Tag Archives: red tents

The Red Tent has a history, but what is it?

Women often ask these questions when they discover red tents.

  • Was there a Red Tent in history?
  • Why do women need Red Tents?
  • There’s a Red Tent movement, where?
  • How am I a part of it?

Learn the surprising history of the Red tent. A new eBook & Audiobook titled “The Red Tent Movement: A Historical Perspective” by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD and ALisa Starkweather.

ebook-cover(new-subtitle)

An excerpt from the eBook:

There are thousands of women across the globe who are bringing forth their gifts as Red Tent leaders in their communities. Women who are standing in their power are essential to shifting present paradigms; these pioneers are a balm to an ailing world. But after years of oppression, how do women rise up out of trauma to remember the beauty that lives at one’s core? How do we strip away that which prevents us from rising as wise female leaders? This reclamation work is what many are a part of because when we find our voices, our inspired action, and our needed vision then we stand a better chance at creating a world we can thrive in. And it is with this spirit that the Red Tent movement has flourished as a global phenomenon.

Most women have heard of the Red Tent because they read the book. The Red Tent was novel by Anita Diamant, published in 1997 that gave us a story of women who come together in a menstrual hut, known as the Red Tent. In the story, Diamant retells the biblical rape story of Dinah. “The Rape of Dinah” (Genesis, chapter 34) was recounted not by Dinah, but by her brothers. Diamant provided a fictional feminist retelling of the tale, giving Dinah her own voice. The book is presented through Dinah’s eyes and those of the women around her. The story showed us how the women raised young daughters who were taught the secrets held for women by women through initiation, stories, and relationships. For many, the story resonated deeply and caused us to question if there was a place like this in our society.

The Red Tent novel originally did not have a great impact on women’s lives. This began to change when the author herself initiated a word-of-mouth campaign by giving copies away to Rabbis, female Christian leaders, and independent booksellers. This approach proved successful, and by 2002 The Red Tent had become a New York Times bestseller and a publishing phenomenon. The book has since been published in twenty-five countries and translated into twenty languages.

Following the success of the book, Diamant’s number one question from her readers was whether or not the Red Tent ever existed. Here is her quoted response from her website:

It’s important to note that I have never claimed that the women of the Bible actually used a menstrual hut; there is no historical evidence to support such a claim. However, since there have been menstrual tents and huts throughout the pre-modern world, it seemed historically plausible to give them one. The importance of the tent developed in the process of writing, but the idea of making it a place of community, rest, and celebration predates [the book]. Some years prior to starting the book, I heard a lecture by a Jewish writer…who suggested rethinking a biblical law that required separation of a woman from the community for 60 days after the birth of a girl compared to 30 days after the birth of a boy…. This could be seen as a reflection of the notion that girl babies made mothers more “unclean” than boys. The lecturer asked us to consider a different theory, which was far more interesting to me. Perhaps, he said, this was an acknowledgment that giving birth to a birth-giver was a more sacred, a more powerful experience. The extra month could be seen not as a punishment, but as a reward.[i]

Menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions show us that the Red Tent has a history: The idea of a separate women’s space or menstrual hut is not a new idea. Anita Diamant claims that the Red Tent in her book was fictionalized, but is rooted in research from Africa. Menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions shape women’s understanding of the Red Tent as a women’s power space. There are menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions all over the world that date back to 800 C.E and in some places are still practiced today. These spaces offer a unique view of the Red Tent, but do they reinforce or contradict patriarchal oppression?

To READ MORE or for an audio sample of this excerpt or to purchase the eBook/audiobook visit: http://www.redtentmovie.com/audio-book.html

 Guest post by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD and ALisa Starkweather

About the Authors:

Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD is trained as a both a filmmaker, a textile historian, and a feminist folklorist. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She wants to create world where women believe they can accomplish anything and where they have the courage to change the world. She creates multi-media (films, videos, websites, and other designs) to inspire YOU and improve your life! She believes in creating a world that promotes cooperation rather than competition and believes in the value of sisterhood and women’s community. She has a deep love of textile traditions, which is why she has made 13 documentary films about women & fabric. Her award-winning, internationally known red tent movie “Things We Don’t Talk About,” has been keeping her very busy doing hundreds and hundreds of screenings & facilitating life-changing women’s events. www.redtentmovie.com

ALisa Starkweather is the founder of the Red Tent Temple Movement, Daughters of the Earth Gatherings, Women in Power initiations, Priestess Path women’s mystery school, the online Fierce Feminine Life series, and the Women’s Belly and Womb Conference. ALisa is also in the award winning anthology, Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership; Where Grace Meets Power. She has been facilitating women’s empowerment for three decades of her life. www.alisastarkweather.com

This article may not be re-published without permission from the authors. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

[i] Diamant, Anita. Website. Accessed Sunday November 1, 2009.

http://anitadiamant.com/?page_id=320

A Yearning for Woman-space

I find myself yearning at this my moon time, for woman-space, for the rhythm of women, the flow. For rhythm. I find myself drawn to spirals and circles and bright colours.

I dream of a red tent, a yurt – a circle space of ornate decoration and luxuriant fabrics.Touching the earth, out in the night air. The owls hooting beyond. It is a primitive experience, a tribal memory that I have never had – one which modern day campsites or large festivals awaken but cannot fulfill.

A space where the women can gather. And sing together. And dance – silk scarves flowing in the air. Beating the drums, shaking the rattles as we shimmy our hips.

Lying on soft cushions, drinking tea. Laughing, crying. Colouring mandalas. Reading aloud to each other passages that inspire us. A fire flickering. A voice begins to sing. A sad song, of lost love and yearning. A poem is spoken and

breaths are held.

Candle light, fairy lights, tea lights – soft, gentle, magical. Showing the softness of each face, each body. Their beauty and sensitivity.
Painting bellies, hands and feet with flowing henna designs.

Here we can howl like wolves, dance naked in the moonlight.

And be, just be. Connected, beautiful, complete.

 

Guest post: Seeing red – going with the flow

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

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

***

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

Welcome to my Red Room.

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

My Red Room.  My own private Red Tent.

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

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

It wasn’t always this way.

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

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

This feeling that something wasn’t right.  That the pain and emotional rollercoaster 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 birthrite.

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 accomodate 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

 To contribute a guest post please see guidelines above. Contact me at lucy@thehappywomb.com

 

 

 

Celebrating the yoni

The Gorgeous Yoni Cushion was born on June 1st 2005 at a tribal Menarche Ceremony in Dorset.

It was passed around a circle of 200 or so women who held the cushion and spoke 3 words to describe their bleeding and their yoni. Young girls caressed its softness and women held its warmth to their wombs as it went around the circle.

The Yoni Cushion connects us to the ancient power of the Goddess Baubo: There is a powerful saying: ‘Dice entre las piernas’, or ‘She speaks from between her legs.” These little ‘between the legs’ stories are found all over the world. Baubo, the name of the ancient goddess from Greece, has older names such as Iambe, and it appears the Greeks borrowed her from far older cultures. There have been archetypal wild Goddesses of sacred sexuality and life/death/life fertility since the beginning of memory. (passage by Clarissa Pinkola Estes) In Greek mythology, Baubo was a female clown who managed to draw laughter from the Goddess Demeter when she was hiding away and withholding the gift of fertility from the world.

We all came from the Gorgeous Yoni and we all have a story to share.

The Gorgeous Yoni Cushion is explicitly detailed and hand-made using silks, cottons, satins and velvets, and stuffed with raw sheep’s wool. All are adorned with beading and gems. Each one is infused with fragrant flowers and herbs and signed and dated by the artist.The Gorgeous Yoni Cushion is a work of art!

What do women use their Yoni Cushions for?

* To decorate their altar space.
* As a ‘talking yoni’ in their women’s groups.
* As a piece of Art! Frames can be ordered to hang your Yoni on the wall.
* To have on their bed.
* and of course…Women can use the Yoni Cushion to show her lover how and where she loves to be touched, men use it to open communication and improve their sexual prowess. Men buy Yoni Cushions for that special woman in their life as a way of honoring her. This usually leads to deeper intimacy and discussions on new erogenous zones and increased sexual satisfaction.

Words and images courtesy of Rachael Hertogs www.moontimes.co.uk