Monthly Archives: July 2014

An Invitation into the Red Tent (sound meditation mp3)

by Delphine Demore, PhD

It is dark inside the tent, with the light muted by the enclosure. At this late afternoon hour, the entire dwelling is tinted red and pink and orange. Soon the sun will set and the glow of the fire and burning coals will be the only light. You sit in the Elder’s chair, near the doorway. The fire is burning brightly and there is water in the clay jars at the other side of the room, to keep it cool. There is food, cooked ahead and preserved, with fruit and cheese. A week of freedom from preparations, child care, household chores, marital responsibilities, a time all the women come to treasure. Tonight, there are a few newly bleeding girls joining the Red Tent. They have not been to the Women’s tent before and they are curious, eager but worried too. Like all fledglings, they anticipate and fear what is unfamiliar. You smile, remembering your first time in the tent. The tenderness you feel for the newly fertile girls was shown to you then. The tradition of women handing down their wisdom and teaching their daughters is ancient and honored here.

11-minute Guided Sound Meditation. Featuring the song “Dream Wisdom” by David R. Maracle

You hear the approach of the first woman. She is a young matron with 2 small children. She smiles at you and you anoint her forehead with the blessing oil. You embrace, kissing each other on each cheek. She takes a seat in the circle around the stones. Soon others join her, standing in line for their anointing, embracing you and each other with warmth and welcome. The first timers come together, finding courage in numbers. They are welcomed in kind.

When all have arrived, you begin the Women’s Chant, calling on the protection of the Divine Mother. The women join hands and chant, filling the tent with their sweet voices. You pour the first cup of water on the stones in the center, sending up a burst of steam into the hole above the circle. Your chant begins to quiet and your prayers are sent out into the sky.

The youngest women rise and address the new arrivals. They tell of their first time in the tent and their first menses. They honor and bless the girls, welcoming them into the circle of women. They are each handed a branch of lavender and rosemary, as a symbol of love, peacefulness, protection and healing. The other women come forward, one at a time, in age order, to bless the girls and tell a short story of their own blood time. Finally, you are left to speak. Though you have not bled for a long time, you often volunteer to anchor the Blood Times Tent. All the women come if they can. Many are needed to care for children and do the women’s chores while the bleeding women are sequestered.

The women again join hands and hum softly as another cup of water is thrown on the hot stones. When the steam dies away, there is a collective sigh and everyone relaxes.

As the women begin to talk to each other, in pairs or small groups, enjoying the leisure that their nomadic life prohibits during the rest of the month, your attention drifts and you remember other Blood times, other days, women who were friends and who are gone now. You remember…

You see yourself pressing your lavender and rosemary between stones after your first time. Like the young girls here tonight, you stored them in your amulet. Reaching for the amulet that hangs from your neck, you know that you have them still. You remember bringing your first babe with you, nursing her in the steamy air, content to drift in and out of the conversations, absorbed in the love affair of motherhood. Your other babies were also brought here, but the memory of that one is still sharp in your heart. Your daughter goes to another tent somewhere else, in her husband’s family, taking your granddaughter with her. You wish you saw them more often.

You recall the first time your daughter came to the tent, brave and strong. She was not timid, but walked in with her head high, expecting to be accepted, expecting to belong. As a mother, you had taught her well to honor herself and the sacred mystery that is fertility. You are proud of her. That tradition goes on, wherever your daughter and granddaughter go.

Today, your other daughter is present here, following the Shaman Way rather than the motherhood path. You are proud of her too.

In the tent, friendships are forged and confidences shared. All seek understanding, celebration and solace from each other. You remember your mother, taking her turn as elder in the tent, looking at you with that proud, fierce mother look. Even now, after so long, you miss her. Soon, you will travel that ancient river and be reunited with her. The cycle of life, like the blood flowing here, will go on…

We honor that ancient tradition here today. Taking a deep breath, bring yourself back here to the circle. When you are ready, open your eyes.

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Filed under blood, coming of age, daughter, growing up, Guest Blogger, healing, meditation, memory, menstruation, moon, Moon Lodge, moontime, mother, motherhood, place, Post Menopausal, red tent, red tent experience, ritual, space, transition, Uncategorized, women's stories

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