From Our Red Tent

901194_10151453476288568_828248897_oOur Red Tent Temple began in late October 2009 in my small, green living room. For a year or two only a few women came each month. We talked about whatever we wanted, relaxed, maybe shared some food but it wasn’t awesome. It was just okay sometimes and others it was bit disappointing.

After two years I decided to give it up. The plan was to go to the Southeastern Women’s Herbal Conference in Black Mountain, NC and cancel all Red Tents from that point on. Instead, I went to a seminar with ALisa Starkweather at the festival and came home breathing firey passion for this Red Tent concept and decided that the Red Tent was going to continue and that it would be sublime.

Ironically at this same time my husband moved out of our little cottage garage and into a new shed that he bought. It was a kind of negotiation in which we both ended up with a private space separate from the main house. I painted the concrete floor russet and the walls pumpkin orange. Red seemed too dark. Orange just very warm. And so our Temple was born.

For months we met in yard chairs, on concrete, in the midst of tools and paint. Funnily enough, a few strings of lights, some candles in old wine bottles and the food we all shared made things feel magical.

Today we have gathered scads of red linens and tapestries, some carpeting and rugs, footstools and pillows and cushions. We gather on the first Sunday following the New Moon. We live in ceremony together, though I’m not sure everyone who attends realizes how deeply we are knit together. We gather at 7pm, usually on the Sunday following the new moon. We chat until everyone is settled and then I pull out our talking stick and hand it to someone. The circle opens.

Over the course of years, I have considered bringing in more ceremony, calling directions, doing body work, trying to dance…but we are quite limited by space. The ceiling is low, the cottage is tiny, we are many. So we talk and eat and drink and enjoy and the space we have created is a sacred container. The space is also an issue when trying to invite new women in. There just isn’t but so much room! A dozen women is the best I can do. Maybe, someday, Red Tent will become a day-long affair and women will be able to come and go. We can do body work during the day and put the table away as night moves in, as we go inside ourselves.

Most Red Tents do not allow alcohol but we do allow wine. It is not, however, a drinking party (though we have had one or two women show up who tried to make it into that, they quickly self-selected themselves out of the group.) We share food and there is always plenty of hot water, cool water, tea and honey.

We gather in our womb space. We share food and drink. We circle and pass the talking stick. We have time to simply be. To be accepted and loved and fed and nurtured. We do not have to care for our children or our husbands in the Red Tent. It is, simply put, a place where we can nurture ourselves.

If you are interested in attending our Red Tent Temple in Chesapeake, please contact me via this blog. If you are interested in starting your own Red Tent, please feel free to contact me or go the Red Tent Temple Movement’s page.

It is time for us to bless ourselves and take care of ourselves and to reclaim our right to self-care, self-love and space.

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