triple-goddessSeveral times in the last few months I have come across individuals in several communities who are looking to create Red Tents, and I have seen an incredible backlash against the idea. In our ever expanding and diverse Pagan communities there appears to be a pendulum swing between private and exclusive, and public and inclusive. I think there is some confusion about what it means for others to host a restricted event – restricted does not mean rejected. Refusing to cater to one segment of society because it clashes with caring for another segment of society, does not mean that we are disrespected or rejected, it means that we are all respecting and accepting the differences between us. By celebrating the diversity of the human species and creating a safe space for certain groups of people to discuss specific issues and ideas unique to their form, we are not excluding others in a harmful fashion. We all need to understand how to accept, respect and celebrate the differences between us as well as the similarities. We can all learn to enjoy quality time together, and quality time apart.

 A Red Tent is named for the colour of blood. A Red Tents primary function is to explore the mysteries of moon blood, childbirth and menopause (and all the changes and challenges associated with such) – which by definition excludes anyone who does not have a woman’s body. Red Tents can be widened to discuss the mysteries of what it means to be a woman – which is inclusive of anyone who identifies as a woman, including transwomen (which is a fascinating perspective on what it means to be a woman). Women discuss issues unique to women, and elder women inform younger women just stepping into understanding of their bodies and their place in the world. Very private, personal information is often shared, including topics of trauma and healing, blood, energetic cycles, miscarriage, stillbirth, motherhood, physical pain, sex and sexuality, rape, shame and victim blaming, harassment, personal power, practical knowledge, fear and triumphs.

A White Tent is named for the colour of semen. A White Tent is designed for men to discuss and explore the mysteries of being male, and as such excludes women. However, it too can be widened to those who identify as male with or without a man’s body. I cannot, as a woman, give you more information than this because I have never walked into a White Tent event. Widening either tent further stops it from being a safe, secure and sacred space to discuss personal issues unique to the identifying features of a particular group and makes it… a stage, open to an audience. Whilst there is a place for creating open tents exposed to all segments of society, educational forums and knowledge sharing – a Red/White Tent is not that place.

These intimate conversations need to happen in a space of understanding and acceptance, and conversations cannot be derailed by those who, by their nature, can never truly grasp the complexities of the situation. We need to respect that we will not always be privy to a person’s most intimate moments – and more, we need to lose the sense of entitlement that we should be allowed to invade another person’s most private experiences. We need to learn how to create safe sacred spaces for others, even if that means our presence resides outside of that space. In fact, by standing outside the circle in support of what occurs within, we are included within the process. By standing outside the Red Tent, we honour the women within, and we honour the Divine Feminine within. By granting our men peace and privacy within their White Tent, we are honouring our men and the Divine Masculine. We provide support by providing the space to be. We are included, by not expecting physical inclusion.

We do not need to always be involved with each other’s rites, rituals or sacred spaces, and we do not need to always cater to everyone when designing a space that celebrates the differences between us. I do not expect a different tradition to cater to my needs, and I do not expect other covens to let me attend their private rituals just because I identify as a Witch. Whilst I will listen to the concerns of those who feel excluded by a process, I will not bow to the expectations of those who feel entitled. We are not all the same in every way, and we need to honor each other’s personal and private spaces. A part of what makes diversity wonderful is by accepting, respecting and celebrating the differences.

The Mysteries are called Mysteries for a reason.


This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project 2014

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