Inside the Red Tent
Women’s-only healing center opens on the Animas

Shamanistic healer Marie Redfeather treats Zahra Lightway with a sacred rattler at the Red Tent last week. The women’s-only healing center opened for business in mid-February./Photo by Steve Eginoire

by Jen Reeder

The women of Durango have a new place to call their own: The Red Tent. Located just north of the Discovery Museum on the Animas River, the“Healing Arts Center for Women” offers holistic therapies, classes and “rite of passage ceremonies” to honor different stages of a woman’s life.“The whole goal of The Red Tent is to honor women through all cycles of their life,” says Robin Davis, founder. “It’s all about women coming together to create community and to be able to share their lives with each other and heal their wounds … it’s a way to empower women.”

The origin of The Red Tent comes from the Bible’s book of Genesis, which mentions a woman named Dinah, daughter of Jacob. Fast forward to 1997, when author Anita Diamant published a book of historical fiction about Dinah that explored female relationships in the red-colored tent the tribe’s women inhabited during their menstrual cycles or when giving birth. As most women in book clubs know, the novel became a hugely popular international bestseller.

“I read The Red Tent seven or eight years ago and it was so impactful to me because of the honoring and the healing and the natural cycles, of how women were treated in those days … (it) allowed for blossoming of the individual as a woman,” says Durango resident Linda Morse. “I think in our culture,we’ve lost that.”

When Davis, who worked for years as a doula, holistic nurse and massage therapist in Delray Beach, Fla., heard that a former colleague, Lisa Kelly, had opened a women’s center inspired by and named for The Red Tent in Florida, she thought a similar venture would thrive in Durango.

“I became very intrigued by it,” Davis says. “I thought: this is something Durango doesn’t have and really needs for the women in the community.” She got in touch with Kelly, who was very open to sharing the vision for The Red Tent. There’s no business partnership involved, just a shared concept.

“(Kelly’s) hope is to have other women in other cities open up their own Red Tents,” Davis says, adding that Durango’s Red Tent is the second one known to open in the country.

It’s clear upon entering the reception area that a lot of thought and energy went into the design of Durango’s Red Tent, which held its grand opening Feb. 14. Naturally, the walls are red and decorated with a blossoming dogwood tree and a labyrinth.

The Red Tent has six therapy rooms painted with soothing colors like sage or deep purple, and a huge classroom overlooking the river. Different services will be offered in each space. The practitioners are all female and include a naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, specialty massage therapist, Peruvian shamanic healer, and doula. A clinical herbalist is developing a line of herbal products for The Red Tent as well, so that for things like the “Moon Rhythm Massage” for women during their menstrual cycles, patients will have an herbal pack on their abdomen to help alleviate cramps.

“Some things will overlap,” Davis says. “One idea is that we can refer clients to each other. So if we have someone who comes in with sexual abuse or domestic violence … they will be able to get shamanic healing and some body work as well.”

Marie Redfeather, the center’s Peruvian shamanic healer, was excited when Davis contacted her about working at The Red Tent. “I’m looking forward to working with other women. I’ve certainly gone through my stages in life and have a lot of experience, not only with my studies but my own life experience, which I really feel I can share and use to help other women,” Redfeather says.

Davis smiles and adds: “That’s really what The Red Tent is: wise women come in and share their experiences with the younger generation.”

A ceremonial candle burns at the Red Tent. The center offers a variety of treatments and classes aimed at connecting women to  their bodies and spirits./ Photo by Stephen Eginoire

“Lots of women have lost touch with their bodies,” Redfeather continues.

“Society gives us cues that our bodies

The Red Tent will also host The Red Tent Lecture Series on the first and fourth Wednesdays of each month. In March, an acupuncturist will discuss natural ways to treat menopause, and another speaker will explain how to balance moon cycles with Eastern medicine.

The classroom, which features lush purple walls painted with a weeping willow tree and dragonflies, is open to female members of the public who wish to teach a class. They can either partner with The Red Tent or rent the space for $20 an hour. Scheduled classes already include prenatal yoga, bellydancing for birth, and childbirth education classes.

“I get calls about every other day from people wanting to teach classes here,” Davis says. “The word is really spreading, which is really exciting.”

Morse, a member of The Red Tent, a.k.a. “Radiant Red Tent Woman,” is looking forward to many of the facility’s offerings, such as the Wise Woman Crone Ceremony, a rite of passage for women entering menopause. Other rite of passage ceremonies to be offered at The Red Tent include the First Moon Ceremony for young girls starting their first menses, the Blessing Way for adoptive and pregnant mothers, and the Lilith Ceremony, which honors lesbian women.

“It’s about honoring our passage, our cycles of time,” Morse says. “I believe for the Durango area, it’s an incredible gift to have this.”

Morse, who practices the art of Vatsu Shastra, an Indian precursor to Feng Shui, was one of the members of the community asked to perform an energy clearing before The Red Tent’s grand opening. Davis felt this was particularly important since The Red Tent is located in Durango’s former red light district.

“Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, there were so many women who were not really there honoring who a woman is,” Morse says. “It didn’t feel particularly good in there, but after the energy clearing was done, and a lot of love and attention went into the space in preparing it … it just had the most nurturing qualities. You could feel that it was a sacred space and there was an honoring of women, no matter what the ages are.”

During the four months of construction, Davis had two separate business

“I think as women, we thrive when we have connections to other women,” Davis says. “It’s our girlfriends that carry us through the highs and the lows of our lives.” •

The Red Tent, A Healing Arts Center for Women, is located at 128 W. 14th St., Suite B, in the Riverfront Center just north of the Discovery Museum. For more information, call 422-8026, email, or visit



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