Tag Archives: Red Tent women

Shall I Drive You To The Red Tent?

By DeAnna L’am, © All Rights Reserved

How would the world be different if girls growing up today had a Red Tent to go to, in their own neighborhood? 
Many of us would love to see a Red Tent where our daughters, stepdaughters, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, or any cherished girl in our life — could regularly find a haven.“Yes, but who would hold such Red Tents for them?” you may ask… and the inevitable answer is: YOU!
Imagine your girl coming home from school. She feels tired. She is actually crabby, and the sullen look on her face warns you to keep your distance. Throwing her backpack on the floor she runs into her room, not interested in answering any of your questions about her day. Her shoes fly off her feet, one at a time, on her way up the stairs, and land randomly on the floor. Her door is slammed shut, and you are not welcomed inside. You want to ask her about her feelings, to understand what is going on, but the door’s message is clear, and you know it will not open for a while…

Imagine, though, that you had a magical key to this closed door… Imagine softly knocking and whispering to your girl: “Shall I drive you to the Red Tent?” Imagine her door flying open, her eyes meeting yours, a sigh of relief rushing out of her mouth: “Oh, thank goodness! I’ve just got my period!” Imaging the two of you getting in the car, since it feels too cold to walk the otherwise pleasant road to the nearby woods. You likely wouldn’t talk much during the short drive, since your girl clearly wants to be quiet. She curls up on the passenger seat and closes her eyes. You arrive at your destination in no time.

The Red flaps of the Tent are hanging down to keep the warmth in, and you lift them to allow your girl to walk in first. It feels like walking into a different world. It is blissfully quiet. You start lighting a few candles while your girl walks up to the pile of red blankets and grabs three of them. She sinks onto a mattress in the corner, and huddles under the blankets, letting all the air out of her lungs. She knows you are busy making her a cup of herbal tea. This is a familiar routine… You’ve been here many times before, and the roles have changed back and forth between you: barely two weeks ago it was you who flopped gratefully on a mat and curled into a ball under a pile of red blankets, while your 13-year-old was skillfully brewing a cup of Raspberry Leaf tea to soothe your womb and soul.

This is an easy reality to imagine… And, as surprisingly as it may seem to you, it is also an easy one to live! This can become a reality for you, and for your daughter, stepdaughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, or a cherished girl in your life, since it is up to You, up to Each Of Us, to make it so! A Red Tent in your neighborhood is only as distant as the limitation your mind puts on it. It is as close as your belief in its possibility!

We can make this a reality in our life time! You can create a Red Tent in your living room, in your back yard, in a friend’s home, in a nearby forest, meadow or beach. It can be made of anything: you can pitch a camping tent, or raise a tipi. You can drape Red cloths from tree branches, or build a yurt. The outer structure is not nearly as important as the space it holds inside — a space in which permission is given to simply BE…

Nothing is more essential than this: we need spaces where we can BE when we flow, either alone or in the company of other women. Anything beyond this is luxury (and we can create luxury, of course we can!) but lets not make luxury become the reason for not having a Red Tent right now. Lets remember the bare necessities: Space and Permission. And these, my sister, you can provide for yourself, for your girl, for your community – right now!

© by DeAnna L’am, All Rights Reserved
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DeAnna L’am, speaker, coach, and trainer, is author of ‘Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood’ and ‘A Diva’s Guide to Getting Your Period’. She is founder of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women & Girls™, and of Red Tents In Every Neighborhood Global Network!

A pioneer in Menstrual Empowerment, DeAnna has been transforming women’s and girls’ lives around the world for over 20 years. She teaches women how to love themselves unconditionally; how to dissolve PMS symptoms and draw spiritual strength from their cycle (rather than be at its mercy); and how to hold Red Tents in their communities. Visit her at: www.deannalam.com

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From Gender Resister to Red Tent Sister

By Christina Mellen

I came to the Red Tent through a circuitous route. If anyone could have told me twenty years ago in my college days that I would passionately participate in a group that celebrates the womb, that perilous territory hotly contested by both religion and politics, well, I would never have believed them.  I was too busy spiking my hair and enrolling in Women’s Studies classes, absorbing the falsely empowering doctrine that gender is simply a construct of society that we as a rational society would, in some unrealized future, evolve beyond.
Fast forward twenty years, and I am engaged in a conversation with a female friend a few years younger, but with the same preconceived notion. When I invited her to visit the Red Tent that had just begun meeting in her community, she responded “I don’t participate in gender-based groups.” She then shared a story about teaching children to knit in her art class. She said she won’t offer the class until just as many boys sign up as girls, and surprisingly the boys seem just as interested. She says she doesn’t see gender, and I feel torn.

The part of me still stubbornly clinging to the ideals of feminism-though I’m often told they are as outdated as my k.d. lang-styled bolo tie- wants to agree with her. However, soon after college, many of my feminist friends went on to get married and have children, heeding the calling of that anatomy that our philosophical musings about the nature of woman left out in the cold. I did not feel a great emotional or psychological need to procreate so I got along fine disowning this part of my embodied self, thanks to the modern miracle of the birth control pill.

Since then I have been married and divorced. I have explored women’s spirituality groups led by wise women in herb shops who seemed full of New Age joy but soon proved to be post-menopausal man-bashers. I found my own “Ya Ya sisterhood” of women writers and poets who worshiped the Goddess on seasonal holidays.  I’ve hollered, hooted and cried communally at “The Vagina Monologues.” But it wasn’t until a fellow Goddess worshiper at my Unitarian church begged me for several consecutive months to come to Red Tent that I started having something to look forward to once a month instead something to cyclically gripe about. Over the last two years of sharing space and stories, solace and soup, in community with women in various stages in their fertility cycle, my own silenced womb has begun to speak in its own voice and I have begun to listen.

At forty-one I am finally contemplating the place that nurturing has in my life now and may have in the future. An early identifier with the option not to have children, I am in a place of openness, honesty and consideration about this life choice. When I read the novel by Anita Diamante that holds the same title as this growing national movement, I was drawn to the womens’ sisterhood and strength and the way they maintained their sacred secret world, honoring the Goddess under the noses of the patriarchy. I longed for that closeness, that solidarity. I loved the sensuality of birth- among these experienced women, I imagined I would be less fearfully fear facing my own travail.

The reality of this growing force of mutual empowerment–connecting through our common experience and witnessing each other’s differences without judgment–surpassed the serene escape of fiction. At the Red Tent each month, we share and create our own story. We check our titles and egos, fears and fierceness, at the door, and enter into vulnerability and introspection together. Among the crimson tapestries and candlelight so lovingly and artfully arranged by familiar hands in acts of service and joy, we can finally lay down our arms, breathing a little more deeply. In that vulva cathedral, the weight and expectations of the world are far away.

And when we emerge each month self-renewed, our cups filled, we find we have more to give back to our jobs, family and loved ones. We find we are changing the world by finally asking the questions that academic and political feminism shied away from—defining ourselves as women not by our past or by the roles we refuse, but by who we are now and who we are becoming—a more compassionate and empowered society than our embattled grandmothers could ever have imagined.

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Threads of Red: Quilt #3

by Womanspace, 3333 Maria Linden Drive, Rockford, IL 61114 • 815-877-0118 • womanspace-rockford.org

Threads of Red Quilt #3

Quilt squares made by Marie Dowdle, Delores Burkholder, Anne Johnson, Marnie Michels, Becki Dennis, Sarah Ketteler, Cindy Hughes, Kathy Flanagan, E. Hirschenberger, Mary Stiles, Nan Miller, and Jan Henningsen

Threads of Red Quilt #3

Threads of Red Quilt #3

Threads of Red Quilt #3

Threads of Red Quilt #3

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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.

www.entente-feminine.com
http://ententefeminine.wordpress.com

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

Sous la Tente Rouge

par Jacqueline Riquez

(We will feature the English translation of this story in the next post in 2 weeks).

La première fois que je me suis retrouvée dans une Tente Rouge, c’était comme recevoir une décharge électrique : très puissant et difficile à ignorer! Et en même temps il y avait quelque chose de si évident, si frappant, dans cette expérience, que j’avais la conviction intime d’avoir contacté quelque chose qui remontait à l’Origine, bien avant la connaissance. J’avais déjà eu ce sentiment-là, en portant de l’eau d’un puits avec une autre femme, un flash intense de mémoire atavique, le plus profond sentiment de déjà-vu imaginable. Ce soir-là, sous la lumière tamisée de la Tente Rouge, j’ai entendu des femmes livrant les vérités les plus puissantes, qui résonnaient au plus profond de mon âme.  Elles évoquaient le sang des lunes et les mots semblaient ouvrir un barrage en moi… Je suis partie cette nuit-là  l’esprit dynamisé et bien que je sois rentrée à minuit passé, il se passades heures avant que le sommeil ne m’emporte. ‘Je dois fabriquer ma propre Tente Rouge, c’est ce que je dois faire.’ C’était comme un appel au clairon : très puissant et difficile à ignorer!

Je devrais expliquer que la Tente Rouge à laquelle j’ai assisté ici en France se passait littéralement dans une tente, même si celle-là était plutôt basique. Pour ma propre tente, j’ai emprunté la même conception et puis je me suis laissée aller dans la fantaisie : n’imaginez pas une tente pour le camping, mais plutôt une tente somptueuse de nomades, remplie de coussins, de couvertures, de bougies, de soies drapées et un air de décadence, comme si un sérail de femmes magnifiques allaient débarquer – et c’est le cas! Elle fait 3 mètres sur 3, un mètre de haut sur les côtés et 1,40m au centre et même si c’est une tente, elle reste à l’intérieur. On tient à 11 personnes dedans pour rester confortable. J’ai commencé à la fabriquer dans les jours qui suivirent cette toute première Tente Rouge. J’ai cousu et j’ai cousu encore, presque un kilomètre de fil rouge. Ma petite apprenait tout juste à rouler sur le côté et je la posais par terre à un bout de la pièce, puis je courais à ma machine à l’autre bout et là, je cousais comme une Furie, en regardant par-dessus mon épaule tandis qu’elle roulait en rigolant vers moi. Dés qu’elle arrivait, je la ramenais à l’autre bout du salon et on recommençait. Ma première tente s’est cousue pendant que ma fille était à mes trousses. Ma deuxième Tente, encore plus belle, a eu son inauguration il y a une semaine. Je suis tombée amoureuse d’un tissu trouvé à Notre Dame des Sans-Abri et je savais qu’il était destiné à ma Tente Rouge. Chaque tissu était chiné dans des vide-greniers, à Notre-Dame ou à Emmaüs et je me réjouis de savoir que toutes ces étoffes ont déjà voyagé et  vécu d’autres vies.

Il y a quelque chose dans cet espace chaleureux et sacré qui invite l’intimité. Les femmes disent souvent, avec la conviction d’initiées, que c’est comme si elles se retrouvaient dans un utérus. Les langues se délient, les défenses se  relâchent et nous pouvons toutes déposer nos fardeaux. En général, je n’aime pas être dans des espaces confinés et  d’autres femmes qui sont venues sous la Tente avaient la même difficulté. Or il y a quelque chose dans cet espace matriciel d’un rouge profond qui refuse toute comparaison claustrophobe :  on se sent contenu mais pas confiné, sécurisé mais pas suffoqué.  Je commence en rappelant à toutes que ce qui se dit sous la Tente, reste sous la Tente. Je les invite à partager brièvement ce avec quoi elles viennent : personne n’est obligé de parler mais par respect pour l’énergie du groupe chacune est invitée à dire où elle en est – ‘ça ne va pas très fort pour moi aujourd’hui et je ne sais pas si je vais parler beaucoup’ – cela peut s’entendre. On convient d’une heure de fin ensemble et puis c’est parti : c’est rare que je doive lancer la discussion ou empêcher quelqu’un de trop parler. Il n’y a pas besoin de bâton de parole. Je facilite si besoin mais je ne dirige pas, bien que je serve du thé, des gâteaux faits-maison et un stock essentiel de chocolat. La parole coule : des fois nous parlons de nos lunes, de l’accouchement, de sexe : ce qui vient est juste. A la fin, nous faisons passer un ruban rouge autour de nos poignets pour nous rappeler notre lien sacré. Alors que je tape ce texte, il reste encore à mon poignet des rubans des Tentes de ces derniers mois : je suis encore reliée aux 20 autres femmes par ce satin rouge.

Je propose des Tentes Rouges toutes les trois semaines, afin de visiter toutes les phases de la Lune au bout de quatre séances. Cela me paraît plus ‘démocratique’ vu que nous n’avons plus nos Lunes toutes ensemble. L’énergie qui découle de ces différentes phases est parfois tangible : à la Pleine Lune, nous sommes souvent assez fébriles, excitées, canalisant des énergies assez sexuelles, nous rions jusqu’aux larmes ; à la Nouvelle Lune nous sommes plus calmes, plus pensives, la face cachée de nos propres natures émerge. Si je contribue à quelque chose, c’est d’encourager les femmes à prendre conscience de leurs propres « saisons » et de les relier à celles de la Lune, mais aussi aux saisons de l’année solaire ainsi que celles de leurs vies de femme. J’ai pu ressentir cette incroyable connexion avec les cycles de la vie très récemment : j’étais dans l’automne de mon cycle (pré-menstruelle), la Lune était décroissante et à la fin de son cycle, les feuilles flamboyaient aux arbres environnants, et à 42 ans, je me sens à l’automne de ma vie de femme – j’ai fini de faire des bébés mais je vis toute la plénitude de cette période. Voici ce que je ressens si fortement dans ma vie quand ces quatre éléments sont alignés ainsi : le sentiment profond d’être où je dois être.

Je remplis les thermos d’eau chaude pour les innombrables tasses de thé et de tisane que nous boirons ensemble, je brûle de la sauge et du Palo Santo, je prépare les bougies, je redonne leur forme aux coussins une dernière fois… Je respire profondément et je murmure ma prière : « Au feu par-dessus et à la terre par-dessous, à l’air qui nous entoure et la rivière qui coule en nous, à notre Père le Ciel et notre Mère la Terre, à la lumière fraîche de Notre-Dame la Lune et la caresse chaude du soleil, aux liens affectifs qui me contiennent, à tout ce dont je fais partie et à tout ce qui fait partie de moi : je me présente à vous et vous invoque. Nous sommes tous un seul être. » Maintenant je suis prête. Je me lève et j’invite les femmes qui attendent dans l’autre pièce à me rejoindre sous les jupes soyeuses de la Tente Rouge. Nous sommes où nous devons être.

www.entente-feminine.com
http://ententefeminine.wordpress.com

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Bone Knowing: No Question

by Oceana Leblanc

Something I know in my body has placed me around the picture that I witness being colored and splashed, and painted with brushes from this world and most certainly others.  I frame it.  This is the only way I can think to describe my journey with the Red Tent, which began decades before I met the physical raising up of my own commitment to honor the sacred wisdom of women.

Roughly fifteen years or Oceana LaBlanc and Alisa Starkweather, Red Tent Temple, Grafton, MAso before I had even heard the words ‘red tent’ uttered, I found a book that changed my relationship with my moon cycles and my blood forever.  “Her Blood Is Gold” touched my soul and I began to embrace my own sacred blood secretly, wondering if anyone would think I was crazy for using flannel pads and watering my plants with my moontime blood.  The comfort of bleeding onto a soft cloth after years of tampons and ibuprofen was a great relief and brought me into a more intimate and loving relationship with my body than I had known.

More exciting to me was the thought that my blood could heal this earth, and was a gift and an offering of the greatest value.  At the time there was an innate knowing, much like the knowledge that I was absolutely committed to holding a space for a red tent when the idea emerged as an invitation.  There was no hesitation, only an intense commitment and a knowledge that this had been waiting for me patiently for years…maybe lifetimes.

“A life of its own” is how I like to describe the red tent, clichés be damned.  There seems to be an Energy that will live the red tent into being and gather women all over this tiny dirtball flying around in the universe.  That Energy seemed to know me and gather me up in Her path towards calling Her own daughters home.  I went so willingly and to this day am grateful.

I have had the deep pleasure, privilege, and honor of meeting so many women over the years I’ve held the red tent.  Standing in awe as each brings her wisdom which is unique to her, and claims her place in the circle.  I have watched the red tent transform lives, and seen it ripple outward to families and communities.  Today I see this thread that is spinning a cohesive bond among women that gather and know each other. A simple statement to be sure, knowing each other, but in today’s world, this is a profound and earth shifting reclamation.

The women come and some get that feel in their bones and ask me to teach them how.  I am overjoyed!  Yes, weave more.  Yes, create new stitches with your own flourish.  Yes, bring your women together and heal.  Yes, you are wise beyond your own knowing, for until you sit in circle with your sisters, mothers, daughters, and grandmothers,  and speak your heart into women’s listening…until then, the silence of your wisdom is one more little death.  Once you begin to unfurl your dreams, and listen in sacred space to other women, the mystery of our collective power to heal each other and this world becomes quite real.

What is the red tent?  I don’t believe it can be captured as a thing, but rather it is a remembrance, a rhythm, a celebration, an affirmation, a reclamation, an honoring, an herstorical rising, a gathering together, a calling, a dreaming, a gestation, labor and birthing of the feminine from Herself unto Herself, gifting humanity with new hope…one woman by one woman by one woman.  It is quiet revolution gathering up loose threads to cradle hope until she becomes strong enough to look a new world in the eye and claim it as her own.

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", friendship, growing up, Her Blood is Gold, memory, menstruation, moontime, place, red tent, red tent experience, red tent temple, Red Tent Temple Movment, space, story