Go with the flow

The Red Tent provides a place of comfort and spirituality

Learn to hate your body” is a narrative girls hear from a young age. It’s seen on television with tampon commercials that encourage girls and women to pretend like their periods are something to hide, something that society should pretend does not exist. Some women grow up taking great lengths to hide it, but others, through the help of a close-knit community, are learning to ride it.

Elizabeth Zsuzsi Fern, a menstrual mentor and former leader of Red Tent Reno, started providing women with surfboards.

“In 2008, I received guidance from a higher source that told me to offer my blood to the Earth,” Fern says. “I knew this was divine guidance when, shortly after, I met women who had received the same message and were ritualistically giving their menstrual blood to the Earth every cycle. At that point, a group of women decided to bring a tipi moonlodge to Burning Man for the next year, and so began a several-year cycle of having a red tent at Burning Man.”

The Red Tent, a concept brought into the pop culture spotlight in the book The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, consists of meditation, group therapy, and an activity of arts and crafts. It has a tight exclusivity of women, who are encouraged to bring food or drink and dress all in red. The red, of course, is a tribute to blood sacrifice. The women meet around the full moon, placing a significance on cycles.

Fern felt a movement. She began putting her own energy into the mission after moving from California to Reno just last year.

“I decided to start Red Tent Reno because I wanted to have a community of women here,” Fern exerts. “In a way, it was a selfish way to make friends. Although my intention was for all of us to have more friends. I had helped initiate a Red Tent in Oakland, California, where I lived before this and we were having lots of fun with it, so I thought it would be a great thing to have here in Reno.”

The word started to race in women circles. Red Tent began to spread through word of mouth. To some members, like me, it seemed spooky, like some bad ‘90s witchcraft horror film. Still, the frustration of my own body was beginning to catch up with me. Every month my flow would make me depressed. I felt like I was in recovery for something, but I didn’t know what. I decided to give Fern’s workshop a chance. That’s when my epiphany to the true essence of menstruation began to thaw.

“Menstruation to me is the ultimate empowerment of a woman,” Fern explains. “To me, if she gets that, she knows who she is and has the ability to really be an embodied woman. She is in the flow of life instead of always trying to swim upstream.”

Just a month ago Fern initiated her first business, The B-Leading Edge Business Woman, which concentrates on business women excelling with the help of their cycles.

“Specifically, I target women business owners who are burned out from running their own business and offer them support around creating grace and simplicity in their lives,” she says. “My intention is to assist women in aligning with their feminine rhythms so they can live in a whole new way of being that truly reflects who they are at their core, which shows in their business.”

Her words help the participating women focus in on themselves and become honest about the functions of their body. So don’t be surprised if you see more ladies in Reno sporting red, running their own businesses, and loving their bodies.

Red Tent Meetings happen once a month. For more info, visit www.facebook.com/RedTentReno.

For info on Elizabeth’s business, visit http://www.elizabethfern.com