Red Tent Movement

If you are a woman and you move around in pagan circles, chances are you will have heard of the Red Tent Movement. The first time I heard of it was about half a year ago, on Pagyptian’s vlog, and I instantly set out to research it (because that’s what I do with everything).

The Red Tent Movement is a movement empowering women by bringing them together at full or new moon, often in a candlelit place draped with red curtains and clothes. It is a place where no judgement is passed, and every woman is welcome to ask for what she needs at that moment. The movement is based on a book called the Red Tent, where the literal red tent was a place for women to stay during menstruation.

Often it was interpreted that women were pushed away during this time, that they were filthy in some way, but it is turned around here: women are very powerful because they menstruate and can bring forth life. I believe there are tribes where the women were taught this during their time in a red tent of sorts. That is also the power of the modern Red Tent Movement, that started in America, but has reached the Netherlands and my hometown as well.

Last week, I went to my first Red Tent and it was amazing. Yes, I was somewhat scared at the beginning, because I didn’t know any of the women, but that faded away quickly as we sang to the fire, invoking the fire spirits to help us burn away things we would prefer to be gone. And then inside the Red Tent, we each lit a candle and passed on the matches, honouring the fire inside each and every woman there. So much happened that evening, all concentrating on one purpose: to let us feel both our strengths and our needs as women and to let us experience the power of sisterhood in addressing those needs. In addition, it made me feel the power of performing rituals together, even though that might not have been the purpose.

All in all, it’s an amazing experience and I can’t wait for the Red Tent in February. If you are curious, as was I, just google ‘red tent’ and your place of residence (or a larger city nearby) and you will probably find one close to you as well. I hope you will go there and feel empowered, as do I.

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Crystal spiral for healing

Burgemeester van der WerffToday is October 3rd! In Leiden, where I live, that is a major holiday, perhaps even bigger than the national Queen’s Day (which is King’s day as from this year). It started out in 1574, during the 80-year long war (I don’t know what that is called in English). The Spaniards tried to take over control over most of the Netherlands and the troops of Valdez were laying siege on the city of Leiden. Food was scarce, even so scarce that a legend states the mayor offered his body to serve as food…

The prince, as a desperate measure, decided to bring down the dykes of Holland, hoping the water would drive Valdez away. But it took until October for the water to rise and actually reach Leiden. In the night of 2 to 3 October, a small boy called Cornelis Joppenszoon climbs the wall and finds the Spaniards have actually fled, leaving behind the cooking pots with a hearty meal of carrots, onions and meat. The ‘hutspot’, as it is called, stills the first hunger of the citizens from Leiden, and when the prince arrives with herring and white bread, they know they have made it.

This defeat of the Spaniards was one of the key moments in the fight for independence of the Republic. Even during the world wars, the¬†accomplishment was commemorated in church, and the University of Leiden, which was given to the city by the prince, is a remaining tribute and remembrance of those days. Ever since, the 3rd of October is celebrated in Leiden. Perhaps in the first days, the freedom was really commemorated, but now… I only know it as the carnival in town with bands performing, people drinking beer and eating ‘hutspot’ and herring with white bread. Yes, weird traditions, but oh such fun!

One of the children my husband trains, however, wasn’t able to celebrate and go into town this year. She has had an operation to correct the scoliosis in her back a few weeks ago and is now recovering. Her body will have to get used to the new alignment of her back, which is expected to take another nine months of small steps forward. The entire korfball club is feeling for her and her family, emotionally supporting them in every possible way. Wanting to do something a bit more tangible for myself, I decided to send her some healing magic, as I will continue to do for the period she is recovering.

On my altar, I made a spiral of crystals. I think there is moonstone there, perhaps some citrine and other quartz varieties, and in the center I have placed a rose quartz. The many stones symbolize the steps in her recovery process, going to the full recovery at the rose quartz. When I was empowering this spiral, with my third eye I saw lines of gold connecting the stones (I hadn’t planned this, so it was kind of cool), and coming closer to the rose quartz, I placed the image of a healthy, healed girl in the center of the spiral. The crystals will stay put, and when I look at my altar and see the spiral, my mind immediately projects the golden lines and the image of a healed girl onto it. So every time I look at it, healing energy will be sent to her, and I’m sure she can celebrate October 3rd next year!
Crystal spiral

Lammas preparations

Lammas is just around the corner! And what better way to celebrate a harvest festival than with food? Today and tomorrow will be entirely about making food and during a BBQ on Friday we can actually enjoy what I’ve made. And to set the scene, the weather forecast is sunny with 32 degrees Celsius. A perfect summer setting.

As the first harvest festival, for me it’s about summer fruits and veg, seeds that spread to enable new growth during spring and the celebration of the bountiful earth in general. I’ve taken a walk earlier this week as part of my walking challenge, seeing cornflower, poppy and chamomile together (planted there), making a wonderful mosaic of colours. I hope I’ll be able to collect some seeds and grow some of my own next year! On my table is a vase with (to me) enormous sunflowers as a sign for spring and my fruit basket is filled with apples, pears, peaches and mango… strawberries I keep in my fridge, obviously.

Contrast in bloemen Schaduwspel Wandeling polder Leiderdorp Wesp op bloem

I love the sweet summer fruits the first harvest brings and plan to use them optimally: fruit skewers with mango and peach, peach and strawberry salad and compote made of pear and apple. Lammas or ‘loaf-mass’ is also a festival of corn and grain and the bread you can produce with it. Even though I have some corn for the BBQ, I’m planning to make the bread for the BBQ myself. It’s been quite a while since I last made bread, because I need almost the entire day for it, but the smell alone makes it worthwhile, not to mention the satisfaction of eating home-made bread.

Many people don’t feel comfortable with chanting individually, and I am one of them. I tend to feel insecure – am I doing it right – even though I know there is no right and wrong and there is nobody to listen to me. It feels weird because I’m not used to it. So rather than talking or chanting out loud, I say what I want inside or write it down, and conduct my own little rituals. Even though making the meal is already ritual, I read something very nice on a BBC blog, by someone who spent some time on the island of Mull in Scotland and celebrated the sabbats. It is a food altar! You make an altar on the ground with food, making patterns or a picture and leave it there, returning something to the earth.

lammas food alter

I’m planning to do something similar, though it may not be done exclusively with food, but perhaps also with some of the small stones I recently brought back from my father’s house.

For now, I wish you all a blessed Lammas and hope you may enjoy the earth’s bounty once again.