This article was written for our local around-the-village magazine in Braidwood, BWD. It featured in the Spring 2015 issue. It is reprinted here with permission of the editor.
Can you imagine a world where women feel comfortable to discuss the issues closest to their hearts? Can you imagine what it would be like for our daughters to grow up in a society that does not shun the big, common, beautiful and traumatic situations that we all experience as we grow? This is the world we aim to create with the Red Tent.
Circles of women have been coming together since pre-history to support each other as mothers, sisters, and elders. Once a sacred part of cultural practise, shifting later to smaller non-formal gatherings, and recently returning to organised events, popularised by the Red Tent Movement.
Always, throughout time the Women’s Circle has been a place where the women of a community would come together to empower one another in shared space.
Together in Circle, we acknowledge that we are all equal, although the journeys that led us here may be very different. We create a supportive space to share and grow, initiating ourselves into the deeper meaning of connection; individually, environmentally, emotionally and politically.
The Circle provides us with an authentic, intentional space to share our stories, or witness the stories of others. It reminds us that we are not alone.
Each woman present is honoured for the part she plays in the co-creation of the space, either through speaking or listening. This is why women’s circles have been called Secret Women’s Business, for it is a place where women find nourishment through integrity and trust.
A carefully facilitated space for women allows us to speak to topics we may not have the opportunity to be present with in everyday life. Everyone’s life is busy : caring, nurturing, working, creating… in the Circle you are allowed to simply Be.
And here’s the really cool thing: When women share stories in facilitated space, it opens up pathways outside of the Circle. Women return home, to work, to wherever they belong in the community and the authenticity ripples outward. So that it is not only the women in Circle positively impacted, but everyone she touches.
Some people might feel confronted with all this talk of authenticity and sharing. Sharing yourself so fully is outside the box of common society. We’ve been taught “if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all” and “don’t air your dirty laundry in public…” Yet, throughout my years as a facilitator and circle goer, I have seen that it is the most empowering experience of all. To connect with others in a space of nonjudgement and acceptance – is liberating.
In everyday life, often we keep our feelings inward for the fear of being told to “toughen up”, or “it’s about time you moved on” or whatever well meaning advice others will give. In a Red Tent, we don’t give advice. We listen. Our reality shifts. We learn things about the world we could never imagine.
In my years of facilitating, no two Circles have ever looked the same. It’s simply a safe space created by caring people with a commitment to empathy and compassion. Being in the Red Tent allows questions and concerns to surface, and puts things into perspective.
When individuals experience this kind of personal healing, we have greater power in our own lives. The healed individual takes their healing out to the world, and is an active part of healing entire communities.
My Red Tent spaces are not happy, hippie, self-help circles. We don’t sing kumbayah. I facilitate spaces for women to Be, and to feel supported in that Being. In these spaces it doesn’t matter who we are at home, what we do at work, what we have to do tomorrow. We just get to Be exactly as we are – in that moment – without apologies. And we get to do it in a supported space.
The essence of the Red Tent is the commonality of Being Woman. In one woman’s story of pain, or hope, or joy, or loss, we find something of ourself. And we grow. That is true healing. That is how we fill our cup. Whether you are the Story-teller or the Witness. There is something for every woman in the Red Tent.
I hope you understand now, what it is to be a Woman of the Red Tent. We are empowered, wise women of great strength, even through vulnerability. I invite you to join us.
ABOUT HOLLIE B.
Hollie B. has been facilitating Women’s Circles for twelve years. She has been a significant supporter of the worldwide Red Tent Movement, and is well known in Australia as a presenter on the Women’s Mysteries. Find Hollie B. at instituteforselfcrafting.com or facebook.com/redtentinthewood