Category Archives: red tent experience

January and February Red Tents and Movie Screenings: Warmth and Community in the Midst of Winter

by Jayleigh Lewis

Dr. Isadora, filmmaker of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, resumed Red Tent hosting and film screening attendance in January and February 2015, after a brief hiatus. As she reconnected with the women of her local Chicago community and traveled to Milwaukee for a screening co-organized by a Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference attendee, screenings were also taking place in other parts of the country and world.

Of particular note were the screenings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 25, and in Coyhaique, Chile, on February 7. The former took place at the Sophia Center for Goddess Study, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating men and women about contemporary Goddess traditions. It was well-attended; Dr. Isadora would have been there if not for her prior commitment on that date to the Chicago Red Tent. The latter screening took place at a Chilean women’s festival, Encuentro Ser Mujeres en Patagonia, held at the Centro Cultural Coyhaique. Approximately 300 women attended the festival, reflecting the explosion of interest in Red Tents among women in Latin American countries over the past six months to a year. Since Things We Don’t Talk About is subtitled in Spanish, the film is well-suited to be an introduction to the Red Tent movement in these parts of the world!

On January 25, Dr. Isadora hosted a Red Tent in her Chicago home. She transformed her dining room into a red fabric-draped space which was filled to maximum capacity by the approximately 15 women who attended. Many of the women brought their children; Dr. Isadora makes it a point to welcome moms who can’t always manage to get a babysitter but still need time and space away from their ordinary lives. (One advantage of this is that everyone gets a chance to hold the babies!)

Red Tent Chicago

The event was “loose and flowing,” a time for women to talk and be together in whatever ways they wished. Embodying her commitment to giving back to her community and to honoring the women who show up, Dr. Isadora offered foot rubs to all. She also bonded with the eight-year-old daughter of a friend while painting the little girl’s nails with sparkly polish. It was a gentle and nourishing midwinter gathering.

The February 7 Milwaukee, WI, film screening, which took place at the 5757 Spa Salon, had a similar light and flowing feel. Liz and Cathy were the organizers. Cathy, who works at the salon, had attended the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference last June and had seen the Red Tent movie there. She happened to have been sitting between a woman in her 80s and a young mother with a baby, and had an inspired moment when she realized that the Red Tent was needed by all generations. After that, she was determined to bring it to the women in her local community.

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The salon, a former doctor’s office, does not have many large spaces (although, in each of its many small rooms, unique inspirational sayings are featured, reminding clients to look for beauty within). In order to clear a space large enough for the screening, the merchandise storage area (which had originally been the waiting room) needed to be emptied, a process which took hours of work. But it was worth it when the women showed up. The event was sold out with approximately 20 women in attendance (including one woman who had driven two hours from Chicago and was glad to find out from Dr. Isadora that there is a Chicago Red Tent community!).

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The post-screening Red Tent, initially slated to last an hour and a half, stretched on for almost three hours; the women did not want to leave! Three activity options were available—henna body painting, chakra aromatherapy, and angel card readings—and in between “appointments” women relaxed, talked, and ate chocolate-covered strawberries in the Red Tent.

Dr. Isadora engaged several women in thought-provoking conversation during this time, bringing to life the spirit of Things We Don’t Talk About by talking about the things women don’t usually talk about! One woman, a nurse at a midwifery clinic, discussed what she knows about infertility and overcoming the fear of having children. Another woman, a salon owner and hairstylist for 30 years, who had been brought to tears by the film, told Dr. Isadora what had so moved her: the depiction onscreen of nonsexual intimate touch. She knows through experience how powerful this kind of touch can be, how it can generate instant trust. When women come to her to get their hair styled, they are often initially uncomfortable with the risk involved in changing their appearance. She has learned to subtly reassure them by unobtrusively massaging their shoulders as they discuss what they want—and thus what was a tension-filled experience becomes a healing experience.

Another conversation touched on a little-discussed aspect of menstruation. Some cultures have menstrual rituals that help to direct the intense energy of this time. Native American women who are menstruating enter moon lodges, because they are seen as too powerful to be part of mundane life; they need to be able to concentrate on ceremony and dreaming. The mikvah is a ritual bath taken by Jewish women that serves as a type of spiritual cleansing and reorientation to the ordinary world after they have finished menstruating. For some women, the Red Tent is a menstrual ritual that can help support and anchor them while they are bleeding. One woman offered the opinion that when women become bloated, “bitchy,” and depressed around the time of their menstruation, it is because they are carrying unresolved grief around the loss of the egg that is passing out of them, grief over the unexpressed potential for life the egg represents. If a woman feels this way, and wants a safe space to get in touch with this inner truth that might otherwise go unacknowledged, the Red Tent as menstrual ritual could be the perfect container for its expression.

Truth and trust were shared, bonds were strengthened, and sacred time was enjoyed during these recent Red Tent gatherings. And more are coming next month! To see a listing of upcoming screenings (including those Dr. Isadora will be attending), go here. If you don’t see one for your area, perhaps you are being called to host one?

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I’m Fearless…

The non-ordinary space inside a Red Tent evokes powerful reactions from women. Even a woman who is no stranger to empowerment can be amazed by what she sees…and by the strength of her response.

Join us in the virtual “Red Tent” for today’s episode of Red Tent TV.

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

What makes you feel fearless?

I look forward to reading your comments below.

If you liked this video, subscribe to our channel & sign up for our free weekly episodes of Red Tent TV at http://www.redtent.tv/

Missed my most recent episodes? Watch them here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmZGBmANkmSBD1337JiQWbw

Enjoy the video and have a fantastic day! Thanks for watching!

My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmZGBmANkmSBD1337JiQWbw
Website: http://www.redtent.tv
Friendship on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/redtentfilm

Opening song “Red Tent Temple” by Mother Turtle. http://www.motherturtle.com/

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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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#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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Women and girls are seen as…

In a world where the bodies of girls and women are still seen primarily as objects, the conversations we have in the Red Tent are invaluable for helping us discover that we are each glorious, unique, and whole—even if we do not conform to societal standards of beauty.

Join us in the virtual “Red Tent” for today’s episode of Red Tent TV.

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

How have you overcome feeling like a commodity and finding your own unique gloriousness?

I look forward to reading your comments below.

If you liked this video, subscribe to our channel & sign up for our free weekly episodes of Red Tent TV at http://www.redtent.tv/

Missed my most recent episodes? Watch them here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmZGBmANkmSBD1337JiQWbw

Enjoy the video and have a fantastic day! Thanks for watching!

My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmZGBmANkmSBD1337JiQWbw
Website: http://www.redtent.tv
Friendship on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/redtentfilm

Opening song “Red Tent Temple” by Mother Turtle. http://www.motherturtle.com/

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Life to Life, Woman to Woman: November’s Red Tent Stories of Transformation and Connection

by Jayleigh Lewis

During November 2014, travel slowed for Dr. Isadora, filmmaker of the Red Tent movie: Things We Don’t Talk About. Of the three screenings she had planned to attend, two were cancelled or rescheduled, and even with vending at the La Leche League of Wisconsin Continuing Education Conference in Milwaukee, WI, on November 7th, it felt like a short month. However, it was a deeply touching one. Like fibers from the Great Mother’s tapestry, the stories that arose from the Red Tent this month are made of the soul stuff that binds all women and all life together.

On November 22nd, Dr. Isadora attended a Red Tent movie screening at a private home in Muskegon, Michigan. This was only the second screening ever in the state, and Dr. Isadora’s first in Michigan. Only three hours away from her home in Chicago, it involved far less travel than many other screenings have!

Jessica, the host of the event, is in the process of launching a Red Tent in her city. Originally introduced to the idea of Red Tents through a woman she met at a Trance Dance event, she has been enthusiastic in researching and laying the groundwork for the group, which will be one of only a few in all of Michigan. The screening served as her Red Tent’s launch party.

Red Tent Movie screening in Muskegon, MI.

Red Tent Movie screening in Muskegon, MI.

Her living room was packed to capacity with about 20 women, many of whom were new to Red Tents. About half were members of a book group that had been reading Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent; they were now getting the chance to experience in person what they had been reading about.

The movie was followed by a Q + A and then by a short break, during which the women enjoyed delicious food (including gluten-free and dairy-free options) that had been lovingly cooked for hours by Jessica’s husband. Everyone reconvened for the Red Tent portion of the event, a talking circle during which the women were invited to share why they had come that day and what they hoped to experience in a Red Tent.

What arose was profound.

One woman, a regular attendee of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and a participant in many women’s singing circles, had shared with Dr. Isadora that she wanted to create local opportunities for women to sing together but didn’t know how to do that. Dr. Isadora suggested that, during the Red Tent, she share a song with the circle.

And so, this woman led the group in singing “How Could Anyone” (written by Libby Roderick), backed by Shaina Noll’s recording of the song as it played on Dr. Isadora’s computer:

How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle
How deeply you’re connected to my Soul…

In a beautiful, spontaneous moment, the women held hands during the last refrain.

The theme of connection continued to play out over the course of the Red Tent, as it emerged that an unusual number of those present had the experience of not having a physical mother in their lives. Whether they had lost their mothers through death, having been adopted or having been put in foster care as a child, or through some other circumstance, many could relate to the feeling of missing a mother’s nurturing. Many also said that they were finding that nurturing in the Red Tent. Even those present who did have physical reminders of family (several mothers and daughters attended together, as well as a group of sisters) found the same.

This Red Tent also catalyzed a moment of synchronicity for Dr. Isadora that tied into her personal life in a heartfelt way. Earlier that week, she had driven to Madison, Wisconsin (where she had formerly lived and led Red Tents) to visit a friend, Mary, in hospice care in the end stages of terminal cancer. At Mary’s request, Dr. Isadora came prepared to build a Red Tent; it was Mary’s wish that this sacred space be among the last things she would experience in her life.

Mary and Isadora

Mary and Isadora

With the permission of the hospice center staff, Dr. Isadora built a Red Tent right in Mary’s bedroom. The two then shared three gentle, meaningful hours. Music played while Mary napped. Dr. Isadora rubbed Mary’s feet (and was touched when Mary, even in her weakened state, briefly reciprocated). Conversation turned to the topic of love. Mary wanted to be bathed in love in her final days: she shared that one thing still holding her in her body was her desire to let others know of her love for them. The song “Through It All” by Mother Turtle played:

Through it all, I will love

Through it all, I will love

I will walk through the pain and get drenched in the rain, but I will love.

And I may fall, lose my way, but I will heal anyway because I am love.

Through it all, I will love

Through it all, I will love

In the end, this is all that matters.

Through Mary, as well as through the death of her grandmother last December, Dr. Isadora felt opened to the possibility of death as a spiritual experience, something that doesn’t need to be sad but could be instead a glorious celebration of life. She and Mary spoke about this during their Red Tent. Dr. Isadora felt that she had become a midwife for death, sitting with her friend inside a symbol of the passage that Mary would soon make. The Red Tent is a womb, a portal from one kind of life to another. Not only did Mary believe that she would continue after the death of her body, but she also believed that one day she would reincarnate and literally return to the womb. The Red Tent thus became a kind of dress rehearsal, a promise of what lay ahead!

This soulful experience was still fresh in Dr. Isadora’s memory as she participated in the Red Tent at Jessica’s home in Muskegon. Thus, when she chose a goddess tarot card from an altar Jessica had set up for personal reflections, it was a perfect sign from the universe that the card she chose was that of the goddess Mary.

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", death, From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, Jayleigh Lewis, red tent, red tent experience, red tent film, red tent movie

It symbolizes the womb…

This girl knows what the Red Tent is all about. Join us in the virtual “Red Tent” for today’s episode of Red Tent TV.

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

What does the Red Tent symbolize for you?

I look forward to reading your comments below.

If you liked this video, subscribe to our channel & sign up for our free weekly episodes of Red Tent TV at http://www.redtent.tv/

Missed my most recent episodes? Watch them here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmZGBmANkmSBD1337JiQWbw

Enjoy the video and have a fantastic day! Thanks for watching!

My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmZGBmANkmSBD1337JiQWbw
Website: http://www.redtent.tv
Friendship on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/redtentfilm

Opening song “Red Tent Temple” by Mother Turtle. http://www.motherturtle.com/

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, red tent, red tent experience, red tent film, red tent movie, Red Tent TV, womb

Seeing red – going with the flow

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.

A place of soulful retreat, exquisite release and deep rejuvenation.  A place of Moon Time.

“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.

www.facebook.com/chrysaliswoman

www.twitter.com/chrysaliswoman

Republished with permission from the author and The Happy Womb.

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Filed under Guest Blogger, red tent, red tent experience, women's stories

I am overwhelmed with this grief…

One’s grief may hold many layers, but it is only in a safe space that a woman can allow this complexity to come forth. Here’s how the Red Tent helped one woman to finally understand the true scope of the pain she was left with after her mother’s early death…


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

How have you dealt with grief?

I look forward to reading your comments.

If you liked this video, subscribe to our channel & sign up for our free weekly episodes of Red Tent TV at http://www.redtent.tv/

Missed my most recent episodes? Watch them here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmZGBmANkmSBD1337JiQWbw

Enjoy the video and have a fantastic day! Thanks for watching!

My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmZGBmANkmSBD1337JiQWbw
Website: http://www.redtent.tv
Friendship on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/redtentfilm

Opening song “Red Tent Temple” by Mother Turtle. http://www.motherturtle.com/

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, red tent experience, red tent film, red tent movie, Red Tent TV

Return To The Red Tent

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

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Photograph © Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014

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.

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Photograph © Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014

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.

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Photograph © Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014

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.”

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Photograph © Teresa Maria Bilowus 2014

 

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: returntotheredtent@gmail.com

 

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/

 

 

 

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", ALisa Starkweather, Anita Diamant, blood, coming of age, daughter, DeAnna L'am, Feminism, friendship, From the filmmaker, growing up, Guest Blogger, healing, how to create a Red Tent, international, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, menstruation, moon, Moon Lodge, mooncycle, red tent, red tent experience, red tent film, red tent movie, red tent temple, Red Tent Temple Movment, sacred space, space, The Red Tent, women's stories