Friday, 28 July 2017

The Red Tent

I’m not completely sure where it was I first read about red tents, but once I’d stumbled across them there seemed to be people talking about them all over the place. So, by the power of google I found one local to me and decided to give it a go.

Historically speaking, red tents were places where women would gather during menstruation and child birth. No men allowed! In some cultures, they’re called moon lodges (the gathering always happened around the time of the new moon) or menstrual huts. They’ve had a return to popularity since the publication of Anita Diamont’s book “The Red Tent” which tells the story of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter based on the biblical story in the book of Genesis.

Nowadays, red tents aren’t about menstruation, but about women gathering to hold space for one another, share stories and celebrate life. It’s a place to be authentic and speak your truth, process challenges you face and feel supported by others. It’s different to sharing with friends, but you can’t help but become friends with the women you sit in circle with. They really see you, and you really see them.

I found Red Tent Worcestershire via the red tent directory and got in touch with Jayne who runs it from her home in Malvern. I was already part of a couple of other women’s groups, but nothing quite like this, so she explained how it worked and invited me to the next gathering. It’s a monthly group, held around the time of the new moon as they were in the past. I’ve been twice now, and have every intention to keep going along to as many as I can.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but when I got there I found Jayne’s house transformed into a red tent, with red wall hangings, red chairs and cushions, and an alter set up in the middle of the circle. Once everyone had arrived and we’d all introduced ourselves, Jayne explained the rules of red tent – that confidentiality was essential so people felt safe to be open and honest, that we were to let people share their story and not to contribute or comment on anything they said, including not comforting anyone who might get upset (unless they asked us to of course!). The idea being by sharing you’re able to process, and if others contribute before you’ve had chance to work through it they can delay your chance to go through it.

We opened the circle by each lighting a candle and adding them to the alter, then went on to light candles for other women we knew, friends and family who were dealing with problems and needed some love and light sent there way. We pulled oracle cards alongside each candle and we talked about how we had come to be a part of the group, then broke to drink tea and eat cake together.

When we returned to the circle we were each given the chance to share our thoughts and stories related to the theme of the month. Obviously, I’m not going to tell you what we all said here(!!), but I can say that it was the most amazing experience. Every one of us had stories that were similar, with similar thoughts, feelings and reactions, despite all being very different experiences. I talked about one of the issues I’ve faced recently, how I’d reacted, why I’d felt the way I had and how I’ve become much more aware of when it’s my true, soul voice versus my fear based ego voice reacting (more on that in my last blog about fear and the lessons its teaching me HERE). When I’d finished talking it felt like a breakthrough, just saying it all out loud instead of thinking and feeling, and writing too. Some of the other women shared how much some of the things I’d said resonated with them, which in turn felt like my feelings had been validated, which gave me the reassurance and support I’d needed to be able to deal with it properly, and stop thinking I was wrong or shouldn’t feel the way I do. We all had similar experiences, with each new story shared it was clear we all understood, felt the same and had the same fears.

Once we’d all had chance to share it was time to close the circle, coming together as a group to give thanks to one another for holding space and the connections made. Jayne even gave us all a red rose to go home with.

Women sitting in circle like this is such a powerful experience and helps healing you didn’t even realise you needed. There really is nothing like sharing space with a group of strong women, especially when individually we don’t realise how strong we truly are. Together, we really are.

If you're in Worcestershire and interested in finding out more about the group I went to, joint he Facebook group HERE .

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