The Red Temple Movement: Honoring the Cycles of Womanhood
May 15, 2015 12:30PM
Just as nature has cycles, so do women. The seasons represent a different phase in an ongoing cycle – birth (Spring), maturity (Summer), aging/release (Fall), and death/transformation (Winter). This is reflected in the maiden, mother and crone seasons of womanhood. Biologically, women’s phases are defined by levels of procreation – the onset of menstruation, the fertile years, peri-menopause and post-menopause. Spiritual growth is also continuously cycling through similar phases in fresh realizations, maturing wisdom, release of old patterns and personal transformation.
The lost art and ritual of honoring of these important stages in a woman’s life is gaining momentum through The Red Tent Temple Movement. This movement was started by ALisa Starkweather who was inspired by The Red Tent, a New York Times best selling novel by Anita Diamant, written in 1997. Diamant wrote about a time when tribal women in the desert bled together on the new moon and during this time they would all gather in the women’s Red Tent.
The book inspired women who yearned for a place just to “be,” removed from labels, responsibilities and expectations. Starkweather joined with other women to bring Red Tents to large gatherings of women and the movement is growing organically across the nation.
The Red Tent Temple, typically held on our around the new moon, offers women a place to incubate, dream, pause and be free of an agenda. It’s a safe space to share stories, laughter, songs, food and honor the unique cycles experienced monthly in women’s bleeding time as well as going through menopause and the many years leading up to it.
The space, whether it be at a church, home or community center is bathed in red fabric and decor. Women are invited to wear red to remember that their blood symbolizes life and their connection to their cycles, the moon and one another and as a way to honor the deep feminine in every woman.
Jamie Allen and Alison Holmes hold Red Tent Temples in the Charlotte area and also travel to the the midwest and northeast U.S. with the Traveling Red Tent Temple, hoping to inspire other women to create their own temples and carry forward the tradition of woman-space. The couple, who offer workshops and ceremonies, healing services and Native American products through their business Earthen Moon, believe it is important for women to take the time to slow down and connect with themselves and others.
“In today's world we are constantly distracted by technology and so busy working and caring for our families, it is easy to put our own needs aside. We, as women, have become disconnected from the cycles of life - the seasons, the moon and our own physical cycles. Ancient cultures all had their own version of a Red Tent. It was a time when all the women of a tribe cycled together and during that time, they supported and nurtured one another through the adolescence, motherhood and crone stages of life,” says Holmes.
A wide variety of activities can occur at a Red Tent Temple such as dancing, drumming, singing, journaling, art, storytelling, massage, yoga, energy work and herbal treatments. Women are encourage to share their gifts. It is also a place where women can have conversations and education on topics they may not otherwise feel comfortable talking about: body image, self acceptance, aging, sex, birthing stories, and natural menstrual remedies. Holmes says she and Allen end each Red Tent with the Sacred Circle.
“We usually begin with drumming/singing and then we discuss a chosen topic. Sometimes we share stories about our mothers/grandmothers or our first moon time, sometimes we choose a subject such as ‘creating healthy boundaries.’ The number one rule is to allow each woman to be heard, we do not try to fix each other’s problems, we just honor and support what each woman is feeling in the moment. The discussions are always deeply healing and heart opening.”
Red Tent Temples can offer a rite of passage to young women as they begin their moon cycles. Holmes feels that in today's technology-driven world it is important to teach girls how to be emotionally and socially confident, wise in the ways of humanity/spirituality and educated about their bodies. Topics for this age may include empowerment, coming of age, new moon intention circles, plant wisdom/medicine making and awakening creativity.
Robbie Warren recently attended a Red Tent Temple led by Allen and Holmes at Sacred Grove Retreat in Gold Hill, NC and admitted that the thought of going to an event where she didn’t have to do anything felt a little strange. Once she entered the temple, that notion quickly dissolved. “When I walked in, I felt completely enveloped in the space. I quickly settled in to just be-ing. There were no expectations or agendas. I could read, draw, color, share with other women or just sit and be. It was one of the most liberating experiences I have ever had.”
Holmes is excited to hit the road to spread the power of Red Tent Temples to all walks of life, all colors and all religions. “We come together to create safe community. We do this through laughter and tears, ceremony and celebrations, but most of all through support."