by Jane Hardwicke Collings & Susan Stark
This article is an excerpt from the eBook “How to Create a Red Tent”
In creating a monthly Red Tent you may like to consider the inclusion of a sharing circle. This is a space where women have an opportunity to share what is arising for them in their lives. You may choose to offer this sharing along a seasonal or lunar theme such as sharing moon prayers or intentions or using the seasonal festivals to let go of things that no longer serve. Or you may invite women to share whatever is arising for them in that moment.
In inviting women to share and speak in the circle it is important to agree on some key parameters that ensure the integrity of the space is upheld and women feel safe and heard. It is rare in our modern world to be truly heard without judgment or interference. One of the greatest gifts of a circle is the opportunity for women to speak unhindered and be heard. We can trust that we will all find our pathway to healing ourselves and being witness to a woman is an honour and gift for all.
In many circles a bowl or item such as talking stick is passed around to symbolize whose ‘turn’ it is to speak. If using a bowl you may like to add things such as crystals, rescue remedy or other treasures and symbols a woman (if she chooses) can hold as she speaks. The first important parameter in this sharing space is “She who holds the bowl, speaketh!” Speaking in circle can be a scary thing for many women and it is important to honour and respect each woman’s courage. Some women may choose to say very little or nothing at all. Regardless, when a woman is holding the bowl it is her space and opportunity to speak or sit uninterrupted. This is not a time to offer advice or interject but rather open ourselves to be fully present to another’s story and unfolding.
Encourage women to speak in the first person and take responsibility for what arises for them. The container you have created together is a safe place to express and be whatever we need to be in that moment. There is no need to ‘pat down’ a woman’s emotions with soothing words or tissues but rather allow and trust her unfolding as a trusted pathway to healing and transformation.
The remainder of the women are encouraged to sit in witness, holding space and listening with compassion. Encourage women to withhold their judgment and understand that any feelings that arise in listening to another woman are opportunities for our own insight and understanding. The Red Tent is a place where we can be true to ourselves. It is a safe place with many opportunities for insight and transformation. You may like to consider asking for an agreement of confidentiality in supporting to maintain this integrity.
Jane Hardwicke Collings is amother, grandmother and an independent midwife, teacher, writer and menstrual educator. She gives workshops in Australia and internationally on mother and daughter preparation for menstruation, the spiritual practice of menstruation, and the sacred and shamanic dimensions of pregnancy and birth. Jane founded and runs The School of Shamanic Womancraft, formerly The School of Shamanic Midwifery, which focuses on preparing women to practice and teach conscious rites of passage, awareness of cycles (Earth, lunar, life and menstrual cycles), and the mind/body/spirit connection. www.schoolofshamanicmidwifery.com. Jane is the author of Ten Moons, the Inner Journey of Pregnancy, Thirteen Moons, How to chart your menstrual cycle (handbook and journal), Spinning Wheels (a guide to the cycles), and Becoming a Woman (a guide for girls approaching menstruation). www.moonsong.com.au
Susan Stark is a home birth Mother of four children, a Shamanic Guide, a practitioner and teacher of the Women’s Mysteries and Social Worker. Susan is passionately committed to supporting women on their journeys of re-membering and transformation. Susan currently offers circles and workshops in her own community and practices as a Counsellor working with children and young people. Susan shares a deep connection to the Earth as Mother and Healer and honours every person’s unique journey to connection and wholeness.
Contact Susan: firstname.lastname@example.org