We often talk about Red Tents being places where we can learn to trust each other. We come together to spend time in a shared space so that we can feel less alone and more in tune with ourselves. There are two things going on here. Both that we are letting our guard down to other people and showing them the part of ourselves that gets less time out in the open. The part of ourselves that is… perhaps the word is vulnerable but it could just as easily be scared, small or tired.
Letting our guard down is only possible if we feel we can trust those we are with. So how do we know if we can? What does it feel like? I’m not really even sure if I can describe it myself but I know I have felt it.
Trust is a restful place where you feel grounded in the moment, it is where you can take a bigger breath than normal and let your shoulders drop, it is where your jaw relaxes and you can feel your body below your neck. This is rare and valuable stuff. Many women will not know this feeling. In a world where we can at times feel locked in hyper alert, moving from one judgement to another and protecting our space however big or small. It may be our bodies, our sense of self or even a half hour tea break. The feeling of trust can be a struggle. I only have to think about the times I have ignored my own thoughts and intuitions because I don’t trust them. When it comes to other people I can easily close off as I cloud my head with assumptions and ways to see them either as different to me or me as different to them.
Red Tents can play a role in disrupting this spinning dialogue of separateness and open the door to trusting another. Over time these exchanges of trust can ripple out into other places in your life. Once you have practiced it time and time again it can become a way of being and existing. Letting those shoulders drop, your body tingle with feeling and your ears finally open to listen for the first time.
Sitting in Circle with Susana
When I did the free Red Tent workshop with Satya Kaur in 2014 I was inspired by this movement of women gathering. I had this vision of opening as many red tents as possible in Portugal and in this way inspire many sisters to do the same so more women could connect in this way.
The first Red Tent that I led had more than thirty sisters present. Since then I have participated in and have guided many red tents; I meet many women, all different, all the same… we are sisters. A Red Tent is a circle of women: it is a free space where I can be in touch with myself as a woman.
In the centre we have a circular altar, we light candles to give light to the truth, symbolising fire; we bring flowers symbolising beauty and the earth; incense symbolising aroma and the air and a glass with water symbolising purity. In this way we can have a simple or complex altar in honour of the Goddess that inhabits each one of us. We wear red to honour the blood that flows in our veins and invite the ancestors to participate in the session; and even if you do not believe, they always make a point of being present, giving energy support and their wisdom.
This is a safe space where I share and receive, where I do not judge and I am not judged, and what is said in the circle is within this circle. We are stripped of prejudice and wear the truth, a sharing that comes from the heart – the heart does not know how to lie. When I hold the talking stick I’m heard and when a sister speaks I hear.
We smile and cry; after taking the drama out of what we share, there remains the purest and beautiful truth of who we are. This is not a therapy space but many things are healed just by sharing the truth.
A space where the only certainty is that we are women respecting women, we are accepted and we accept, all this because we are honest with ourselves.