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.

Transition phases

Transitions are a natural part of life. Physically, emotionally and socially, you go through very big changes. I’ve gone through some of these, and though it has sometimes been frightening, so far it has turned out fine!

I can remember my onset of menarche. I was absolutely terrified, I can’t remember I was prepared for it to happen, but it was scary. I was 10 or 11, and that afternoon I was going on a date with my boyfriend… swimming… My mom was very sweet, explaining what was happening, and then bluntly put it this way: you either have to use a tampon or you can’t go swimming. It was an extremely uncomfortable situation, even more when my mom took out an almost life-sized doll and began to demonstrate how that would work. Talking about awkward! In retrospect, I don’t think my mother was expecting me to start menstruating at such an early age and hadn’t prepared anything for that. For my own children, should the Goddess bless me with daughters, I hope to have a small ritual of sorts and be able to explain the bodily changes to them in a slightly more comfortable situation! After all, it’s where you go from girl to woman.

By now, it has been almost a year since I got married. I tied myself to my husband, hoping not to part with him, ever. Comparing the limited symbolism and rituals surrounding menarche in the Western world, tying the knot is connected to many rituals. My father gave me away, for example, which is a most beautiful ritual that really signified him letting me go, placing me under the protection of my husband rather than his. It was a very emotional moment. Even more emotional, however, was the wedding vow. Standing opposite, holding hands and looking at each other, we pledged our commitment. “Yes, I do”. Then there was kissing and cheering and crying. Out of happiness 🙂 Cutting the cake together, throwing my wedding bouquet at the assembled unmarried women. It was a day I will never forget, symbolizing the transition from unattached to married woman.

At this moment, I am in the middle of a social transition. In March, I graduated from the university with honours. It was the end of my formal learning career (unfortunately, cause I enjoyed learning very much), and I am looking for a fulltime job. So far without succes, but then perhaps I am picky in which jobs to apply for. It is by far the longest transition phase and I hope it is almost over! In 3 days I will be doing a ritual for succes in job hunting as part of this process. I’m looking forward to this new part of my life!

These are the 3 transitions I have experienced most strongly, but obviously, everyone experiences different changes. The rituals surrounding them may also vary, depending on where you live and your customs. No matter what, change happens. Don’t try to oppose it, but move with it!

Healthy sports canteen

Every year, our club hosts an international korfball tournament with over 150 people from the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain. A great weekend, because the English arrive on Friday, so it’s almost a three day event (there’s a smaller tournament for the first teams on Sunday, and last year we had youth games on Friday evening).  All these people spend at least one day playing match after match. In the sun today, though that has been different some other years.

 

French Fries

French Fries (Photo credit: fritish)

Playing sports is healthy, we are all aware of that. In a healthy lifestyle, exercise ought to play a part, as ought a balanced diet. But, weirdly enough, those two aren’t always combined. Have you played organized sports? Then you have probably enjoyed a beer and french fries or something similar in your canteen. Many teams enjoy the third half, consisting of alcohol and socializing, more than the game they play. And little children? Sweet drinks and candy. That’s not very healthy, is it? But it’s something that happens everywhere.

 

Some people (like me) bring their own food. I like to eat grapes on match days, or an apple, and I bring my own sandwiches. Not because I don’t like panini’s or fries (they also have regular sandwiches in our canteen, with today a healthy choice of salmon), but because I think what I eat is healthier. Especially the fruits, cause we don’t sell any fresh fruit, or canned fruit for that matter. And it’s such a shame! When I have my grapes with me, it’s always more than I can eat myself, but I barely ever have anything left. Simply because other like to help me finish it. It’s not that people don’t want healthy food in the canteen, it’s because there is barely anything available. Unhealthy is the easy choice! And that’s not the way it should be.

 

Some things will probably never change. If we try to ditch the beer, people will riot, definitely. But we could limit the times we sell beer. And for the food and snacks, we can offer healthy alternatives. Place the crisps out of sight and have a fruit basket with apples and bananas, or small boxes with grapes (I’d love that). If you place something in sight, it’s already way more appealing. Have sugar-free chewing gum and add some low-calorie drinks to the assortment. Without a doubt, there will be people who chose the healthy option.

 

It’s a difficult fight for a healthy sports canteen. You can try asking for certain products if you can’t get them at the moment, or if you don’t have any direct influence on the buying. Another option is to start a petition: ask around whether other people might like a change in assortment as well. And if nothing works? Just bring your own healthy food!

 

Changes the full moon brings

Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois)....

Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois). Français : Pleine Lune vue de la Terre en Belgique à Hamois. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight is the full moon, and as I am uncharacteristically free from everything this evening, I plan on doing a small ritual. This moon is often associated with abundance, health and cleansing, aspects I also associate with the mother goddesses. Followed by the waning moon, it is a time for healing, diminishing problems that you have as the moon turns new. This is exactly what I intend to do.

Using both water and fire, I want to enforce some changes. Right now, it’ll take half a year to finish my master. I have prolonged the study both to finish my internship, which takes longer than planned, and to follow some additional courses on policy and social participation. In order to actually be done by February, I need to shed my currently lazy attitude. I’ve always loved learning, and never had the least bit of trouble going through high school and university, but now I’m kind of struggling. The work for the internship is tedious (I now have to transcribe over 15 hours of interviews and it’s extremely slow and boring), but it has to be done.

Part of my reluctance might be because school is all I know. I’m a bit scared to graduate, because it means I have to enter the grown-up world of jobs and working and the uncertainty it brings. At the same time, I can’t really start a family when I’m still a student, and I really want that too… So tonight, the full moon is going to bring out a new person. Dedicated and driven, so I can get my college degree as soon as possible, find a job that I love and seriously start planning a family. Yes, the full moon will bring changes. How will it change you?