by Ayla Mellani, The Happy Womb
I have developed a fascination with red tents since researching my book Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle, which it turns out, is the first book to document the emerging phenomenon of red tents.
Many women have not heard of them – and so when I discovered Ayla Mellani‘s beautiful post, I knew it would be a great evocative introduction to them for women who do not have a red tent near them and might want to create their own at home.
It’s been two days of pure bliss. No distractions. No interruptions. Rain and wind outside. Warm woodstove fire inside. The flicker of candlelight, casting a delicate red hue throughout the room. Food brought to me on a tray. Art supplies surrounding my bed. Red foods, red drink. Red bliss.
Welcome to my Red Room.
There are red flannel sheets, red pillowcases and a cozy red comforter. Red candles, red curtains and a red altar cloth. Even, delicious ruby red beet kvass juice.
My Red Room. My own private Red Tent.
“Moon Time” is a phrase that now rolls off my tongue with ease, spoken with reverence, like a mantra. It represents my time of monthly retreat and I greet its arrival as I would a long lost friend… with sweet remembrance. It is an experience of connecting deeply with what makes me a Woman. It is a time of the most ancient and sacred. It is a time of communion with my Blood.
It wasn’t always this way.
I, like most women, grew up not being initiated into the Great Mystery of Woman’s Wisdom. My mother, her mother, and her mother before that, had long forgotten these ways. Many, many, many generations ago, this transmission of wisdom had been lost. With it, the belief of Woman as Sacred and her Blood as a Gift.
I don’t remember exactly when it began for me.
This feeling that something wasn’t right. That the pain and emotional roller coaster I felt each month was more a signal that something was off, rather than a normal occurrence of my body’s biology. Whatever triggered it, I had been called. And nothing was going to change in my monthly experience of my Blood until I answered.
It has taken me many years of journeying on the path toward remembering and reclaiming the ancient wisdom and truth of my Blood. With each month/moon the relationship deepens and new levels of spiritual insight are experienced. In the beginning, there were many layers of untruth that needed to be cleansed and released. Month after month, moon after moon, layers of shame were shed.
There was shame of bleeding. Shame of my body. Shame of being born Woman.
Generations and generations of shame, denigration and denial. It was as if the flowing of my blood each month carried with it the pain of generations of women in my ancestral line. As more and more healing was experienced, I opened to a new relationship with my Blood, my Self and the world around me.
I built altars and sacred shrines to my bleeding time. I stopped wearing tampons, (desiring to feel my flow and not impede the release of blood/emotions). I changed from using toxic pads that fill our landfills to wearing soft and earth honoring handcrafted cloth. I began looking at my Blood as life giving and nourishing and collected it each moon to give back to the earth… wisdom taught by many native traditions.
I learned how to move through the guilt of taking time for myself and enjoyed being nurtured by my family. It challenged our beliefs and the way in which I had created my relationships with them. The all giving, all loving, never ending mother/woman dynamic shifted. A new paradigm was born. I became a woman who had needs, desires and was entitled to rest and experience deep rejuvenation. My womb and her bleeding demanded it… and so did my family… little did they know.
I devoured books from women who had journeyed before me ~
“Sister Moon Lodge” by Kisma K. Stepanich;
“Blood, Bread and Roses – How Menstruation Created the World” by Judy Grahn;
“The Wise Wound” by Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove;
“Dragontime – Magic and Mytery of Menstruation” by Luisa Francis;
“Moon Lodge” tapes and teachings by Brooke Medicine Eagle
and many, many others. Each taking me deeper into the mystery of the Blood that was Woman’s birth-rite.
I began the process of taking my blood from the realm of the hidden and profane to the visible and most sacred. I made necklaces to wear that revealed to my family and friends I was in my “Moon Time”. I charted my cycle and arranged my life to provide down time when my bleeding arrived. I became mindful of my language and how I spoke of this sacred experience and consciously chose words that expressed what I was feeling internally. No more being on the “rag”; or experiencing “the curse”. I was now “in my power” or on my “moon time”, connecting with the powerful relationship between women and the moon.
When hearing other sisters were in their Moon Time, I spoke softly and bowed deeply to the sacred space they were in.
I reclaimed the ancient practices honored in native cultures for monthly retreats. Giving my Self permission to empty my cup each month… a cup that held all of the emotions and responsibilities of carrying for all the others in my life.
As my blood flowed, I opened to spontaneous release of emotions, artistic urges, much need sleep, or whatever called from within for expression and replenishment.
I began to notice changes prior to my moon’s arrival. The messages from within to begin withdrawing from others and start in preparations toward nourishing my Self. Each “Moon Time” wanted something different and I was remembering how to listen.
My family shifted in priorities during this time to accommodate my time away. They began to experience first hand what happened when I returned rested and deeply renewed. I was glowing, sparkly, happy, joyful and so overflowing with the love I had for each of them. I had so much more energy and vitality. They also experienced what happened when I did not take this necessary time away. How angry I was, how frustrated I became, how little I had to give and how resentful I was to be giving it. It wasn’t long before they were helping me to remember it was time for the Red Room and my Moon Time.
Reclaiming the Wisdom of the Blood is an individual journey for each woman… but one that is collective in need. It is not only imperative for the releasing of all that we hold for others each month; for the cleansing of what we no longer need; for our rejuvenation at a deep level and for the development of our own spiritual wisdom and insight… but for the healing of the world around us.
There was a time when life revolved around the cycles of Women’s Blood.
When our monthly time was held as sacred. When the tribe understood the need for our replenishment and honored the spiritual wisdom that was available to us during our retreat.
Community danced in rhythm to women’s rhythms. Life spiraled around the cycles of Moon, Womb and Blood.
The journey with my Blood has brought up deep memories of this wisdom and a longing to share what is possible for each of us, our families and Tribe if… once again… life spiraled around our rhythms.
Sisters… listen to the yearnings of your Blood.
Hear the call every month to retreat in some way. Create ways to honor and hold sacred once again the monthly dance of your Moon. Retreat, build altars, dance, sway, trance, drum, draw, paint, sleep.
The way you see your Self will change. The way you dance in life will change… and because of this… you… dear sister… will change the world.
Blessings of the Blood to you all ~ Ayla
Ayla Mellani, (Founding Mother and Director of Chrysalis Woman) is an ordained Dianic High Priestess, community herbwyfe and CW WomanCraft Practitioner.
She has been facilitating sacred space for women to gather and remember the Sacred Feminine, Feminist Theory and Wise Woman Ways for over a decade and is completely devoted to helping women awaken to their Sacred Divinity by remembering HER story, experiencing ritual and honoring their Sacred Womb Wisdom and Rites.
She guides Women along the Red Thread of Remembrance through her year long WomanCraft and Priestess programs and monthly Goddess Circles and corresponding Goddess Studies.
She is currently working on creating the online Chrysalis Woman School of WomanCraft ~ where all of the CW programs will be available and where Sisters who feel the call to lead in their own communities can become a Certified CW WomanCraft Practitioner and High Priestess. Stop by for a visit! www.chrysaliswoman.com
Personally, she loves growing flower/veggie & herb gardens, belly dancing, yoga, making herbals with the green allies, devouring books, and continues to deepen in her practice of self sufficient, sustainable, cyclical and goddess centered living.