014

There is a place where women can go to tell their stories. A place where women can rest, create, sing, dance, sleep, or just ‘be’ for a while. There is a place where women can be witness to authentic sharing and connection. A place where women can hold each other and be held. There is a place where women can go to experience a ‘homecoming’ and leave feeling renewed, restored, replenished and open. There is a place for women. It is called the Red Tent. When women’s paths meet in this safe and sacred space, lives are transformed.

It is unlikely that when Anita Diamant published her best-selling novel ‘The Red Tent‘ back in 1997 she could have imagined how her work would be a catalyst for a ‘Great Remembering’. Anita Diamant’s descriptions of the monthly celebrations in The Red Tent not only illustrate the close relationship with land and nature and the moon cultivated by semi-nomadic women in ancient times, they also indicate the strong bond between women who would menstruate together in a sacred gathering space. It was in this sacred space, the Red Tent, where every girl became a woman.

Whilst the origins of the ‘Red Tent’ are fictional, women sitting together in circle is ancient and very real. Women coming together to bleed is found in almost every culture around the world. In some traditions women were segregated from their communities for being ‘unclean’ during their monthly bleeding time. But in many cultures women were honoured during the bleeding days and went to a special place within the village to commune with other women. Sometimes this place was called the women’s lodge, the moon lodge, the menstrual hut, the bleeding lodge, or by some other traditional indigenous name. These spaces all had great power and significance because it was the space where women bled together and shared wisdom. It was in these spaces that women passed down their traditions and shared their aural history – their stories and their mythology. It was in these sacred dwellings that women connected to their own inner power – in particular the intuitions and visions that came at the time of bleeding. And it was in these gathering spaces that women helped guide young girls into womanhood and were themselves guided by the community elders.

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Photograph © Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014

Today, the Red Tent is a global women’s movement. There are an estimated 20,000 Red Tents worldwide. In thousands of locations around the world women are once again gathering together to share the cycles and the stories of their lives. These are important times. For the last 4000 years the entire history of ‘woman’ has been suppressed. Women’s songs, wisdom, traditions, intuitions, stories, methods of healing, mythology, knowledge of herbs and of the stars, and of magic and the underworld have all been vanquished. Patriarchy effectively wrote history in the image and the voice of the masculine. This doesn’t necessary mean that history is wrong. But it does mean that without the voices of women, history is wildly incomplete.

When women enter the Red Tent a ‘Great Remembering’ takes place. Women the world over share the same experience of coming into the Red Tent for the first time and yet it being deeply familiar. The Red Tent is a gathering ground for which women have been yearning, but until women actually enter the space, this yearning has not been released. Adeola from the Red Tent community in Bournemouth, UK says “I found a space I hadn’t released I craved, to speak with a voice I had never heard, about a wisdom I had carried since birth but had no awareness of.”

It seems that ancient women-wisdom is woven into the very fabric of the Red Tent space. From its fictional beginnings, women all over the world have breathed power and life into the Red Tent. Some Red Tents focus on celebrating menstruation and the blood mysteries, others are simply a place where women can dance, sing, rest and speak their stores. Healing, transformation and renewal are common themes within Red Tent communities. Regardless of age, culture, background, experience, religion, or circumstance, all women have a home within the Red Tent. There is a deep-knowing that when a woman enters the Red Tent she is supported not only by other women, but by an ancient energy that has drawn women together since the Beginning.

Women have big, important stories. Deep, painful stories. Stories that matter. Stories make up the meaning of women’s lives and yet for so long there has not been a place for women to share these stories. It is so easy for women to hide what has happened to them – to stuff their own experiences down into a hidden-away-space so as not to feel them. It makes it easier to ‘get on’ with day to day life. But within the walls of the Red Tent women are experiencing the phenomenal healing power of telling their stories. No one needs ‘fixing’ or advice in the Red Tent. There is no judgement or ‘therapy’. But there’s lots of compassion. And there are lots of women being heard. When women speak it, shout it, cry it, scream it, feel it – whatever ‘it’ is, then it comes to the surface to be released. Women’s stories are monumentally important. Each and every one of them. All over the world the Red Tent is providing a safe and sacred space for women to tell their stories. And be heard.

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Photograph © Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014

In September 2012, award winning film-maker Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost released a ground-breaking documentary entitled “Things We Don’t Talk About: Women’s Stories from the Red Tent‘. This 72 minute film seeks to ‘humanize the stories in the Red Tent – to put a face on the space’. Recently I had the wonderful pleasure of connecting with Dr. Isadora to talk about her film and the worldwide Red Tent movement.

Dr. Isadora, can you define what the Red Tent is for modern-day women?

“The Red Tent today can be anything you want it to be. The Red Tent is to fulfill the needs of your community. What do women need? Who would come? Sometimes women need to dance, sometimes to talk, sometimes to rest, to laugh, to cry, or to eat soup. There’s no one right way to create a Red Tent space. It has to meet the needs of the community, whatever those needs might be.”

Why now? Why at this time? Why has the Red Tent movement become so big?

“Contemporary women have a need for sisterhood. The Red Tent movement has a wonderful ability to cross all boundaries of culture, religion and background. No matter who you are, what language you speak or who you love, inside the Red Tent we are all sisters. I’ve heard women’s stories from Red Tents in India that are the same as women’s stories from Red Tents in Chile. The Red Tent transcends everything and brings women together to just ‘be’ in a safe and sacred space.”

So is the Red Tent part of the feminist movement?

“Well, firstly, let’s define feminism. My definition of a feminist is someone who believes that all women should be respected, honoured, nurtured, and heard. A feminist wants all women to believe in themselves. A feminist is someone who wants women to muster up the courage to live what they came here to do. I believe we are in the third wave of feminism. The first wave was the right to vote. Then came the second wave which was for equality. But we went out too hard. We burnt ourselves out. And so now the third wave of feminism is about self-care and self-love. It’s about bringing everything back into balance. The Red Tent gives us a place where we can find this balance. We can find sustenance communing with other women within the walls of the Red Tent. This gives us the power and the strength to go out into the world and do our work. Women need this balance.”

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Photograph © Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014

 

Dr. Isadora, in addition to being a filmmaker, you are also a textile historian. How important is the ‘fabric’ when creating a Red Tent?

“I have personally done over 500 film screenings of ‘Things We Don’t Talk About‘. Each screening is done in a Red Tent. I set up these Red Tents in gardens, churches, houses, forests, community halls and theatres. I have a great love of fabric. I have lived in 18 countries and I am intrigued by the history of fabric. I create amazing Red Tents with beautiful fabrics that I have collected from all over the world. But I know women who simply gather in circle each wearing a red scarf. That’s a Red Tent too. The Red Tent is any embodied space that honours the needs of women.”

Could you share your forward vision for the Red Tent movement?

“I would like to see The Red Tent movement get to places that are not so westernized. I would like to see it grow into places such as Eastern Europe and Asia. I’d like to see the potential that the Red Tent movement has to support women in those countries. I’d also like more international festivals with huge Red Tents. I envision global summits and international symposiums on the Red Tent movement where women from all over the world come to share their experience and their future vision.”

And finally, what about the future vision for your film? Where to from here for ‘The Red Tent Movie: Things We Don’t Talk About’?

“I would like to do lots more film screenings within the US and internationally. And I’d like to make another Red Tent film. The next one would incorporate women’s stories from the global Red Tent movement. I’d like to film women from the Red Tent telling their stories in their own countries, culture and language, and then subtitle them in English.”

When contemporary women are asked what the Red Tent means to them, they share that the Red Tent is “a sacred feminine temple where I can honour myself”, and “home”, and “a place of powerful healing – healing where nothing needs to be done”, and “a place where I can come back to my pack.” There is a gentleness, kindness and realm of support for women within the Red Tent that is not found anywhere else in modern day society. Many women are witness to the powerful outpouring of love that takes place in the Red Tent. Women who have previously felt resistance toward women’s circles because of negative experiences of malevolent or competitive women are being drawn back to reconnect with women within the safe space of the Red Tent. Here, women are being nurtured by each other. Women can enter the Red Tent at any time. This supportive space is no longer just for women at the time of menstruation. The global Red Tent culture offers a place for all women to gather and honour their own individual journey while experiencing oneness with a united sisterhood.

There are often regular monthly gatherings within a Red Tent community. These monthly gatherings might be loosely structured to include movement and music, talks, rest time, craft activities, body work, creative pursuits, pampering, reading, journalling and much more. In addition, Red Tent communities offer open days where women can use the space in whatever way supports their needs.   Workshops or special events held in the Red Tent are often focused on areas that are deeply raw and painful for women. These can include topics such as healing from birth trauma, dialogue about sexual abuse and rape, mother wound healing, and empowerment around the menstrual cycle. Often when women take part in a workshop or retreat, they can experience big shifts only to go back to the ‘real world’ where there is no where to discuss, share, explore, or expand these shifts further. This can be difficult when the work is deep and the processes new. Within the space of the Red Tent, women can find ongoing support around such shifts from other women in the Red Tent community and from the space itself.

It is common within the Red Tent to find teenagers conversing with crones. This is a space where all stages of a woman’s life are recognized and honoured. The sacred trinity of maiden, mother and crone are melded together in a diverse and dynamic group of women defying societal norms on age segregation. It is within the Red Tent that young girls are experiencing powerful coming-of-age circles and empowering mentorship programs. Once again women are guiding girls into womanhood. For the first time in generations girls have a place to go to learn the ways of women. The Red Tent is a collaboration of women. All women have gifts to bring. Some women give massages, as others make tea. Some women bake cakes while others brush hair. Some women read poetry as their sisters are painting toenails. The Red Tent is where all of this can happen simultaneously and with complete spontaneity.

The healing that is taking place in the Red Tent is vital for our planet. When women heal themselves there is a ripple effect that touches their ancestors, their children, and the entire global community. Courageous women all over the world are speaking their stories. Women are finding their voices. When a woman comes to the Red Tent she experiences a ‘homecoming’ and a deep sense of belonging. Each time she returns to the Red Tent she returns home to herself.

© Copyright Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014 All Rights Reserved.

 About the Author

Teresa Maria Bilowus is a facilitator of workshops and retreats pertaining to Women’s Blood Mysteries. She is a Menstruality Empowerment Activist. Teresa facilitates Red Tent Bournemouth (Dorset, UK) and is the founder of Moon Girl Warriors, a powerful coming-of-age mentorship program for girls. Teresa is passionate about giving voice to womb-space wisdom and educating women on the rites-of-passage from menarche to menopause. She studies metaphysics and is a freelance writer. Teresa is the inspired mother of two phenomenal daughters.

Teresa can be contacted at: returntotheredtent@gmail.com

 

For further information on the Red Tent please visit:

Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost – ‘The Red Tent Movie – Things We Don’t Talk About’ http://www.redtentmovie.com/

The Red Tent Temple Movement http://redtenttemplemovement.com/

The Red Tent Directory – UK and Europe http://redtentdirectory.com/

Red Tents In Every Neighbourhood http://www.deannalam.com/global-network/

And for further information about HERSTORY – A Womanifesto (an informative free e-book) please visit the website of Jane Hardwicke Collings: http://www.moonsong.com.au/

 

 

 

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Bringing the Red Tent home

By Isadora Leidenfrost, PhD

Women feel strong and safe in the Red Tent, empowered and ready to be all we can be. Then, we return to our everyday lives and are sometimes challenged to hold on to these inner shifts. Can you relate? This video presents some simple but powerful ways to bring Red Tent consciousness home, so that wherever you are, whatever you are in the midst of, you’ll know how to find your way to your sacred center.

Click here to watch the video

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A Yearning for Woman-space

by Lucy Pearce, The Happy Womb

I find myself yearning at this my moon time, for woman-space, for the rhythm of women, the flow. For rhythm. I find myself drawn to spirals and circles and bright colours.

I dream of a red tent, a yurt – a circle space of ornate decoration and luxuriant fabrics.Touching the earth, out in the night air. The owls hooting beyond. It is a primitive experience, a tribal memory that I have never had – one which modern day campsites or large festivals awaken but cannot fulfill.

A space where the women can gather. And sing together. And dance – silk scarves flowing in the air. Beating the drums, shaking the rattles as we shimmy our hips.

Lying on soft cushions, drinking tea. Laughing, crying. Colouring mandalas. Reading aloud to each other passages that inspire us. A fire flickering. A voice begins to sing. A sad song, of lost love and yearning. A poem is spoken and breaths are held.

Candle light, fairy lights, tea lights – soft, gentle, magical. Showing the softness of each face, each body. Their beauty and sensitivity.
Painting bellies, hands and feet with flowing henna designs.

Here we can howl like wolves, dance naked in the moonlight.

And be, just be. Connected, beautiful, complete.

Republished with permission by Lucy Pearce, The Happy Womb.

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Filed under Guest Blogger, memory, place, red tent experience

Sisters (We are Coming Home)

a song composed by Lisa and Brett Brumby

Featured in the Red Tent Movie “Things We Don’t Talk About”

Lyrics

Sisters are walking to the beating of a drum

Calling us forward into who we have become

From far and wide we gather, for our time has come

To raise our voices and be heard as one

Feel your fire rising up from within

Like a serpent grow and shed your old skin

For creative power lives inside every womb

Of Gaia’s daughters dancing beneath a waxing moon

We are coming home, sisters

We are not alone anymore

We walk together, sisters

A wild woman is howling deep inside your soul

Free her ancient wisdom, make her vision whole

And honor the women who have gone before

Revealing all once hidden, opening the door

To our transformation from all we have learned

Rising up from the ashes where our grandmothers burned

We are coming home, sisters

Maiden, Mother and Crone no longer talk in whispers

We are not alone anymore

We walk together, sisters

To purchase the song “Sisters” visit

 

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The Great Pause of Menopause

sex

by Oceana LaBlanc

Many of us who are in menopause now were mothered by women who didn’t talk about or understand it, and were often at the effect of a masculine paradigm and medical system. Most were not wild women, who questioned authority or celebrating their menses.

I was especially clueless. It started with peri-menopause, which I hadn’t even heard of before. I just knew I needed help because suddenly my emotions were riding a tornado without a seat belt. In fact, I almost hospitalized myself, mistaking it for bipolar. Look up the symptoms of both side by side. Identical, uncanny, and misunderstood.

Luckily, a sister shared her journey and discoveries with me. She shared nutritional tips and much information I had never heard. This was my entry into learning, and I was vested with ways to cope, wisdom to carry me through, and knowledge that what I was experiencing was perfectly normal.

Peri-menopause can be a ten year journey with changing symptomology. As wise women, we can dive deeper into the layers of energetics sourcing the symptoms, read the signs, utilize all manner of feminine alchemy to shape shift and shine. We have choices, herbs, holistic awareness, abdominal massage, shamanic support, and the allopathic medical system to choose from.

We might face:

  • grieving the end of fertility
  • loss of libido
  • body is changing dramatically
  • night sweats
  • anxiety attacks
  • sleeplessness
  • moontime totally off schedule
  • extreme uncertainty
  • grieving unmet life desires, lost opportunities
  • loss of energy for what used to come easily

Menopause leaves no patience or tolerance for wasted time or energy. A friend said to me she couldn’t understand why she was so short with everyone lately. The mention of menopause was a complete surprise and relief. We really aren’t taught what to expect!

The fragility of it is stunning. We forget the simplest things and our younger sisters cannot fathom what seems like an intended slight. The truth is we have no recollection.

As a sex educator, it’s difficult to find oneself utterly shut down and going within. But this is what one does and it’s important work, much like labor in birthing.

Many women just don’t want sex and are afraid they never will again. The good news is that menopause is a Great Pause. There are ways to encourage libido, stay juicy, continue to glow. Orgasms are pretty much the best remedy and proactive nutrition, as they keep us expanded in pleasure, keep the blood flowing, reduce stress, encourage circulation, and activate the life force energy. Orgasms keep us glowing. One a day, just like the multivitamin.

Sexuality is alive and well throughout our lifetimes, regardless of what mass media would have us believe. Once you have passed the gateway of menopause, you can let go of the idealized version of sex appeal and welcome a confident, deliciously vulnerable, grace-filled queen who is comfortable in her skin. She exudes warm, calm acceptance and her wisdom is seductively attractive. A Crone is a Confident, Radiant, Orgasmic, Natural Empress.

barAre you longing to deepen your femininity, 

show up in your own blend of Goddess Confidence

and ooze your sensuality inside and out?

 

Oceana Lablanc will nurture you into the sexy, beautiful,

powerful woman you are ready to step into. 

are-you-ready

bar

About the Author

Oceana Lablanc

Oceana Lablanc

Oceana Leblanc is a healer, tantric yogini, medium, shaman, and empowerment facilitator. A dynamic facilitator and writer gifted with wisdom, compassion, humor, and keen intuition, she holds frequent workshops and retreats.

She’s led acclaimed trainings at venues such as the Women’s Belly and Womb Conference, Daughters of the Earth Conference, Zestfest, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Earthcircle Gathering. She is one of the original pioneers building a uniquely grassroots community that supports women’s empowerment globally.

Goddess Oceana defines her mission as being a catalyst for unconditional love and the integration of balance in feminine and masculine energies on the planet in our times. She is passionate about helping people express their highest potential.

Currently she is writing her first book, which is a compilation of her online quotes that have been inspiring readers for years. When she’s not travelling and teaching, her most rewarding time is spent with her gorgeous 13 year old son and beloved husband of 21 years.

“Oceana is one of the most dynamic presenters I have known. She comes from her heart, her passion, and her wisdom. A unique fantastic blend that all will benefit from.” ~Char Tosi, founder of Woman Within

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Menopause, sex

Let’s Talk About Sex in the Red Tent

 

bar

Are you longing to deepen your femininity, 

show up in your own blend of Goddess Confidence

and ooze your sensuality inside and out?

 

Oceana Lablanc will nurture you into the sexy, beautiful,

powerful woman you are ready to step into. 

are-you-ready

bar

About the Author

Oceana Lablanc

Oceana Lablanc

Oceana Leblanc is a healer, tantric yogini, medium, shaman, and empowerment facilitator. A dynamic facilitator and writer gifted with wisdom, compassion, humor, and keen intuition, she holds frequent workshops and retreats.

She’s led acclaimed trainings at venues such as the Women’s Belly and Womb Conference, Daughters of the Earth Conference, Zestfest, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Earthcircle Gathering. She is one of the original pioneers building a uniquely grassroots community that supports women’s empowerment globally.

Goddess Oceana defines her mission as being a catalyst for unconditional love and the integration of balance in feminine and masculine energies on the planet in our times. She is passionate about helping people express their highest potential.

Currently she is writing her first book, which is a compilation of her online quotes that have been inspiring readers for years. When she’s not travelling and teaching, her most rewarding time is spent with her gorgeous 13 year old son and beloved husband of 21 years.

“Oceana is one of the most dynamic presenters I have known. She comes from her heart, her passion, and her wisdom. A unique fantastic blend that all will benefit from.” ~Char Tosi, founder of Woman Within

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Filed under From the filmmaker, Red Tent TV

Sensuality, Pleasure, and A Woman’s Spiritual Fire

sexby Oceana LeBlanc

We don’t hear that much about sensuality or pleasure in the Red Tent Temple. Much of what is spoken is about suffering that women are processing as they heal past wounds and deal with what it is to be a woman in this world. In my work I’ve learned that pleasure is crucial for women, that it’s the gateway to good, gratitude, abundance, love, joy and full self-expression.

Releasing our full radiance and power isn’t possible when we stuff down our passion and fire, and sit on the life force energy that lives in our bellies. When we allow pleasure to infuse us, we unleash the fullness of all that we are, and we’re capable of infinite possibilities, and immeasurable magic!

The top questions I hear are about sex over fifty, lack of desire, and how to attract a lover. Women tell me they either want more sex or less sex than their partners. They fear the loss of libido, or wonder what happened to theirs or if they will ever get it back. Some are just beside themselves trying to find the right partner. Sensuality, intimacy and pleasure are absolutely crucial in the response to all of these queries, but they’re glaringly absent in most people’s vocabulary. Why is this?

Our culture gives pleasure a very bad rap. We’re taught it’s frivolous, to deny it, that it can wait until the work is done. We’ve erased pleasure from our landscape and diminished it to the realm of indulgence, which inherently means unnecessary. The truth is that it’s so crucial to a woman’s life essence and fulfillment that it’s no wonder it was relegated to the back seat. What is necessary for women hasn’t been on the forefront of our radar for 5,000 years! It’s time to change this. Pleasure requires a vulnerable intimacy with life, as does sensuality. They are inextricably interwoven, and our engagement with them is what’s missing for most of us.

So how do we begin? Start by relieving stress so that you feel sexier, or have more sex to relax. Really, you can find pleasure everywhere if you’re looking for it. A gentle breeze, the feel of ice cream on your tongue, a flower in bloom…millions of opportunities for pleasure present themselves every day. Self-pleasure is the surest way to immediate pleasure, and it makes one a much better lover, too.

Intimacy is rooted in vulnerability, which is what we all secretly desire. It’s what cradles us in community, gives us a deep feeling of belonging, and nurtures our spirits. Learning to truly meet someone’s eyes, we begin to allow others in and release judgment. Replacing self-recrimination with self-love, we heal our connections from the inside out, learning to connect on deeper levels. We’re opened up to a more relaxed sensuality where our inhibitions fall away and we’re more fully present, open to pleasure and deeply connected with others.

When we embrace sensual pleasure, our life force is unbound and our power to create the magic we desire is limitless. This is the secret about women that has been hidden and squashed for so long. We are absolutely divinely embodied creatures whose time to shine has finally come.

 

bar

Are you longing to deepen your femininity, 

show up in your own blend of Goddess Confidence

and ooze your sensuality inside and out?

 

Oceana Lablanc will nurture you into the sexy, beautiful,

powerful woman you are ready to step into. 

are-you-ready

bar

About the Author

Oceana Lablanc

Oceana Lablanc

Oceana Leblanc is a healer, tantric yogini, medium, shaman, and empowerment facilitator. A dynamic facilitator and writer gifted with wisdom, compassion, humor, and keen intuition, she holds frequent workshops and retreats.

She’s led acclaimed trainings at venues such as the Women’s Belly and Womb Conference, Daughters of the Earth Conference, Zestfest, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Earthcircle Gathering. She is one of the original pioneers building a uniquely grassroots community that supports women’s empowerment globally.

Goddess Oceana defines her mission as being a catalyst for unconditional love and the integration of balance in feminine and masculine energies on the planet in our times. She is passionate about helping people express their highest potential.

Currently she is writing her first book, which is a compilation of her online quotes that have been inspiring readers for years. When she’s not travelling and teaching, her most rewarding time is spent with her gorgeous 13 year old son and beloved husband of 21 years.

“Oceana is one of the most dynamic presenters I have known. She comes from her heart, her passion, and her wisdom. A unique fantastic blend that all will benefit from.” ~Char Tosi, founder of Woman Within

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Filed under Guest Blogger, red tent temple, sex