Category Archives: moon
by Leslie Botha
Click here to download the HorMoon Awareness Guide
A new book!
Understanding Your Mind, Mood, and Hormone Cycle was written for women who want to understand the sometimes, confusing physical and psychological changes they experience each month. It is also suggested reading for men who deal with hormonal women daily; and for educators, healthcare and social welfare professionals who support women of all ages that are struggling with physical and behavioral issues caused by hormonal changes. It is the product of a nine-years of research, analysis, and writing.
This richly illustrated, pioneering, book is co-authored by Leslie Carol Botha and H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik, with original graphics by Nicholas Batik. Medical researcher, H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik provides extensive clinical background to support the findings of this book. The conversational writing style makes it easy and compelling to read, while the richly footnoted text makes this a valuable resource for professional healthcare providers. The book explores on the very essence of a woman’s being — the fundamental nature of the female hormone cycle; and was written to fill the void of practical, menstrual health education that focuses on understanding the delicate mind/body connection — a connection that has the power to bring about health or disease in the body. Contrary to current medical thinking and pharmaceutical industry messaging that encourages women to deny, ignore, suppress and replace their natural hormone production with synthetic hormone birth control and hormone replacement therapy, Botha and Chevalier-Batik believe that the hormone cycle is the foundation of women’s health and well being. Modern medicine has promoted the concept of specialization, encouraging women to consult specialists to treat isolated aspects of our body and mind, rather than consider our body as an integrated system, and exploring the relationship of the hormone cycle with other cycling systems in our body. Creating health begins with a shift in this perspective to one that recognizes the whole body is greater than the sum of its parts; a shift that recognizes that health is our birthright and represents our natural state. Such a change in perception can change how we express vibrant health and inner peace. Using the tools and information provided in this book, women can learn to perceive symptoms as biometric feedback from our bodies about our diet, lifestyle and the state of our mental, emotional, and spiritual self. These symptoms are the “tell” for conditions such as: hormone imbalances, depression, mental confusion, exhaustion, autoimmune disorders, allergies, and reproductive disorders. The purpose of this book, is to help you tap into the magnificent intelligence of your body and interpret its profound language to finally understand your mind, mood, and hormone cycle. Using the tools and exercises provided you will learn to live with in your hormone cycle to prevent re-occurring gynecological problems and mental/emotional imbalances; Perhaps for the first time in your life, you will feel like you can reach your full potential by acknowledging your strength and who you truly are. It is our goal to open your eyes to the real you — a woman who can trust herself, has confidence in her actions, understands her feelings and knows how to create a fulfilling life by living with her hormone cycle With brilliant simplicity, the authors tie the menstrual cycle into the other natural cycles of the universe and to the Paleolithic wise women who tracked their cycles on antler bones. These wise women understood that menstruation was vital natural cycle that held power. These foremothers became the first mathematicians, agriculturists, and healers by applying their menstrual wisdom to their culture’s survival. It is imperative that we understand all of the cycles in our lives. Women must be pro-active in all aspects of their wellness. Education and the willingness to ask questions and demand answers is a start.
By Angelika Rodler
The first time I saw a Red Tent was at a birth conference in Hungary in 2003. It was made of simple poster walls, covered with a lot of red material. I went in without any expectations, but I understood within a second. The tiny room was filled with pillows, honey was offered to honor the women who came in. It was so peaceful, silent – like coming home. A different world- and while outside the conference program stimulated the neocortex, here was the place to dream and share about all the new visions which were created on this pioneer´s conference. My friend and wonderful midwife Marina Alzugaray was with me and I could not imagine a better person to be introduced to the sacred space of the Red Tent. At this time I was organizing an annually birth conference in Austria and for 2004, I invited the Hungarian Red Tent Women to come with their concept and material. This first red tent was also very tiny, but the women at the conference loved it and this motivated me create our own one, much bigger, for next year. Many midwives used it to recreate, meet with friends and new contacts, take a nap…After this sweet experience I knew that I need a Red Tent. When I came home I worked like crazy and 24 hours later I had one in an free room of our house. A space only for my own needs and to share time with my girlfriends and my daughter…. In 2006 I became pregnant with my 5th child and I was sure that she will be born inside the Red Tent. It was candle lite, peaceful water birth with my midwife, Doulas, my daughter – and of cause my very supporting husband. This was really a birth party. I never will forget the magical hours of bonding with the baby in my pregnancy, this perfect birth and the recreation time postpartum, the breastfeeding, – every pregnant woman should have the chance to give birth in a red tent or enjoy the baby moon in red! That´s why pregnant women cannot only rent a birth pool for a home birth at our center, they also can rent the whole stuff for a Red Tent, can be 2,5 m x 2,5 m, or, if they want, 50 m². I would love to see a red umbrella-tent or some other solutions for an easy and not too exotic performance in the hospital (Doulas know what I mean ;-)), because I think this would be the perfect way to care for more privacy in labor….
I started to organize Red Tents in our Center (NGO/NPO for parents and children to support natural birth and parenthood in many ways)…. The first time 2009 we offered two weeks of Red Tent program, based on Elizabeth Davis and Carol Leonard´s inspiring book “Circle of Life”. We went through all the archetypes of women´s wheel of life –every day a new one. The day started with an introduction to the meaning of the archetype in the morning. The whole day there was a good mixture of open space and a program with leaded talking circles, short lectures, playful singing, dancing (wild and sweet), creative time to experiment with new arts and express your feelings, a slumber party with our little daughters and special massage for our own old mothers. We did “Let´s talk about sex” evenings and shared a lot of female wisdom with experts and our sisters in all ages. We could explore what women can be for each other, especially while they are going through their so called “blood mysteries”- menarche, birth, menopause. After two weeks we ended up with our visions about how we want to become old and die. We laughed a lot, cried a little bit and enjoyed being with women. The last day we closed the circle and celebrated the transformer in us. It was a well used chance to invite girlies and crones, who normally don´t come to a parents & child center and we really could take a look on the special needs and blessings of each lifetime.
While the Austrian Doula training (which I´m leading) I try to inspire the Doulas to see the Red Tent as a wonderful tool to work with women on every level. You need not to be an Expert to invite your girlfriends and clients to come to your red tent and feel joyfully how it works (yes, the red material works with it´s own magic – you can relax!). You need not to be an expert to create a space for YOU and allow women to come in when they need to be for their own– even it the space is tiny, it´s worth! BE the one who is inspiring other women to take their space! I´m thrilled about the huge potential of the Red Tent to bring together pregnant women (new clients and women who had a Doula f. e.) for sharing birth stories, do creative activities, chanting birth songs, showing birth films, the really good ones like “Orgasmic Birth”, do different kinds of bodywork. But I also love the meeting between the generations to understand them and f. e. how we were raised up…
For sure you are highly needed to talk open and positive about first blood, menstruation, birth, love and death (and of cause many other essential things and fun stuff). But don´t forget to offer blessing way parties, baby naming celebrations, a menarche party, …..So many opportunities really connected to our in-TENT-ion as Doulas…. if you are not the one to DO it, be the one who shares the idea, and I promise you – very soon you will meet the women you were waiting for to add their talents to yours and your circle will grow and shine and expand –because women are waiting for YOU to start!
As you see, my personal focus of the Red Tent is not only on Menstruation (although I love this topic, too) like in some Red Tent traditions. I enjoy the beauty and the many many roles in every women´s life and want to empower women of all ages to feel welcome, nurtured and treated with love. I can imagine how special YOUR Red Tent will be created and filled with energy…. let´s dream on, share methods of creating, building, let´s make a Red Tent Kit with the best ideas for celebrations – let us be the movement into more joy in sisterhood…!
For more information:
Angelika Rodler on FB
Töchter ELYSIA´s on FB
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
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.
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.
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.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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/