“Grandma, I don’t remember what it’s like in the Red Tent…”
At age 5 or 6 you only vaguely remember your sister’s Coming of Age ceremony. There were soft flowing veils in many shades of red… your Mom and sisters all dressed in red, but… what did you do there…?
“You know, child” grandma says with a smile “no need to remember, because… guess what? When the moon is full again, we will have another celebration — for your cousin Ora. She has just started her Moon Flow!
“Ora did?!” you ask excitedly with a tad of jealousy. “When, oh when will I get mine???” you whine a little. Granny strokes your hair. “Patience, my child, patience… you remember how much patience you needed before Liliana was born? How your Mama’s belly grew rounder and rounder, like the moon, and still, it wasn’t time…”
“I remember!” you exclaim “and she was sooo tiny, and so bold!” you laugh.
“All in it’s good time, child” Grandma sighs.
You begun watching the moon like a hawk. You wished it would hurry and fill up already, but “all in it’s good time” is what grandma said, and you believed her words!
At last, the day comes! Your mother helps you put on a red dress and braids your hair with silky red ribbons. Grandma comes early to have a cup of tea before you all head out to the Red Tent.
When you arrive, the Red Tent is magnificently decorated:
Red fabrics drape everywhere, adorned by strings of lights. There are red roses bouquets all over, and an elaborate altar stands in the center. Its glowing candles are surrounded by feathers, sea shells, crystals, and images of the Goddess.
Many of your aunts, cousins and girlfriends are there, and quite a few of Mama’s women friends. Your grandmother steps into the center, picks up a bundle of sage, and a hush falls all around you.
“Let’s begin” granny says as she winks at you. “We are here to welcome our dear Ora into her MoonTime, into the Circle of Womanhood, and into our Red Tent!”
“Step forward, Ora –
Yesterday’s Girl, tomorrow’s Woman!”
Ora shyly steps into the center, where grandma purifies her with wafts of sage smoke. She uses a big feather to brush away the old, and make room for the new.
Ora’s mother and friends each share a favorite memory of her as a baby, a toddler, a first-grader, a young girl… Then grandma invites Ora to choose one of her childhood toys and to say Good Bye to her younger Self by offering it to a younger child in the circle. Ora picks out her Mermaid Doll, all shimmering with greens and blue sparkles, and without hesitation offers it to… You!
You are thrilled! It is the best gift you could have hoped for, short of being celebrated yourself. The Mermaid’s long hair is soft to the touch, and you squeeze her to your heart with such gusto that everyone claps.
“One day” you whisper in the Mermaid’s ear,
“I will pass you on, too,
when it’s time for my ceremony!”
One by one the women and girls come to bless Ora in the center of the circle. Ora’s Mom gifts her with a Ruby Goddess necklace, grandma offers her a journal and a pen, others bring menstrual cloth pads in many beautiful fabrics, a pack of MoonTime tea, a special red mug, a poem, a song, or words of wisdom.
Ora is giggling, delighted, and just a tad overwhelmed by it all… You feel proud of your cousin. Surrounded by warmth and laughter you are at home in the Red Tent. As you clasp your Mermaid doll to your heart you softly murmur: “One day this will be me!”
When there’s a Red Tent in every neighborhood, village, town and city – the world will be a different place: for us, and for the girls growing up today!
We need Trained women to hold Red Tents!
Are you one?