For those of you who cringe at the term Lady, allow me to remind you that the original meaning of Lady was Priestess of the Moon, which is quite in keeping with today’s talk’s theme.
And Gentlemen, gentle - men, well the world needs as many of them as possible!
Who knows about the Red Tent ?
The Red Tent is part of the much needed honouring of the feminine that our culture requires.
The Red Tent is part of the spiritual practice of menstruation and the living of the wisdom of the cycles.
The Red Tent is a place, a space, that women retreat to when they are bleeding, menstruating, when they have their moonflow.
The Red Tent or Moon Lodge or Blood Temple can be an actual space or a virtual space, or a state of mind, one way or another it needs to exist.
The Story Goes
That the women of the tribe, or community, would gather together in the Red Tent at their bleeding time and they would let go, rest, sleep, dream, nurture themselves, reflect on their moon just ended and vision their moon coming.
During her bleeding time a woman is tired so she will sleep because her dreams at this time are prophetic, and hold valuable information. During her bleeding time a woman can literally let go of all the things, ways, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, that no longer serve her and she can do this for all her relations.
In the Native American culture it is said that the whole tribe awaited and depended on the information that the women would return with from the Moon Lodge.
This practice is not new, it is ancient, and it changed when the patriarchal culture, in which we live, took hold several thousand years ago and dishonoured the feminine, making all things associated with women and especially her fertility, her sexuality, her blood, taboo, dirty, evil, bad, shameful etc etc.
The Red Tent was reinterpreted as a place to send women away to when they were bleeding because they were deemed dirty and needing to be separated from the rest of the people, especially their husbands and needed to be stopped from preparing food,lest they contaminate it.
I imagine you know this.
If this is new to you, I’ve written a booklet about it called Herstory,
that’s ‘her’ story as opposed to ‘his’ story, history – get it?
You can download it for free from my website – Moonsong
Prior to electric lights, which came into our lives in the late 1800’s, and then altered the darkness we experienced after sunset each night, all women ovulated on the full moon and bled on the dark moon.
We have an internal mechanism, related to melatonin production which rises according to the amount of light in the night and is also responsible for the rising of the levels of hormones that create ovulation and this all happens based on the amount of light in the night sky.
Our biological blueprint is that we ovulate at the time when there is the most light in the night sky, that is the full moon. And then we bleed 14 days after that, the dark moon. Women’s cycles are designed to be in synch with the moon and each other.Now, however, there is so much light pollution especially in the cities, so many other life stresses and oestrogen pollution so that women are mostly not in synch with the moon.
Women often move into synch with the moon
if they make it their practice to observe the moon,
and if they make it their intention to do so.
And as you all well know, women who live or work closely together often synchronise their cycles.
And women around the world are getting together, and making cloth pads to send
And there is much to be learned from our cycles. Its about reclaiming feminine wisdom
through reconnection with the women’s mysteries, and this means honouring your cycle.
It will teach you much:
Much about yourself
Much about life
and Much about the way of things
There is one cycle and it plays out over and over everywhere
and women, being the cyclical beings that they are
live it birth, growth, full bloom, harvest, decay, death, rebirth,
growth, full bloom, harvest, decay, death, rebirth, over and over . . .
Think of the seasons:
Spring – birth, growth
Summer - full bloom
Autumn – harvest
Winter - decay, death
Spring – rebirth…… over and over
Our life seasons have the same characteristics:
Spring: is the life season of youth, maiden and young man
Summer: is mother and father
Autumn: is maga and magus
Winter: is crone and wise old man
Same cycle everywhere just different speeds and metaphoric
The menstrual cycle, and that means the whole cycle from bleeding to bleeding again, is a cycle to live your life by.
You will be, actually, whether you realise it or not.
Bringing awareness to your menstrual cycle,
incorporating a spiritual practice with your menstrual cycle brings a higher consciousness to it. And this will enable you to flow with it. Utilise it, and learn from it. Rather than be oppressed by it.
Doing this honours you, the feminine and the Earth.
It is a healing practice and you will benefit from it as will the collective
and the Earth.
Your menstrual cycle IS your spiritual practice
The menstrual cycle is a portal into the sacred, spiritual, shamanic and transcendent dimensions of womanhood.
So are women’s rites of passage:
Menarche (the first blood),
I just want to read you some words I wrote when I was writing this last week..
"I’m writing this while I’m bleeding so there won’t be any excuses, just the cold hard facts, I won’t waste my time trying to talk you into thinking this is a good idea, bleeding women don’t do that. They speak their truth. I’m deep in my own inner space, fortunately alone at home. I look out the window and see the remains of the altar from last night’s Summer Solstice ceremony. There were 90 people here last night, gathered to honour and give thanks to Mother Earth, at Litha, the peak of the year, the longest day, the brightest light in the cycle of the seasons. And I remember back to last night when I facilitated the ceremony, how in my bleeding space, dressed in dark clothes and inwardly focussed, I led the ceremony in a very different way to how I usually do. I was more reserved, less words, more aware of the energy of the group, and able to shift the processes around that, rather than put on a Summer Solstice Ceremony show, which would be much more like what I would do if I was ovulating.
I think back, which is one of the main characteristics of the bleeding time, the point being, the opportunity to notice what you’re thinking and feeling so you can let go of what no longer serves you with your blood, to the earth,
I think back to last night how unfussed I was, more able to flow with what was, as within, so without"
As I’ve said, the Red Tent or Moon Lodge or Blood Temple can be an actual space or a virtual space, one way or another it needs to exist. If it does not exist, if a woman does not honour her need for retreat. Then what happens are all the physical symptoms that need to, to have the woman retreat into her inner space, her inner Red Tent as it were,
this includes all the friction, fights, arguments etc required in your close relationships
so that those people will avoid you, keep out of your way!
So, we create our much needed Red Tent, or much needed retreat space, unconsciously if we don’t do it consciously, so why not do it consciously and bust the myth that women are cranky when they are bleeding and in the week or so before.
do you really think you would be cranky, moody, upset, mad, angry, impatient etc etc if you knew when your blood came that you would be leaving your normal life situation
and heading to your retreat space to let go of what no longer worked in your life,
to learn what you can from your month just passed, to decide what you will take into the next cycle and what you will leave behind, to replenish, and renew yourself, and prepare yourself for the month ahead?
I doubt you’d be feeling cranky,
I bet you’d be feeling honoured and excited even!
Honouring your need for retreat time when you are bleeding is your responsibility,
not any one else’s, and it is so for both yourself and everyone you live with and relate to.
If you think your journey through your menstrual cycle and bleeding time doesn’t effect anyone else, just ask them.
Honouring your bleeding time in what ever way you can is part of the spiritual practice of menstruation. One way or another you must get the space you need at your bleeding time, this may end up being a long bath an early night to bed, or your dreaming time.
Your experience of your menstrual cycle is a barometer of your life stresses.
It is a stress sensitive process and therefore is a ‘read out’ of what you need to be dealing with. It is also a pathway to self awareness on your soul’s journey to wholeness;
Enlightenment through cycle awareness!
Many people have written about this,
psychotherapists, doctors, midwives, anthropologists.
It’s a well known path of personal and collective evolution.
Its not your hormones rampaging, its you.
Our menstrual cycles call us into our bodies, if things are amiss, one way or another she will get your attention and you’ll have the opportunity to take responsibility for yourself,
your life, what you eat, think, do, work, play etc . Or you can play the victim and blame your hormones like they are some unwelcome guest who’s taken over. See literally what’s going on and think metaphorically, that might give you some clues. Look for the patterns that reoccur in your life and how your menstrual cycle reflects that.
Your experience of menarche, your first blood, prepares you for your experience of menstruation which then effects how you give birth and then how you experience perimenopause.
Its all connected.
She who is initiated into the Temple of Womanhood at the Altar of Menarche,
is the woman who shows up at the Birth Altar in the Birth Temple.
So its no surprise that most women are drugged during childbirth to escape the pain, they learned how to do that well enough during their periods.
Young women are taught to not trust their bodies, if their periods are irregular or their flow is heavy or their pain is strong,they are prescribed the pill to bring them into order,
so they can be predictable, controlled, on time, and not be inconvenienced by their bodies messages that happen to have them make life style and diet changes better for health.
And then this all happens again at birth in so many ways: with over 30% inductions because women don’t give birth on time – there’s no right time, just when the baby is ready, and there’s never been a baby that stayed inside forever you know. And the rampant use of drugs during labour to numb women. Funny how we’re meant to say no to drugs except during menstruation and labour when they totally mess with our ability to listen to our bodies, to hear the inner wisdom and without doubt influence the unborn ones detrimentally! Numbing herself in labour, a woman gives up the opportunity of experiencing and so realising that she has everything she needs inside her that she and her baby ‘work’ together to birth and also she drugs her baby. Drugged babies, probably most of us here, have a default of vagueing out, especially when the going gets tough.
Medicating yourself with drugs during menstruation means you carry on regardless,
just NOT what you’re meant to do, if you do, you miss the opportunity for letting go, for renewal and then you get on this treadmill, same ol’ same ol’. If you don’t let go of what shows up during your third week, masquerading as symptoms of PMS, then guess what grows bigger next cycle!
Each of the four weeks of the menstrual cycle, and this is the case even if your cycle is longer or shorter than 4 weeks, have the energy, characteristics and qualities of the four seasons of the earth that we all know so well.
Day one is your first day of bleeding:
Week 1 is as if late winter and early spring
week 2 is late spring early winter
week 3 is late summer early autumn and
week 4 is late autumn early winter
So weeks 3 and 4 have the characteristics of autumn and winter, the descent, the move or pull inward, and just like how the deciduous trees lose their leaves at this time,
the same thing happens metaphorically for us, everything that is no longer needed in your life shows up so you can let it go with your blood and start fresh and new with the spring growth energy for your next cycle.
This phenomena, this opportunity for letting go of what no longer serves us, which shows up to us as irritations in weeks 3 and 4 of our cycle because irritations are what WILL get your attention. These things that show up irritating us then, ARE the things that no longer serve us the things, ways, beliefs, attitudes we need to let go of.
This natural process has been turned by our culture and the medical model, into pathology, which means something is wrong and needs to be fixed and its been named as a syndrome – PMS or premenstrual syndrome. It’s the time when women stop complying, their opportunity for renewal, and rebirth,brings everything that’s not working in their life into full view, and instead of being seen for the wonderful opportunity it is, it is seen as moodiness, crankiness, and all the 100 or so physical symptoms that combine with it, which are really messages from our body
to get us to change what’s going on, there are so many symptoms associated with this time, its been relegated to disease and guess what, it can be fixed with the Pill.
Do you know, that the Pill is the most prescribed medication in the world!
tis so famous its called THE pill! And its all about controlling women’s cycles.
It creates a pseudo pregnancy, your body thinks you are pregnant. So you wont ovulate and risk conception. When you bleed on the pill, it's not a real period. It’s a withdrawal bleed because you drop the synthetic hormone levels And that makes you bleed.
And we all bathe in, cook with and drink the water that contains all the hormones from the millions of women on the pill as their waters rejoin the main waters. And this contributes along with fertilisers used in farming and animal feed to the oestrogen pollution and dominance we experience that messes with our bodies.
So, like every other cycle, if you try to control it, you miss its wisdom, its healing
and its growth and evolutionary opportunities, and, often to your peril.
Honouring the menstrual cycle is the spiritual practice of menstruation, this means bringing consciousness to the process and what goes on around it.
Disposable sanitary products not only cost a lot of money over and over, and are made with chemicals and take 100s of years to biodegrade, they also contribute to the huge use of pesticides in the cotton farming to create them and landfill, blocked drains and sea pollution. You can honour yourself, your cycle and the earth by using reusable cloth pads or mooncups/keepers or sponges.
You can make prayers with your blood
You can dedicate your eggs not just to babies,
to world peace, to love..
Get to know yourself through understanding your cycle
Chart your cycle, notice how differently you feel each day
See the waxing and waning of your energy, your libido, your creative urges,
observe your moods how they change each day and week.
Come to know yourself.
I have created a ‘how to chart your cycle handbook and journal’ called
13 Moons (that’s how many moon cycles there are in a year)
And a ‘ready reckoner’ called the
which tells you the energy of each day of the lunar cycle, your menstrual cycle and the influence of the earth season and your life season. So you can, through understanding all these influences on you, understand why you feel the way you do on any particular day.
The reason I’m hear talking about this today is because I put a proposal to the Woodford organisers for them to have a Red Tent here this year, in full operation. A private women’s space, for those who are bleeding to retreat to and for others of us to be as priestesses and serve them. That wasn’t possible this year, but they asked me if I would come and talk about it, to start the process . . .
This isn’t just happening here
There is a worldwide movement
The Red Tent movement!
Women reclaiming feminine wisdom,
through reconnection with the women’s mysteries.
There is a Red Tent festival next year near Bangalow,
There is a movie called The Red Tent,
"Things We Don’t Talk About"
coming out later this year.
Chart your cycle
Watch the moon
And practice the spiritual practice of menstruation,
especially the Red Tent,
You wont regret it,
Not only will this all help you enjoy and love your menstrual cycle,
It will prepare you for a conscious birth,
and for a healing enlightening perimenopause
and your life ahead as a wise woman who will teach these ways to the girls.
Teacher of the Women's Mysteries
The School of Shamanic Midwifery
firstname.lastname@example.orgSchool of Shamanic Midwifery