Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Red Tent At Into The Wild

It is always a privilege and a joy to hold space for women, and at festivals it is no different.  This year I took the Red Tent once again to the Into The Wild summer gathering. Festivals are a journey of wonder and the unknown.  A new site, lots of new faces, and a multitude of unplanned experiences. This time Cath, fellow Moon Mother and menstrual mentor, joined me as a Red Tent circle facilitator and workshop guide.  We had a wonderful time.
We were well situated in the Wellbeing Field.  With the sounds of gong radiating towards us from a nearby sound therapy space, happy voices wandering past and children playing in a random sandy area behind us, the inner sanctum was incredibly chill.

Along with the opening and closing circles we offered three workshops.  One about the wisdom gifts of the menstrual cycle, then Cath's introduction to the importance of celebrating menarche for our girls, and one about the Worldwide Womb Blessing.  Also as popular as ever was the daily Sister Siesta in the afternoon.
Women of all ages from babes, to girls, to teens, young women, mothers, peri-menopausal women, post-menopausal, and elders found their way to us.  We also met a couple of other women just starting to hold their Red Tents too.  So much to share and so much joy.

Several women came back to the Red Tent from last year's festival, some telling us they had been waiting for this all year.  Many women discovering Red Tent for the first time were overjoyed and said it was the highlight of their festival.  Those coming to workshops went away changed, empowered and inspired.  Even as we were packing away, and all that was left were the big bags full of cushions and decor on the grass as we rolled up the bell tent, women were still coming up to us and thanking us, one even giving us her hand-made raw cacao flower shaped chocolates.

I love this work in service with all my heart and it is in deep gratitude that I shared the holding of  this with a dear friend and sister.  May our Red Tent in the Southampton and the New Forest continue to grow and expand, and may we keep being able to offer it out at many festivals in the years to come.
So if you have a Red Tent near you, avail yourself of the wisdom and nourishment to be found there.  Support and attend those spaces so that they can continue to remain open for other women to find them, because they are crying out for them.  Support the women holding them for they are truly giving something wonderful and life changing; creating community; and offering a space to be heard, to be healed and to grow.

Heidi x

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


This beauty found it's way to me so I'm sharing with you.  It is stunning and poignant.  Enjoy this new piece from filmmaker, cartoonist and adventurer Nina Paley.

God-Mother from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Heidi x

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Solar Eclipse Magick ... And Sogginess

I planned a beautiful ritual down by the sea.  Imagine the gentle waves lapping while the sun sets. Yeah it went something like that. You may want to read this as a cautionary tale, as in "don't do as I did", but I'd prefer it if you saw it as a "look this is how you carry on holding space midway through your panic and run for it moment"

The tide was incoming which I had accounted for and was part of what I had planned.  But tides come in fast don't they?  They kind of sneak up when you're not looking.

So out onto the little spit I went, perfectly timed for the eclipse I wouldn't be actually able to see. There was just enough dry land to last the duration I thought, although I was aware of cutting it fine.  It felt so otherworldly out there.  A liminal space in threshold time.  A stillness to the sea and a fineness to the air.

I hurriedly created a small fire at the shore line and lit it.  The moon eclipsing the sun as the incoming tide claims the flames.  I added sacred incense to the fire and took  a few drops of the White Wand and Holy Water Sacred Flame of the Brighid Path Essences.

"In this sacred space upon the shore may the fires at the water's edge hold the energy of the wounded raging masculine, the burning pain of women and the agony of a betrayed Earth.

I ask this fire to purify me and take from me all that no longer serves in my thinking, in my heart and in my physical body.

In this sacred space upon the shore may the waves that lap the land hold the energy of the wise intuitive feminine, the gentle warrior masculine and the healing power of the Seas.

I ask these waters to bathe me and bless me with soft power, an open heart and wise ways."

It was as this point in the proceedings I looked back to the main shore and realised that the sea, although gently licking the edge of my fire where I was, and not moving in hardly at all, had somehow completely cut me off across the narrow part of the spit. I was on my very own small island along with a few seagulls. If someone was watching, which judging, by the amount of camper vans further up the beach they probably were, they would have seen a mad women "keeping calm and not panicking honest" as she unceremoniously threw more wood on the fire, lobbed a bit more incense into the flames, grabbed her basket, her tea mug, her large lantern, her blanket and clutched her shawl and scarf about her as she legged it back down the spit, gritted her teeth and ran in a hoppity skip fashion through several meters of water to dry land.

Soaked to mid thigh I tell you.

Any onlookers, who were probably at that point uploading to YouTube the hippy hilarity of it all, would have then seen me nonchalantly look around and carry on as though all was meant to be.

And the fire just a speck in the distance was still burning, a little glowing dot on the left hand side looking out to the Solent.

"The ocean is full, the moon is dark and their powers are eclipsing the sun. We look to the glorious sea, the home of splendid creatures, the dolphin and seal and call them in to the tide.  Bless us Manannan, and may your waves kiss the earth beneath my feet.   Bless us Ancasta, and know we honour you and the rivers you flow in.  We call upon the Mer to rise and bless the land with sea spray."

I had a little inward chuckle about the earth beneath my feet being swamped with watery love, never mind just being kissed.

"May you guide us to the waveless sea.  May you steer our ships upon the crests of white.  May the waters of grace fill our lives.   May the Moon’s wisdom temper the Sun’s strength.  Out with the old ways and in with the new."  

Here I added my own intentions for personal growth, courage and abundance, and gazed out at the beauty that is the waterway.  I watched as the fire glow disappeared and the water swelled.  It was quite powerful and beautiful. Deep shifting in the twilight and great movement in the unseen energies of within and without.

"May it be so as the Moon in the sky is darkening the Sun"

When the time of the eclipse had passed I lit the Brighid Flame to symbolise the new light of the sun.

"May the fire be a new.  May Brighid’s fire burn bright.  May She of the Holy Waters and Sacred Flame show us the way." 

Then I sat and watched some more as the sky became chiffoned in soft hues and the river suddenly busy.  I sipped my mistletoe tea to bring in the light and took Brighid's Mantle essence.  I was blessed. I was very soggy.

I hope you too were able to make the most of the special eclipse time and the powerful energies of renewal and clearing that were available to us.  May the sacred feminine continue to rise, mer like out of the moon infused waves, softening and nurturing the masculine to a more heart led way of being.

Yes that is a wand pretending to be a hair stick (my son despairs).  And yes that dry patch in the middle of the salty brine is where the the fire was.  Yeah that, don't do that.

Two friends who also did the same ritual timed alongside me, one on the Itchen River and one for the Test River, had powerful experiences too.  We won't mention the fact that Jani did the sacred sinking into the mudflats.

Yeah that, don't do that either.

Heidi x

Monday, 21 August 2017

Healing The Gaping Wounds With Community

We cannot deny it, there are times in life when people hurt.  Hurt big time.  There are great joys that come with being alive, but also huge sadnesses.  Things happen during the course of a life that rock our world, undermine our very foundations and make our world shrink into grief, shame or loneliness.

It seems at times we are so ill equipped verbally and practically to help others during times of great need that what community there is can sometimes ebb away just when it could be at its most useful. I am grateful to be part of community in the sense that I have a few interlocking circles in which I am active and have close friendships amongst those wider circles.  There is support, inspiration and acceptance for me.  I am able to offer support.  I am needed and useful.  Community literally means the coming together around a common goal.  It is easy to create unity around hobbies, interests or places.  But what about community created for the sake of community.

I live in an area of reasonably dense population.  Apart from the neighbours saying hello and waving hi to some across the street there is nothing like community you would have seen in my grandmother's day.  There is a community centre nearby in which different groups create their own separate communities.  I have also observed many great truths about these hubs around which people gather and come together.  I've seen how they are great sources of joy and solidarity for many.  But what of the healing aspects?   There are three main areas, that I see, that we could do well, as both individuals and leaders, to have an awareness of, to up our game and to serve better.  I've called these healing aspects the hauling, the holing, and the wholing.

The hauling: Hanging on to the man overboard
When we are well and happy it is easy to join inThe flip side is the real bit we need to talk about though. That when things happen to people or they go through tough times it becomes harder for them to stay connected to previously enjoyed activities or social circles.  The onus is on those in the circle to hang on to those people, unless they have genuinely moved on for self propelling reasons. We need to reach out and check in, not expect it to be the other way round.  Communities are like boats in the great sea of life. Currents take us and it is easy to drift away.  So if someone lets go because they are too weak at that point to hang on or falls overboard because of illness of tragedy we should be staying around to pick them up, or throwing them a life ring to stay connected in some way till there are ready to be back on board again. When life horrors strike, one of the great side effects is losing connections and activities that we once enjoyed.  It is like the double whammy and an extra loss.  Sometimes when people recover from the initial months of shock from a life changing event, it causes a huge wave of deep sadness to have the realisation that they have somehow drifted away from social circles which have blindly sailed on without them.

The holing: The family hole becomes a whole family. 
Communities that contain members of all ages fill huge gaps in people's lives and heal heart wounds.  Boys and girls with absent fathers can have male role models and older friendships.  Single parents can gain the support of the village as it were.  Those in older years whose sons and daughters may not live close by, gain extra family including the laughter of younger children. For me, having lost my daughter and after years of the wounding grief and raw pain, I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me to be part of several girls lives.  My heart swells with pride at certain achievements and it bursts with every hug and greeting.  I am grateful to experience something with them that I will never get with my own daughter.  It heals the wound a little more as they grow and grow.  I know for others too that after the first several years recovering from infertility or child-loss  it has been so painful when they are kept out of family events involving children or there are no other children in their life at all. I know of those who do not want children of their own, but are sad when people assume they don't want to be around them at all.  There is no one perfect family, and having a larger family type community does mean that all needs are catered for.  Our elders don't get lonely, our teenagers can step safely away from under the parental wing, our mums and dads worry less and gain extra support, and all those in between feel part of the whole: loved and cherished and needed.

The wholing: That which separates needs to belong
When huge tragedy or trauma strikes we are defined temporarily by that experience.  It makes us different or unique in our circle of friends for the time of raw recovery.  This feeling can be devastating and isolating. Often there are support circles for survivors of specific happenings, and the victim enters a world in which the new community has all experienced the same.  At some point and alongside the support circles, these stories need to be held in the wider context of community to integrate the survivor back into life where not everyone has been through the same.  After losing my daughter I was wonderfully supported by a national group that supports bereaved parents for stillbirth and neonatal loss.  That became my main real circle of friends for several years.  When I wanted to get back to a social life that wasn't just connected by grief it was hard, but it happened.  I was aware though that it was up to me to integrate my experience of Izzy's death into my now newly evolving social circle. I didn't want it to be the thing that separated me out.  When I eventually came to running women's circles and holding the Red Tent space I had a realisation.  These types of spaces are key to the next stage of healing and integrating.  In the beginning it is validating, soothing and less isolating to be able to share with, repeat your story and listen to others who know your pain for real.  As time moves on though, the healing, the "wholing", comes when that story is heard and the pain is held by those who have not been through the same, otherwise it keeps you on the outside.  It is a different kind of acceptance and validation that is now needed.  One that says you are not separate, you belong with us. We all, with each of our stories, belong together no matter what we have been through. Listening is the key.

In fact listening is the key to most things.  May we hold each other tight, and love each other dearly. May we belong, may we be healed and whole.

Heidi x