the red tent ~ a place to celebrate our womanhood

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I have just finished my 9 month apprenticeship training with Alexandra Pope called ‘The Way of the Menstrual Cycle;’ a wonderful experience for me – not only a fascinating topic, but also it was the first time in my life I had experienced sitting in a circle, surrounded by a loving wise experienced and supportive group of just women, all sharing their truth. It was so refreshing and honest, frank, deep, funny, and grounding. I learnt so much.

Several of the women I met already hold Red Tent groups around Britain, and the conversation sparked something within me. I had read Anita Diamant’s book ‘The Red Tent’ a couple of years ago, and had dreamed of the possibility of this becoming a reality. And now I know I am not alone. There is now a world-wide Red Tent Movement, which aims to ‘‘seed Red Tent New Moon Circles in every suburb, town, state and country to reawaken the gifts and wisdom of the feminine.’ Even a film has been made about such gatherings of women, called ‘Red Tent Movie – Things we don’t talk about.’

I now feel SO inspired to do something to help my fellow sisters, that I am writing this with the intention to attract other women who share the same passion! I would love your comments about the Red Tent movement, your experiences of circles of women, or if you live in North Wales and would like to come to my new circle…please feel welcome come along.

Visit woman’s wheel for more advice and red tent information by clicking here.

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Traditionally the Red Tent performed a number of functions, including: rite of passage instruction and ceremonies, teaching and sharing of healing methods, teaching and sharing of pampering and beauty treatments, meditation and healing for self and the greater community, sharing of recipes, child rearing tips and life experience, sharing of personal stories and parables for spiritual teaching, counselling and emotional support, lunar and seasonal sacred ceremonies, and teaching and sharing of crafts, to name but a few.

A modern day red tent usually involves a circle of like-minded women sharing with each other and allowing each woman to have some time to express herself. It might be enough for the rest of the circle just to listen to her, to witness her. Or it might be a discussion on spirituality, astrology, menstruation, health, some kind of support on her life journey, gentle motivation, setting an empowering intention, or simply a back-rub!  It is really to create some special time to express her own needs; a gift that women rarely bestow upon themselves with the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Women can also contribute something to the circle – whether that be a song, a poem, a piece of art, an inspiring quote, reciting a dream or story, an insight into their last menstrual cycle, or just to have a discussion about ecological cleaning products or household tips! Occasionally one of the women may want to lead an activity, such as craft or an alternative therapy. Anything goes, but generally the red tent gathering just flows along beautifully with no rigid set pattern.

The following information has been copied directly from a free download available by visiting Tanishka’s website.

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Why is the Red Tent held at New Moon?

‘New moon is the time of the month, 2 weeks after full moon when we tend to feel tired, inward & vulnerable. It’s when our insecurities & old wounds surface… our shadow self that we often try to hide from others. But if we don’t learn to accept & heal our shadow (like Peter Pan) we never grow up & so we end up with a society so afraid of aging we think it normal to carve ourselves up rather than be publicly seen as an elder.

It is for this reason women of all indigenous societies for thousands of years gathered together at his time to reflect upon their lives, offering emotional support & healing to one another rather than expect their partner to intuit & fulfill all their emotional needs. The new moon is also the time when most women experience their ‘moontime’ or ‘heavenly water’ as it was known in traditional Chinese medicine.

So this custom offered a time out to working women & mothers, enabling them to turn inwards & rest & replenish when their lunar tide was out each month & their life force at its lowest ebb. Another reason for this time honoured practice was that during one’s moontime (the most common time for women to menstruate) & generally at new moon, women are at their most psychically open. When they were considered to be, ‘closest to God’ as it’s the most inward time of the cycle, making it the ideal time to meditate on behalf of themselves, each other & for the greater good – channelling intuitive insights & guidance.’

The Cultural Cost of the Omission of The Red Tent

‘The Red Tent also helped to sustain healthy partnerships & marriages. Because just as our bodies are ruled by the moon, so too are our emotions. And just like the moon women are changeable & emotional beings. So when we experience the dark time of our emotional lunar cycle, it is best for the longevity of our relationships that we take sacred space from our partners & children so they don’t experience our destructive side when we are in the little death phase of our monthly mandala.

If we take this time to focus on our inner needs at this time we can return to our loved ones full of self love & nurturing so we have it to give to them the rest of the month without burning out. Without this cyclic acceptance of our need to give back to the self we end up with a Western epidemic of breast cancer in the ‘civilised world’ where women are culturally expected to nurture 24/7 without asking for anything in return. Just as we need to breathe in before breathing out, so too women need to take time & sustenance for themselves if we are to continue giving to others from a centred & full sense of self.

Similarly, by taking responsibility for our emotional well being through a monthly practice we lessen our need for emotional comfort through overeating, as the sacral energy center which resides in the abdomen is governed by the moon. When women don’t honour their emotional needs the result is gluttony, the vice of the sacral chakra.

So with the omission of Red Tents giving women a regular time to process their emotions we see eating disorders as common place, particularly amongst teenage girls. Other feminine health complaints such as menstrual disorders & depression are also often alleviated through this simple, cyclic practice.

For women raised in a Western (masculinized or yang) culture that had no understanding of ancient women’s traditions so dismissed them as old wives’ tales or feared them as the work of the devil, we can now see the physical cost of women who aren’t in touch with their feminine essence as infertility is now at an all time high in the West. New moon circles offer the most fundamental & practical way to attune women’s natural hormone cycles to the moon, regulating their endocrine system without the invasion of synthetic hormones.’

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“I want to build a moon lodge

where old womyn braid my hair

brushing slowly, gently

the tangles of my life free

where there are no walls

only painted cloth

flowing, circling

blanketing me from the world”

~ Jessica Todd

See how the red tent has grown! Visit woman’s wheel for more advice and red tent information by clicking here.

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11 thoughts on “the red tent ~ a place to celebrate our womanhood

  1. Jane, this is so beautiful. I first read Judith Duerk’s Circle of Stones in 2004 and have always wanted to start or become a part of a group of such magical, powerful like-minded women as well.

    I found your blog last night through a search I did to see whether there were already any such groups in Wales. I live in South Wales and wonder, could you let me know whether we might possibly be able to connect via email or phone?

    I would love love love to explore the possibilities and/or simply give credit to the wonderful vision that you are trying to capture and share in your blog x

  2. Hi Dear Caroline,

    Thank you so much for your patience in my reply to your wonderful kind and very lovely comment!!

    Yes I would love to connect with you! 🙂 I will email you now from my gmail address, and we can either ring each other and chat, or email – either sounds great!

    It’s just so great to hear from you and I’m so glad you found the blog. As yet I am pretty new at all things blogging and there’s a lot to learn, but what a great way to express… and connect and meet 🙂

    OK I’ll email you now!

    Love Jane Xx

  3. Thank you for a fantastic beautiful and abundant tent on Saturday , I felt like I came home to my self , I am forever grateful to all the women who came and shared them selfs and am struck by how powerful one can feel allowing vulnerability to be seen held and acknowledged , bless each and every women who was there in person or in our hearts , and apon reflection from a reading in the tent , I want to scream when I want to scream not smile and hold it in, and be authentically me so I can see the WORTH in all the parts of my self

    1. It was a joy and pleasure to meet you Jessica – thanks for everything you brought to the Red Tent, your experience, beautiful words, and wonderful energy (and gorgeous tea)! Its a lovely group and I am so grateful to everyone in it for their gentleness and nourishing care. Hope to see you next month! Blessings light and love Xxxx Jane x

  4. Jane –
    I just discoverd this blog. I organize a red tent temple in NYC. You entries are so inspiring. I also love the images you use. There is one in particular, by Valrou – titled “Red Tent”. Would you know how I can contact the artist? I’m developing a NYC Red Tent Temple website and I would like to get permission to use the image. Please feel free to contact me at crmaclaury@gmail.com.
    Thank you for the inspiration and have a blessed day.
    Carolyn

    1. Dear Carolyn,

      I really hope you received my email about the artwork I use on this blog. I wish you the BEST of luck with your website and hope that it inspires many many women around the world.

      Love Jane

    1. Dear Sile,

      Thanks for your magical words. I am really excited to hear about your red tent just over the sea from North Wales! Hope it is going wonderfully 🙂 Do let me know!

      Sorry for the delay in my reply but we have been travelling around India and I didn’t take a computer!

      Love peace and happy tenting!

      Jane x x

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