Tag Archives: Jayleigh Lewis

Has society made any progress?

by Jayleigh Lewis

The Red Tent Movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, continued to expand its worldwide reach in May 2014, premiering in Catalonia, Spain, at a well-attended screening on the 7th. Enthusiasm for the Red Tent movement subsequently spread across the region, sparking additional screenings and new Red Tents. Meanwhile, in the US, women’s Red Tent stories, many growing directly out of the movie, deepened and were shared.

On May 14th, Dr. Isadora, the filmmaker, co-hosted a segment of Voices of the Sacred Feminine, an internet radio show that celebrates and explores feminine and goddess consciousness. Karen Tate, the show’s host, interviewed Dr. Isadora almost two years ago; this follow-up segment focused on the stories of women who are involved in the Red Tent movement. Many of these women were featured in the film; the group included Deanna L’am, Oceana LeBlanc, Alexis Martin, Astrid Grove, and Lushanya Echeverria. Dr. Isadora and Karen asked the women about the work they do in their communities, as well as how their personal stories have evolved since their participation in the film. The recording of this segment is available here: http://www.redtentmovie.com/press_room.html

Red Tent & movie screening from the RCG-I Priestess Gathering this past weekend. Wisconsin Dells, WI.

Dr. Isadora also attended two screenings during May. The first, on the 17th, took place during the annual RCGI (Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess, International) Priestess Gathering in Wisconsin Dells, WI, a three-day festival that is this organization’s largest regular event. The RCGI, founded and run by Lynnie Levy and Jade River, is an endorser of the film; one of its local chapters (in Indianapolis) hosted a screening last August. A Red Tent was raised for the duration of the gathering: mattresses on the floor of a small circular room provided a cozy place for women to rest, converse, and drink in the beauty of the space (uniquely situated inside a turret of a building called “The Castle”!). Dr. Isadora noted that out of the approximately 100 women who attended the festival, almost all reported having spent some time in the Red Tent; they were so moved by the experience that another Red Tent was requested for next year’s festival!

The Saturday morning Red Tent Movie screening was followed by a group discussion that explored the larger role and impact of the Red Tent movement. A woman asked whether women in society are being forced to constantly “reinvent the wheel,” given that there have been various forms of women’s movements over the years and yet women’s freedom and empowerment are still being sought. How is the Red Tent movement different from, for example, consciousness raising groups? Has society made any progress?

In answer, Dr. Isadora offered the idea that the needs of women change in each generation; the needs women had 50 years ago are not quite the same as the needs women have today. The Red Tent movement grew out of the needs of women today. It serves today’s communities by providing women a place to “just be” without any expectations, a place of refuge from the demands of increasingly busy lifestyles.

Also, as pointed out by another participant, an elder herself, older women are respected in Red Tent space in ways they are often not in the rest of society. Women elders often become invisible because they are not participating in “busy” culture in the same way younger women are. Just like the grandmother in the film who attended her first Red Tent and found she was very much needed and wanted there, women elders are finding that the Red Tent movement is restoring them to their ancient role of teachers and wisdom keepers for younger generations.

It’s worth noting that the fact that these kinds of rich insights were able to emerge and flourish probably had a lot to do with the discussion itself taking place in a Red Tent context—a further endorsement of the movement’s active, essential role in supporting women.

The next screening Dr. Isadora attended was on May 31st, at A Center for Healing and Wellness in Bloomington, Illinois. The host, Tonya Keach, is a practitioner at this center, which specializes in healing modalities including yoga, massage, and reiki. Approximately 45 women attended the screening, filling the small space.

A Center For Healing and Wellness, Bloomington IL

A Center For Healing and Wellness, Bloomington IL

Tonya, as the leader of a monthly women’s circle, truly appreciates women’s community. She resonated with the movie for this reason. Although her circle is not officially a Red Tent, she said that she might introduce some red fabric just for fun! She built the film screening itself around the idea of supporting local woman-owned businesses: the following Red Tent was catered by a local woman, while other area women’s businesses donated door prizes.

Attendees loved the entire experience. The veil dancing ritual, which Dr. Isadora began introducing to all of her Red Tents almost six months ago, was one of the largest. The small space required women to dance very close to each other, resulting in a deeply communal experience. “Waves of laughter” kept moving through the group, as well as tears that came from seeing the honoring of women. Participants said they had never before experienced anything like it.

A Center For Healing and Wellness, Bloomington IL

A Center For Healing and Wellness, Bloomington IL

Women’s stories are constantly evolving as new experiences are encountered and new challenges are met. Through it all, the Red Tent is a steady anchoring presence, a touchstone, a mirror. As it has been for the women moved and changed in some way by the film, so may it be for us all.

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April Screenings: Family, Friends, & Leadership

by Jayleigh Lewis

April 2014 was another month of travel and adventure for the Red Tent movie: Things We Don’t Talk About, and for Dr.Isadora, the filmmaker. The film premiered in France on April 1st (although it is not yet subtitled in French) and, as a result, the Red Tent (Tente Rouge) movement is expanding in that country. Meanwhile, Dr. Isadora attended several screenings in Florida and one in Massachusetts, as well as visiting the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI (her alma mater), for two days of Red Tent-related activities, including the RI premiere of the film.

The movie was screened in Gainesville, Florida, on April 12th, for the first time in that city. Caron Cadle, a friend of Dr. Isadora’s and a major donor to the film, who has followed it from the beginning, assisted in the organization of this event. It was sponsored by Wild Iris Books, one of the only feminist bookstores left in the US. The screening itself was held next door at the Civic Media Center, an alternative library and reading room. It was packed; attendees even included a few people who have been following the movie and who just happened to be in Gainesville on spring break! Afterward, the group moved outside to the Red Tent, which had been set up in the courtyard. Luckily for this rare arrangement, the weather was beautiful, and fresh air moved through the space as women blessed each other during the veil dancing ritual.

Gainesville, FL Red Tent movie screening

Gainesville, FL Red Tent movie screening

The next screening took place the next day in Boca Raton, FL. It was sponsored by a local organization, Integrative Counseling and Hypnosis Associates (led by Dr. Melody Smith),that was also one of the film’s endorsers. The venue was Michael’s Body Scenes, a gym—certainly one of the most unique screening venues! Bodybuilders helped Dr. Isadora put up the Red Tent inside a ballet/aerobics studio. The large space was surrounded by mirrors on all sides, so that reflections of the Red Tent appeared to extend as far as the eye could see. This screening was not very well attended due to a large monsoon-like rainstorm that occurred just before and during (although Dr. Isadora’s mother and second cousin did attend—the first time the filmmaker and her mother were both present at a screening), so Dr. Isadora and Dr. Melody made plans for another Red Tent event to be held in this city in October 2014.

Boca Raton, FL Red Tent Movie screening

Boca Raton, FL Red Tent Movie screening

Dr. Isadora then traveled to Sarasota for a screening on April 16th (which her mother also attended—she commented that she appreciated the family support). This screening was held inside a wellness center called Transendance, which offers holistically-oriented classes and coaching. The third Wednesday of every month is their inspirational movie night, and Things We Don’t Talk About was their movie choice for April. The Red Tent was packed; the Q + A session after the movie turned into a group conversation about what in society lifts women up and what tears them down. Women representing multiple different age groups (from 30s to 80s) weighed in on this topic. Continuing the theme of visitors from out of state (wherever you go, there the Red Tent is!), a Red Tent organizer from Ohio who was visiting family in Florida was one of the attendees at this screening.

Sarasota, FL Red Tent Movie Screening

Sarasota, FL Red Tent Movie Screening

On April 19th, the Women’s Collective of Williams College and the Red Tent of Bennington, Vermont co-sponsored a screening at the College in Williamstown, MA. The founder of the Bennington Red Tent, Wendy Lyons, appears in the film. Onscreen, she speaks about how the Red Tent dramatically increased her self-esteem, helping her to transform from someone who didn’t know who she was to someone who truly believes in herself. In one of the short clips that run alongside the film’s credits, she says that she wants to start a Red Tent in Bennington. Five years later, Wendy is a community leader, and her Red Tent is going strong, with about ten regular attendees: a testament to the depth and staying power of the changes she spoke about in the film.

On April 21st, Dr. Isadora returned to the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI, the institution from which she graduated in 2004. She was invited to host five different events over the course of two days, during which current students would have the opportunity to hear her speak about her work as well as see Things We Don’t Talk About. These events included a “lunch with the filmmaker,” a talk on leadership that was part of the RISD Leads program (an initiative of the Center for Student Involvement, which, along with Student Development and Counseling Services, co-sponsored Dr. Isadora’s visit), a film screening (and Q + A), a Red Tent, and a seminar the next day that was part of a Psychology of Women and Gender class. Needless to say, it was a busy couple of days! I (Jayleigh) was able to attend three of these events, since I live nearby in Rhode Island; it was the first time since the film’s premiere in September 2012 that I had seen Dr. Isadora in person.

The Red Tent was set up in the Tap Room in RISD’s Memorial Hall, which is one of the school’s community spaces. Fabric (including a red parachute that formed the ceiling) was clipped to light fixtures and pipes, forming an enclosed tent space within the larger room. It needed to be expanded several times to accommodate the large numbers of students that were expected.

As Dr. Isadora answered students’ questions about her work, and about how she got from being a sculpture major ten years ago to being the maker of an award-winning film about women’s community spaces, I realized how relevant what she was saying was to my own life. She emphasized the importance of creativity in leadership, not taking no for an answer, and collaboration via talent exchange. My goals and passions do not easily fit into pre-defined societal boxes, and it’s been all too easy to give up on myself—Dr. Isadora’s talk inspired me to keep looking for unique solutions to what seem like intractable problems.

Towards the end of the talk, which was attended by students, staff, and faculty, community members began trickling in for the movie screening. There was a short break while the room was rearranged, and then the film began. It was the first time I had seen it since 2012, and it was particularly special to watch it while sitting in the same room as three friends, each from a different part of my life (Dr. Isadora, a friend from graduate school, and a friend I know from women’s groups).

Only a few women stayed for the Red Tent; we all seemed to be tired and we only made it through two rounds of the veil dancing ritual. Nevertheless, the beauty and power of the ritual came through. I felt as I danced that I had for a time become again an ancient priestess, able to direct life energy through the swirling veils as they became extensions of my hands, blessing the women who lay on the ground beneath me.

Yes, women’s community is alive and well.

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Bringing the World into the Red Tent and the Red Tent into the World

Dr. Isadora doing a radio interview

by Jayleigh Lewis

March 2014 was a month of expansion for the Red Tent movie: Things We Don’t Talk About. Isadora, the filmmaker, attended three screenings during the middle two weeks of the month, from which she gathered inspiration to think bigger and more broadly about the unique role the movie can play in growing the Red Tent movement.

On March 9th, she visited Prescott, Arizona, for a screening held on the campus of Prescott College. Prescott is a small city in northern Arizona that nevertheless boasts a strong women’s community. The screening was organized by Rosalie, a student at the College who is in the midst of an independent study on menstrual customs and traditions. When she discovered the Red Tent movie, she invited Isadora to come to campus for a screening. Originally intended only for members of Rosalie’s class, the event expanded to include local community members as well.

The film screening and following Red Tent took place in a multipurpose auditorium with removable folding chairs, which quickly filled with about 30 women, a mixture of students and community members. Each woman, on her way in, had passed through a Red Tent entrance affixed to the exterior of the brick building, marking the portal to intentional space. The event, according to Isadora, was a lot of fun. The veil dancing ritual that originated in Escondido, California, was offered to this group as well, the largest group it had yet been offered to. Women in groups of 10 or 12 took turns dancing around the two women lying in the center, offering their energy playfully and joyfully along with the floating, waving fabric they held. When the event was over, women didn’t want to leave. Two new Red Tents were birthed to help hold and strengthen the expanding streams of energy: one that will be hosted by a woman who lives in nearby Sedona, and one that will continue meeting at the College, hosted by Rosalie.

Isadora’s next stop was Henderson, Nevada, on March 14th, for a screening held in a private home for members of Carpa Roja Templo Las Vegas, a Latina Red Tent group. Most of the members of this group speak only Spanish. This was Isadora’s first time attending a screening where the movie was shown with Spanish subtitles. Nelly, the group leader, who had been inspired to start this group after attending another Red Tent in Las Vegas, was the host. Most striking about this screening, which was attended by 10-15 women, were the connections that were made even across language barriers.

The movie was well-received. The idea of the Red Tent seemed to make perfect sense to the women present, even though in many ways they live in a culture different from that of the women they were watching on-screen.

It’s said that the Red Tent doesn’t discriminate: the only thing you need to enter is to be a woman. For Isadora, this was a powerful experience of the truth of that statement. For the first time, she saw personally the instrumentality of the film in carrying this truth to diverse communities. Things We Don’t Talk About makes concrete the accessible and universal qualities of the Red Tent.

A Q& A session followed the screening, during which Nelly served as translator for Isadora. A 12-year-old girl who spoke only Spanish was present. Isadora gifted her a hair flower from the for-sale table and, despite the girl’s shyness, took the time to honor her in front of the group, for her presence as a young person carrying the future of the community. What might this girl grow up to do or to be, having known from an early age the power of women’s community?

Dr. Isadora with Radio host Monica for “Mujeres Conscientes”

Questions like these are part of the life’s work of Monica, another woman who was present at the gathering. She is the host of a Spanish-language radio show, Mujeres Conscientes (“Conscious Women”), which focuses on women’s empowerment. She works in the local community to empower young Latinas and Latinos, as a way of beginning to heal long-standing societal wounds. Inspired by the film, and wanting to use it in her work, she invited Isadora to speak on her radio show a few days after the screening. Isadora, her words translated into Spanish by Monica’s daughter, Andrea, spoke on-air about the Red Tent movement. The message perhaps reached many who had never heard it before, carrying the welcome of being delivered in their native language.

On March 15th, Isadora attended the Aspire: Women of Courage conference, a small, daylong event held in a hotel just off the Las Vegas Strip. She hosted a small film screening at the end of the day. However, most notable for her were the words of keynote speaker Debbie Allen, who spoke about women’s business and marketing. She encouraged Isadora to “go big” with her work, to think more broadly about how to effectively reach women with the message of the Red Tent. Upon returning home from Las Vegas, Isadora put in about 100 hours of work over five to six days, in preparation for the upcoming unveiling of some exciting new projects. (Check out the map of Red Tents worldwide—it’s been updated!)

Coming soon: Red Tent TV! This new project will feature short videos, less than a minute long each, containing never-before-seen footage from the filming of Things We Don’t Talk About. Why should the 399 hours of film that didn’t make it into the finished movie go to waste? This weekly outreach will keep Red Tent consciousness fresh in the minds and hearts of women (and men), perhaps to inspire new Red Tents to be born in communities all over the world.

The movement continues to expand, gathering energy with each word spoken, each Red Tent begun, each woman heard. More than large enough to embrace all our diversity, may it be a place where world becomes home and home becomes world.

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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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Coast to Coast Screenings

By Jayleigh Lewis

After a December hiatus, Isadora, filmmaker of the Red Tent Movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, was back in attendance at several movie screenings during January 2014.

First up was the Washington, D.C. premiere (one of two for the month, the other being the Kentucky premiere) on January 12th. Sponsored by Birch Moon, an emerging community healing space created by local woman Teresa Duncan, the event was a double feature with two screenings and two Red Tents held back to back. The basement of a home was transformed into a Red Tent space packed with attendees, many of whom were members of two Red Tent communities in the area (Bethesda, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia, both of which were featured in the film). Isadora described the event as low-key and authentic, a gathering of women who enjoyed meaningful networking, good food, and relaxed socializing.

Later in the month, Isadora visited California and attended two more screenings. The first, on January 24th in Topanga Canyon, took place at a home within the canyon. Winding roads led attendees to the top of a mountain; getting to the screening was an adventure in itself! The Topanga Canyon Red Tent community (led by Megan Greene), which has been meeting in the area for the past three years, hosted the event. Twenty women enjoyed the combined screening and Red Tent gathering; these included women of Iranian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Mexican descent, making it quite a diverse group. Isadora noted the beauty of hearing many different languages spoken in the Red Tent.

Red Tent Screening, Topanga, CA. Photo by iX-CheL

Red Tent Screening, Topanga, CA. Photo by iX-CheL

The women literally wove themselves together during the talking circle, using a ball of red yarn which they passed across and around, forming a web that grew as each woman spoke. Introducing herself by calling in the names of her matrilineal ancestors, every woman had an opportunity to share what was happening in her life through the lenses of joy and compassion, the themes of the gathering. This was especially poignant for Isadora, whose maternal grandmother passed away in December 2013. “I am Isadora, daughter of Teresa Moorehouse, daughter of Ella Knapp, daughter of Rita Haviland,” she said when it was her turn, affirming the abiding strength of the women whose love helped form the foundation of her life.

The love and strength of the mother-daughter bond was shown in another deeply immediate and tangible form when the mother of host Megan Greene, who is pregnant with her first child, shared with great pride and joy how good it feels to witness and be present with her daughter as she holds life within her body. Matrilineal links are not only something from the past; they are being forged all the time.

The second California screening took place the next day in Canoga Park, at a clubhouse within a retirement community. It was sponsored by the House of the Goddess, a women’s organization that also hosted the Goddess Spirit Rising conference in September 2013. Laura and Delphine (Duffy), leaders of the organization, met Isadora when she attended a Red Tent Movie screening at the conference and asked her to return for another screening for their community. Although the screening and following Red Tent was only attended by about 10 women, due to many members of the community being sick with the flu, Isadora described the experience as fun.

Canoga Park, CA Red Tent Screening.

Canoga Park, CA Red Tent Screening.

Some highlights include:

–One attendee, who is a belly dancer, taught and led a session of belly dance.

–Duffy shared a guided meditation CD she created, leading women through what it might be like to be inside a moon lodge or menstrual hut in ancient times. The CD was such a hit that Isadora was inspired to make it available for sale (coming soon), so more women can have the experience.

–Women participated in an activity seeking to turn the concept of “mean girls,” girls and women who engage in negative self-talk and corresponding destructive behavior, on its head. Phrases that encapsulated the mindset of a “mean girl,” such as, “I’m not good enough,” or, “I gossip about others to make myself feel better,” were placed in a bowl. When women drew them out, they offered a countering message for each, turning them into positive self-talk and constructive, empowering actions.

And that wraps up the January screenings; more screenings to come next month!

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September and October Movie Screenings Showcase Healing, Celebration, and Inspiration

By Jayleigh Lewis

Screenings of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, continued throughout September and October 2013, showcasing the variety of ways women have created space for the spirit and vision of the movie to grow and weave itself into their lives. Isadora, the filmmaker, attended many of these screenings, where she witnessed and participated in profound moments as well as moments of celebration and inspiration.

The Red Tent movie is rich in personal stories, both those that were featured on-screen and those that arose from the making of the film. In the course of recent screenings, some of those stories were shared and expanded upon. On September 14th, Lushanya, who appears in the film, hosted a screening at the Community Church of Hope in Phoenix, Arizona. During a post-screening Red Tent talking circle, the women sat in age order (ranging from 18 to 80) while Lushanya shared a follow-up to her story from the film.

Red Tent & Screening in Phoenix, AZ

Red Tent & Screening in Phoenix, AZ

Speaking about being raped at age 7 was difficult for her, but she chose to make her story public for the movie. After she was interviewed by Isadora, she realized she still had healing work to do. She decided to return to her hometown in northern California, to the house where the rape had occurred. She carried pink roses and a letter she had written about her experience. When she got to the house, she saw that there were children living there. She left the roses and her letter on the doorstep, with the intention of healing any negative energy that remained. The next day, she came back and saw the roses on display in a window. Lushanya’s healing intention had been accepted; participating in the Red Tent movie had set into motion her courageous act.

A personal story came full circle for Isadora at the September 27th screening in Madison, Wisconsin. In March 2009, she was walking an indoor labyrinth with a friend inside the First United Methodist Church in Madison. A confessional stood next to the labyrinth, and Isadora entered. There, she confessed to the universe that she needed an idea for her next film, was feeling the pressure from her Ph.D. committee, and had no clue what to do. She completely surrendered to the universe in that moment, trusting that the idea would come. The next morning, she got an email from ALisa Starkweather, asking if she’d like to do a PR video for the Red Tent. Then and there, the first seeds of what would become the Red Tent movie were planted. Isadora told this story at September’s screening in that same church, acknowledging the grace that allowed her to return with the finished film to the very place where it all started.

Red Tent & Screening at the United Methodist Church, Madison, WI

Red Tent & Screening at the United Methodist Church, Madison, WI

Complementing these momentous journeys and transformations were times of great fun and celebration. On a very hot September 13th in Riverside, California, a far western suburb of Los Angeles, in the desert, a Red Tent movie screening was held in a small belly dance studio called the Body Temple. Kathie, a midwife and doula who hosts Red Tents, invited women from two separate Red Tent communities to come together; the screening was packed. Underneath a giant red parachute which served as the Red Tent’s roof for the evening, women drummed passionately post-screening, and participated in tribal dancing led by the studio’s owner.

Red Tent & Screening in Riverside, CA

Red Tent & Screening in Riverside, CA

On September 15th, the Red Tent movie celebrated its first birthday at a screening in New River, Arizona. A small party was held inside the venue, the Peaceful Spirit Enrichment Center, complete with balloons and women posing for photos!

Lunapads, a producer of woman-friendly reusable menstrual pads and an early endorser of the movie, hosted the second-ever screening to take place in Canada in its Vancouver headquarters on September 22nd. Owners Madeleine and Suzanne teamed up with author, shamanic practitioner, and “menstrual priestess” Nikiah Seeds to put the event together. Nikiah led the Red Tent gathering after the movie, inside a womb-like space with a unique feature: thousands of cloth maxi pads decorating the walls! Also in attendance was Jasmin Starrchild, founder of the Red Moon Medicine Movement, longtime host of Red Tents in Canada and the Pacific Northwest, and one of the women who appears in the Red Tent movie.

Red Tent & Screening at Lunapads, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Red Tent & Screening at Lunapads, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

As it is screened in more and more locations, the film’s visibility and reach grows. On October 16th it was shown at the New York City Independent Film Festival, and on October 24th and 25th it premiered in Israel. Zohar, who runs a Red Tent in Tel Aviv, hosted the dual screenings, which sold out with 120 women present each night. For the occasion, the film was shown with Hebrew subtitles; it was the first screening to feature them.

The breadth and depth of the ways women come together continues to be reflected in the diversity of Red Tent movie screenings around the world; may the creative, transformative power of the film continue!

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Creativity was in abundance at August screenings

by Jayleigh Lewis

Creativity was in abundance at screenings of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, during the first weekend of August 2013.

On Friday, August 2nd, the interfaith women’s organization Gaia’s Womb commenced their annual summer women’s retreat in Racine, Wisconsin, a small town on the shore of Lake Michigan. Angie, one of the founders and current director of Gaia’s Womb (as well as pagan minister and women’s spiritual leader), planned this year’s retreat around the theme of the Red Tent. She invited ALisa Starkweather, founder of the Red Tent movement, and Isadora Leidenfrost, Red Tent movie filmmaker, to attend as special guests and presenters.

The weekend-long retreat began with the film screening, the first screening since last September’s premiere to feature the presence of both ALisa and Isadora. Many of the small group of approximately 20 women had attended this annual retreat together for years, but almost none had previously heard of Red Tents. They were in for a treat as they gathered in one of the buildings of Racine’s DeKoven Center, surrounded by architecture evocative of cathedrals and old-style universities.

Unbeknownst to the attendees, at Angie’s direction, the retreat’s coordinators were creating a Red Tent space for the attendees following the film screening. The next morning, the women arrived into this space, finding as if by magic a sacred temple prepared for them. ALisa led one of that day’s workshops, giving the women a firsthand experience of the passion at the heart of the Red Tent movement.

Screening in Indianapolis, IN

Screening in Indianapolis, IN

Meanwhile, Isadora was off to Indianapolis, Indiana, for another movie screening that Saturday, August 3rd. The local chapter of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess – International (a Goddess-centered, legally recognized religion serving the women’s spiritual community, and one of the endorsers of the Red Tent movie) hosted the screening, as well as a Red Tent gathering, inside a church. Grace and Lia, the organizers, prepared some very unique activities for the gathering.

CabbageThe highlight, according to Isadora, was an activity involving vegetables. Small groups of participants each received a different vegetable which had been cut in half. They were given the instruction to look closely at their vegetable and describe its characteristics, with an eye to seeing it as if for the first time. Each group created a synthesis of their observations and shared it with the gathering as a whole.

Collective expressions ranged from lists to poetry; Isadora’s group wrote a poem inspired by a purple-and-white cabbage:

In life we see life & the many layers

all is connected, a labyrinth

Limbs extended, a woman gives birth

Eight arms for her roles

Center is protected by multiple layers

When placed core to core a spider is formed to weave the breath of life

The spine supports

the ribs wrap; the breasts feed

A tree reaches

Layers are the age of the cruciferous vegetable

revealing the organs to digest experience.

It is a Red Tent.

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The white part of the halved cabbage had transformed in the group members’ imaginations into a woman raising her arms; the purple part had transformed into veil-like layers of fabric hung for a Red Tent. A second image emerged when they put the two halves of the cabbage together core to core: a white spider, limbs outstretched, against a purple background. More images, simultaneously suggestive of a tree and a woman’s body, revealed themselves when the outsides of the two halves were held side by side.

According to Isadora, the process was mind-blowing. This activity and another (a meditation that invited women to listen to sounds from nature with eyes closed) assisted Red Tent participants in expanding their perceptions beyond habit, in reaching toward the beauty of everyday sights and sounds. The fresh perceptions that emerged spoke to the ways in which women’s community is rooted in the natural world as well as the ways in which all life is connected. It was a clear affirmation of the creative power of women coming together!

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