Red hearted wholeness


“How might you life have been different if there had been a place for you?  A place for you to go… a place of women, to help you learn the ways of woman… a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining you and steadying you as you sought to become yourself.  A place of women to help you find the ancient flow already there within yourself… waiting to be released…

How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you… a place of women, where you were received and affirmed?  A place where other women, perhaps somewhat older, had been affirmed before you, each in her time, affirmed, as she struggled to become more truly herself.

A place where, after the fires were lighted, and the drumming, and the silence, there would be a hush of expectancy filling the entire chamber… a knowing that each woman there was leaving old conformity to find her self… a sense that all of womanhood stood on a threshold.

And if, during the hush, the other women, slightly older, had helped you to trust your own becoming… to trust it and quietly and prayerfully to nurture it…

How might your life have been different, if, through the years there had been a place where you could go? …a place of women, away from the ordinary busy-ness of life… a place of women who knew the cycles of life, the ebb and flow of nature, who knew times of work and times of quiet… who understood your tiredness and need of rest.

A place of women who could help you to accept your fatigue and trust your limitations, and to know, in the dark of winter, that your energy would return, as surely as the Spring.

Women who could help you learn to light and candle and wait…

How might your life be different?…”

Judith Duerk, A Circle of Stones

Luckily for us women, these places do still exist.  I know of them in the form of Red Tents and I am blessed to be a part of one in my very home town.  For me, the Red Tent encompasses all of the above and more… a place where I can go to be nurtured, to be nourished, to be accepted, inspired, held, and loved.  A place where I can connect in with other women, yes, but also, more crucially, a place where I can connect in with myself.


I do this for me.  I do this to continue the thread that was begun a long, long time ago.  And I do this for my daughters.  I want them to grow up knowing, not only that these places exist, that they are real, but that there is a place for them in this circle too.  That there will always be a place for them in this circle.


And who knows… maybe, hopefully, they won’t need to be asking themselves one day how their own lives might have been different…

One thought on “Red hearted wholeness

  1. Lately, I’ve been drifting towards the idea that we really need to see women and men as two distinct sub-species of what we laughingly call Homo Sapiens Sapiens – ‘exceptionally-wise man’ (sic!). Us, in case you were wondering; both sexes, plus the variants, subsumed under the one word ‘man’…

    It’s begun to seem to me that women are so different, in their most fundamental being, from men that they – you all – need to insist on a different way of seeing things, and actually a different way of being in the world; these different ways having equal value and status with the male way. The partial liberation of some women in some places in the world, during just the past few decades, actually seems to have made that feasible for a minority of fortunate women in places such as Britain – for now, that is,

    But now that we’re well-started into the Interesting Times of the new era of The Long Descent which recently superseded the now-deceased era of economic growthforever (see JMGreer’s book of that TLD name), there’s probably no certain guarantee that that small liberation-space will continue to be held open, even for the minority of women who’ve already achieved it for themselves.

    Trouble is, it puts very heavy strains on men to even tolerate this liberated space, let alone to support it steadfastly, no matter what, as of course we should. (I speak from rueful, at times deeply painful experience; it can be tough for us to do that.) The natural impulse of men seems to be to just brow-beat, batter and bully women back into the traditional state of chained subservience and chatteldom. Or sometimes actually to kill them if they resist too steadfastly. It’s what one of our nearest relatives – the non-Bonobo chimps – do instinctually, and often very bloodily, as a matter of course. Dominant male chimps are not nice creatures at all, just like domineering male homsapsaps; and it seems to be bred in the evolutionary bone for both of us.

    Obviously, I’m not defending that instinctual impulse. Just observing that – even in self-disciplined, principled men, it never goes away. And as the Times get seriously more Interesting, as there’s now little doubt left that they will, you can imagine that atavistic drive erupting out again, widescale.

    And here’s an added twist: Judging by the way some muslim teenage girls race off on romantic quests to marry into activist male groups of the current islamic-guerrilla upheavals against Western imperialism in the poor bloody put-upon ME countries, it even seems that there’s some sort of drive in women themselves to embrace that kind of ancient instinctual arrangement. I wouldn’t know directly. Just speculating. I daresay the thirty-something woman might come to regret her teenage fancy…?

    But anyway, what I’m saying, Caz, at the end of this long ramble is that I too think that women are fundamentally different from us, in ways that are important enough to matter fundamentally; and I applaud your teasing out of some sort of clear affirmation of that idea: Red Heart. Stick with that! Remember the Woman of Willendorf as a votive figure of power and respect, in former times. Remember Lisbeth Salander too: physically-petite to the edge of child-like; yet an accomplished destroyer of men who try to violate or kill her. Right on, Lisbeth!


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