Seeing Red: A Woman's Quest for Truth, Power, and the Sacred
by Lone Mørch

She Writes Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1-938-31412-4.
Reviewed by Diane Stanton
Posted on 03/17/2015

Nonfiction: Memoir

Lone Mørch, a native of Denmark, took a job with CARE Nepal and fell in love with the people and the country. There, she was introduced to mountains as saintly abodes and to the notion of the sacred. She became focused on Kalais in Western Tibet. Kalais is held to be the center of the universe and believed to hold the white light of human consciousness. To complete the Kora, a ritual circumambulation of the mountain, is said to erase the sins of a lifetime.

Mørch strives to complete the ritual, and we meet her after her initial failed attempt to do so. Embracing sacred mountains as a metaphor for her life, she also fixates on the color red as a symbol for feminine sexuality and power. When she meets Gerry, her future husband, she is wearing her red coat. She feels the coat shapes this view of her in his eyes. She longs to be the "red coat me."

She undertakes the task of travelling with Gerry and leading a pilgrimage to Kalais to clear her karma. The reader is privy to her indecisiveness and second guessing as she leads this trip. We also witness her over-analysis of her time with Gerry. Mørch notes that, "So often in Western culture we seek someone to blame when something bad happens." Through most of this book she is struggling to come to terms with her own frailties, seeking to find her self-worth in Gerry's eyes and by completing the Kora. Despite her accomplishments, if she doesn't perceive Gerry as viewing her as the "red woman," then the problem is with the relationship or with Gerry. In many ways, she is self-absorbed and seeks her identity through others.

About two-thirds of the way through the book, Mørch reflects, noting that "she didn't know how to be both powerful and receptive, assertive and mind and heart." It is in the last third of the book and of Mørch's ten-year journey that she uses the term "dance" to describe the developing sense of trust in herself, a sense that she says "paled against the red coat me." She leads us to her conclusion that, "What others said or did was suddenly a lot less important than what I said or did in return."

Mørch fills her story with rich descriptions of Kalais and the pilgrimage for Kola. There is also quite a bit of description of discreet occurrences and reactive interpretations of many of the events in her life. At times, I found these descriptions difficult to wade through, singularly one-sided and self-absorbed. As I finished the memoir, I realized that if she had not detailed these events at such length, I could not have appreciated the struggle of her journey and celebrated her conclusion. In many ways, this is an adult version of a coming of age story of an adult woman offering personal insights with which we can all identify. Seeing Red: A Woman's Quest for Truth, Power, and the Sacred is well worth the read.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Lone Mørch is a photographer, author, speaker and creative adventuress. Born in Denmark, she has traveled the world and lived in London, Nepal and San Francisco. She is the founder of Lolo's Boudoir and the Your Sacred Journey program, and have empowered thousands of women through her work. Her photography and writing have been featured internationally. She is available for photo adventures, creative mentoring, retreats and speaking in Europe, USA, and beyond. Visit her website.

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