New periods

Spoiler: this will be a very women-centered post!

This Friday and Saturday was the launch party for the Red Tent Movie. Though I have only heard about the red tent recently, I was very curious. A place for women to come together and… well, and what? I didn’t have a clue. The red tent, even though the colour resonates with the monthly menstruation, is not a place for bleeding women only, such as it might have been in earlier times. Or at least in Jean Auels ‘Earthchildren’ series that I love. A place of seclusion, because the men were either disgusted by the monthly blood or the women were revered as it demonstrated their power to give life. I like the second better, obviously, and have never felt dirty, but I realize that for some women this might be different. My mother made clear that it was just part of becoming a women, natural as can be, but I know others who have had quite some trouble when they reached menarche. 

Yet, as I learned in the video, the red tent is not only for women who are currently bleeding. It does not descriminate based on age, either, so maiden, mother and crone are together in a tent (or some other space). That makes it the best place ever to share stories about what makes us all women. A place to educate the younger ones, a place to hear the stories about the Goddess, a place to laugh together, a place to cry and be comforted, a place to meditate, a place to be creative. The red tent seems to make room for all of this. 

Luckily, the Red Tent movement has spread to the Netherlands as well. I am trying to find a red tent near me, so I can experience this wonderful sense of sisterhood that I got a taste of while watching the movie. There are so many things I would like to talk about with other women, but that are simply not accepted topics of conversation in most settings. But I really need to share with others, both for my own development, but also to be able to educate my future children. My experiences are just my own, and I feel like I need the context of others to put it all in perspective. 

Apart from hopefully finding a red tent somewhere close to me, I also want to read the book that inspired all these people to start red tents: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. A novel based loosely on the biblical story of Dinah, apparently (I do not know this story). I’m very curious. I’ve also started to take a closer look at how I handle my period. I’ve always used tampons and pads, but I recently ordered a menstrual cup that I am now trying for the very first time. Yes, it’s very awkward, but hey, so was the first time using tampons! Probably my periods and the way I perceive them will change even more, but only in a positive way 🙂

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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!