How did you experience your first period? Do you remember where you were, with whom, how you felt? Were you ashamed? Were you prepared?
Menarche is a delicate and magical moment, it is a transition. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be able to celebrate those drops of blood, be able to compare myself or relate with other womxn and listen to their stories and experiences.
In ancient times, and still today in some traditions, there was a sacred space for this occasion, conceived almost like a magical uterus, where older womxn taught the younger ones to honor their cyclicality, a space for sharing being a WOMXN, with all the fragility and strength that this word carries: The Red Tent.
It is crucial to recover this tradition, to allow our daughters, our granddaughters and all young womxn to feel part of something, to not feel alone. And it is important also because, with the "first blood", the wound of the "inherited trauma" is reopened, the trauma of patriarchal violence against our female ancestors to whom we are connected through the womb, those before us by maternal lineage, whose memories are imprinted within us. In the moment in which the young womxn of our "tribe" ask for the presence of those who know how to empathize with them, in body and soul, we have the power and responsibility to clear out our inherited wounds and to weave together, with a red thread, a blood healing bond. This also allows the mother to share the task and responsibility of guiding the younger womxn through this passage, creating a network of socialization and female empowerment that can bring different points of view, colors and ideas. Let's move onto the practical.
There are many ways to organize a Red Tent, and they are all great, but in my opinion it is important that at least the following aspects are included:
- Anatomy and physiology: this is an aspect that should not be underestimated, considering that, very often even today, we do not know enough about our uterus and genitals, what happens physically when we menstruate and where that blood comes from. This knowledge reduces the fear of the big change that our body is going through.
- Menstrual products: It is also important to provide information about ecological tampons or menstrual cups, pain relieving plants and personal hygiene on the days of your period.
-Cyclicality: transmitting the concept of cyclicality through the archetypes of the four menstrual phases associated with the ones of our anatomy and hormones, the emotional aspects and the lunar diagram.
Here are some ideas for a ceremony.
Before the gathering we ask the participants (friends, grandmothers, aunts ..) to prepare a letter in which they talk about their first menstruation and what it means for them to be a cyclical womxn. It would be interesting, for each of them, to participate in the ceremony wearing clothes of the color representative of the phase in which they are in, in that moment: white for the Maiden (or preovulatory) phase, green or blue for the Mother (or ovulatory) phase, purple for the Enchantress (or premenstrual) phase, red for the Crone (or menstrual) phase and brown for menopause. The young woman for whom we organize the ceremony, can bring with her two dresses, a white one for the beginning and a red one to wear later. Gifts associated with the ceremony such as protective crystals, something symbolic, or even simply cloth tampons or the menstrual cup, are encouraged. We can bring dried flowers of the colors of the four phases and build an altar with other items like candles, symbols, colored fabrics, incense, feathers, crystals, etc. and a red thread of wool or cotton. The place of the ceremony can be outdoors or indoors, as long as it is a place where everyone feels free to express themselves. We will place the altar at the center of the circle and start with an energetic cleansing of the place and of the participants using incense and feathers. Once the circle is open, we will invoke the protection of all the essences and spirits of the female plants present in the space. During the ceremony each woman, according to her personal inclination, will be able to talk about one of the themes mentioned above, and transmit virtues and knowledge that she feels are appropriate. We can create a bond through the red thread by making a loop around our wrist for each womxn in our lineage and then passing the thread to the womxn who follows in the circle. When all of them have finished, we will cut the thread and a red bracelet will remain for each one, a symbol of the ceremony and the connection between all the womxn. We can dance, sing and the celebrated girl will be able to choose the "lunar godmother" among those who are present: she will be her reference in addition to her mother. The lunar godmother will put the necklace on her, made with dried flowers by the participants and we will conclude with the change of dress from white to red and the closing of the circle, giving thanks.