It took me about 40 years to join a women’s circle. Despite being a caring, conscious “hippy”, I’d never really come across such a notion. Despite calling myself a feminist, being an independent woman, I didn’t realise I lived in a patriarchal society. Despite bleeding for about 25 years I had never consciously charted my period (only while planning pregnancy) and never even thought about what it meant, what it could mean, how I could ‘flow’ with it. Despite approaching mid-life, I had never thought about menopause, or even knew about perimenopause. Despite living in cities, in towns, in different countries I had never experienced ‘community’, I hadn’t found my tribe.
When I arrived in Perth with two young children and a husband who worked away a fair amount, I threw myself into our new school community. Very early on I met a few women there who changed my life. It was the end of the first year of a business called the Women’s Hearth (although it was simply Red Tent back then) and my friend introduced me to the women who ran it. I went to watch a movie ‘The Moon Inside Me’ and decided to join up there and then. I joined along with a few women from the inaugural group and after the first few circles, I knew I had found my tribe. There were women of all ages and stages in their lives; with no children, young children, growing babies, grown-up children, grandmothers and aunties. Yet we all shared a common thread, we were all reaching for our sacred feminine, all willing to share vulnerability, laughter and food.
Over the years we have explored and honoured our menstrual cycle, the cycles of our lives, goddesses, our sacred service and so much more. We have witnessed and held space for new babies, wished for babies, babies leaving home, sickness, menopause, sisterhood, dreams and challenges. We have rested in the arms of the great mother, we have passed tissues and teacups, we have danced and drummed in firelight and sunlight, rain and the dark of night. We have jumped over broomsticks, weaved, stitched, drawn and spiralled. We have listened and told stories, smudged, meditated, sung and sung and sung. We have swum naked under the full moon, howled at the half moon, gathered at the dark moon.
Once a month I gather with my sisters and I breathe. I let go of the stresses and facades I carry in my day to day life. I am exactly what I am in those hours, sometimes giggly and excitable, sometimes tired and morose but every time, every single time, I leave feeling nourished, deeply loved, wholly accepted and ten times the brightness I was before. Red Tent is non-negotiable. I have moved houses, jobs, grown children into teenagers, divorced, written a book, and started a business since I joined this circle and my sisters have been my constant, my support, my wisdom and my solace.