red tent

The Red Tent: What it is and why all women need to experience it

Hello my lovelies.

A few blog posts ago, I talked about my search for a spiritual family.

I believe that I was being called to find a new tribe, one that would teach me what it means be a spiritual being in a human body, and a biologically female one at that.

The Sacred Feminine is calling us.

My need to connect – I believe – was part of a single nerve cell in a whole Universal body of divine shifts, forming the rise of the Sacred Feminine.

In recent years, women across the globe have been feeling a strange yet all-too-familiar calling to build a community on cyclic foundations. By reclaiming the power of the Sacred Feminine, we will move into an era that celebrates the cycles of the body and quells the linear, masculine-dominant, Ego-driven pressures of modern Western civilisation, seeing the balance of the feminine-masculine duality restored once and for all.

I followed my own calling all the way to the office, to my computer, where I typed into the internet search engine, “womens circles Worceser UK”. It was here that I would discover the red tent.

But what exactly is the red tent?

Firstly, it is exactly that: a tent. Or at least an interpretation of a tent. Decorated red (I know, my mind is blown too).

But it is also so much more. The red tent is a revival of a historic practice by women across the world. Religious history suggests that red tents, also known as ‘moon lodges’ or ‘menstrual huts’, have been in existence for several millennia. Tribeswomen would gather in circle at an event dictated by moon phases, menstrual cycles, age groups and childbirth. They are intimate, empowering and in many cases deeply spiritual, serving as an opportunity for women to share the fruits of their wisdom to members old and new.

The red tent as we know it today was brought into popularity by Anita Diamant’s novel of the same name, telling the biblical tale of Jacob and his tribe from the perspective of his less familiar and tragically mettlesome daughter, Dinah. Big love to Dinah.

Cyclic menstrual/menopausal/moon gatherings have undoubtedly made their mark on history, from the native tribes of North America and Africa, through Nepal to Norway. Granted, it would be misleading to tout all implementations of menstrual huts – it is worth noting that some cultures perceive menstruation as taboo and use the hut as a form of segregation against women. However, the Western reinvention of the tradition comes from a place of freedom of choice and female empowerment. And that is delightful.

Indeed, such places exist, and they are right on your doorstep.

Finding the red tent near you

So, at my computer, with the search results in front of me, my attention was taken to the Red Tent Directory, which is essentially a Yellow Pages for menstrual get-togethers (you think I’m joking? Click here!).

I was sure this would be a dead end for a small-town girl. Surely these New Age groups only exist in major cosmopolitan cities, right?

Wrong! I was amazed when I discovered that there was a red tent circle in Worcestershire. Eager to dive on in, I landed on a Facebook closed group and sent my request through. I was accepted immediately and, within minutes, communicating directly with the group lead, Jayne. It wasn’t a week before Jayne and I were meeting for coffee, and I was given a loving and insightful run-down of how the circle works. Already I felt included, like a member of the family. I was sold, and signed up for my first gathering, due to take place on the next New Moon…

The format of the gathering

The gathering took place in Jayne’s home, deep in the suburbs of a sleepy town in Worcestershire. Starting at 7.30pm, I was welcomed into the house with a warm embrace and greetings from veteran members of the circle. There was a little tea and snack station, adjacent to the entrance of a conservatory, which I could see was decked out with red tapestry and cushions, ornaments, books, crystals, ointments and fragrances. In the centre of the space was a red altar surrounded by tealight holders and oracle cards. This was the red tent. Safe, familiar, moving.

We chose our chair or pillow in the circle before hearing the outline of the evening from Jayne. The night began with introductions by each group member, reciting our motherlines: “I am the mother of x, daughter of y, granddaughter of z….” as far back as we could remember (which wasn’t very far for me). We lit candles as dedications, chose oracle cards, and set intentions for the month ahead.

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This particular night took on the theme of ‘relationships’, so one-by-one we shared our truths with this in mind, listening intently and holding space for one another without interruption. There were about nine of us in this circle, making for ample time to go in deep with each individual. One or two shared news of great sadness, others shared moments of joy, but all of us were left feeling empowered and liberated by the expression of such raw, untamed emotion.

Between the sharing, candle-lighting, and the spiritual exploration, there were fabulous instances of laughter and chit-chat, gallons of tea and delicious nibbles to boot.

The night ended at about 11pm with a prayer, unifying us and all other red tents taking place on this New Moon. We expressed our gratitude to the higher power and those who had gone before us. We held hands, meditating on the lessons we had taken from these last few hours. Jayne gave each of us a handmade oracle card and a red rose. We embraced once more, said our goodbyes with the hope of seeing each other in the next month, and went on our way.

I returned to my usual business, but now I was safe in the knowledge that I was not alone. I was moved, excited and self-assured. I had found my new tribe.

Worried about how woo-woo this all sounds?

I want to reassure you. You don’t have to be spiritual. You don’t have to be menstruating to join a circle, nor do you need to be open about your periods. This is a modern interpretation of an ancient practice that takes into consideration all ages, contexts, and backgrounds. No scary rituals, no commitments, no subscriptions. Modern day red tents act as an all-embracing monthly women’s club, a safe space to laugh, cry, drink tea and put the world to rights. It’s like joining the Scouts, except you don’t have to subscribe, or learn how to use a Swiss army knife.

But I also want to say… of course it’s woo-woo! That’s the beauty of it. It can be a struggle to ‘do you’ in the familiar Ego-driven setting, but the red tent invites you to share your truth, and celebrates your authenticity, no matter how messy that might feel.

If you feel restricted and silenced, or bogged down in the everyday, the red tent acts as an opportunity to free yourself: to share, to laugh, cry or just listen to the stories of other women. It’s the best ‘girls night in’ we could ask for. And we’re shattering patriarchal ideologies in the process.

To find a red tent near you, head on over to the Red Tent Directory. To learn more about the Sacred Feminine, womb power and the spirituality of womanhood, pick up a book in the Mind Body Spirit section of the book store, visit Red School, or investigate the wealth of information on the internet. And if you happen to be a Worcestershire gal like me, come join in at the local Facebook group, here!

Here are a few books I recommend (click on the image for further information):

Wild Power, by Alexandra Pope.

Love Your Lady Landscape, by Lisa Lister

Rise Sister Rise, by Rebecca Campbell

Peace, love and happy soul searching ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

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