No, this isn’t an endorsement of the divine women’s erotic emporium, it’s an urge to silence. Our theme this month is golden and can be as rare as a crack in the glass ceiling, but oh so important.
Paul Goodman wrote in his book “Speaking and Language: Defence of Poetry” about the different qualities of silence that humans embody. He identified nine kinds of silence which we reckon you’d like to read about because when you do, you’ll find your mind paying more attention to those silent places you didn’t know you occupy so often. It’s a great stimulus to consciously get your shtum on.
“Not speaking and speaking are both human ways of being in the world, and there are kinds and grades of each. There is the dumb silence of slumber or apathy; the sober silence that goes with a solemn animal face; the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul, whence emerge new thoughts; the alive silence of alert perception, ready to say, “This… this…”; the musical silence that accompanies absorbed activity; the silence of listening to another speak, catching the drift and helping him be clear; the noisy silence of resentment and self-recrimination, loud and subvocal speech but sullen to say it; baffled silence; the silence of peaceful accord with other persons or communion with the cosmos.”
It is this last quality of silence that we often hope to create in our circles, helping us to feel the connection with women across the movement we are part of, and with the oneness of our earth. That’s why we invited Claire from Red Women in Letchworth Garden City to share the power of silence in red tent gatherings. It’s a beautiful reflection to savour, in silence. We’ve also included a real gem of a poem for you by Pablo Neruda, who invites us to pause and take an exotic moment of silence for ourselves and for humanity.
Sitting in circle with CLAIRE
The answers are in the silence
I have always known this but found it difficult to go there. Well I didn’t try. Busyness kept me from that place. Fear. And what fire-breathing monster did I think this silence in the shadows would be?
Gradually over the past few years I have made my peace with silence, I mean I’m usually in silence but there is something different about going there consciously. It was one of the many reasons that I started Red Women.
Ironically this group is about giving women a voice to speak, to be heard and to be listened to. But I believe that we need to go within to find our true voice.
And that means silence. And so once a month we gather. A circle to start and to end but mostly silence. We have peaceful time in which we can choose to do nothing or something; journal, dance, stretch, snooze, draw, write, play, colour.
Last time we ate in silence too. I served the shared food in the garden and people came and ate in silence. I could feel my own anxiety overthinking, worrying they might be fed up of the silence but no. It became a profound mindful activity where each morsel was savoured and noticed.
I open up to the spacious present, to myself and a world of possibilities. Like a hot bath, I soak in the silence and the sounds of life because silence is actually the absence of making noise. There are birds chirping in the garden, traffic bouncing over the speedbumps, children playing nearby.
Without the chatter and the me that isn’t everyday me I slip into something comfortable. I connect there to my broader self, to parts of me that know the answers far better than my know-it-all mind and its awkwardness.
Many find the experience quite emotional, unaccustomed to going within and allowing “stuff” to bubble up and be spoken, heard and received. The silence holds us bare and accountable and that is difficult in a world of noise and nonsense.
I note now my reluctance to go back after silence. Oh how far I have come to dwell so happily there ♥
by Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.