This month we have been exploring some ideas around giving and giving up. In a way our sitting in circle piece has inspired this month’s theme as Jessica from the Bedwas Red Tent Circle in South Wales shares with us what she has learned from her Red Tent and how she manages her giving energies to make sure it remains a nourishing space for herself as much as for the women who attend.
Giving things up in a conscious way can be something we all struggle to allow ourselves to do. It can seem that the easier path is to give up in a grump, or with a sense of shame or pain. Similarly giving, although well intentioned, can also be something we struggle to balance, giving too much often at our own expense. Imagine, though, if giving up could serve us well? What if giving to others was as much a gift to ourselves as we hope and deserve it to be? Giving up is the sister to giving. A harmonious deeply-linked loving duet. Of course, you can see these two sister energies in many tools we may use in our lives and our Red Tents. The dark moon, our bleeding time, the winter season for nuzzling our hopes and dreams, the gifts to ourselves and others. Whilst the full moon, ovulation and midsummer ask us to give up the stuff we don’t need, go lightly and cast off any darkness that is holding us back.
So here at the Red Tent Directory we say give and give up in a way that connects you to yourself and your own nurturing. Because either one can deplete you and either one can replenish you. As Red Tent holders and lovers we know the world needs resourced and strong women, alive in their own healing more than ever before.
I (Steph) have been away from the Red Tent Directory for 18 months on maternity leave and as I come back, re-engaging my giving muscles in terms of lending my time and creative thinking to this beautiful initiative, Aisha is leaving to have a baby. Let us take a moment for pause, thanks and recognition of the great energy Aisha has been giving the Red Tent Directory for many years; she now turns inwards towards her baby and the sacred act of mothering an infant. So, we give it up for Aisha! And wish her and her baby soft landings.
We are also saying ‘goodbye for now’ to Amy Okoli who has been a trusted and valued member of our team for the past 18 months but is now stepping back due to other things in her life that she needs to focus on. Thank you so much Amy for all the wisdom, joy and support you have contributed. We will miss you and hope to see you again soon.
Sitting in Circle with Jessica
The air is kissed with sage and frankincense, gently hazing around the women who sit together in circle. They are gently lit and cosy. Blankets and cushions heaped on the floor beneath them. Twinkling star lights strung on the red tented ceiling above. Candles flicker on the central table, lighting the objects placed there with care: statues of women goddesses, a chunk of quartz, a feather, flowers and fruit, a glass of water, and a small reddish-brown owl rattle that feels so good to hold and is our talking piece. Around the table snakes the red thread, uncoiled, the circle is open.
Over the years I have been calling this circle I have given my time and my energy and have also given up some expectations along the way.
I have learned I need to look after myself, to support this work and make it sustainable. I have/had a tendency to over-commit myself. I want to offer everything I possibly can. This means that sometimes I am left with nothing and feel bereft and sad and can even start to feel resentful of the activities that have taken more than I was able to give. I have learned to set limits on how often we meet (monthly is perfect for me) and ensure that it is at a time and place that works for me. It is true when they say create the circle that you want to be part of, and, even further than that; when you are the one calling the circle, it needs to be as convenient as possible for you first and foremost. I have learned to keep this in mind and now rarely feel like our red tent is anything but nourishing.
I have learned to take time to wind down after circle. I find quietly clearing and tidying the space works well for that. I also have a couple of online groups with other women who call the circle in their local areas, that I can spend time in and ask questions/ share resources. I find spending some time with these online circles helpful. I am blessed to have a couple of local circles I enjoy going to too, that I have absolutely no responsibility for other than to show up. I have learned to receive as well as give.
Another thing I have learned is that no matter how meticulously I plan and prepare for the circle, once it begins it has a life of its own, and it is much better to go with the flow than to try and drag it back to how I expected or wanted it to be. Perhaps someone may go off on a tangent during the rattle passing, which then inspires others to talk about that topic, and then the meditation I have planned no longer fits in with the work that we are doing. When I first started holding circle I would have just done the prepared meditation anyway, because I wouldn’t have felt confident to change it to fit without preparation time, and that was fine. But these days I would trust that the right words would come to me and I would lean into that, and that is powerful. So, I have learned to give up a fixed form of control (or rather, I relearn I need to give it up, again and again).
Jessica leads the Bedwas Red Tent Circle in South Wales. She is also a storyweaver and poet www.jessicamstarr.com