Category Archives: ritual

An Invitation into the Red Tent (sound meditation mp3)

by Delphine Demore, PhD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Tent Rituals Falling Like Soft Grace over Women’s Lives

By Jayleigh Lewis

February 2014 was another light traveling month for Isadora, filmmaker of the Red Tent Movie: Things We Don’t Talk About. She attended just two movie-related events, and only one screening. However, what was lacking in quantity was made up for in quality: included in the events’ heart and soul-warming moments was the “most inspirational experience” Isadora remembers having in her year and a half of touring the country with the film.

Red Tent, Escondido, CA

On February 8th, she returned to Escondido, California, where she had last been in mid-September 2013 shortly after the Goddess Spirit Rising Festival in Malibu. On her previous visit, too exhausted from travel and facilitation to set up the Red Tent, she had held a bare-bones film screening in the Goddess Studio, a sacred temple space on the home property of Amalya, who was one of the festival’s presenters and is also a writer, belly dancer, priestess, teacher, and ceremonialist. However, Amalya, inspired by the Red Tent at the festival, had invited Isadora to return later for a full Red Tent experience in the Goddess Studio. That return took place on February 8th.

This time, the full set of red fabrics came out for an all-day event which quickly became a moving and intimate experience. The four-hour-long Red Tent, attended by eight women and co-hosted by Amalya and Isadora, took place in three parts.

First, the women participated in a ten-minute sound meditation, created by a woman, Duffy, whom Isadora had met at a screening in January. The meditation guides listeners through an imaginative journey into what it might have been like to participate in an ancient moon lodge or menstrual hut. (Isadora plans to make this meditation widely available by selling CDs and offering it at all future Red Tents that she hosts.) As the women lay on the floor in a circle, heads touching, their bodies like sun rays radiating from the center, they realized that the red fabric panels hanging from the ceiling created a yoni shape that could only be seen when looking directly up at them. The power of perspective!

Red Tent, Escondido, CA

Red Tent, Escondido, CA

The next activity was a veil dancing ritual led by Amalya. Drawing on her years of experience with belly dance, she created a gentle ceremony that allowed each woman a chance to feel nurtured and honored. Two at a time, women lay on the floor with their heads touching and were covered with a thin white chiffon veil. Accompanied by a song called “Returning” (sung by artist Jennifer Berevan, a friend of Amalya’s), the other women danced around them with colored veils, holding the intention to bless the women in the center. Then, as a second song by the same artist played (“She Carries Me”), the colored veils were gradually layered on top of the women in the center, forming a cocoon. At just the right time, the veils came away, slowly and gently. Isadora described the experience as being like a birth consisting of nothing but healing energy. Women cried; it was obvious that this type of support reached them deeply. (Isadora now plans to offer this ritual at all future Red Tents that she hosts!)

Finally, there was a talking circle, where women shared their experiences with the veil ritual as well as a bit about what was going on in their lives. The Red Tent closed with singing led by Celia Jorgensen. She offered some well-known songs about the Goddess with lyrics changed to make them about the sacred character of menstruation:

Ceila Jorgenson

“Drops”

Drop to drop,

again and again.

Life goes on;

beginning to end.

Goddess to goddess,

hand in hand.

Woman to woman,

she’ll understand.

 

“Red River”

(Maiden)

Red river is flowing,

flowing and growing.

Red River is flowing back unto Thee.

 

(Mother)

Red River is flowing,

flowing and glowing.

Red River is flowing back unto Thee.

 

(Crone)

River Red River is flowing,

going and knowing.

Red river is flowing back unto Thee.

 

Goddess carry me.

A woman I will always be.

Goddess, carry me back unto Thee.

Escondido, CA

After this Red Tent, which with its tears, laughter, and “aha moments for all of us,” qualifies as Isadora’s “most inspirational” film touring experience so far, the day concluded with dinner in Amalya’s house and a movie screening. Nine more women showed up for the screening, including Roberta Cantow, a documentary filmmaker who created a three-part film about honoring menstruation, called Bloodtime Moontime Dreamtime: Women Bringing Forth Change. Roberta was one of Isadora’s inspirations and influences as she was creating the Red Tent movie. It was thus very meaningful to have her present for a screening—inspiration had clearly come full circle.

Isadora’s Chicago home was the site of the next Red Tent, on Sunday, February 23rd. Ever since she moved to the city in the summer of 2012, just before Things We Don’t Talk About was released, her community has supported her as she has traveled and worked on behalf of the film. Now it was time for those community members to experience a Red Tent for themselves. The event, which lasted seven hours, was an extravaganza of self-care, as women gathered, rested, ate chili, drank tea, polished their nails, and gave and received foot rubs. Two very young baby boys, neither older than eight months, were present with their mothers. Nurturing was in the air.

Red Tent, Chicago, IL (in the filmmaker's home)

Red Tent, Chicago, IL (in the filmmaker’s home)

And, for Isadora, it was particularly special because her mother-in-law, a longtime supporter of the Red Tent movement and film, was there for her very first Red Tent experience. Nervousness quickly gave way to relaxation as she received a foot rub from her daughter-in-law; the two women bonded in a new way.

The day included a veil dancing ritual inspired by the one Isadora experienced in Escondido; like a seed on the wind, it is already traveling. This ritual and others like it, grown in the womb of the Red Tent, are falling like soft grace over women’s lives, welcomed by first one community, then another. May they facilitate the holy birthing of more and more women into their true selves.

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, Jayleigh Lewis, recent screenings, red tent, red tent experience, red tent movie, red tent music, ritual

How Women hold Space for one another : Acknowledgment as an act of the Sacred

by Hollie B.

lunation.com.au

I give thanks to my dear Sister who agreed to my sharing of this story. I have chosen not to use her name. Because that’s not what’s important in this Story. So for now, she is called ‘this Woman’.

This is a Story about why I believe all Women benefit from sharing Story in a Red Tent. I don’t so much believe that every Woman needs to speak to share their Story in the Red Tent. But each Woman may find healing through Being present with shared Stories.

IMG_6719

I know this Woman who is employed in a place where She sees the absolute worst in human behaviour. Anything awful You can imagine, this Woman has probably seen it, heard of it, or been exposed to a story of it in some way. I’m not exaggerating, and I’m not trying to bring You into a yuk Space, I just want to paint a very clear picture of how different this Woman’s everyday life is compared to many of us.

She has an awesome partner. In this case, her partner is a man, but it is not his gender that is important. What I take from this story is that her husband is there for her in the sense that anything awful that she needs to download from work, she can share with him and she knows he can take it. He works there too.

Home life is good for this Woman. Her children have grown and they are doing their own thing. She celebrates their maturity, knowing that their Journey is their own. Anything that causes stress from work, gets talked about before coming home, and left on the road. In other words, she doesn’t bring it home with her. She has a relationship with her husband, that although has had pain and grief in the past, is healed and in an Awesome Space now. She’s done Circles for healing her menarche and healing her mother-issues and letting go of the past and… In other words, right now, even though there are things that bother her in her worklife, and she knows there will still be Life Work to do, yet she feels fairly sorted.

Is that to suggest that this Woman doesn’t need an Experience such as a Red Tent? Like, she’s fairly sorted so she doesn’t need to sit around with other Women to talk about ‘issues’. She’s got her husband afterall. If he’s so Awesome, why would she need to go along to a Red Tent? She’s already got understanding and a soundboard for whenever she does have an issue. She feels supported at home…

Well, recent experiences have taught me that actually yes, she does still need the Red Tent Experience. This is not something I’ve come to on my own by the way. This isn’t something I’m coming at from my place of advice and an ‘I know what You need attitude’. Actually, it comes straight from this Woman’s mouth.

But the reason might not be what you’re thinking.

This Woman, wants to Be witness to other Women’s stories. She understands that everyone needs a place to share – to vent – to speak – to let go – and everyone needs to feel heard in that.

This Woman does not believe that She has ‘no issues’. But she does feel that the ‘everyday’ things she is haunted with are not for the ears of anyone outside of her industry. It’s not about being selfish. It’s not about coming and hearing everyone else’s ‘stuff’ and not adding anything to the energy. Actually, it’s about finding the Right place (for her) to share her stories, and entering the Sacred Space so that it is held Sacred. For this Woman, she feels depth in being the Witness. She isn’t there to give advice, or story-compete (Oh Yes I’ve seen lots of that), nor is she in the Red Tent to suppress some sort of need to feel special by being different.

Put simply, this Woman finds depth in the Work of witnessing other Women’s stories. In the act of acknowledgement – as witness to other Women and where they are in the moment – she becomes a Sacred Keeper of Tradition and Compassion. When she has something to say, she does. But for the most part, She helps hold the Space. She sits listening, without judgement – accepting of the Story as it is. She nurtures Women who do need to share. And She is content to Be.

Recently a number of events played out in front of me that really anchored this understanding for me. I saw many aspects of this Story. I heard the words ‘I’m fine’ while watching the body language that said ‘don’t fucken push me cos I will break – and I don’t want to break right now!’ I felt the acceptance of this Space while watching other Women go on the finger pointing mission of trying to ‘help’ and offer advice. I saw the break down of safe and Sacred energy with that pushing. I felt the pain of this Woman in not feeling accepted for where she needed to Be with other Women. I felt the distrust from Women who held expectations about sharing. The next day I felt Truth and Realness pour from the heart of this Woman as we shared together how that happened and where she would have liked it to Be. And it was in that conversation that I got clear around one very important aspect of the Red Tent.

I understood already that Women need to speak. I understood already that for a long time Women have not been heard. I have also noticed often that there are times when Women just talk for the sake of it. I have noticed that even when You suggest as a facilitator that everyone can keep their opinions and advice to themselves, and just let a Woman Be in her Space, they just can’t help themselves giving advice and opinions and cutting People off. I have noticed that some Women have a need to agree and say ‘You’ll be right’ and ‘You’re strong’ and ‘You can do it’ in response to another Woman’s Story. And I’ve noticed that this is not only un-helpful, it’s fucking disrespectful.

Red Tent

My Red Tent and Women’s Spaces aren’t for feel good pep-talks. I facilitate Spaces for Women to Be. And to feel supported in that Being. In these Spaces it doesn’t matter who we are at home. What we do at work. What we have to do tomorrow. We just get to Be exactly as we are – in whatever Space – in that moment – without apologies. And we get to do it in a supported Space.

And what I became clear around, thanks to this Woman, is that I really want for the Red Tent Experiences that I facilitate for Women to feel the Power of sharing Stories, simply through Being Witness.

And then that got me thinking (it’s fairly on-the-go in my mind – when thinking is on, it’s really on until clarity is found). Although the Red Tent Experience happens in its own way, and Women share whatever they need in relation to that day, that moment; there’s still some things that some of us need to heal – and we don’t necessarily have a safe Space to do this in. Some of those ‘issues’ are older than ‘this moment and this day’, and we’re not necessarily sure how to bring them up. A ‘general’ Red Tent for sharing, although beauty-full and healing, may not always get to the deepest seat of what we need to heal.

It’s a bit daunting to bring up our miscarriages and our terminations and our divorce and how to raise our sons and daughters and our mental illness and our mother issues and our body image perceptions and… in a space full of Women who we have never met, or whom we only see every now and then. It’s particularly daunting to suddenly bring out the deep Stories of grief and loss that have been pushed down for a long time, or never given a Space. For example, it’s not easy to start talking about the abortion You never dealt with emotionally ten years ago, when the Woman next to You is talking about how she loves being a parent.

I always find it so deeply moving to hear stories from Women about things I’ve never experienced. Whether the Story is about joy or loss, it is the difference that I find mySelf inspired by. I feel honoured when a Woman shares something new to me. That is the journey of the Witness. It is quite beauty-full.

The essence of the Red Tent is the commonality of Being Woman. Always in the Story, even when we have not had the same experiences, it is the sharing that moves us. In one Woman’s Story of pain or hope or joy or loss, we find something of ourSelf. And we grow. That is True healing. That is how we fill our cup. Whether You are the Story-teller or the Witness. There is something for every Woman in the Red Tent.

And so, this leads us to the renewed, improved and fully awesome Red Tent Experience of 2013. We are diving deep. We are creating Space for Stories with intention. We are allowing room for Women to share and to respond authentically. We are opening a doorway for Women to Witness and find Truth around the Way we speak and respond. And we are Working with the Red Tent, to simply Be.

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", friendship, growing up, healing, Hollie B., international, memory, mother, place, red tent, red tent experience, ritual, sacred space, space, story

Space to Heal : a view of the ‘Angry Women Energies’

by Hollie B.

A few years ago my good friend Christiana Rose alerted me to an energy that she felt I needed to be aware of.  She had met with it in her own healing, and felt compelled to let me know, since I work so often with Women in Deep Space.

I have since got to Know these energies. In fact, I knew them long before, but I had never defined it in such a clear way. Now I call them the’Angry Women Energies’, and I will try to explain it to You.

Women's Circle : Space to Heal : Lunation

If You are familiar with Collective Consciousness, this will be an easy concept to grasp. Basically, (in really simple version) when enough People hold the Space of the same sort of thinking, Change or manifestation can occur. The collective thought is an energy. Energy magnetises – collects – together the same energies and creates itself stronger and stronger.

The ‘Angry Women Energies’ is a collective consciousness (Yes I said ‘is’) of Pain and Grief and Fear and Anger that has been created and strengthened over the many years of Women’s suffering. We can align it with patriarchal rule, sexual abuse, inequality – whichever. All of these things, when Women carrying these energies leave the Earth Walk and their energy shifts from the physical body, their anger finds the collective energy and adds to it. So You can imagine, with all of the injustice for generations and generations, that the collective ‘Angry Women Energies’ are quite strong.

But the energies themselves, floating around in Cosmic Space are not a problem – until they find something to attach to. You See, there are all types of energies out there. This is why it’s so important to hold the Space for thoughts of Peace and Love and Trust everyday. Because when we think happy thoughts, we attract happy energy yeah?

But when we think angry, victim, destructive thoughts, that energy will come to us. And for Women in pain from the suffering life has gifted them, the Angry Women Energies are standing, waiting in the wings, to connect, straight away. And so the energies use angry, grieving, Women with a victim-consciousness to attach to – the Women become Agents for that energy. And that way, the energies are able to live on through this generation.

Okay, so that’s a simplified, slightly all over the place version of how I understand the Angry Women Energies. I meet them often in my Work. I’m sure You will have had the experience of meeting a Woman who carries this energy. (They also prowl around the ethers, looking for groups of Women who carry the energy to attach to because as a group they are even stronger) She will be snide, manipulative and deceptive. She will use her stories of Women’s victimisation and struggles to prove her point, that men cannot be trusted and Women must rally together. She could be old or young, she appears in every Race and economic status. She uses masks and costumes to hide the pain and broken pieces of Self behind the barriers. She believes People See her as strong and unbeatable – but we all See her vulnerability and insecurity. She is racked with Fear.

And once the ‘Angry Women Energies’ attach themselves to her, She will not know how to break free. It becomes the only way she knows. It is normal for her. She will carry this energy, building it, magnetising other Agents of the Energies to her. And together they thrive.

Space to Heal : Women's Space : Lunation

Unless…

Unless, we make the choice to disallow their Anger. Unless we make the choice to feel it, acknowledge it, forgive it, and let it go. In this there must be a choice to think happy thoughts again. To think healing, loving thoughts. To find ways to express our Love. And to find ways to experience Love.

To forgive means to for- give : to give something over to the Great Mystery. To trust the Great Mystery to take the Pain and suffering and trust the Great Mystery to create something new and healed and Peace-full from it. The Great Mystery has that Power. It is all things. Call it Goddess, God, Universal Truth. It is Ultimate Power. It is Real.

Healing and Forgiving can be done. We must first See the Truth of our situation. And then we make the choice. Once You break free from the Angry Women Energies, they don’t get to return. We burst the bubble. We send the energy on its Way, declaring that they are not Welcome here anymore. They are no more in our Space. And we may use our Space to Heal.

About the Author:

Hollie B. is a Witch, Indigo Mama and Awesome Wife. She is a facilitator of Women’s Space with a focus on Being, rather than Doing. Her Work is Being the True Self, in order to Create the Sacred everyday, in simple Ways, in every area of Life.

At Lunation, Hollie offers the Clan Mother Journey Experience, an e’course for connecting to your own Truth, as a Cosmic Woman. She also facilitates Red Tent Experience in Canberra, Australia, and offers a variety of other courses and products. Find out more about Hollie B. and her Work at lunation.com.au.

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", Collective Consciousness, Feminism, healing, Hollie B., international, moon, red tent, ritual, space

“The Red Tent,” a song

Chorus:

In the Red Tent (2x)

I’m sitting with my sisters in the Red Tent.

_____

It’s the tent of compassion

Harmony and song,

Dancing and singing

We all get along;

It’s the tent of schmoozing

Rhythm and rhyme,

Ancestor magic

Time out of time.

_____

Chorus:

_____

It’s the tent of connection

Mothers, daughters and friends,

Holding up each other

With support and wisdom;

A shoulder to lean on

A hug when we cry,

Finding our light

In each other’s eyes.

_____

Chorus:

_____

It’s the tent of desire

And our vision of love,

Where pain is suspended

On the wings of a dove;

We fly with the music

Set our souls free

Sisters with the power

of what we can be.

_____

Chorus:

_____

From the deepest night

to the dawn of the day,

Keepers of the flame

Circle to pray;

A carpet of longing

Hope in our lap,

Hearth of hospitality

We open the flaps.

“The Red Tent” © Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael. September 2007. Dedicated to Jill Hammer, Holly Taya Shere and the Kohenet sisters. http://www.shechinah.com

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Filed under red tent, red tent experience, red tent music, ritual, The Red Tent

The Spiral Within

By Charlotte Elaine

From the earliest of our days we have been cradled by the rocking motion of the feminine. The vast prehistoric oceans of our Earth were stirred and moved by the Moon’s power. The waters of life bubbling and churning as if contained in a mighty cauldron. Life on Earth in its earliest and most delicate stages was formed in this place of magick, mystery, and power. This incredible force, which brings forth creation from chaos, is the magick of the spiral. As eons went on, life continued to turn, and the moon continued to sway the seas. During this beautiful time of alchemy and creation the feminine evolved to carry the sea, and tides, within her body. The menstrual cycle holds within it in the sovereignty and might of the spiral. All powers of Earth, Sea, and Sky, are nestled deep within the womb.

Women are sacred vessels of this power, and our bodies with all of their cycles are a testament to this. The patriarchal societies that have dominated this world for so long have attempted to remove Women from this natural place of power. Women have forgotten the fierceness of the tidal wave that roars in their bellies. We have been taught for centuries that our power is a place of shame. It is unclean, bothersome, something to be rid of. However, within the Earth there is now again a stirring; a shifting. Women are beginning to remember the power the flows within them and they want to embrace it. They want to heal, to grow.

It is for this reason that the Red Tent has returned. Women need a place to commune together, to cry, to scream, to feel safe. The atmosphere of a Red Tent is that of healing, acceptance, awakening, and empowerment for women. It is a place where women can go to reclaim the magick of the spiral within.

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Filed under memory, moon, place, red tent, red tent experience, ritual, space, The Red Tent, transition

Beneath the Red Tent

By Jacqueline Riquez

The first time I found myself in a Red Tent, it was like a bolt of electricity : very powerful and hard to ignore ! And yet at the same time there was something so evident, so obvious about this experience that I knew I had tapped into something that went back to the Beginning, to a time before my knowing. I’ve had the feeling before, carrying water from a well with another woman, this intense flash of vestigial memory, the strongest sense of déjà-vu that one can imagine. That night in the dim light of the Red Tent I heard women speaking the strongest truths that spoke to the depths of my soul. There was talk of moon-blood and the words seemed to open a dam for me… I left that night with my mind racing and though I got home past midnight, it was hours later before sleep could claim me. ‘I must make my own Red Tent, this is what I have to do.’ It was like a clarion call – very powerful and hard to ignore!

I should explain that the Tent I went to here in France is really in a tent, though that one was kind of basic. My own tent borrowed the same concept and then went wild from there : don’t think of a tent for camping, think of a sumptuous nomadic tent, with cushions, blankets, candlelight, draped silks and an air of decadence, as though a harem of magnificent women were about to descend – and they do! It’s 9 feet square and 3 feet high at the sides, going up to 4 feet in the center, and though it’s a tent, it stays indoors. About 11 of us can fit in there at a time without it being uncomfortable.  I started making it in the days that followed that very first Red Tent. I sewed and sewed and sewed, a good half mile of thread. My baby was just learning to roll over on her side and I would place her on the floor at the far end of the room, rush to my machine at the other end and sew like a Fury, looking over my shoulders as she rolled her way giggling down the room towards me. As soon as she arrived I’d take her back to the other end of the room and we’d start over. My first tent was sewn with my baby girl hot on my heels. My second tent, even more beautiful, was inaugurated last weekend. I found some fabric in a thrift store that I fell in love with and knew it had to become my Red Tent. Every piece of fabric came from yard sales and thrift stores and I delight in knowing that all of this material has already traveled and lived other lives.

Something about that warm, sacred space invites intimacy. Women often say with the conviction of those who know that it’s like being inside a womb. Tongues loosen, guards drop and we can all lay down our loads. I’m not great in small spaces, never have been, and other women who’ve come to the Tent feel the same, yet there is something about that deep red womb space that defies all claustrophobic comparisons : in here we feel contained, not closed in, safe not suffocated.  I begin by reminding everyone that what is said within the Tent remains in the Tent.  I invite them to share briefly what they’re bringing with them : no-one is obliged to talk but to honor the energy of the group everyone is invited to say where they’re at – ‘I’m having a hard time right now and I’m not sure I’m going to talk much’ – that’s fine. We fix a time to end the Tent together and then we’re off : I have rarely needed to get the discussion going nor wrest back the conversation from someone talking too much.  No talking stick is required. I help things along if needed but I don’t run the show though I do make and serve the tea, not to mention the home-made crackers and cookies and the essential chocolate supply. The talk just flows : sometimes around our moon-blood, sometimes birth, sometimes sex : whatever comes is right. At the end we wind a red ribbon round our wrists as a reminder of our sacred connection. As I type here, there are still two ribbons on my wrist from two Tents over the last months : I am still connected to 20 other women via red satin.

I schedule the Tents every three weeks so that after four tents I’ve covered every phase of the moon. This seems to be more ‘democratic’ since we don’t all bleed in sync anymore. The energy that comes from the different moon-times is tangible : at Full Moon we’re often thoroughly over-excited and channeling some very sexy energy, we laugh more, sometimes until the tears are streaming down our faces ; at the Dark of the Moon we are quieter, more reflective and the Dark of our own natures emerges. If I contribute anything, it’s nudging women towards an awareness of their own seasons, to connect them with those of the moon, but also to the seasons of the solar year and those of a woman’s life.  Towards feeling the rush of energy that I felt just recently: I was in the Fall of my cycle (pre-menstrual), with the moon waning, the leaves were reddening on the trees and here I am, 42 years old, in the Fall of my life as a woman, done having babies but still revelling in all the fruits of the summer.  This is what I feel so strongly in my life when I have all four elements lined up like that – the profound feeling of being where I am meant to be.

I fill up the thermoses with hot water for the endless cups of tea and infusions we will drink, I burn sage and Palo Santo and lay out the candles, plump the cushions one last time. I breathe deeply and murmur my prayer : ‘to the fire above and the earth below, to the air that folds around us and the river that runs through us, to our Father the Sky and our Mother the Earth, to the cool glow of our Lady Moon and the warm caress of the sun, to the bonds of kin that hold me close, to all that I am a part of and to all that is a part of me, I bring myself to you. We are all one relation. ‘ I am ready now. I rise to invite the women waiting in the other room to join me beneath the silken skirts of the Red Tent. This is where we are meant to be.

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Filed under Jacqueline Riquez, memory, place, red tent, red tent experience, red tent temple, ritual, space, The Red Tent, Uncategorized