Tag Archives: red tent experience
By Hollie B.
Republished with permission from Lunation
You may know dear heart, that I hold Sacred Space with my SisStar Rachel each month for the Canberra Red Tent Experience. What You may not know is that for the past few months I’ve been in a ‘rough patch’ in terms of how I feel about continuing this Red Tent Space.
And in keeping with the theme of Things We Don’t Talk About, I’m gonna share some things with You here. I will say though, that these are my thoughts, and don’t reflect Rachel at all. This is all about me!
When Rachel and I decided to come together to present Canberra Red Tent Experience this year we wanted to honour the terrific film by Isadora Leidenfrost – Red Tent Movie : Things We Don’t Talk About because this groundbreaking media has the potential to heal communities throughout the world. I’ve been following the making of the film and helping support it with financial donations over the past few years and I was so freaking ecstatic when it finally came out.
What strikes me most about this film, even after seeing it four times now, is the Power in hearing women speak their truth. The Red Tent provides a Space, not simply for Women to connect and talk – but IN MY INDIGO OPINION really GOOD Red Tent Experience also provides a Space where Women can be utterly authentic in their feeling – something that we all know is extremely lacking in our society.
(as a side note, yes I do feel that there is such a things as really crap Circle experience too but I’ll save that for another day. Needless to say, I’m incredibly passionate about providing GOOD Circle Experience and always have been)
So our Vision for the Red Tent Experience in Canberra was to create a Space of deep healing where Women could come to speak not only from an authentic place but also to specifically have a chance to reflect upon stories in their life that are usually not talked about. You know, the stuff that’s not polite dinner conversation : like the grief of losing a child, like how it feels to go through life after having been raped, like what being a mother really means to You as an individual, like how You felt when You chose to have an abortion – and how You feel now, like what makes You feel honoured… The deep stuff the stuff that is in our very essence that we’ve never been able to share.
Now this kind of sharing is apparently not for everyone. At least, some people think its not for them. Sharing yourself so fully is frightening. But I know without a doubt that it is the most empowering experience of all. To be utterly raw with yourself in a Space where you are not judged and ARE accepted for being You – is something that creates such healing and freedom.
I write this post as a Space to express that same essence for mySelf. You get my Truth here. I’m a Sagittarian Rooster Indigo Witch (not that I really think labels are necessary ha!) I’ve always spoken about the things others won’t – even as a little kid. I’ve been called tactless, raw, passionate and volatile. It all means the same thing to me – I’ve got the courage to say what I feel. If only more people did!
And that was the reason for this year’s Red Tent Experience. I wanted to provide a rad Space where Women could say what they feel. I’ve been bungin on about going deep with the feeling for long enough now, I suppose in a way this year’s Red Tent series was my final call to arms for Women – to see if they really can make good with their Truth. To see whether all this work I’ve been doing over the years is worth it – to find out whether all the readers and commenters and People who pertain to be Real – are really willing to Be Real.
In our Red Tent Experience there’s no tricks. There’s no special ceremony or clearings or anything fancy that needs to happen. We don’t have a formula for our Circle casting or a specially designed workbook to get through your issues. It’s just a safe Space created by caring People with a strong commitment to the Infinite, unbound Self. Rachel and I have a combined total of over 30 years experience in holding Women’s Space and we take the responsibility of providing the Red Tent extremely seriously – and personally. It can be heart breaking when only 2 people are booked into the Circle, but it is always a lesson in trusting the process. This year I’ve had to get even more clear than ever before about why I’m holding the Red Tent. I’ve had to ask the dreaded question “What’s in this for me?”
I say dreaded question because it is apparently not very appropriate to think about selfish pursuits when you are providing ‘spiritual service’. Like apparently it’s an ‘ego’ thing to think that you should either make money or gain personal healing through a service that is provided to the community. Well I’m here to tell a you darling heart that THAT is a complete load of crap. Because if you’re not getting something from it too, then you’re wasting your time. Life is about YOU. Not about them. We’re here to do our work, and if what you’re doing isn’t giving You what You need, find something that does. P.S. Money is something we all need.
So that’s kind of been my thinking over the past few months. Why am I traveling an hour each way, driving home in the middle of the night on country roads, coming to a Circle for 2 or 3 attendees? What’s in this for me? I’m not making any money. I’m tired and wiped out the next day from the late drive. And I’m connecting with awesome Women who I can see any time because they’re also my friends. You see dear reader, I was all in the head about this. I was trying to make up rational sense of the experience of freeing the Self. Bah!
Do You know what else? That whole 2 or 3 attendee thing only happened once! Often we would only have a couple of people booked in at the start of the week, but by the time the Thursday rolls around, there’s always a pile more bookings. It’s frustrating for organising, but it is the nature of our Canberra culture undoubtedly. Everyone has a busy story.
And then it happened. I gave it over. I let go of the experience and decided to let it be what it will be. I came to the Circle as an equal participant without thinking like a facilitator. I didn’t prepare anything. I didn’t put ‘any effort’ in and just brought myself. And there were way more than 3 attendees! And the words and the tears spilled out and the Women heard me and responded with their own deep Selves and my heart opened and I BECAME the Circle. And I realised that that’s what I’m getting from it.
This experience of the Red Tent is more than what words and rationale can make of it. It is a deep healing experience. It is a growth of empathy and compassion that I wasn’t even aware was missing – and each month it grows more. Being in the Red Tent allows me to question my concerns and puts things into perspective. Even when the theme doesn’t seem that it is related to what’s going on in my own life, I find the commonality that links me with other Women and it opens the gateway to the Space I need healing most in this moment. The Power of this is beyond Power. It is a fierce Primal energy that is Women coming together in their absolute Truth. And I need this like I need air and water and sun. I need to hear the stories of other Women. And I need to share mine.
My experience tells me that when individual Women experience this kind of healing, brought on by no one else’s doing but our own opening of Self, we have a 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, simply for having been authentic with her feelings.
For some women it is terrifying. Some of these stories have been laying under the surface, softly – and sometimes not so softly – brewing and bubbling under the covers. The woman may feel like she never had had a safe space to tell her story. Sometimes she hasn’t wanted to talk about her feelings for fear of upsetting people she cares about. She’s never been able to express her feelings for the threat of being told to toughen up, or ‘its about time you moved on’ or whatever other well meaning advice others will give. You see, in a Red Tent Experience, we don’t give advice. We listen. We open. We cry with each other and our reality shifts. We learn things about the world we could never imagine.
Compassion and empathy grow.
Through hearing the stories of other women we heal. I have been witness to some absolutely tragic and horrific stories. I have sat with women as they shed the years of holding onto the fine details of stories too painful for anyone else to hear. I’ve felt the pain of a woman’s heart as I rub her back and her tears spill on the floor. Women who come to be witness in the Circle inevitably find a similarity in a story to something that might otherwise seem unrelated. But it is enough to trigger in her the release of her own pain. And the floodgates open. And healing occurs.
And do You know? We don’t always cry. Sometimes we laugh. I’ve laughed with women at the sheer absurdity and joy of life. I’ve heard filthy jokes in Circle. Women fart too! We heal with our laughter as much as our tears.
I am so eternally grateful for the Red Tent Experience and the Women who attend month after month, as well as the Women who float in and out, as well as the Women who still haven’t quite mustered up the courage to come along yet! I see now that the things that have always been a part of me continue to be a strong aspect of my contribution. I contribute with service to All Living Things by doing that which fills me, fuels me and reminds me why I’m alive. As one of the Women said to me after last month’s Circle, YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU. And she was right. The only thing I didn’t see until that moment is that it always has been working for me, perfectly.
Maia Nie Heya.
By Jacqueline Riquez
The first time I found myself in a Red Tent, it was like a bolt of electricity : very powerful and hard to ignore ! And yet at the same time there was something so evident, so obvious about this experience that I knew I had tapped into something that went back to the Beginning, to a time before my knowing. I’ve had the feeling before, carrying water from a well with another woman, this intense flash of vestigial memory, the strongest sense of déjà-vu that one can imagine. That night in the dim light of the Red Tent I heard women speaking the strongest truths that spoke to the depths of my soul. There was talk of moon-blood and the words seemed to open a dam for me… I left that night with my mind racing and though I got home past midnight, it was hours later before sleep could claim me. ‘I must make my own Red Tent, this is what I have to do.’ It was like a clarion call – very powerful and hard to ignore!
I should explain that the Tent I went to here in France is really in a tent, though that one was kind of basic. My own tent borrowed the same concept and then went wild from there : don’t think of a tent for camping, think of a sumptuous nomadic tent, with cushions, blankets, candlelight, draped silks and an air of decadence, as though a harem of magnificent women were about to descend – and they do! It’s 9 feet square and 3 feet high at the sides, going up to 4 feet in the center, and though it’s a tent, it stays indoors. About 11 of us can fit in there at a time without it being uncomfortable. I started making it in the days that followed that very first Red Tent. I sewed and sewed and sewed, a good half mile of thread. My baby was just learning to roll over on her side and I would place her on the floor at the far end of the room, rush to my machine at the other end and sew like a Fury, looking over my shoulders as she rolled her way giggling down the room towards me. As soon as she arrived I’d take her back to the other end of the room and we’d start over. My first tent was sewn with my baby girl hot on my heels. My second tent, even more beautiful, was inaugurated last weekend. I found some fabric in a thrift store that I fell in love with and knew it had to become my Red Tent. Every piece of fabric came from yard sales and thrift stores and I delight in knowing that all of this material has already traveled and lived other lives.
Something about that warm, sacred space invites intimacy. Women often say with the conviction of those who know that it’s like being inside a womb. Tongues loosen, guards drop and we can all lay down our loads. I’m not great in small spaces, never have been, and other women who’ve come to the Tent feel the same, yet there is something about that deep red womb space that defies all claustrophobic comparisons : in here we feel contained, not closed in, safe not suffocated. I begin by reminding everyone that what is said within the Tent remains in the Tent. I invite them to share briefly what they’re bringing with them : no-one is obliged to talk but to honor the energy of the group everyone is invited to say where they’re at – ‘I’m having a hard time right now and I’m not sure I’m going to talk much’ – that’s fine. We fix a time to end the Tent together and then we’re off : I have rarely needed to get the discussion going nor wrest back the conversation from someone talking too much. No talking stick is required. I help things along if needed but I don’t run the show though I do make and serve the tea, not to mention the home-made crackers and cookies and the essential chocolate supply. The talk just flows : sometimes around our moon-blood, sometimes birth, sometimes sex : whatever comes is right. At the end we wind a red ribbon round our wrists as a reminder of our sacred connection. As I type here, there are still two ribbons on my wrist from two Tents over the last months : I am still connected to 20 other women via red satin.
I schedule the Tents every three weeks so that after four tents I’ve covered every phase of the moon. This seems to be more ‘democratic’ since we don’t all bleed in sync anymore. The energy that comes from the different moon-times is tangible : at Full Moon we’re often thoroughly over-excited and channeling some very sexy energy, we laugh more, sometimes until the tears are streaming down our faces ; at the Dark of the Moon we are quieter, more reflective and the Dark of our own natures emerges. If I contribute anything, it’s nudging women towards an awareness of their own seasons, to connect them with those of the moon, but also to the seasons of the solar year and those of a woman’s life. Towards feeling the rush of energy that I felt just recently: I was in the Fall of my cycle (pre-menstrual), with the moon waning, the leaves were reddening on the trees and here I am, 42 years old, in the Fall of my life as a woman, done having babies but still revelling in all the fruits of the summer. This is what I feel so strongly in my life when I have all four elements lined up like that – the profound feeling of being where I am meant to be.
I fill up the thermoses with hot water for the endless cups of tea and infusions we will drink, I burn sage and Palo Santo and lay out the candles, plump the cushions one last time. I breathe deeply and murmur my prayer : ‘to the fire above and the earth below, to the air that folds around us and the river that runs through us, to our Father the Sky and our Mother the Earth, to the cool glow of our Lady Moon and the warm caress of the sun, to the bonds of kin that hold me close, to all that I am a part of and to all that is a part of me, I bring myself to you. We are all one relation. ‘ I am ready now. I rise to invite the women waiting in the other room to join me beneath the silken skirts of the Red Tent. This is where we are meant to be.