It's very, very early this morning.
The sun is just starting to lighten the sky. I got up to go to boot camp but realised that I have one more week of school holidays to get through so thought i'd use the early morning for writing instead! Precious, quiet moments that have been lacking the last couple of weeks.
I started a crowdfunding campaign to support my mission to have a permanent Red Tent for women on my land in my community. It has been a vision and a dream of mine to create this space for a very long time. I have gone through many versions of this space and am blessed to be receiving support to fund this dreaming! You can check out the campaign here www.gofundme.com/2bzmwp98 and if you feel called to donate I am so grateful.
I remember returning from my first vision quest, when my baby was still a baby, and we had returned home from being away camping in the cold for a week. I had barely managed to sit down with a cup of tea when my phone started pinging with messages. A woman in our circle of friends had received some really challenging news and we needed to pull together and support her.
And so began my journey into holding space for women. I was working as a doula at the time, and had embarked on my training with the School of Shamanic Womancraft because there was such a huge YES in my soul that I couldn’t say no. I had thought that the work would be an amazing complement to my doula work but It turned out to be so much more. It changed the whole trajectory of my life.
That first circle that I held I was so scared! Even though these women were my friends I was scared and nervous about putting myself out there and not doing a good job. It was such a huge learning curve for me. I had to navigate a shift in friendship dynamics, holding a sacred closed space but also making space for other women who were yearning for a circle. I had to learn deep lessons of my sacred wound, that would play out over and over again until I finally figured it out. Or at least a layer of it!
As I worked more and more with the processes I realized that a large part of my calling was the Red Tent. The name given to the spiritual practice of menstruation, the practice of bringing consciousness to our cycles, to understand how we hold the mysteries of birth, growth, full bloom, decline, death and rebirth in our wombs and see this mystery played out every month. That we are the holders of a magickal elixir, that weaves magick within and without. That we can heal the earth by returning our blood to her each cycle.
I started foraging through op shops and discount stores for curtains, cushions and floor coverings. It’s amazing how many red furnishings there are when you start looking!! I had the first Red Tent at a community market put on by our school. I borrowed a marquee (a blue one!) and made a sacred space amongst the bustle of a market place. I held a circle in that space and that was my first real stepping out into the greater community as “I do this” I stepped into my priestess self.
Oh but the lessons that came from holding the space in a public space! I'm pretty sure that I went home and cried from the sheer exhaustion and the challenge of keeping sacred a drop in space! I quickly learned not to take it personally when women left mid circle.
Though the School of Shamanic Womancraft, Red Tent Dreaming was born, which was about bringing Red Tent to festivals around Australia! We created tents at The Goddess Conference, Rainbow Serpent, Seven Sisters Festival, Being Woman, and the Homebirth Australia Conference. Such beautiful way to spread the magick of this space with women.
Circle with my women friends continued fortnightly, with more women wanting to come. So I created my "Honouring the woman" course as a way of supporting women to have a "circle 101" experience and then go to form their own circle. It didn't quite happen that way as everyone wanted to stay together! and so the circles grew.
I started setting up Red Tent (a red marquee by now!) in my back yard in Toowoomba. it was lovely spot under the avocado tree and holding space specifically as Red Tent started seeing a shift in the women who came.
And then we moved.
New space, new women. I started off by hiring a room one a week as a practice space and using it as Red Tent space monthly. That was hard! I could write a very long post on the pitfalls of hiring a space when you don't have enough of a name for yourself to attract any clients!!! Lets just say it was an expensive lesson that lasted 6 months.
I had to really think about what Red Tent was about. It's certainly not about making money, as I have always, and will always run the space on donation. It's about women, community, holding, safety, healing, magick and connection. So I took the tent back to the backyard.
Into my tiny inner city terrace backyard we went. Every month, putting up the marquee (a new one by this time, they don't last long!) and decorating it with all manner of soft, red fabric. I paid a seamstress to run 2 bolts of chiffon into functional curtains so i could stop pinning my thumbs on set up! and Red Tent Newcastle was born! It was a lovely year of connecting in the space, and really brought the energy and magick right into the inner city. I had conversations about sacred menstruation with people who had no idea what i was doing in my backyard. It brought Red Tent into the public eye, which was a wonderful consequence of me just trying to find a space for my dream.
And then we moved.
And once again, I'm in that space of starting again. Only this time is the last time. We are not moving our children again, we want them to grow some roots and feel secure. I have space to build my dream here. The women are coming to my wee marquee that survived the move. They are coming in the dark, to the forest, showing me the depth of their calling and their bravery. So I am answering that by creating this permanent, weatherproof, soft, delicious Red Tent for them to come dream, talk, laugh, heal, gather.
It is time.
It is time for these spaces to fully exist, out of the dreaming and into reality.
It is time to come together for our healing.
it is time do do this work for all our relations.
Soon it will arrive. Soon the platforms will be built, Soon the bamboo cleared, the lights set up, the fire lit. Soon there will be a Red Tent ready, open, for all women.
Maiden, Mother, Maga, Crone.
Welcome to the Red Tent