The Red Tent – A Guest Post from Maria Whitman!

When you hear the word Red Tent you might think of the book, “Red Tent” by Anita Damiant. It is a story of the biblical tribe of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob told through a women’s perspective, and when the women begin their menstruation on the New Moon they would head to the Red Tent where it was there time to relax and not do anything. They would talk to one another, share stories, massage each other, and just have a place to enjoy not having to work. It was a sacred place for women. Nowadays the only way a modern day woman has a three day getaway is if they are lucky enough to have grandparents to watch their kids, or hire a babysitter, or if you don’t have any children, an arm and a leg to pay to go somewhere.

So just where did the rent tents go? They disappeared in modern society because they were seen as a dirty place, but they were replaced with the modern Red Tent which is slowly making its way throughout North America and many other countries. These places are not the places you go when you start your cycle, unless it so happens to be held at the same time, but a place for women to connect to one another on a deep spiritual level. A wonderful place of sisterhood and sacredness. A place you can tell your story and know it is a safe place where there is no judgment or critique about how you feel. It is not a counselors office where they try to fix you with any special instructions, just a place that you can go and share your feelings and concerns and know that the women surrounding you will be there, whether it’s emotionally by validating your feelings, relating to you, or physically by hugging you or holding your hand when you need it.

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We as women are sacredly connected on a deep emotional level and sometimes we forget to nurture that connectedness. We forget because we are natural givers. We give to our husbands/boyfriends, our partners, our children, our jobs, and we forget to give back to ourselves. We get lost in pleasing others that we forget to please ourselves. We need to recharge sometimes. Get away from our obligations and duties as caregivers, and restore our soul. Red Tents are a place to do this.

There are some tents that are held for women and young girls too. These kind of Red Tents encourage young girls to come because it allows the young girls to be a part of something sacred that teaches them that their bodies aren’t dirty and either is their cycles. It throws out the taboos associated with vaginas and menstruation. This helps young girls to become into womanhood knowing their bodies are sacred and worth more than what today’s society sets forth for so many others. It helps us women to see our bodies as sacred temples that are perfect no matter what size you are. This is what women need now, not photo shopped women on billboards and magazines, or men telling us what women should look like. God/Creator did not create women to look the same. We are not even meant to think the same. We are all on our own paths, and all have our own body shapes that are meant to do different things. We weren’t all meant to walk down a catwalk, or grace the cover of Maxim. We were meant to be exactly what we are doing right now, whether it be nursing a baby, a CEO of a company, a barista down the street, or holding space for women that do this. Regardless, we need a space to vent and be seen so we can kick ass doing what we do! Red Tents can help.

The Red Tents do not have any religious affiliations, and all women are welcome just as they are. Most Red Tents have a simple rhythm to them every time you go, but some differ from time to time. Some are offered as three day workshops held annually like the South Eastern Women’s Herbal Conference held in North Carolina in October, or they are held once a week, or they are held once a month close to the New Moon. There are many different names associated with Red Tents also. Some are called Moon Lodges or women’s temples. There are many different resources available for those who are interested in becoming part of one or to those who don’t have a local one available to them. There is currently a movie out called “Things we don’t talk about” by Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD,  that is fun to watch with some women friends, and the website has a lot of other resources to help find one for yourself. I am currently taking a Red Tent Facilitator course through Star of Ishtar that will help me feel more confident in holding space for women, but it is not required to start one of your own. Just get a group of great women together and figure out what you guys would all want to see happen, and do it. It could just be you and a best friend, and eventually word will get out and it will get as big as you want it to get. Most of them are donation based, but some do provide a small amount of income if it is a retreat, but regardless of the income or price it is fun to be a part of one and women deserve to have these in every neighborhood.

My name is Maria Whitman and I live in Athens, Georgia,  and I am a mother of 3 boys who are free to learn what they feel like learning that day, some call it unschooling I call it the way it’s supposed to be! I’m married to a mountain man that puts up with my crazy hippie lifestyle of running through the woods barefoot and howling at the moon. I make my own soul teas for the gypsies like me and I can be found at theallheartedsoul.com and on Instagram @allheartedsoul.