Tag Archives: sacred space

Seeing red – going with the flow

by Ayla Mellani, The Happy Womb

I have developed a fascination with red tents since researching my book Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle, which it turns out, is the first book to document the emerging phenomenon of red tents.

Many women have not heard of them – and so when I discovered Ayla Mellani‘s beautiful post, I knew it would be a great evocative introduction to them for women who do not have a red tent near them and might want to create their own at home.

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It’s been two days of pure bliss.  No distractions.  No interruptions.  Rain and wind outside. Warm woodstove fire inside.  The flicker of candlelight, casting a delicate red hue throughout the room.  Food brought to me on a tray.  Art supplies surrounding my bed.  Red foods, red drink.  Red bliss.

Welcome to my Red Room.

There are red flannel sheets, red pillowcases and a cozy red comforter.  Red candles, red curtains and a red altar cloth.  Even, delicious ruby red beet kvass juice.

My Red Room.  My own private Red Tent.

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

“Moon Time” is a phrase that now rolls off my tongue with ease, spoken with reverence, like a mantra.  It represents my time of monthly retreat and I greet its arrival as I would a long lost friend… with sweet remembrance.  It is an experience of connecting deeply with what makes me a Woman.  It is a time of the most ancient and sacred.  It is a time of communion with my Blood.

It wasn’t always this way.

I, like most women, grew up not being initiated into the Great Mystery of Woman’s Wisdom. My mother, her mother, and her mother before that, had long forgotten these ways.  Many, many, many generations ago, this transmission of wisdom had been lost.  With it, the belief of Woman as Sacred and her Blood as a Gift.

I don’t remember exactly when it began for me.

This feeling that something wasn’t right.  That the pain and emotional roller coaster I felt each month was more a signal that something was off, rather than a normal occurrence of my body’s biology.  Whatever triggered it, I had been called.  And nothing was going to change in my monthly experience of my Blood until I answered.

It has taken me many years of journeying on the path toward remembering and reclaiming the ancient wisdom and truth of my Blood.  With each month/moon the relationship deepens and new levels of spiritual insight are experienced.  In the beginning, there were many layers of untruth that needed to be cleansed and released.  Month after month, moon after moon, layers of shame were shed.

There was shame of bleeding.  Shame of my body.  Shame of being born Woman.

Generations and generations of shame, denigration and denial.  It was as if the flowing of my blood each month carried with it the pain of generations of women in my ancestral line.  As more and more healing was experienced, I opened to a new relationship with my Blood, my Self and the world around me.

I built altars and sacred shrines to my bleeding time.  I stopped wearing tampons, (desiring to feel my flow and not impede the release of blood/emotions).  I changed from using toxic pads that fill our landfills to wearing soft and earth honoring handcrafted cloth.  I began looking at my Blood as life giving and nourishing and collected it each moon to give back to the earth… wisdom taught by many native traditions.

I learned how to move through the guilt of taking time for myself and enjoyed being nurtured by my family.  It challenged our beliefs and the way in which I had created my relationships with them.  The all giving, all loving, never ending mother/woman dynamic shifted.  A new paradigm was born.  I became a woman who had needs, desires and was entitled to rest and experience deep rejuvenation.  My womb and her bleeding demanded it… and so did my family… little did they know.

I devoured books from women who had journeyed before me ~

“Sister Moon Lodge” by Kisma K. Stepanich;

“Blood, Bread and Roses – How Menstruation Created the World” by Judy Grahn;

“The Wise Wound” by Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove;

“Dragontime – Magic and Mytery of Menstruation” by Luisa Francis;

“Moon Lodge” tapes and teachings by Brooke Medicine Eagle

and many, many others.  Each taking me deeper into the mystery of the Blood that was Woman’s birth-rite.

I began the process of taking my blood from the realm of the hidden and profane to the visible and most sacred.  I made necklaces to wear that revealed to my family and friends I was in my “Moon Time”.  I charted my cycle and arranged my life to provide down time when my bleeding arrived.  I became mindful of my language and how I spoke of this sacred experience and consciously chose words that expressed what I was feeling internally.  No more being on the “rag”; or experiencing “the curse”.  I was now “in my power” or on my “moon time”, connecting with the powerful relationship between women and the moon.

When hearing other sisters were in their Moon Time, I spoke softly and bowed deeply to the sacred space they were in.

I reclaimed the ancient practices honored in native cultures for monthly retreats.  Giving my Self permission to empty my cup each month… a cup that held all of the emotions and responsibilities of carrying for all the others in my life.

As my blood flowed, I opened to spontaneous release of emotions, artistic urges, much need sleep, or whatever called from within for expression and replenishment.

I began to notice changes prior to my moon’s arrival.  The messages from within to begin withdrawing from others and start in preparations toward nourishing my Self.  Each “Moon Time” wanted something different and I was remembering how to listen.

My family shifted in priorities during this time to accommodate my time away.  They began to experience first hand what happened when I returned rested and deeply renewed.  I was glowing, sparkly, happy, joyful and so overflowing with the love I had for each of them.  I had so much more energy and vitality.  They also experienced what happened when I did not take this necessary time away.  How angry I was, how frustrated I became, how little I had to give and how resentful I was to be giving it.  It wasn’t long before they were helping me to remember it was time for the Red Room and my Moon Time.

Reclaiming the Wisdom of the Blood is an individual journey for each woman… but one that is collective in need.  It is not only imperative for the releasing of all that we hold for others each month; for the cleansing of what we no longer need; for our rejuvenation at a deep level and for the development of our own spiritual wisdom and insight… but for the healing of the world around us.

There was a time when life revolved around the cycles of Women’s Blood.

When our monthly time was held as sacred.  When the tribe understood the need for our replenishment and honored the spiritual wisdom that was available to us during our retreat.

Community danced in rhythm to women’s rhythms. Life spiraled around the cycles of Moon, Womb and Blood.

The journey with my Blood has brought up deep memories of this wisdom and a longing to share what is possible for each of us, our families and Tribe if… once again… life spiraled around our rhythms.

Sisters… listen to the yearnings of your Blood.  

Hear the call every month to retreat in some way.  Create ways to honor and hold sacred once again the monthly dance of your Moon.  Retreat, build altars, dance, sway, trance, drum, draw, paint, sleep.

The way you see your Self will change. The way you dance in life will change… and because of this… you… dear sister… will change the world.

Blessings of the Blood to you all ~ Ayla

Ayla Mellani, (Founding Mother and Director of Chrysalis Woman) is an ordained Dianic High Priestess, community herbwyfe and CW WomanCraft Practitioner. 

She has been facilitating sacred space for women to gather and remember the Sacred Feminine, Feminist Theory and Wise Woman Ways for over a decade and is completely devoted to helping women awaken to their Sacred Divinity by remembering HER story, experiencing ritual and honoring their Sacred Womb Wisdom and Rites. 

 She guides Women along the Red Thread of Remembrance through her year long WomanCraft and Priestess programs and monthly Goddess Circles and corresponding Goddess Studies.

She is currently working on creating the online Chrysalis Woman School of WomanCraft ~ where all of the CW programs will be available and where Sisters who feel the call to lead in their own communities can become a Certified CW WomanCraft Practitioner and  High Priestess.  Stop by for a visit!  www.chrysaliswoman.com

Personally, she loves growing flower/veggie & herb gardens, belly dancing, yoga, making herbals with the green allies, devouring books, and continues to deepen in her practice of self sufficient, sustainable, cyclical and goddess centered living.

www.facebook.com/chrysaliswoman

www.twitter.com/chrysaliswoman

Republished with permission from the author and The Happy Womb.

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

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.

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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

Why Women and Men need shared Sacred Space

By Hollie B.

I’m tired of the reasoning : it was done in Matriarchal times.

Well, You know what, it’s not matriarchal times anymore. Matriarchal means that Women are on top of the Heirarchy. I’m not interested in having anyone on top. Let’s try equal.

Let me say first, that I feel very strongly about Sacred Space for Women and acknowledge that there is a time and a Space for it. It is a must! Obviously, my Work almost exclusively involves Women’s Only Spaces. I can’t say whether Men need their own exclusive Sacred Space. I’m not a Man. I’m not going to speak for them. But if they want it, Yes, sure go and do it!

What I am talking about in this post is the need for shared Sacred Space as well.

For the past few years there has been major issues around the Australian Goddess Conference’s choice to include Men. I know right, where in the words ‘Australian Goddess Conference’ does it say ‘excludes men’? It doesn’t. The stories of Goddess in all cultures are not specific to Women. Goddesses are Cosmic Women with Universal stories. The lessons in any myth have as much to teach Men as they do Women. Myth is not relevant only to one lot of People. Myth is a story to inspire the Culture of the many.

But there has been a very loud contingent that have complained that Men don’t belong at the Australian Goddess Conference. And I disagree adamantly.

Sacred Spaces for Women exist all over Australia now. Red Tents have become more common. There are gatherings and get togethers and Circles of all kinds, specific to Women.  These are Power-full Spaces for healing and shifting and Being our individual Self.

The Goddess Conference has the ability to reach out to the greater public. It is a first time drop for many People. So far, You could count on two hands the number of men who have attended. But I bet You couldn’t put an evaluation on how much those small number of men received from being in the womb of the Divine Feminine. For that is what we create at the Goddess Conference : a Temple of Sacredness dedicated to the Divine Feminine – who exists in every aspect of our lives, although not always acknowledged.

Shared Sacred Spaces : Men & WomenMen and Women need to share Sacred Space
Yes, many Women are holding wounds from the patriarchy. Yes, many Women are holding old wounds of abuse at the hands of men. And Yes, these wounds are in need of healing.

I’m not suggesting that that pain is not Real. I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t matter. But I will say this. It is time we got over and let go of our wounds, and brought wholeness into our Ways of Being. Stop blaming all men for your grief. Let go. Forgive. Move on.

And there’s another side to things that seems to be avoided in these discussions: Men are grieving too. Men have pain associated with the patriarchy. There are men who feel the loss of separation from the Divine Mother. Who have never been supported in a nurturing Space with the Divine Feminine, able to acknowledge the loss and grief we have all suffered.

There are men who have witnessed abuse. There are men who have stopped it. There are men who nurture their families and might need support around how to hold the Sacred Space of their own families. There are men who wish to sing and drum to the Goddess to fill their Soul. There are men who are ready.

It is not for anyone to say when the Men are ready to come. Trust that the Men who are ready will come. Trust that it happens for a reason and that when we heal together, we are All healed so much faster. The Work of families healing together is Power-full ten-fold to the individual. This ripples straight out to community. That’s Real Transformation.

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 Feminism, Hollie B., international, men in sacred space, red tent, sacred space, space, womanspace