One of the Shire’s most loved women’s spaces is re-opening its doors after a 12-month hiatus and welcoming a new facilitator who plans to open up conversations about female sexuality and body image.
The Byron Red Tent will be reborn in a ceremony at Temple Byron on June 7, continuing a tradition which has its origins in ancient history.
In pre-biblical societies women often gathered or were forced into communal huts or tents during menstruation.
While these huts were often instruments of patriarchal control, red tents have re-emerged in the past two decades as empowered spaces.
Inspired by Anita Diamant’s 1997 novel The Red Tent, the contemporary red tent movement is about creating places for women to rest, spend time together, talk and share their experiences.
The new facilitator of Byron’s red tent, Helena Nista, says she intends to continue this tradition.
‘We work and we run households and we cook and we clean and we shop and we have so much on our plates,’ Ms Nista says.
‘So to have this beautiful space for women to just come and relax and rest, be nurtured, connect with other women – to leave the duties and the “to do” lists behind is really beautiful.’
However, Ms Nista is also planning to introduce some of her own ideas and knowledge from the field of sexology and the tantra tradition into her new role.
‘I do want to look at the issue of body hate – the way some women view their bodies after seeing all of the unrealistic, photoshopped images online and in women’s magazines,’ she says.
‘I also want to talk about women’s sexuality and having a more conscious relationship with that.
‘For instance I’d like to start a conversation about how sex can be painful or uncomfortable for women. Women sometimes think that means there’s something wrong with them when it’s actually quite common.
‘I’m very passionate about helping women to explore and understand their bodies and that’s something I’m hoping to bring into the red tent.’
The re-launching ceremony will take place on June 7 at 6.30pm, and weekly groups will then take place each Thursday at the same time. They will feature regular guest speakers and themed circles.