I was always told as a child “If you never ask, you will never know.”
Like many of my peers, I seemed to be following the motions but not really feeling anything: Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Take care of kids. Go to bed. Repeat.
I took a step outside my comfort zone and made a decision that would forever change my life.
As a young mother, I had lost pieces of me that made me, well, me. I became obsessed with my children’s and significant other’s needs and lost sight of my own. I soon realized that I had unknowingly become a robot. I felt no excitement and no true joy.
I had no appreciation for the present.
My heart wasn’t in it, and I needed more.
So where does one go when they realize their five year plan is a piece of crock? You stop. You breathe. You regroup.
Group. I needed a group. Where was I to go?
Then the signs appeared. The Universe had answered. And it answered with something bigger than I could have imagined.
I was lead to a Red Tent meeting.
A Red Tent meeting is a gathering by and for woman. A comfortable place to sit and celebrate being a “womban.” Our Red Tent is a place where we get together on the new and full moon each month. These dates are significant because before technology, hormones, chemicals in everyday life, and simply being out of touch with nature women usually followed the moon’s cycle. They got their periods on or near the new moon and ovulated on or near the full moon.
Our circle is a time for us to honor our womanhood, talk about our journey or open up our past. We may set intentions, discuss current woes, discouragements, or excitements. We pull goddess cards, we meditate, we are cleansed with sage, and we tell stories.
It as a welcoming environment for all types of women, no matter where they may be in their journey.
When I first heard about the Red Tent, I laughed out loud.
I thought, “A group of women that meets during their menstrual cycle? How or why would I ever?”
That was my ego talking…but I couldn’t ignore the ache to go anyhow just to see what it was like—after all, what was the worst that could happen?
The new moon was approaching, so I let go of all my insecurities and I left.
As it turns out, the Red Tent saved me from myself.
It saved my kids. My partner. My family.
So how did the Red Tent save me?
1. I became self-aware.
I was able to open up which was never something that I had felt comfortable with before—not even in a therapist’s office. I would get nervous as my turn approached. I never knew what to say. I opened my mouth and words, feelings, and revelations just spilled. It blew me away. I was finally finding comfort in my feelings and I was welcomed and encouraged to have and share them.
2. I found my tribe.
I am a bit eccentric. I believe in putting things into the universe and having them return. I believe in loving mother earth. I believe in healing crystals, reiki, mediumship, and the powers of yoga meditation and beyond.
What I didn’t believe in was how powerful women can be. My past experiences beat into me the idea that women are cruel and judgmental.
These women took me in, loved me—and most importantly, they built me up.
3. It forced me to take self care time.
Where I am in life currently is all about my nuclear family and kids. The only way I feel successful is when my kids are laughing and loving and bonus points if the dishes are clean. When I had forgotten about myself, Red Tent reminded me to say yes yes to taking care of me, even when I didn’t want to.
I said yes to that bath without interruptions. I said yes to leaving my kids and partner and going to Red Tent. I said yes to shopping alone.
I have only ever felt empowered twice in my life: I had never felt more raw, more human, more powerful than during the natural births of my two boys. I birthed them naturally and alone.
It was perfect. This group allows me to feel that powerful even in the mundane. I bring something up and the women are all so quick to turn it around to make me realize I am even more. More powerful than one could have imagined.
5. It helped me become less judgmental.
This is something I am working on every day, and is embarrassing to even admit. I have always judged others harshly, and I now realize it truly does come from insecurity.
When I used to see a powerful woman I instantly would hate them for no reason. In hindsight, it was usually due to envy. These meetings have taught me how to recognize that feeling and choose to stop.
Now, I want to take these woman in and hug them. I want to tell them that I understand them, that they are powerful and beautiful and doing it all right.
I want to join hands rather than break them apart. This group allowed me to see what we are often missing in this world.
6. I got rid of my shame.
For my entire life, I was taught to be embarrassed by my blood. I was taught to hide it or to use it as an excuse for a sick day. I never understood just what having a period meant. Gathering with the Red Tent tribe taught me to be proud to be a woman. It also reminded me that I was healthy enough to have a period, easily get pregnant and carry two children to term.
My womb did that, and my breasts nourished them. I lost the embarrassment of having body hair or curves. It taught me the importance of “I am woman, hear me roar.”
The Red Tent movement is not something I ever thought I would join—in the past, I would surely have scoffed at it. Now, I look forward to every new and full moon gathering. I look towards that me time where I can sit and meditate, cleanse myself of that past few weeks, and seek refuge in understanding and loving hands, where I can be me.
I encourage you to find your circle. Look for a group where women can support women, where we can all just believe in one another, love one another and become kinder to ourselves.
You will never regret it.
Author: Amber St. Pierre
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Anathea Utley at Flickr