Category Archives: parenting

How a hundered metres of red material changed my life

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:

www.elysia.co.at

angelika@elysia.co.at

Angelika Rodler on FB

Töchter ELYSIA´s on FB

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Filed under birth, blood, Guest Blogger, healing, memory, moon, mooncycle, mother, motherhood, parenting, place, red tent, red tent experience, Reproductive Health, space, The Red Tent, Uncategorized

#TheRedTent has a history, but what is it?

The Red Tent Movement:

A Historical Perspective

by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD

and ALisa Starkweather

RELEASE DATE: March 8, 2015

Excerpt from the ebook & Audiobook (narrated by Dr. Isadora)

There are thousands of women across the globe who are bringing forth their gifts as Red Tent leaders in their communities. Women who are standing in their power are essential to shifting present paradigms; these pioneers are a balm to an ailing world. But after years of oppression, how do women rise up out of trauma to remember the beauty that lives at one’s core? How do we strip away that which prevents us from rising as wise female leaders? This reclamation work is what many are a part of because when we find our voices, our inspired action, and our needed vision then we stand a better chance at creating a world we can thrive in. And it is with this spirit that the Red Tent movement has flourished as a global phenomenon.

Most women have heard of the Red Tent because they read the book. The Red Tent was a novel by Anita Diamant, published in 1997 that gave us a story of women who come together in a menstrual hut, known as the Red Tent. In the story, Diamant retells the biblical rape story of Dinah. “The Rape of Dinah” (Genesis, chapter 34) was recounted not by Dinah, but by her brothers. Diamant provided a fictional feminist retelling of the tale, giving Dinah her own voice. The book is presented through Dinah’s eyes and those of the women around her. The story showed us how the women raised young daughters who were taught the secrets held for women by women through initiation, stories, and relationships. For many, the story resonated deeply and caused us to question if there was a place like this in our society.

Have you ever wondered…

What if you could have your own circle of women each month in a Red Tent in your neighborhood?

What if our daughters were brought up to expect some kind of honoring when they had their first period?

What happens in our modern culture when we hold Red Tents for women?

Are you curious to know…..?

Special Pre-Sale Offer

Buy the eBook or the Audiobook for $9.99

(delivered on March 8, 2015)

& receive a free rental of the Red Tent Movie “Things We Don’t Talk About”

for FREE right NOW ($4.99 value)

50-page eBook with gorgeous Red Tent photos

45-minute Audiobook narrated by Dr. Isadora

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", ALisa Starkweather, Anita Diamant, daughter, From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, menstruation, mooncycle, parenting, red tent, red tent experience, red tent film, red tent movie, red tent temple, Red Tent Temple Movment, The Red Tent

Red Tent Communities of Chicago: Tending to Home

by Jayleigh Lewis

Sometimes, you don’t have to travel far to find your tribe. Sometimes, a wealth of community, sisterhood, and inspiring conversation finds you right where you are. Dr. Isadora, filmmaker of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, had this experience last month (July 2014) when she attended two Red Tent events in her current home city of Chicago.

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The first event was a combination film screening and Red Tent, co-facilitated by Dr. Isadora and local life coach and energy worker Andrea Friedmann. Andrea, a vibrant Colombian-American woman who strongly supports women’s community and owns a coaching business called Vibrations Coaching, met Dr. Isadora initially through Linda Conroy of the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference. It was at their first meeting that the idea to host an event together in the Chicago area was born. The vision became manifest on July 20, when an intimate, multi-generational group of women gathered at Grace Lutheran Church in Evanston, surrounded by the red fabric of Dr. Isadora’s traveling Red Tent.

After watching the film, the women participated in activities led by Andrea, including a talking circle and a “soul journey,” which Dr. Isadora described as an adventurous guided meditation, the purpose of which was to connect women with their souls and encourage them to make discoveries about the deepest parts of themselves. Dr. Isadora witnessed a rich diversity of personal stories emerging from the group as women spoke about their feelings and experiences.

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One woman, in response to a question posed in the talking circle—what story from the film did you relate to?—shared the resonance she felt with the woman who spoke onscreen about the complicated emotions that arise from knowing she won’t have children. She could relate, as she is coming to terms with knowing she won’t have grandchildren.

Many women in the room spoke about wanting local community and not having it. Dr. Isadora and her mother, who was in attendance at the gathering, echoed this theme. Dr. Isadora spoke about wanting to have more friends in the area who are “real”—people who can be honest and vulnerable about the experiences and challenges they are moving through and who won’t just tell her they’re “fine” when she asks how they are. Her mother, who is making plans to move her art studio to the Chicago area, said that she wants to spend more time around women like those who were in the room. All seemed to share a longing for community whose roots run deep, and when one woman proposed hosting a local Red Tent, everyone said they would come.

In another Chicago suburb (Berwyn), Dr. Isadora attended another local Red Tent gathering on July 27. Led by Celena Chavez, co-host of the Red Tent at the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference, this community is relatively new, having been started by Celena after she recently moved to the area. Dr. Isadora described the gathering as relaxing and peaceful; she really appreciated being able to attend a Red Tent that she didn’t have to create!

Many women present had young children with them. One woman who was seven months pregnant spoke with Dr. Isadora about how the latter overcame her fear of pregnancy but is still feeling into what it means to enter this life stage, in anticipation of eventually having her own children. Celena, a mother of young children herself, shared about her practice as a midwife who works with placentas. Some of the children present received astrology readings from Dr. Isadora, containing information about the unique challenges and life lessons each was born with—invaluable for their mothers’ understanding of how to support them.

In keeping with this Red Tent’s theme for July, “Moon in Leo,” women spoke about how they, like the archetypal lion, symbol of the sun, are shining in their lives, and how they want to shine even more brightly. Intuitive ways of knowing were honored as women shared card readings with each other, using angel cards and mother wisdom cards. The archangel card Dr. Isadora drew reminded her of the importance of bringing more humor into her life.

In the midst of her near-constant travel to attend Red Tent movie screenings and Red Tent-related events across the country, these two gatherings allowed Dr. Isadora to stay close to home and connect deeply with local women. She plans to continue this practice!

What stories, experiences, and gifts are you exchanging or do you want to exchange with the women in your geographical community? How are you growing relationships with deep roots?

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, Jayleigh Lewis, parenting, recent screenings, red tent, red tent film, red tent movie, women's stories

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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Miscarriage: The third time around. Such pain…

by Ellen DuBois on 09/04/11

Debbie says:

I went to the ER for bleeding on Thursday evening (8/1/11) only to be told I was miscarrying and there was nothing that could be done. They didn’t break it to me gently or build-up to telling me. They just blurted out I was miscarrying. I was so devastated that all I could do was cry and weep gut-wrenchingly. I went home and miscarried the next morning in my shower. I was devastated at what I saw and devastated that it is my THIRD miscarriage. I feel so torn apart and my emotions feel so erratic. I feel like I will never be able to carry a healthy pregnancy and I often wonder if my age is to blame. I am 39 and want a child so badly. I feel like my world is ending and I will never be able to recover. My husband doesn’t want to even think about trying anymore for kids and I am unsure of anything right now. This adds even more stress and devastation. I wish I could just run away from all this and it would not follow. How do I recover emotionally and mentally? I know the physical will heal eventually. I can’t stop crying and I can’t sleep. Everytime I step into the shower to bath, I relive/envision the miscarriage. Please help me, how do I bear this burden alone? No one around me understands and seems to think I should be getting over this quickly. How could they ever understand unless they have experienced what I have experienced or gone through what I have gone through?? Please help….please.

Dear Debbie,

I am so sorry for your losses all three of them. The pain you must be feeling is probably consuming to the point where you don’t know which way is up anymore. I’ve been there and I wish you didn’t have to walk this path.There’s so much going on right now. You’re grieving the loss of your babies and are afraid of never becoming a mother. It’s scary and sad, and when you don’t have anyone to talk to, it can feel extremely isolating.I wish there were some ‘magic’ words I could say to make things easier. Sadly, there are not. What I can offer you is my heart, my ear, my understanding and say to you I understand how much you loved all three of your babies and how each loss hurt very deeply. You need some healing time, and I know you’re aware you’ll heal physically. It’s the emotional part you’re having trouble with and I can understand why. You’re grieving another loss. It’s terrible and although it hurts, grief is something you go through before you begin to heal emotionally. It doesn’t mean you’ll forget your babies. It means you must grieve all three of your losses.As for you and your husband, I don’t know where to go with this. I feel he doesn’t want to see you hurt anymore, but comes off as just ‘not wanting to try’ again. Maybe he is trying to protect you from pain. But, I’m not therapist and think that if the time is right and he is with you on this, it may be a good idea to talk it out with a counselor to find out where you’re both at. Are you on the same page? While I’m not equipped to answer that question, a counselor would be. Just wanted to toss that idea your way for when/if the time is right.You lost your precious baby in the shower. I would have difficulty not remembering, too. If I were you, I’d be filled with the pain of losing my baby, of my miscarriage, every time I stepped in the shower.  I don’t know what your beliefs are, but I would ask the angels to help me and for the white light of the spirit to protect me every time I got in the shower. I’d ask to be helped, for the feeling of safety and for strength. If this feels right to you, or some variation of it, I gently suggest you give it a try. God and the angels have not let me down, but we all believe in different things and I’m just letting you know what I do when I am very frightened or struggling with something. Your miscarriage was VERY traumatic. If talking to  a counselor isn’t ‘right’ for you and your husband, it may be right for YOU. Please give it some thought. There will come a time when you’ll know whether it’s the road you should travel or not.

One thing I’ve found helps those who have lost their child to miscarriage is some form of closure. It could be planting a tree, (you could plant one for all three of your babies), or writing a letter to them, setting three balloons into the air in their memory. It may be much too soon for this, but I know after years with no closure, I finally felt some when I released a balloon into the air for my son and read him a letter. Time will gently tell you if and when it’s right for you. Just follow your heart.

Right now, I feel the most important thing is you and your healing. Also, taking things one moment at a time. What your living has many layers: Your grief, possibly facing not having a child (by birth), and healing on all levels from the three losses you’ve endured. That’s a full plate, Debbie. All you can do is your best.

One day, one moment at a time. I am here to listen, to offer what I can. It may not seem like much, but know you are heard, your loss is validated and you are cared for more than you know.

I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Please feel free to write any time.

Love and Light to you,
Ellen

For more information visit: http://www.miscarriagehelp.com/

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Teacher-Mom

by Prof. Janet C. Mendoza Stickmon,

On paper and voicemails, I identify as a professor.  Professional interactions–a professor.  In the classroom–a professor.  I’ve found that identifying as such is so important for us as people of color who have students who have never had a professor of color…it becomes important to recognize our title while at the same time not turning it into such a big deal that the title alienates me from my students.  This is tricky. In everyday speech, I speak of myself simply as a teacher.  Teaching is one of the most selfless, prophetic professions one could ever undertake. I put it up there with the nurse, the doctor, the therapist, the minister, the curandera, the babaylan, the griot, and other healers…like crossing guards, ice cream truck drivers, and tow truck drivers. Any qualities I claim to embody as a professor is because of the people that I have emulated.  Teachers, priests, nuns, indigenous healers, counselors, homeless men and women, the anonymous fellow passenger sitting next to me on a plane, friends, family, and other loved ones have all had a hand in my development as a human being and consequently as  a teacher.  If I am ever complimented on my teaching, I have no choice but to remember that I am a direct reflection of the loving people I have come in contact with throughout my life.  When my mentors have come out to support me, I learned surprisingly that my success was their triumph. My beauty was their splendor.  My happiness, their rapture.

Teachers have the potential to be healers.  Not saviors. Not omnipotent leaders.  But humble healers who know that whatever liberatory catharsis is experienced by our students as a result of our teaching, that this is because we are instruments of a greater power. The gifts we share with those we care most deeply for are bestowed upon us by the Divine. This is a tremendous responsibility and one must not intellectualize it too much otherwise one might miss the beauty of it, the mystery of it and collapse from the enormity of it.  There are things that I do in the classroom that I cannot take credit for.  Like the perfect thought that comes at the perfect moment… and I am left surprised by my own words. The impact we have on others, even on the days we don’t feel good about ourselves, is fascinating to me.  Such things can only be explained by the Divine.  It is vital to call upon the universe, God, the gods, the ancestors, all to reconcile the interstices that bind our greatest expectations to our greatest disappointments; that bind our greatest lack of understanding to our greatest revelations.

When my daughter was born, this identity as teacher/professor was tested. Hyacinth was born on March 26, 2008. I was with her for 5 months before I returned to work.  And when I stepped foot into the classroom, I didn’t feel like a professor or a teacher.  I felt like I had never taught before.  I was lost in my own classroom.  I stumbled over my words.  My old lesson plans seemed outdated and I felt clumsy trying to teach from them.  I was painfully ashamed and considered ending my career as a teacher.  I couldn’t figure out what had happened to me.  I thought that it had something to do with using baby talk for five months straight.  But I felt it was much more than that.

In the past when I’ve been in these awkward, painful transitional phases, I knew this signaled a new exciting beginning. So I waited and rode the wave. Eventually, it occurred to me that I couldn’t possibly expect myself to be the same person, the same teacher, after bringing a life into the world.  I had changed permanently, and what was painful for me in that moment, I imagine runs parallel to the trauma Hyacinth felt when she was born.  Perhaps, the Goddess is in the transition phase right now, preparing to give birth to a new me.  And I need to get out of my own way to let that birth happen.

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