Text and images by Ashlee Symington of Wild Coast Wellbeing.
Back in 2013 I was a stay at home mama with 3 young children under the age of 10 and I found, as many mothers do, that I was being stretched to my limits trying to meet the needs of family, home and work. And I was increasingly feeling a sense of deep loneliness and isolation in my rural community.
I could see that what I was experiencing was reflected in the lives of other mothers all around me. We were all so busy-busy with lives full of doing, caring and nurturing. And somewhere underlying all that caring and busyness there was a feeling of disconnection, as if some key element of how it was supposed to be - being a woman, a mother - was missing. For me it was a yearning for a deeper, more authentic connection to other women, to be supported by a real community of sisters who I knew were having the same experiences as me but somehow we weren’t currently meeting at that deeper, more ‘real’ level.
When I talked with my mama friends what kept coming up was that they had a feeling of a loss of heartfelt, truthful connection in community. They spoke of their own need to be seen outside of their caring or professional roles, of wanting to heard, of needing time to speak their truth without fear of judgement, for a safe space to show their vulnerabilities. And what I heard time and again was a deep longing for a strong community of women, of support and togetherness which people seemed to know was possible, but wasn’t being met in their everyday lives. Especially not at mother and toddler groups, coffee mornings or even on nights out with girlfriends.
I began to dream of a place where we could remake that connection and co-create that longed for sense of the sacred, of community and supportive sisterhood. I imagined a monthly meeting place where women could come together for mutual support,take time out from commitments to family and work, nurture themselves, share stories and skills with women of all ages and backgrounds. I wanted to gather a sacred sisterhood where women could learn to honour their spirit and care for their tender hearts, and slowly let go of all that they’ve been hanging onto and no longer need.
That’s when I began to research the Red Tent movement, to learn about Moon Lodges, Goddess Circles, Women’s Circles, Council Sharing Circles and decided to gather my girlfriends and create our own Moon Circle here in my local community in Norfolk.
What are Women’s Circles?
When women gather with intention there is a great power, energy and solidarity which is created. Throughout history, women have long gathered in circles around fires, in homes and temples to laugh, share, sing, drum, dance, heal, pray, care for children, grieve, tell stories, listen, create ceremony and spiritually connect. And increasingly women are rediscovering this valuable and necessary aspect of womanhood. Re-establishing trust in other women, reconnecting to a sense of the sacred, reconnecting to the natural rhythms and cycles of our bodies and to those of the moon and the natural world.
When women sit in circle, they have an opportunity to drop into a space of deep trust and experience an authenticity within themselves – a truth or ‘realness’ that is often lacking in their day-to-day lives with its multitude of roles and responsibilities.
Within a Women’s Circle there is no hierarchy; each woman’s voice is equally valid; her story honoured and received fully. In this sacred space, a collective power is harnessed. And when there is a clear intent on listening – individually and collectively – when women feel honoured and heard, healing happens. The support, creativity, and sharing of ideas that is nurtured in women’s circles has the power to become something much larger and more remarkable. There is a ripple effect that spreads out and positively impacts families, communities and the whole of society at large.
Dr Christiane Northrup ‘’Every Woman who heals herself, helps to heal all the women who’ve gone before her, and all those who come after her.’’
Why are they important?
The benefits of gathering in a sacred, conscious sisterhood, especially a small, intimate one with the same group of women, is that women can safely let go of everything they haven’t had time to process or release. Having a place that women can go to where they feel supported and where they can unload, cry, laugh, relax, check in with themselves and work out what they want and need, means they are then more able to release whatever is moving in them, to feel into their emotional issues and go home lighter, clearer, more grounded and rejuvenated. And therefore so much better able to care for and nurture the ones they love because their own spiritual and emotional needs are being met.
In order to thrive women need support. We are natural caregivers. Many of us take care of everyone else’s needs before even asking ourselves what we want or need. It becomes second nature to us. But as big and generous as our hearts are, they can become depleted, overburdened or stretched too thin. And though making time for self care and reflection is nourishing and helpful, there is a particular magic and deep healing that happens when women come together to support each other.
It is one thing to meditate on your situation alone, but quite another to sit in a circle of soul friends and finally let out your hearts truth while someone pours you a cup of tea, another offers a hug and everyone in the circle is listening to you and not offering advice, solutions or even reassurance. Just listening deeply to your truth what ever it may be. What gold there is in being truly witnessed and heard as we speak our truth! Hearing other womens stories fosters empathy and helps us feel less alone as we see out own struggles, passions and beauty reflected within them.
For further information:
I hold women’s events, workshops, retreat days, circles and camps throughout the year. It would be wonderful to welcome you to any of these so please do get in touch if you’d like to know more.