This is a guest post by Jessica Starr. Jessica leads her local red tent in Caerphilly, Wales and took part in my Red Tent Initiation course earlier this year. Here she shares her outline for a red tent with the theme of “The Wheel.”
I have been enjoying Molly’s “Things we do in the Red Tent series”. It’s so lovely reading about the ways in which our tents are the same and different and getting ideas for things to try. Like Molly, I am a planner and I really enjoy gathering together the ingredients which make up each circle. I find that from the moment the theme of our meeting is chosen that is when the space begins to be created and held. It is a delicious period of inspiration and marination of ideas. We are currently using the Womanrunes to guide us on our red tent theme. Each month, at the close of the circle, one of the women chooses a card for our next meeting, and this has been working out beautifully for us. We have had meetings around The Crescent Moon, The Serpent, The Box, and the one I am sharing here…
Beforehand: make clear if there are items women need to bring – sticks, threads, yarn, an item to add to the altar that represents an area in which you currently feel stuck or which is moving too fast. We have a private Facebook group where we share the details of what women need to bring to the circle and no one is ever turned away if they cannot afford or have forgotten to bring their items listed. I tend to bring spares if it’s something needed for the activity. The Facebook group has also proved to be a lovely space where we can connect between meets and share inspirational post and pictures we come across.
- Entering Sacred Space: Passing the smudge and feather to next woman as we enter.
- Passing the red thread: “This cord symbolizes our “mother line,” the red thread of the generations stretching through time and space to the first woman who ever lived as well as forward into the future”. I am Jessica, daughter of Ann, daughter of Alma, daughter of Maud, daughter of Elizabeth, and mother of Ella and Dylan.” etc…
- Drop the thread in front of us in a circle, stand, hold hands, and do group hum Maaaa three times.
- Sing “The River is Flowing”. We have small songbooks of the chants we sing regularly.
- Introducing THE WHEEL… “What crackles in the leaves right under your feet? What stirs amongst the stones? What pushes up from cracked earth? What waits until the moon has risen to bloom?” (from Womanrunes by Molly Remer).
There is change coming and we are part of that change. We can resist and push back, which can make things hard, or we can learn to go with it. To roll with the wheel.
- Pass rattle: introducing ourselves and how we feel about a change or stickiness in our current lives. Adding our items to the altar, explaining why we have chosen this item to bring.
- Notes: I share some brief guidance before we pass the rattle in each Red Tent: That the red tent is a safe space different from how we may more usually interact with each other where we use I messages rather than assuming others’ experiences; What is shared in the circle stays in the circle; Toilets are downstairs, if you have to leave and re-enter the circle at any time please do so with respect. Also, we frame our words with “I am ….. and I am present” before speaking and “I have spoken” to end.
- ACTIVITY: Weave our wheels using sticks and thread. We crossed three sticks into a wheel shape and wound the yarn around each stick passing on to the next stick, changing colour if we wish. Here’s a youtube video showing roughly what we did, though we adapted it to make it look more like a wheel than a cross and used natural twigs we found rather than lolly sticks. And we didn’t use a glue-gun, we just wound the thread around the centre of the sticks a few times to keep them rigid before beginning to weave. This was a really great activity as it was meditative in it’s repetitiveness, it created a visual reminder of what we had shared and released in the tent, and it also allowed for talking while we were making. It went down really well with the women who were there that month and although we had followed the same idea everyone’s wheel was completely different.
- After the activity it was time for a switch in mood. We lay down for meditation. This month we had a simple but very effective drum journey.
- Singing and Circle dancing “Spiralling into the centre.”
- Housekeeping: plans for next meeting, volunteers needed, ideas to share. Choosing the Womanrunes card for our next circle.
- Closing the circle: pick up red thread and stand together and hum three times. Coming full circle. Though we are going off to our separate places and our separate lives we know that the connection, the red thread, flows within us. The items we brought are blessed and carry blessings with them.
- Sharing a drink and snack (if people want, or they can leave when feels good to them).
Note: make sure people take their altar items home with them (I keep this on my plan to remind me, otherwise I inevitably forget)
I hope that this is useful for you in planning your red tent circles. Let me know in the comments or connect with me on Facebook!
Jessica is a witch and her magic is stories. She serves her local community as a teacher, healer and doula: gathering the women; holding space and hands when babies are born; keeping the stories and passing them on. You can currently get her book “Waking Mama Luna: Timeless Tales of Woman, Nature and Soul” for free on her website.