Everyone has the right to spend their money as they please. Everyone has the right to make a living using the precious knowledge and skills they have gathered over the years. But where are the limits to this in relation to traditions which we hold dear?
I have been asking myself this question, as I see the relentless commercialisation of many things, including spiritual practices and traditions. For a while, it looked as if the Disney Corporation was going to trademark the name Day of the Dead, for example, with the excuse that they were making a film about it. Luckily a Mexican-American woman based in the USA stepped in with a very popular public appeal and Disney was forced to withdraw the application. Thanks to this, we can say and use the phrase Day of the Dead without having to pay royalties to an American company based miles away from the land where this tradition originated and is practiced.
I see many a workshop, book and videos and manuals being sold and promoted online. Including many about how to set up, organise and beautify your Red Tent or Moon Lodge. I knew full well my Mexican abuelas would have laughed hard at the idea of packaging and actually selling something like this, and yet, here it was. Packaged and being sold. I wondered if it was me simply feeling jealous of not having had this idea myself. I could see the benefits of buying a ready-made manual with ideas, tips and rituals that would save time and copious amounts of Google searching for information.
But then, during my own workshop travels in Latin America I came across women who told me that they had put off starting their Women´s Circle or their Red Tent until they had saved enough money to have their gatherings “certified” or “activated”. They thought it was not possible or desirable to gather in circle unless they had a piece of paper telling them they could do so and I felt sad about that.
I realised that I had never thought that I needed such things to hold my Red Tent gatherings, but then again, I am old and wise enough to know I need nobody’s permission or certification to gather in circle with my sisters. However, I see some younger women, perhaps lacking the self-confidence needed to stand for themselves, attending these workshops because they have learnt that it is necessary to create “certified” Red Tents.
The women in Latin America who had made me aware of this come from cultures where Red Tents and Moon Lodges are a long standing tradition but they are now were being left out because they couldn´t afford to pay a price for something that has been appropriated, packaged and sold in a very commercial manner and I realised that I could perhaps do my tiny bit to stop another Day-of-the-Dead-type thing from happening.
And so I now travel with my workshops reassuring women that having these certifications is not essential and that whilst they most likely contain valuable information, there are other free or very cheap sources of information online (such as this Directory) and affordable electronic books full of inspiration from women such as Jean Shinoda Bolen, Miranda Gray, Clarissa Pinkola, to name but a few.
I also tell them that gathering in women´s circles, Red Tents and Moon Lodges is urgent and very necessary and that nothing should stop them from gathering women to do this.
I am very grateful for the Red Tent Directory website listing my Red Tent in Northern Ireland so that more women can find and join us. And I see that there may be a need to financially support the efforts of Mary Ann and Aisha and the many volunteers who have supported them since they started the Directory to keep the listing site and its resources free for everyone, but I also see the need to expand the type and amount of freely-available resources on the website by gifting our resources to women wherever they are. And so, I am sharing an electronic copy of my Moon Ritual bathing booklet to be shared on the Directory and inspire women everywhere.
Everyone has the right to spend their money as they please and everyone has the right to make a living using the precious knowledge and skills they have gathered over the years. However, many of the most precious things in life are, and should remain free.