Several months ago some friends and I decided to make our own Agua Florida. We spent some time googling the ingredients, sniffing a bottle of Agua Florida we had purchases, and deciding that we’d like something cleaner to clear ourselves with. After some discussion and experimenting, here’s what we used:

Agua Florida
3 – 12 ounce jars
1 lemon
1 orange
2 Tbsp lavender flowers
3 star anise
3 tsp tulsi/Thai Holy Basil
3 tsp raspberry leaf
3 sprigs of rosemary
30 cloves
3 leaves each of mugwort and motherwort
3 tsp of lemon balm
Tito’s vodka

We sliced the lemon and orange, divided the ingredients among the 3 jars, and poured in vodka to cover.

This is best done on the New Moon and left to steep at least until after the next Full Moon. When ready decant by pouring through a cheesecloth lined wire mesh strainer and then pouring the liquid into another jar. Top off with 1 Tbsp (per 12 oz decanted jar) and filtered water. The ratio of infused vodka to filtered water should be about 3:1.

Now it’s ready to use!

Image result for red fox

As I’m writing it’s 3:30 am. I was awakened by a rustle and a growl outside our bedroom window. I actually stayed still for a minute thinking it might have been my husband, who was snoring softly, but it just felt like something else. When I opened the curtain to look, a fox trotted past. Stopped and looked back. Disappeared.

Recently, on hour 9 of an 8 hour drive, whilst headed home from a wonderful, powerful weekend with my Hermetics circle where we wove ourselves deeply into the Death mysteries, I had a moment.

I was passing a car on the Interstate, an easy thing because there were 2 lanes going in the same direction and there was very little traffic. The car was going a few miles an hour under the posted speed limit. Apparently, however, I was passing too slowly for some other drivers and as I can came up beside the car I was passing, another car zoomed up behind it and a giant Cadillac SUV came up behind me. These 2 cars were maybe 4’ off of the bumpers of both the car I was passing and my car. I thought the SUV might rear end me.

I felt like I was being hunted. As if these people were trying to kill me intentionally. Certainly they didn’t care if I died and/or did’t consider that they might die, too. Maybe they were suicidal. I went straight into judgement and the desire to protect every single other driver on I-85 from these fools.

I was pissed. American pissed. I slowed down to the speed of the car I was beside and held there. I was in control of how fast everyone was going. So there!

The foxes have taken over our neighborhood. Jennie, one of my neighbors, says there were 9 kits this year. Nine. That means 11 foxes trying to eat in our little area, about 12 blocks square, hemmed in by water and highway. The squirrel population has suffered, which is probably a good thing given that we live in a pecan orchard, but the foxes are starting to go after the cats now, and we have a lot of cats around here.

I’ve never heard a fox snarl before. They frequently make a sound, something shocking if you’ve not heard it before, like a hoarse, drunk, football fan pretending to be a crow. But this was not that. It was a growl of a sort. A hunting sound. One of a predator going after prey. Pure aggression. It woke me from a sound sleep.

I suppose that’s what happened on the way home, too, I reacted to pure aggression. By trying to control it. Oh. Damn.

When I was ‘controlling’ that speed situation the other day I was almost involved in a high-speed crash. The car coming up behind the car in the slow lane suddenly swerved toward me, would have crashed into my car if I hadn’t in turn swerved—all of this with a huge, gold SUV so close on my bumper that I couldn’t see but the very top of the grill. I swerved, almost hit the concrete barrier on my left, the car jumped into my lane, the SUV managed to brake hard enough not to hit me, and I woke up.

It really was an awakening. One about how far I still have to go. About how, when I actually should be afraid I can go into Warrior mode rather than doing the sensible thing, speeding up or slowing down, getting out of the way. I’ve always hated getting out of the way. Honestly I believe that quality kept me alive through the first 30 years of my life. Now though, I need to be really intentional about it, to feel it and not let it rule me. Imagine a cat fighting a fox. Laughable.

You know what the swerve is? There is no such thing as control, there is only the illusion of control. This is, I suspect, the reason why we struggle so hard to maintain and to regain control when we feel that we have lost it–truly, we are never in control of anything outside of ourselves.

Humility is not something that comes easily for me. I’ve spent a number of decades dismantling the ways in which my ego holds fast and ways in which that is helpful…and ways in which it is destructive. I have learned, and continue to learn, to let things go with greater and greater rapidity. Maybe this will be helpful for you, too? I hope so.

It goes something like this:
I am triggered ~
it creates a feeling in my body ~
where in my body? ~
what does this feeling feel like? ~
what is it bringing up for me? ~
what is the root of this feeling? the memory behind it?
what is the emotion associated with it? shame? guilt? fear? (hint: it’s usually one of these. If it’s rage, dig deeper. If it’s judgement, dig deeper.)
can I let it go?~
(usually) yes ~
(sometimes) no, and if no, I will hold it lightly in my mind until I can process it fully and release it. Sometimes it will take a few days. Sometimes months.

Digging these things out though, that’s where the gold is. This what is known in Shadow Work as ‘shining the light on the shadow’. This is when we look fully at ourselves with compassion, tenderness, and love.

I made it home safely. My husband was sleeping beside me last night. This morning I counted cats. They are all there, purring, eating breakfast, apparently smarter than I am. This is enough.

Image result for owl shrew

Memento Mori (remember: you will die)

Even when the owl
is silent
the shrew cries owl
into the black woods
its life a last blaze
of sound
before the
small fire of its body
goes out.

By David Whyte, from a poem entitled THE SOUND OF THE WILD, from the book Fire in the Earth.

For 8 years women have come once a month to share food and a talking circle. Literally this is all we have ever done at the RTT I host. There are, however, myriad ways to add to this!

Image result for the story chair at red tent temple

A Few Ideas:
>Talking circle. You use an object that one woman holds in her hand as she speaks. It could be a stone, a feather, a figurine, or any other small thing. The idea behind this symbol is that only the person holding it may speak aloud. This gives the speaker the floor without fear of having to hear advice, judgements, opinions, ideas, similar experiences, or losing the thread of her story in the weave of someone else’s story.
This is important, the silence of every other woman in the room. This is what creates the ability for women to share deeply.
It is also important to know that if a woman begins to cry or emote in any way that *no one is to touch her or interfere with her process in any way*. This rule may only be broken if she may harm herself or someone else. The end.
If we touch, talk over, opine, or otherwise interfere with another’s story, we often…almost always…shut it down. Our goal here is to create safe space and so we want to allow.
This is a good way and the perfect time for all attending a RTT to learn ‘active listening’, though without the part about repeating back what has been spoken. We should focus on the speaker, her words, her needs, her feelings. There is nothing for us to do or say, nothing required of us other than that we completely and fully witness her in that moment.
And we *never* repeat these words outside of our RTT circle. Never.
Use a timer. It is inevitable that some women will speak for 3 minutes and others will talk for 45 minutes. This is a good thing to establish quickly. I’ve been really lazy about it and this specific thing is the reason most often stated for why women do not return to my RTT. They simply cannot be fully present for so long. Allot time depending on how long you have divided by the number of women present. It’s easy and inoffensive and very democratic.
>The Story Chair–this is especially a wonderful idea if there is a good mix of older and young women at your RTT. This is really something getting to heart of what we’re doing–sharing our stories. Imagine how much you could learn from listening to an Elder share hers!
The Story Chair is also a place where you can share something such as a poem or myth about womanhood, as well as stories about your journey to and through womanhood. This is not only for Elders, there is a great deal of wisdom to be gained by listening to our youth.
>A Monthly Topic–invite a speaker to come and do a talk on anything your women are interested in hearing about. Things that spring to mind for me are education around White Supremacy Culture; Shadow Work; Eco-consciousness; Minimalism; Womb Wisdom; Sacred Self Care; Herbs for Women; Menstruation and products for using during your Moon Time; Belly Dance; Drumming and/or Singing; Essential Oils; there are so many options!
>Engage your women in a monthly ceremony. Many of us do Manifestation ceremonies on or near the New Moon. This is a great thing to add to your RTT.
>Share body work! You don’t need a massage table to exchange foot or hand massages. Anything as small or large as you and your group desire is an amazing way to give one another love and healing each month.

Play some soft music in the background of your gathering if you can and remember that this is Sacred Space for you and the women who gather. Hold one another as the Sacred vessels you are.

A Million Blessings ~Be~

Image result for women at red tent

So you have a location, you are happy with whatever the place looks like, in theory at least, now you need to gather some women who would appreciate this space and time to be together.

How do you find them? Who do you invite? Will they show up?

First things first. I think that if you’re hosting a RTT, you must dedicate yourself to the energy, even if you are alone. This means that you are holding the space energetically, even if no one shows up…but women will show up!

A few things to consider: how many women your can space handle; finding women who will find this nourishing; whether or not you need help setting up and/or facilitating; whether or not you need monthly donations in order to make your RTT sustainable; the rules of the space you’re using; how might the space, the timing, and your skill set best serve your community?

If you are hoping to fill your RTT with women from various backgrounds, cultures, colors, and lifestyles, it’s a good idea to advertise widely. Social media is one way to find women but you might first consider mining your social groups. Are you part of a book club, PTA, church, coven, or other already formed community that has women who you know and trust? Inviting them to your first RTT is a great place to begin. From there new members will come in and out as the energies and tides shift.

Originally our RTT was filled with moms from our local, secular homeschooling community. Several of these early members still come. Others came as long as it served them and left gracefully, others left in a storm of emotions. I will speak into that later–conflict resolution! For now, let’s just say that drama is possible and like always, we simply have to move through it and clearing or processing techniques can be critical to holding the group together, even when one or more members leave in a huff.

I’ve only had this situation happen twice, and both times it was shocking and ugly. None of my attempts at conflict resolution were accepted. One time several of our daughters were involved in some bullying and it caused a falling out amongst the moms. Another time a woman was very demeaning to the other women and considered RTT a place to bring hard liquor and shot glasses. I wasn’t sad to see either of them go, but was ruffled by the strong waves that rippled through our group for months after.

I think, in many ways, the more diversity you have in your group, the better the energy will be. When we have too much in common, things can stagnate and become stodgy. I’ve found that in my own group which has reached that point. Either we will shift the energy, or I will likely let go of this aspect of my life. Knowing when to stop, when to let go, is important!

On FB or Instagram, you can reach out via groups and/or hashtags to women in your locale to invite them into this sacred space. Because I recently deactivated my FB account, I’m now using a Meetup group (Sacred Earth Walk) to invite women into our Temple. You could also create a newsletter in Mail Chimp or Constant Contact for inviting people who already follow into this newly formed, women-only space.

Who not to invite: children; babies except nursing infants in arms; husbands and men in general; people you don’t trust or get along with. If you’re very far along on your healing path, you can ignore those last two but if you’re already feeling a little stressed, in addition to feeling excited, do yourself a favor and only invite in women who you feel very safe with.

You’re off to a great start now! You have a space, women, and maybe a red scarf to wear when you gather…soon we will talk about what to do, rules, and other moving parts.

XO ~Be~

Where do you gather together for a Red Tent Temple? Do I need a tent?

Red Tent Temples happen all over the place! I think that my ideal location, if I could have all of my wishes and dreams met, would be inside a small, insulated yurt perched on a platform beside a bright, mountain creek. In winter there would a be little snow (I’m think the Smoky mountains, not the Rockies!), in the summer there would be cool air rising and a lovely breeze.

Image result for yurt by mountain creek

But really, who can afford that? Besides, I live in SE Va on a tidal river and any mountain is at least a 3 hour drive.

So, as you’ve probably already read, we met in our green sitting room for a while, moved to the gardening cottage, got old and arthritic and moved back inside to our larger living area with the red furniture. So, for me, meeting in my home has worked beautifully.

Other groups meet in churches, often sharing the small expense of renting a room for a couple of hours, or in community centers. Back yards, garages, actual tents, yurts, tool sheds, etc are all venues for gatherings of women in community.

Your space does not need to be fancy. It simply needs to be comfortable and safe. If possible, it also should be accessible for those with mobility issues. That’s one block I’ve run against having the gatherings in my home–it is not welcoming or easy, or actually possible, for some to be with us due to the arrangement of my home. It’s something to consider when choosing your location.

More next week. XO ~Be~

Do I need to decorate my house before I invite friends over?

No.

I could leave it there but that wouldn’t be much of a blog post, would it? There is an idea that when we host a Red Tent, we should have lots of red textiles, wear red clothing, have candles and soft lighting and soft music in the background and yes, all of those things a gorgeous and wonderful. The pressure to conform to that ideal should in no way stop you from hosting your first Red Tent.

Whether you plan on meeting in a shared space, someone’s home, a Lady Lair, or an actual tent in the yard, the main thing is to gather. Decorating is nice, it does create a warm, womblike environment, it is not, however, the most critical thing for creating your own Red Tent Temple. What you need is community. Women. The intention to hold one another.

For the first several months I had my women’s circle, we met in a forest green room in the front of my house. It’s a small, cozy room and there’s a bathroom handy, but it was not, in any way, RED. In fact, it was exactly the opposite!

Women came anyway.

Image result for color wheel

Every month women came anyway, to sit in the green room, on old furniture, carefully balancing paper plates on their laps, feet tucked under them on the couch, to talk about their lives; to be held in sisterhood and safe space; to feel heard and seen in all of their (our) frustration, joy, sensuality, and humanity. No one cared that the room was green.

Eventually we moved out into my back yard, to a gardening cottage that was more private. We didn’t have a bathroom there and there would be the sometime mass exodus to come inside to use the bathrooms. Otherwise the cottage, now the Temple, was a perfect space.

The cottage in the back yard, aka the Temple.

We started out in the Temple with a bare, concrete floor covered with cleanly laundered but threadbare and retired bathroom rugs, a few camping chairs, and a table top that was the simply the long, narrow top shelf of the unit which housed paint cans and tools.

Every month I’d go out and knock the spiders down, clear and clean, light candles and turn on the space heater or a/c before the women arrived. If you’re gathering in a public space, like a church yoga studio, or community center, you won’t need to do any of this. You can set up chairs, or put cushions out and voila!

The idea of using red textiles to decorate is to create that warm, womblike space I mentioned earlier. The color also honors our bleeding time. The moon cycle that pre-electricity women nearly all synched to. The New Moon. This is why we hold the Red Tent Temple on or near the New Moon. They do create an ambience, a feeling of magic.

Inside the Temple in our back yard on a Red Tent Temple night. Our little altar.

My Red Tent group has now moved inside my home again, into our living room which ironically has red furniture in it. We do not have a lot of red wall hangings, or blankets around now. The candles don’t get lit like they used because I don’t want to soot up the house with untrimmed wicks, and none of us are minding the candles when we are hearing each other’s words. The fairy lights still hang out in the Temple, now storing piles of things that need going through and releasing. It seems that the Temple is the space for that. We initiated her.

Remember this if you’re starting up your own Red Tent Temple: give yourself permission to go ahead and do it; know you will grow as you learn; invite women to come and help with the Temple; try your best to include everyone who might wish to be there; hold the space even if you’re alone. Basically it’s the Field of Dreams concept: Build it and they will come.

Blessings until next time. xo Be

This is the first in a series of short snippets on starting up your own Red Tent group. There is a lot of information out there on the internet about Red Tents, how to start one, how to run one, and most of that information costs money in the form of purchasing a book, or an online course, or video or call series. This is not that.

Image result for women red tent

I’ve always believed that Red Tent should be for every woman. I found my way to Red Tent Temple by way of the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference in 2010. ALisa Starkweather was a presenter that year and, probably, Isadora Leidenfrost was there, too. ALisa is the birther of the Red Tent Temple movement and Isadora is the creatrix of the Red Tent Temple Movie, “Things We Don’t Talk About, Healing Stories from the Red Tent”. (There’s a free guide on the site!)

This is where I learned about this movement. This is where I came to believe that Red Tent should be free and available to every woman. This is where I came to agree wholeheartedly that Red Tent Temples should be in every neighborhood–a group of women coming together to spend time together in women’s space, telling women’s stories, healing together, supporting one another, and, hopefully, dismantling some of the stories about how women are together in our world.

I came home from that conference and held my 1st Red Tent that month.

For the last 8 years I’ve held a Red Tent in my home every month, with a few exceptions due to illness and weather. On the one occasion that I was the only one in attendance, I held the space for this with my daughter. Because even when you are alone in the Red Tent, it is still a healing, woman-only space.

And so for the next few weeks, I will be offering a series of short blog posts about the Red Tent. What I’ve learned. What I’ve tried. What has worked. What has not worked. And where things are now.

For today, here is the best advice I have to offer anyone who wishes to create this space for yourself and women in your community: Go ahead and begin. You need this. You will change and grow as time goes on. Call 3 or 4 women together and gather on or near the New Moon (January 5th, 2019 is the next one for those on Eastern Standard Time) and spend time together weaving yourselves a community.

Nothing much, just a link to the latest Illuminated Manuscript. XO

Do you remember your dreams? Some of them? Many? None? Dreaming is often a topic of conversation within the circles of women I find myself in. We all dream differently. Our symbolisms are not all the same. If you believe in a Collective (Jungian) Unconscious, you might find that your archetypes and symbols mesh well with those written in his and so many other’s books. The desert, where you are alone, parched, and thirsting, for example.

Last night I had a dream that I think is hugely symbolic for where I am now, and also of where I’m headed.Image result for deep creek river

The dream began in the mountains. Soft, moist, with a leaf-covered understory and a wide, lovely river flowing through. I was in the river, floating along, allowing myself to be carried by the water to wherever we were going.

Alas, I arrived at a point where the river was walled off with a giant, stucco wall under which the river flowed. In order to continue floating along it, I had to get out, pay an entry fee, and–as one does with these things–walk through the gift shop to enter.

After checking out this situation I went to my Priestess sister and friend, Lisa, and asked her if she would go with me. I knew the next phase involved following the river into the Earth. Lisa already had a plan to go with a group of women Initiates and it remained unsaid that I would not be going along with them, as I was uninitiated into their work.

I went to Raven, who was, I believe, the Shepherdess leading the group into the river to the Underworld. She told me how one arrives at the entry and I listened, having no idea how difficult this was  going to be.

Unable to find a known sidekick to join me, I wound up paying my admission and sitting the the lunch counter with a blondish, balding man and a woman with whom I agreed to try to find the entrance. As it turn out, the stairs in this operation led into a partially subterranean cavern through which part of the river flowed over a bed of sand and crystals.

I remembered Raven’s instructions but could not find the entry. The man and woman kept on diving into the root of trees that grew up along the far side of the cavern and whose tops were above the earth. This diving into the roots had been part of the instructions but I found that without a guide, and in this roadside attraction, I had no desire to travel into the unknown unguided.

So I walked along the perimeters of the river, well lit, with the stalactites and stalagmites meeting like columns and dividing the cavern into chambers. These spaces were filled with crystals, gorgeous, glistening in the knee-deep waters of the river flowing around my legs. Now and then I’d bend and pick up a stone as I walked slowly back toward the steps to ascend, knowing that this was not the time to continue my journey on the river into the Underworld.Image result for crystal cave

I ate at the lunch counter with the man and woman who had been unsuccessful in finding the entry. We parted ways and I went around the attraction to the place where the river continued flowing along between the sedate banks of the Upper World.

Raven was there, standing on a huge boulder in the center of the river, surrounded by huge, thrusting clusters of crystals. She said something to me and I showed her the stones I’d picked up along the edges.

She smiled. I smiled. We both knew what we meant.

 

 

 

It happens every year, this draw to nestle inside of myself. As the days grow shorter and the Winter Solstice draws near, I feel very much a kinship with the plants who subside into the Earth to await the return of light and warmth. A necessary quiet time.

In light of this…because of this? I find that days are spent more quietly. Fewer words. Fewer dramatic thoughts. Much less need to check in with social media, or other people, or anything really that offers more information than my own internal world.

This is a good time of year for deep self-work. It’s a good time for self-reflection. For healing.

Yes, it’s also the time of year when there’s a party every weekend and gift shopping is very much a real and powerful part of my to-do list, however, those things are peripheral to what is real for me.

How do you feel at this time of year, as the Earth slips into winter and longer darkness and the sweet soft womblike space? Do you feel enlivened by parties and holidays? Do you feel more quiet and desirous of the silence? Are you breathing fire and awaiting Spring?

However this time of year affects you, may you have a million blessings, warmth, love, kindness, a full belly and a full heart.

~Be~

Image result for root woman earth

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