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Restoring Women to Ceremony: The Red Tent Resource Kit

 “… Every day, we witness the positive, transformative effects of, ‘restoring women to ceremony’…another reason it is vital that we continue our work…”

–D’vorah Grenn (Stepping into Ourselves, p. 56)

We’ve been hard at work over the last three months giving birth to a new project!

Introducing…The Red Tent Resource Kit

redtentkit

I actually ended up sort of accidentally writing a whole new book to go with this kit. It was originally going to be a collection of handouts as a pdf. However, as I put the handouts together, I realized I was actually writing a short book or manual instead. I also reflected on how I am tired of only getting pdf manuals and ebooks when I sign up for different programs, rather than an actual, printed book. One of my mottoes this year is to follow the inspiration, so I went with it, and at the end of last month our new books arrived and they’re beautiful and I’m so excited about them!

Our unique, signature Red Tent Kit includes ALL of the following resources:

  • Womanrunes Book and Card set: ideal for personal guidance and self-development, or for the inspiration and renewal corner at your Red Tent Circle.
  • Red Tent Goddess Sculpture: symbolic of self-care and of both receiving and giving.
  • Carnelian Pendulum (kit exclusive!)
  • Brand new 58 page book: Restoring Women to Ceremony, The Red Tent Resource Kit, written exclusively for this kit. In this collection of essays and ritual resources, you will find a complete Red Tent “recipe,” circle leadership basics, moontime musings, and readings, quotes, and poems to help you facilitate a rich, inviting, welcoming, creative space for the women of your community.
  • Moontime pendant with silver-tone, solid crescent moon charm
  • Red altar cloth
  • Red organza bag to store your resources
  • Coupon for $100 off the companion Red Tent Initiation online training to be held in July-August
  • Extra surprise bonus goodies intuitively chosen for you!

The contents of this Kit are valued at $100 when sold separately!

When I was taking pictures for the Kit, I randomly drew three Womanrunes cards to include in the pictures. The ones I drew were absolutely perfect for sharing the message of what this collection has to offer to others and what we hope to create in restoring women to ceremony:

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Embrace Possibility…

embracepossibilitypendantUsually when I create a new design for a pendant or figurine, I know who I’m making when I begin. Last spring, I  created a new design who emerged as a mystery. When she was finished, I loved her. But, I didn’t know her name or what she represented. I asked on my facebook page for input and I got some suggestions…

Druid priestess. Seraphine. High Priestess. Tri-Goddess. Mother. Celtic goddess.

I took her to the woods and held her in my hand and spoke in a little sing-song of emergence…

She who unites body, mind and spirit. She who calls upon earth, sky, and river.  She who speaks to oaks and mountains. She who sings with the ocean.  She who opens arms to the sky and feels raindrops bless her brow. She who circles in the moonlight. She  who gathers with her sisters. She who hears the drumbeat of the earth. She who tunes her heartbeat to this call.  She who steps in time with the wind.

Of this earth, for this earth, on this earth.

She holds the vision. She holds the space. She holds an ancient wisdom.

Encoded in her cells, written on her bones…

The mantle settles around her shoulders.

Sinking into belly, bones, and blood,
until she knows,
without a doubt,
that this is who,
she really is.

The next afternoon, a friend who had a prototype version of the new pendant sent me a message suggesting a title: Embrace Possibility. I thought about what I’d written in the woods. I thought about how different women saw different names for her and I knew that THIS was it. Embrace Possibility. What message does she hold for you?

This experience returns to me as we greet a new year with all its potential. After the reflective mood of fall and the celebratory spirit of the holiday, I find that January has entered my life with a frosty attitude. When I was preparing to give birth to my new baby in October, I’d mentally prepared to be “off” until January, which felt far away at the time. Now that it actually is January, I recognize a tautness in my chest and mind at the return to “real life.” My body feels tight and constricted and I am increasingly irritable and frustrated, like an animal emerging from hibernation.  At the same time, I have a lot of plans, visions, and ideas for the new year. I feel a brightness and aliveness and a deep excitement about the birth of a new year, but I notice myself struggling with a sensation of needing or wanting all of these things to be done right now, at this very moment. Hurry up! I suspect this is because at another level, I still actually want to hibernate in my rocking chair with my baby. The call of the hermit self remains strong, the call of the outside world is clamoring with increasing intensity for my attention, and the buzzing sparks of energy and vision in my mind say, set us free. Let us ignite! Can I allow myself to continue to sit for just a while longer, embracing possibility?

November 2014 362

Red Tent!

In 2012, when we held our first Mamafest event, my eye was caught by this room within the beautiful setting of Tara Day Spa:

August 2014 013I wanted to have a Red Tent in this room! I could just feel it calling to me. The next year, when the time came to plan the event, I was dealing with a lot of different things and I knew I did not have the energy to also pull off a Red Tent event and so I tabled it again, but still, I saw that room that year and I wanted it.

The following year,  we started planning even earlier for Mamafest and I had been seeing posts and updates from the Red Tent Movie (Things We Don’t Talk About) and I decided I wanted to host a screening and a Red Tent event during our Mamafest this year. While there are things I would do differently in the future, notably that having a screening at the same time as another event was simply too much, I still feel so happy and pleased that I did it. I scheduled the film based on past experience in which the final half of Mamafest slows down in terms of traffic and so it seemed like the film screening would be a good way to keep people involved with the entire duration of the event. However, this year was so busy and vibrant and successful and energetic, it felt like it was actually disruptive to the flow to try to pull people away for the screening and the “calm” and contemplative energy of the film ended up not matching the celebratory, exciting atmosphere of the rest of the event. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely do the screening separately and then offer the Red Tent space and mini-ritual during Mamafest itself.

Anyway, back to set up. We arrived at Tara Day Spa almost three full hours before the event was scheduled to begin and we needed every single minute of it, plus some. I am so grateful to my husband and my friend Amy who took over most of the actual hanging of the red fabric in the Red Tent space. When I saw the finished entrance, I knew I’d fulfilled my dream!

August 2014 023We set up the inside in an inviting manner with several little stations: a refreshment station with chocolate, tea, and bindis, a henna tattoo area, and a free jewelry making station. Due to size constraints, we actually had to make an “emergency” decision to move the screening of the film itself to the upstairs room at Tara. It was a little stressful to make this transition, but I think it was the right call. We did a mini ritual to open the film (had some technical difficulties getting the film equipment set up and I was extremely flustered to have to make this last minute switch, so that was not ideal for the mood I had wanted to create), we watched the film and then closed by circling up and singing a song together. We ended right on time and then it took more than another hour to dismantle and repack everything. This type of event is not for the faint of heart! Nor is it for pregnant women unless they have husbands and good friends to pack up most of their stuff for them! My midwife was at the event and we did a short prenatal visit in the Tent while we were taking it down. My blood pressure was reasonably normal, but my heart rate was 104 (normal for me is in the 70’s)!

We also had a Brigid’s Grove booth right outside the Red Tent space (plus, I brought the materials for our LLL booth and for the RBN booth itself. My car was so full!) I had mistakenly assumed that I could move between both the Tent itself and our booth and I told Mark that I thought it was unlikely we would sell anything, or maybe just a few dollars worth of charms, so I wasn’t concerned beforehand about adequately staffing the booth itself. My focus was on the Red Tent and on giving this experience as a community service, not on trying to sell stuff. As it turned out, our booth was much busier and more successful that I ever expected (we ended up making almost as much money in just four hours at this event than we did in two 12 hour days at the La Leche League of Missouri conference in Columbia this summer!) I am eternally grateful to my friend Amy who sat at our booth most of the time and did not get to enjoy most of the rest of the event accordingly. It was not her “problem” that I couldn’t divide myself into multiple people (can’t perform that magic trick until my due date in October!) and work at everything that needed me to work at it, but she was very helpful and I appreciated it so much. If I was doing it over again, I would have asked Mark to stay to work at the booth rather than taking advantage of my friend. He assumed it was a woman-only space and it would not be really appropriate for him to stay (plus, someone needed to take care of our kids), but really our purpose is not on an event that is exclusively for women, it is simply an event focused on woman-celebration and men can certainly be involved with that!

IMG_5663Another friend took this picture of me at my free jewelry making station. You can feel the 104 heart rate, perhaps, but also the satisfaction of mission accomplished. I did what I said I wanted to do three years ago when I saw that beautiful temple-like room sitting there waiting for me!

IMG_5659I would like to plan an ongoing Red Tent Circle throughout 2015 and I set up a Facebook group for Rolla area women who are interested in participating in future Red Tent activities.

There were a lot of fun activities as part of Mamafest and one of those was a photo booth from Little Mother Photography. When talking about props prior to the event, I’d suggested a cowboy hat and they brought one! I’ve never worn a cowboy hat before in my life, but when Kandi said she had it there especially for me, I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, they laughed too much at me to capture my lasso pose…

10385401_267689683431682_4380530872449780696_n(1)Other Little Mother photo booth pictures are here.

For additional pictures from Mamafest, check out the photo album available on the Rolla Birth Network Facebook page

When my friend and doula Summer and I conceived of this event three years ago, we said we wanted to plan an event that we also wanted to go to. And, we did it again!

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While Summer was the central organizer and coordinator of this event and I was also responsible for a large portion of it, many other friends and community members came together to make this a true success!

Huge, enthusiastic thanks to Tara Day Spa in Rolla for allowing us to host our event in their space. It is a beautiful and perfect and special setting for Mamafest!

IMG_5691Dream fulfilled!

Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Blessings, Life, and Community

I wish for you a life full of ritual and community.” –Flaming Rainbow Woman

Last week we created some sweet, simple little birth spirals by request for a Sacred Pregnancy retreat in Illinois.  After doing so, we felt inspired to create some more simple little designs specifically intended for gifting for a birth blessing bracelet or necklace at a mother blessing ceremony. We priced them in order to make them affordable for nearly any budget.

(Charms and Jewelry by BrigidsGrove on Etsy)

My inspiration for these birth blessing charms were two quotes from Jeannine Pavarti Baker that I shared in a past post:

The entire Blessingway Ceremony is a template for childbirth. The beginning rituals are like nesting and early labor. The grooming and washing like active labor. The gift giving like giving birth and the closing songs/prayers, delivery of the placenta and postpartum. A shamanic midwife learns how to read a Blessingway diagnostically and mythically, sharing what she saw with the pregnant woman in order to clear the road better for birth

Blessingways and the role of ritual | Talk Birth.

Baker goes on to describe the potent meaning of birth and its affirmation through and by ritual acknowledgement:

“Birth is a woman’s spiritual vision quest. When this idea is ritualized beforehand, the deeper meanings of childbirth can more readily be accessed. Birth is also beyond any one woman’s personal desires and will, binding her in the community of all women. Like the birthing beads, her experiences is one more bead on a very long strand connecting all mothers. Rituals for birth hone these birthing beads, bringing to light each facet of the journey of birth…”

For almost all mother blessing ceremonies that we hold locally, we incorporate beads in some way—either for a birth bracelet or necklace or some other creation (for mothers who have had prior mother blessings and already have a bracelet or necklace, we’ve done wreaths, mobiles, and even a “gourd of empowerment.”)

After this project, we worked out some example projects for participants at MamaFest 2014 to make for FREE in the Red Tent. They turned out pretty lovely as well!

And, considering the role of ceremony in our life passages, I appreciated this beautiful, pictorial exploration of a birth release ceremony designed for a mother who experienced a traumatic birth:

…if a woman PERCEIVES that she or her baby is threatened with damage; or FEELS horror, fear and helplessness at a procedure…even if this procedure is ROUTINE to medical staff; she can experience that as a traumatic event.This is REGARDLESS of her level of pain relief at the time.It is REGARDLESS of the fact that she and her baby leave the hospital alive and physically healthy.” ©Birthtalk.org, Melissa Bruijn & Debby Gould

via Birth Release Ceremony | – Jerusha Sutton | Doula Sydney- Jerusha Sutton | Doula Sydney.

And, speaking of support from other mothers, I enjoyed and identified with this poignant look at the longing for community experienced by so many women:

“…I miss that village of mothers that I’ve never had. The one we traded for homes that, despite being a stone’s throw, feel miles apart from each other. The one we traded for locked front doors, blinking devices and afternoons alone on the floor playing one-on-one with our little ones.

What gives me hope is that as I look at you from across the park with your own child in tow playing in her own corner of the sandbox, I can tell from your curious glance and shy smile that you miss it, too…”

I Miss the Village | Bunmi Laditan.

On a not-particularly-related note, but just as something I shared via my Facebook page recently, I also appreciated this new bed-sharing flyer from some of my very favorite LLL authors!

safesleepIt is available to download for free as a pdf via: Resources | Pinter & Martin Publishers.

Mark and I hit our sixteenth wedding anniversary at the end of July. We went to a BBQ restaurant and took the kids to the county fair, because that is kind of what life after 16 years of marriage looks like.  We also had a nice life-and-biz-marathon planning session and garden cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches dinner while my dad watched the kids too.

These little drummers, while not sale-ready yet, symbolize the harmony and joy of co-creating our lives, love, and work together...

July 2014 049

“…There, in the unplanned darkness,
was unlooked for wonder,
joy beyond ornament,
song beyond instruments.

At last the bride came and like a white flame
blazed among her maidens,
in brilliance more stern and starlike
and vastly more magnificent
than the ribbons and confections
we had planned for that day…”

Rainy Wedding | Talk Birth.

(This post is from three years ago with a poem from a friend that she wrote in 1998 after our wedding.)

Backing up a little further into July (I’ve been really busy lately and my blog has languished accordingly!). July first was my “priestessaversary.” It is also my husband’s birthday AND his “quitzaversary”—the anniversary of his entrance into self-employment and a home-based life. A couple of weeks later, I got my newly completed M.Div diploma via email (physical copy coming later) and the date on it is….July first!

 

 

Rolla Red Tent Event!

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On August 2, 2014 in conjunction with Rolla Birth Network’s annual MamaFest event, we will be hosting the Missouri Premiere of Things We Don’t Talk About: Women’s Voices from the Red TentI am thrilled to bring this film to Missouri and I hope many, many woman come to enjoy the Red Tent atmosphere during MamaFest. We aren’t just showing the film, we’re also having a real Red Tent event with free activities available from 4-8:00 (film itself from 6-8:00). If the event goes well, I’d love to continue hosting Red Tent events at other points during the year (perhaps quarterly). I already priestess a small monthly women’s circle and have done so for several years, but a Red Tent event would be broader in scope and open to many women of all kinds of belief systems and backgrounds.

Red Tents are safe spaces for all women that transcend religious/cultural/political barriers and just be about coming together in sacred space as women. While I personally have a Goddess-oriented perspective, Red Tents honor the “womanspirit” present within all of us. Within the safety and sacredness of the Red Tent, women’s experiences across the reproductive spectrum are “held” and acknowledged, whatever those experiences might be. (As well as menopause, menstruation, assault, grief, loss, etc.—it definitely isn’t just pregnancy related!)

In our Red Tent at MamaFest, we will have jewelry making, henna tattoos, tea, and bindis. I have a mini ceremony/ritual to do before the film starts, the film screening itself, and then a scarf dance and song to close it out. This is meant to be an inclusive setting/experience for women of many backgrounds and beliefs!

I’m still collecting red fabric and decor for our Tent and it is really exciting to me to finally be doing this, since I’ve imagined doing it for a long time! (Goodwill last week was a jackpot of red curtains!)

You can learn more about the film and about Red Tents in general by checking out filmmaker Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost’s YouTube channel.

I’ve also written some Red Tent themed posts in the past:

Tuesday Tidbits: Red Tent

Red Tent Resources

Tuesday Tidbits: Pregnant Woman

100 Things List!

mamafest 2014 flyer