When taking part in circle, such as at a Red Tent its important to find ways to help manage the conversation. As you might imagine, bringing women together creates plenty of talk! It may be that your Red Tent circle is, at times at least, quite informal and conversation can just flow freely and not need any management. However if it is a large group or a specific topic is being explored you might want to think about using a ‘talking piece’.
A talking piece is an object that signifies to everyone in the circle that whoever is holding it is the only person allowed to speak at that time. Thus everyone is likely to listen more deeply because they aren’t thinking about what to say in response. Whilst not everyone will want to contribute, everyone should be offered the opportunity.
You can make use of the talking piece in two ways, either by sending it round the circle (clockwise or anticlockwise the choice is yours) or by placing it in the centre of the circle and those who feel called to speak can pick it up and then replace it when they’ve finished. Both methods allow for anyone who doesn’t want to say anything to simply pass the piece on or not pick it up. Using the centre method will lead to a more conversational style versus deeper individual responses if its passed around in order.
There are a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing an object to be your talking piece. There are specially made talking pieces available, you could use a crystal or a feather and many people may know of the concept of a ‘talking stick’. Jane Hardwicke Collings, a Shamanic Midwife from Australia uses a talking bowl. She recounts how when she started leading circles she used a stick, but one of her teachers suggested that a bowl was more feminine in shape and energy. The additional bonus of using a bowl is that you can put some items in it that can support the people taking part in the circle, should big emotions arise or people are finding it difficult to speak. This could include flower essences such as Rescue Remedy, crystals, oils and so on. You might also use an item specific to the topic being discussed, for example a representation of the yoni to talk about sexuality.
Does your circle use a talking piece? Is it one specific to your /tent or do you use something different depending on what your exploring? Do share your pieces with us.
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