The Red Tent by Anita Diamant offers a story for Dinah that the bible doesn't tell us. Dinah narrates the story of her life and the lives of her mother and her aunts of the "red tent." The "red tent" being the place the women of the story retreat to on their menses. I wish I had that option a few weeks ago.
When I lived in Washington State I had a "red tent" to retreat to. A woman who lived in a yurt on a retreat center had a dream that she should turn her yurt over to the women of the community. Women from the retreat center and their friends were able to use the yurt when they menstruated. I retreated to it once for day before we moved back to Kansas. Sometimes I joke that I will turn the kids tree house into my hut. I still haven't recreated the menses hut but I do try and slow down during my period. The kids and I snuggle and watch movies or I relax when I can with a good book. I try to do only the absolute essential around the house. Of course, I eat chocolate and drink a glass of wine or a hot cup of raspberry leaf tea to sooth the jagged nerves.
If you are curious about menstruation and its rituals in history (or should that be herstory?) you might like reading: Blood, Bread, and Roses by Judy Grahn. I don't believe it is completely accurate but I still enjoyed it. Her Blood is Gold by Laura Owens encourages women to pay attention to their bodies and slow down during their period. She goes so far to suggest that for some women to *not* slow down can be physically debilitating. I liked them both because they helped me honor my cycle. I think that is why I enjoyed the The Red Tent so much because it gave me a picture of that time what it might have been or still could be.
But a felting class I attended last night reminded me that The Red Tent is not just about menses it's about birthing, childrearing, and daily life duties. The Red Tent described enjoying the company of women, learning how to move past jealousies and be there to support and love one another. I really enjoyed myself at the class because I was in the company of women. We introduced ourselves and shared bits and pieces of our lives as we felted wool. We were all mothers who valued our children, one mom was a doula, one mom was pregnant. Our discussions flowed from the women we know in the community, labor pains, our children, body piercings and tattoos. This class and the book makes me thankful for the new women-mom friends in my life because I really enjoy the company of women. I look forward to discussing this book in my bookclub of women-mom friends soon.