The Red Tent, whether it actually existed during Biblical times or not, represents the retreat a menstruating woman would make away from her tribe.
Here she would find respite from her daily duties and be attended to by other women.
Viewing this from afar, I can find beauty in such a tradition, for how often do women actually find time for respite, especially to be attended to by her tribal sisters?
Looking further into this tradition, I see that it was also a way in which during this “unclean” time of the month, women would be separated from men and their sacred religious tools. A menstruating woman posed a threat of sorts within a patriarchal society and she was removed from the tribe until she was deemed clean once more. This applied during the act of childbirth as well.
I’ve tried to gather whether the tradition of the Red Tent began because there was just too much blood and mess for the masculine to bear, was it a thoughtfully designed retreat for women or was there a blatant fear of the power of the Goddess?
I can only speculate on the many layers of what the Red Tent represents for both the feminine and the masculine, but I do sense the separation keenly. It has caused me to want to meditate on what truly there is to be afraid or in awe of, about the power of blood.
Let me tell you another story from the Native American tradition this time, about a woman’s moon time. I resonate with this story much more than the biblically influenced Red Tent one, probably because of my adherence to the Wise Woman Tradition.
I’ll tell it as I remember it being recited by an elder I met at a sweat lodge ceremony, so please forgive me if I have left anything out or forgotten the exact nuances. I greatly respect the tradition of storytelling so if there are missing elements in this story the fault is entirely mine.
One day, Woman went to the wilderness to cry out about the burdens she was carrying as a wife, mother and caregiver of the clan. Nature answered her call in the form of the Raven, who asked her why she was crying.
Woman told him about all of her burdens, and that while she loved her family, she could no longer bear the weight of all that she had to do.
Raven replied that he would seek help from Grandmother Ocean. Grandmother Ocean said that she could help wash away the pain and burdens of those who would come to her but those who lived far away from her she could not help. So she asked her sister, Grandmother Moon for assistance.
Grandmother Moon, who represents the Feminine, said she would send the waters of the Ocean to women every month to cleanse them and offer respite.