How to Meditate in a Red Tent

by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD

When was the last time you listened-really, really listened-to something deeper than the surface of your life? Meditation isn’t only for those with special training: it’s something anyone can do. It can even help you start a Red Tent. Renew your commitment to the courage and beauty within by making meditation part of your Red Tent practice, and watch this video to help you get started!

This is the topic today on Red Tent TV. To watch the new video:

After you’ve watched the episode, I’d love to know…

     Do you meditate? Why or why not? If you do, how to do you meditate?

I look forward to reading your comments below.

 

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Filed under From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, red tent, Red Tent TV

The Girl God

By Trista Hendren

 

When I grew up, God was a MAN. I was a sinner in need of His salvation for my many transgressions.

This view hampered my life until my mid-thirties when everything completely fell apart.

It pains me to write this, but the reality is this: I was never taught that I mattered.

I came from a loving family but the emphasis was on meeting the needs of men, no matter what the cost to women. I watched my mother make a lot of sacrifices for all of us – and despite this I often still resented and blamed her. Because I grew up placing a low value on myself and my needs, I often made poor choices and was filled with resentment.

I had a rather dramatic end to my second marriage which forced me to re-look at my life. I began reading again—voraciously.

Despite 15 years as a feminist, it never dawned on me to question my family and religious upbringing. We were, by all accounts, “normal”. Compared to many other people, I really didn’t have much to complain about. So while I learned about and rallied against the systematic oppression of women, I did not correlate my family and faith to the roots of my own.

I now believe that it is these very engrained patriarchal systems that continue to keep women as a whole down. This is a very hard thing to face. It is painful to think that your own family had anything to do with holding you back. Most of us will do anything to hold on to the very idea of our family. Even until last year, I still was in the habit of biting my tongue whenever my father said something I disagreed with.

When my daughter was born 3 years after my son, I realized a very real difference in the way my children were regarded. I was raised with 3 sisters, so I did not have the first-hand comparison of how boys and girls were treated growing up. But my observation is that we still approach boys and girls very differently – perhaps even more so in traditional religious families.

When my daughter was 5, I realized that she could not relate to the idea of God at all. It seemed to come natural to my son, who enjoyed going to both the church and the mosque. Perplexed, I asked my daughter if she could feel God inside of her. She could not – until I asked her about a “Girl God.”

At that point she lit up with a big YES!!

I wrote a book about our conversation as we began our faith journey together towards the divine feminine. Since then, I have made it into a series, as I realized I could not address everything I wanted to in one book. As Ursula Le Guin said, “We have to rewrite the world.” I’m working on it!!

It was important for me to write interfaith books as I come from both a Christian and Muslim background. As I began to research the Divine Feminine, I found Her in every faith tradition! My hope is that women can work together despite our religious differences. We have much more in common than we might imagine.

I also see that sometimes there is a resistance within feminism to religion, which can result in putting women of faith down or into certain categories. I think this is a huge mistake.

The majority of women around the world belong to a religious tradition, and most are unlikely to leave their faith of origin. I think it’s really important to work with women and girls where they are at.

I believe that we cannot break the chains of our oppression until we address the roots of it. When we dig through what is there, we find that the Divine Feminine was often always there in the shadows. I would like to bring Her back into the light. I want women of all faiths to know that it is not a “sin” to worship a female deity.

In my years working with the Divine Feminine, it became apparent to me that women need their own communities. I was drawn to the Red Tent movement – the work of DeAnna L’am, Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost, ALisa Starkweather, and so many other amazing women. The two things that appeal most to me about this movement is the strong communities of women it builds and that it reverses the menstrual taboo of shame that is present in so many religions.

Audre Lorde said, “Without community, there is no liberation.” I believe by returning to the Divine Feminine, we will reclaim our power, together, as women.

You can purchase our books at www.thegirlgod.com

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Filed under ageing, coming of age, DeAnna L'am, growing up, Guest Blogger, parenting, women's stories

I am so stressed out…How the Red Tent can help!

Women’s lives in a complex world are often stressful. How many of us can relate to feeling so overloaded we just can’t take one more thing? We forget how simple it can be to let the stress go once we are in a supportive, nonjudgmental space—like the Red Tent. This video offers a few ideas for making your Red Tent a place of relaxation and respite—have you thought of trying these things?

After you’ve watched the episode, I’d love to know…

Do you ever feel stressed out. What suggestions can you offer to deal with stress?

I look forward to reading your comments and ideas below.

 

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Filed under From the filmmaker, Red Tent TV

Synchronicity and Support: The Red Tent Comes to the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference

by Jayleigh Lewis

On June 6, 2014, the third annual Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference, a three-day gathering centered on plant medicine in the Wise Woman Tradition, began. The event was permeated with Red Tent energy, in part thanks to Dr. Isadora, filmmaker of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, who hosted two screenings of the movie, built two Red Tents in two different spaces, and co-facilitated a pre-conference workshop for staff. From setup to takedown, the entire experience was woven with small miracles and synchronicities.

The Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference, founded in 2012 by Linda Conroy, provided a receptive home for the movie last year, thanks to attendee Celena Chavez, orchestrator of the conference’s Red Tents. As a result of Celena’s vision, the Red Tent has been building presence and momentum among the women who gather each year to celebrate their connection with earth-centered, plant-based wisdom.

This year, the conference was held at The Beber Camp in Mukwongago, Wisconsin. The camp is Hasidic Jewish and keeps kosher; conference attendees observed these regulations, which meant that food could not be taken outside the dining hall. There was a beautiful give and take between the women and the camp staff. Each supported and honored the work of the other. And, too, the interchange recalled the roots of the Red Tent movement in the Jewish tradition: Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent, the book that started it all, is Jewish, and her book is set in ancient Israel. Dr. Isadora reported that two male camp staff who helped her set up the Red Tents remarked on this connection. They planned to make an enthusiastic recommendation to the camp’s director that a permanent Red Tent be set up onsite.

This kind of support and connection was to be the norm all weekend. Dr. Isadora described a feeling of being in an atmosphere of “ask and you shall receive.” It seemed she had only to think of what she needed before it would appear—including a ladder-carrying man at the exact moment she needed a ladder to reach the top of the yurt where she was building a Red Tent!

Synchronicity also abounded during the pre-conference workshop she co-led with Isla Burgess, an herbalist from New Zealand. The staff participants relished this time before diving into the hard work of the weekend; they participated in a veil dancing ritual and in a visioning exercise. During the latter, each woman created a symbol that represented her vision for the gathering. She drew this symbol on a small piece of paper and then shared it with the group. When all of the symbols were laid out together, their similarities were clearly evident. Some women had even drawn the same symbol. The symbols were then organized according to their common elements; together they formed a representation of a natural life/death/life cycle, mirroring the journey of a plant from seed to fully-formed organism and back to seed. After the exercise, these drawings were hung on the walls of the yurt, behind the fabric panels that formed the Red Tent, their presence lending an earthy energy and intention to the space.

Film screenings, workshops, and informal gatherings in the Red Tent brought women’s sacred space to life. The first screening took place in Crown Hall, the main event area, which had been hung with red fabric. The second took place in the more intimate-feeling yurt, and was packed to capacity. Two workshops were held in the Red Tent: one (led by Celena) focused on how to start a Red Tent, while the other (led by a woman named Trilby Sedlacek) was titled “Sex: An Active Part of a Wise Woman’s Life.” Women were inspired by both; those who attended the latter told Dr. Isadora afterwards that the Red Tent had provided for them a safe environment in which to share stories about their sex lives that they had never before been able to share. They said the space had greatly contributed to an enhanced openness among those of all ages who had participated. In addition to these formal gatherings, women came to the Red Tent to relax and chat at other times—particularly the teen program participants, who wanted to be there for the entire conference!

Fun and relaxation was in the air for Dr. Isadora, too: her best friend and mentor, Doreen Bryant, a wise elder woman, also attended the conference, and the two enjoyed spending time together. She didn’t even have to do anything during the takedown of the Red Tents—others did the work before she could get there! A true miracle.

The second visit of the Red Tent to the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference was powerful, needed, and inspiring—may there be many more.

For more information about the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference or to attend next year’s gathering visit: http://midwestwomensherbal.com/

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", Jayleigh Lewis, recent screenings, red tent film, red tent movie

All We Need is Love

a song by Wendy Love

 

 

“All We Need is Love” by Wendy Love is featured in the closing sequence of the film “Things We Don’t Talk About.”

To purchase the song click here.

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Filed under music from "Things We Don't Talk About"

Has society made any progress?

by Jayleigh Lewis

The Red Tent Movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, continued to expand its worldwide reach in May 2014, premiering in Catalonia, Spain, at a well-attended screening on the 7th. Enthusiasm for the Red Tent movement subsequently spread across the region, sparking additional screenings and new Red Tents. Meanwhile, in the US, women’s Red Tent stories, many growing directly out of the movie, deepened and were shared.

On May 14th, Dr. Isadora, the filmmaker, co-hosted a segment of Voices of the Sacred Feminine, an internet radio show that celebrates and explores feminine and goddess consciousness. Karen Tate, the show’s host, interviewed Dr. Isadora almost two years ago; this follow-up segment focused on the stories of women who are involved in the Red Tent movement. Many of these women were featured in the film; the group included Deanna L’am, Oceana LeBlanc, Alexis Martin, Astrid Grove, and Lushanya Echeverria. Dr. Isadora and Karen asked the women about the work they do in their communities, as well as how their personal stories have evolved since their participation in the film. The recording of this segment is available here: http://www.redtentmovie.com/press_room.html

Red Tent & movie screening from the RCG-I Priestess Gathering this past weekend. Wisconsin Dells, WI.

Dr. Isadora also attended two screenings during May. The first, on the 17th, took place during the annual RCGI (Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess, International) Priestess Gathering in Wisconsin Dells, WI, a three-day festival that is this organization’s largest regular event. The RCGI, founded and run by Lynnie Levy and Jade River, is an endorser of the film; one of its local chapters (in Indianapolis) hosted a screening last August. A Red Tent was raised for the duration of the gathering: mattresses on the floor of a small circular room provided a cozy place for women to rest, converse, and drink in the beauty of the space (uniquely situated inside a turret of a building called “The Castle”!). Dr. Isadora noted that out of the approximately 100 women who attended the festival, almost all reported having spent some time in the Red Tent; they were so moved by the experience that another Red Tent was requested for next year’s festival!

The Saturday morning Red Tent Movie screening was followed by a group discussion that explored the larger role and impact of the Red Tent movement. A woman asked whether women in society are being forced to constantly “reinvent the wheel,” given that there have been various forms of women’s movements over the years and yet women’s freedom and empowerment are still being sought. How is the Red Tent movement different from, for example, consciousness raising groups? Has society made any progress?

In answer, Dr. Isadora offered the idea that the needs of women change in each generation; the needs women had 50 years ago are not quite the same as the needs women have today. The Red Tent movement grew out of the needs of women today. It serves today’s communities by providing women a place to “just be” without any expectations, a place of refuge from the demands of increasingly busy lifestyles.

Also, as pointed out by another participant, an elder herself, older women are respected in Red Tent space in ways they are often not in the rest of society. Women elders often become invisible because they are not participating in “busy” culture in the same way younger women are. Just like the grandmother in the film who attended her first Red Tent and found she was very much needed and wanted there, women elders are finding that the Red Tent movement is restoring them to their ancient role of teachers and wisdom keepers for younger generations.

It’s worth noting that the fact that these kinds of rich insights were able to emerge and flourish probably had a lot to do with the discussion itself taking place in a Red Tent context—a further endorsement of the movement’s active, essential role in supporting women.

The next screening Dr. Isadora attended was on May 31st, at A Center for Healing and Wellness in Bloomington, Illinois. The host, Tonya Keach, is a practitioner at this center, which specializes in healing modalities including yoga, massage, and reiki. Approximately 45 women attended the screening, filling the small space.

A Center For Healing and Wellness, Bloomington IL

A Center For Healing and Wellness, Bloomington IL

Tonya, as the leader of a monthly women’s circle, truly appreciates women’s community. She resonated with the movie for this reason. Although her circle is not officially a Red Tent, she said that she might introduce some red fabric just for fun! She built the film screening itself around the idea of supporting local woman-owned businesses: the following Red Tent was catered by a local woman, while other area women’s businesses donated door prizes.

Attendees loved the entire experience. The veil dancing ritual, which Dr. Isadora began introducing to all of her Red Tents almost six months ago, was one of the largest. The small space required women to dance very close to each other, resulting in a deeply communal experience. “Waves of laughter” kept moving through the group, as well as tears that came from seeing the honoring of women. Participants said they had never before experienced anything like it.

A Center For Healing and Wellness, Bloomington IL

A Center For Healing and Wellness, Bloomington IL

Women’s stories are constantly evolving as new experiences are encountered and new challenges are met. Through it all, the Red Tent is a steady anchoring presence, a touchstone, a mirror. As it has been for the women moved and changed in some way by the film, so may it be for us all.

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", Guest Blogger, Jayleigh Lewis, recent screenings, red tent, red tent film, red tent movie, red tent temple

Sacredness (The Blood Song)

a song by Shylah Ray Sunshine

“Sacredness (The Blood Song)” by Shylah Ray Sunshine

is featured in the closing credits of the film “Things We Don’t Talk About.”

To purchase the song click here.

 

Shylah Ray Sunshine

Lyrics

My blood is the sacredness of the wombyn within me
My blood is a sacrifice of what could be…
My blood is the sacredness of the wombyn within me
My blood is a ceremony of life flowing to me and through me
My blood is the medicine from the birth of a baby
My blood is a gift to the flowers and the trees
To the Earth and all of humanity…

 

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", blood, Guest Blogger, menstruation, moontime, music from "Things We Don't Talk About", Red Tent TV