Women’s Wisdom and The Red Tent
There is historical evidence that indicates women living in clans or tribes thousands of years ago had synchronized menstrual cycles, meaning the women had their menses at the same time each month. Science has discovered this happens through women’s chemical release of pheromones. Current research indicates this is still true today with women who live and work together over a period of time – their menstrual cycles synchronize to flow at the same time.
There is also evidence of our early ancestors using menstrual huts to separate the women from the men during their menses. This would offer women the perfect opportunity to share their wisdom and support each other in their roles and responsibilities as women.
The concept of menstrual huts entered the public domain through the popular book, The Red Tent, a novel by Anita Diamant.* She described women from the biblical era using menstrual tents as a time of community, a time to share women’s wisdom and teach women’s ways to the next generations (3). The ABC Path toward True Wisdom, “Remembered Rhythms”, p 116.**
For Women’s Ears Only!
Women’s ways of knowing were meant for women’s ears only. Sequestering women during their menses, whether by women’s choice or men’s decree, gave women the privacy to share their stories. The wisdom women gleaned from the cycles of their bodies, the preparation of food and healing balms, the lived experience of relationships, marriage, pregnancy, birthing, nursing, and so on were shared with each other, not the men.For Women’s Ears Only!
The intuitive connection women have with each other, with nature and the cycles of the moon, with the unseen realms, and with deeper spiritual fields would not have been taught to men either. And men would not have been privy to the female deities women secretly engaged for guidance. Those deities made in women’s image understood the challenges women faced.
So, when men put pen to paper, recording ancient wisdom as they knew it, women’s wisdom stories disappeared.
Let’s Reclaim Women’s Wisdom
Women’s basic life experience hasn’t really changed from those ancient times. The settings may have changed – the customs, the cultures, the technology, etc.- but women are still the gender that deals with bleeding in cycles, becoming pregnant, giving birth, nursing their offspring, and nurturing and sustaining life.
Women reclaiming their true selves weave all these specifically female experiences into how they engage in relationships, manage work, home, and family, and serve in their communities locally, regionally and worldwide.
Share Your Truth
We have truths to share with the next generation of women – personal truths of how we discovered our authentic selves and created a life lived happily ever after. These truths don’t necessarily fit in the context of what patriarchy has deemed valid. But we know what’s true from our own lived experience.
When women talk with each other in a safe and sacred space for women, like women’s circles, we discover common truths that are universal to the experience of being a woman.
Questions for Circle Discussion:
- When you gather in circle with women, what stories are you hearing that convey important wisdom for women today?
- What do you know now that you wish you had been taught by a circle of wise women when you were young?
- What truth from your life would you teach to the next generation?
To get the most from your Circle gathering, read the Circle Guidelines.
*Diamont, Anita. The Red Tent. 1997. New York: Picador, St. Martin’s Press, 2nd ed. 2007.
**The chapter reference for this Wisdom of the Feminine theme is from The ABC Path toward True Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Trusting What She Knows in Her Heart Is True, Remembered Rhythms” p. 115-119.
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©2019 Teresa Lampmann