Opening your heart to the power of what it means to be a woman is what the Red Tent is all about. Here in Georgia there is a gathering of women once a month that meets at a local Red Tent. The Red Tent movement spans the globe, reconnecting women to their Divine power, their Goddess birthright, their sense of self, and the greater support of a community. This community consists of women from all walks of life, all ages, and all definitions of earthbound goddesses.
In today’s world women are busier than ever. We have jobs, families, relationships, children, responsibilities, bills, community engagements, friends, volunteer projects, charities, religious obligations, education goals, and more that keep us in a constant flurry of motion. In the midst of our self-created blustering blizzards, we often lose sight of ourselves. A busy work schedule, partner’s obligations, or our children alone can overwhelm and upend us, but we often take on side projects and social lives that continue to tip the balance into a spiral of upheaval.
The Red Tent is an opportunity to disconnect. From the moment you step into the sanctuary and take off your shoes you are surrounded by the atmosphere of self-love. Draping the windows, covering the upholstery, decorating the floor, and adorning the women in attendance are all shades of red. Symbolizing the womb and the connection to the women’s cycles, red is our power color. This centering décor transports you out of the headspace of your daily existence as a visual reminder to just be present in your femininity.
Activities performed in the Red Tent are varied, but they all serve the singular purpose of self-love. The main activity is simply being. To be present without external obligations is something most of us are unfamiliar with in the normal nine to five workday. Weekends are spent taking kids to activities, checking off events from our social calendars, and spending time with family, often resulting in a more packed day than our work week already provided. Women are the center of the family. We hold the honor and duty of hearth and home. The responsibilities of the modern woman, whether working or staying at home, young or old, can be daunting. Putting ourselves last is the norm, whether dealing with coworkers, bosses, partners, parents, or children. Resting is left to the wayside. Honoring self is forgotten. Creating a space for self-love in your life is a necessity, not an act of selfishness. Without moments set aside to care for ourselves, we cannot adequately take care of others. Instead of thriving, we merely survive. Over time, surviving becomes less and less manageable. Time for self allows us to hit the reset button, reconnect, and realign, which in turn allows us the space to perform more efficiently in our hectic, externally driven roles. That is the take-home benefit of participating in a Red Tent.
An important part of the Red Tent is spending time connecting with other women while honoring what we want to do in that moment. Circling together, we share our thoughts and feelings by passing around a talking stick, allowing our voices to be heard while respecting the voices of the women around us. Drumming and playing crystal singing bowls breaks up the static energetic stickiness we have built in and around us throughout the week, month, and over the years. Stepping outside and joining hands in the woods reconnects us to nature and to the beautiful power of the goddess within each of us. Group meditations and breath work guide us to center, still our thoughts, and connect us to our personal source of divinity. Craft projects free our creativity, expressing our inner voices in a vibrant and abstract light that can be hard to articulate otherwise. Intuitive henna graces us in intricate patterns that remind us of our sexy, sensual, inner beauty that cowers under the constant coverings of work clothes, make up, ponytails, and sweatpants. Feel free to dance and sing spontaneously, gathering another lady friend in a whirlwind of movement and laughter. Napping, reading, relaxing, and eating are all encouraged. Counting calories in not allowed, nor is feeling guilty. Let your hair down. Be free of worry and strife. Each participant and attendee brings something different to the table. You don’t have to be an artist to draw henna or paint a picture. Nor do you have to be a spiritual guru to give a card reading or lead a guided meditation. All women are artists. All women are singers and dancers and rainmakers. All women are naturally intuitive. Whatever an attendant feels comfortable participating in or offering is accepted, nothing more.
Above all, the Red Tent is a safe space. This is a place to be honored and heard among friends, even if it is your first time meeting these other women. It is a place to heal. Women in the real world can be catty and judgmental. Actions in the workplace are often driven by fear and competition. This place exists outside of that mindset. Women here have shared things they compartmentalize from their daily lives for fear of judgment and reprisal. Discussing how to heal the womb from psychological and physical traumas is often a topic of honest discussion. Revealing the mixed emotions of being adopted, releasing the pain of years of abuse, calling out repressed desires, and mapping out our dreams are all experiences welcomed here. Strangers embrace other women with empathy, holding space for them to open up about deep seated fears and passions they may not feel safe discussing outside of this sanctum. Everyone deserves a retreat that holds space for them to release what they have pent up inside and accept the possibilities of dreams that drive them forward. Remembering our worth in a safe and loving environment is paramount to maintaining our sanity. Realizing that knowledge and connecting with it on a regular basis helps us run our lives more smoothly, keeping the fiber of our being held together.
The founder of our local Red Tent is Crystal Starshine (Bates). A Women’s Empowerment Coach relocated to Georgia from Oregon, Crystal felt a need to create a haven to allow other women to gather and just be. Her awakening began in 1999 when she met a likeminded sister that guided her to a more nature based way of connecting with God. Married to a Baptist preacher and finding herself uprooted to an unfamiliar Southern lifestyle gave Crystal the push to search for her religious identity. While observing her husband’s church customs she experienced a walk with Jesus moment that gave her the inner knowledge to return to her nature based roots without the fear of shame by talking to God in the wrong way. All paths lead to God, and following the one that’s right for you is perfectly natural, even if it leads outside of organized religion. Attending Z Budapest’s Goddess movement in 2012 gave her the connection to self and to the divine feminine that she had been searching for in times of turmoil. Finding love again with her current husband and a change in job status granted her the epiphany she needed to establish her own Red Tent, joining the women’s movement sweeping across the globe.
Her Red Tent was put on the map by Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost , the creator of www.theRedTentmovie.com and a spearhead of the Red Tent movement, after Crystal had been running her local gathering for about a year. You can read about Crystal’s struggles, trials, and triumphs in her autobiography, The Empty Womb, where she details her road to becoming Youniquely Woman. Visit her on her website www.crystalstarshine.com and see her on her YouTube channel where she hosts two shows, her previous endeavor, Coffee and Inspiration, and her current project, Witches of the Four Quarters. Every Friday she can be found working her intuitive mojo at a local shop in Woodstock called Forever and A Day. Annually, she operates a booth at the Forever and a Day Awakened Spirit Expo at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Marietta. Also, if you are a woman of any shape, size, color, religious affiliation, background, job title, age, or any other label, you are always welcome to join her at the Starshine Healing Sanctuary in Canton where she hosts the monthly Youniquely Woman’s Red Tent.
Remember, you are worthy, you are Divine, and you are loved.