Entering the Red Tent
A First Circle Experience
This was first published by elephant journal in 2017
I'm sitting in a circle of women in a tent. I am new to town, know very few people and I am pregnant.
We are surrounded by cushions and rugs that each of us has brought and donated. There is a gas stove outside with a pot of chai brewing. There is a small wooden table in the centre holding a burning candle and offerings of fresh flowers, leaves and stones.
We go around the circle, each woman sharing a birthing story (their own, a birth they have attended or the birth of their child). The level of intimacy created between us is something I have never experienced before. It's my turn to speak; I'm nervous, but speak from my heart. I share my fear of losing another pregnancy and my fear of giving birth. I am not offered advice or platitudes; I am received and honoured just as I am in that moment.
Inspired by Anita Diamant's book, The Red Tent, there is a growing movement of women embracing the principles of sisterhood and creating spaces to retreat to and support each other.
In Anita Diamant's novel, the women take care of one another in a hut, known as the Red Tent whilst menstruating or giving birth. For this project, the women I sat with, had spent months making and building their red tent as a gift to all the women in our town.
This is my first women's circle.
In the following months, I became a mother and opened an organic cafe with my partner. We were navigating our way as business partners and parents and slowly starting to unravel from one another. The friendships that I had embraced whilst pregnant slipped away as I worked harder and harder.
I entered a spiral of sleeplessness and anxiety. I was failing at everything. I felt stuck and alone. I remembered that first circle, and craved the deep connection and acceptance that I was wrapped in.
And so it was, that I found myself one Sunday afternoon sitting on the floor of our cafe with six slightly nervous women. I had moved the furniture and filled the space with rugs, throws, cushions and candles to create a sacred den. I had hung curtains so passers-by couldn’t see in. I had prepared food and gift bags. I had invited a guest wise woman to share her wisdom. I had written a meditation and guided visualisation.
That Circle touched the hearts of the women that came and I had the privilege of holding space for others. Together we awakened our feminine powers of receiving, nurturing and listening, and supported and celebrated each other.
Those first tentative steps led to me facilitating regular Circles. The power of coming together in Circle has taken me on a personal journey of self-discovery. I have witnessed the transformation that can take place for women in this sacred space, I have deepened my connection with myself, rediscovered my self-worth and ignited my connection with spirit.
In Circle, we share our true self, our dreams, our fears, our longings, our desires, our frustrations and our most personal stories. And these are met with compassion, with love and with acceptance. We feel seen, heard and received and it sparks an internal evolution towards reclaiming our sense of worth.
In Circle we remember that much of our mistrust and alienation from our sisters stemmed from the witch hunts where it was safer for us to be separate and alone. We embrace our powers of perception and intuition and we awaken our Divine Feminine energy; we celebrate the Goddess in all her forms and in each of us we reclaim her.
When I answered that nudge to facilitate Circles, I recognised that I was responding to something ancient within me and I wanted to continue.
As I have aligned with the deeper purpose of my life, it rises to meet me. My relationship was rekindled, I started a new business and my soul’s path was activated.
Women's Circles are taking place in every town and city; from living rooms to community halls to purpose built tents. A quick on-line search for Red Tent, Sacred Circle or Women's Circle will open up a whole world of ways to connect with women in your area who are coming together in Circle. If this resonates for you, this may be your call to start a Circle in your area; imagine a group of women sitting in Circle in your living room, sharing their truth, being seen, heard and accepted.
This is our time to link arms and rise together and co-create a movement of Circles providing sacred space in which self-worth can flourish and we can relinquish the need for validation from others.