Text and images by Ashlee Symington of Wild Coast Wellbeing.
How do women's circles work?
Just imagine stepping into warm room filled with candlelight, a fire flickering, gentle music filling the air and a close circle of women welcoming you. Women who you’ve cried, laughed and experienced miracles with. Women you’ve felt safe enough to share your deepest heart with. Women who’ve known how to lift you up when you lost your way and help you step into your power when you forgot your magnificence. And as the weight of loneliness falls away, you start to see yourself… really see yourself for who it is you truly are, what it is you deeply want and the difference you are here to make in the world.
There are many ways to be in circle with women, from elaborately crafted ceremonies to simply using a talking stick to share in circle. Some ideas you could try:
- Welcome each other by cleansing with smudge or rose water as you enter the scared space of your circle, this sets the intention that this is a special gathering not just another gossip fest. You might like to share a meditation, do some yoga or a craft, sing some simple chants and drum, tell stories, share food and above all love.
- If you feel that you could use some gentle sisterly support and you love the idea of joining a sacred sisterhood you might be able to find one near you on the ‘Red Tent Directory’. Or maybe you might think about starting a Women’s Circle of your own.
- When I started ours I didn’t have any specific training, I just felt intuitively as to what felt right, read some books, sought advice from elders who had experience of women’s circles and also from The Red Tent Directory and then dived right in and began our ‘Moon Circle’ as I called it. There are some great online resources and courses to support you through the process if you feel you need that initial guidance. But personally I don’t think it’s a necessity to do a course. Be bold and brave sister!
- You don’t have to be a trained facilitator to be able to start a Women’s Circle, it’s really just about stepping into your own leadership and bringing other women together. By starting off intentionally and setting some simple boundaries for the group you can create a safe container to hold a women’s circle.
- A good starting place is clearly stating the intention of the gathering; why you are there. And then creating some simple guidelines for your circle such as : Always speaking with integrityand for yourself, from the I. Always aiming to follow the principles of Listening, Admiring, Modelling and Blessing when sharing. And honouring every woman’s right to be heard without interruption, Fixing, Rescuing, Advising or Projecting.
I love this quote by Don Miguel Ruiz on sharing in circle:
"Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love."
This is a really important part of a Women’s Circle: What is said in circle stays in circle. No gossiping outside the circle about anything personal that has been shared. This is what creates the safe container to hold your tender hearts as they unfold to trust and connect deeply in sisterhood.
- Developing the kind of intimacy that nurtures you in this way takes time. Meeting the same group of women monthly brings a depth and closeness that one off meetings just can’t. Start by asking your close friends to an informal women’s circle to talk through the idea, but don’t be disheartened if only one or two show up at first. It may just be you and one friend who commit to coming initially. Remember if your intention is strong and purpose pure, women will find their way to you.
Go for it! A deeply and nourishing heartfelt community awaits xx
Remember that we are the voices that can bring peace and courage to hearts in need. Trust the truth and value of your own loving voice in this world. With so much love and deep gratitude to all the women who are rising and lifting ourselves and each other up. Love & Blessings xx Ashlee
What women have said about Moon circles I am part of:
"Meeting every month with other mothers in Moon Circle, I’m able to let go of my often overwhelming role as a mother and come home again to my whole self as a Woman. Speaking of womanly needs, desires, sadnesses, frustrations, journeys and growth, and hearing them from my sisters too, I have a deep feeling of peace, recognising the swirling ins and outs and ups and downs of all our lives skilfully
Interwoven. I marvel at how things shift each month, some months I am low and tired and others fizzing with energy, and I see this in my sisters too. Regularly coming together to listen and speak with each other is such amazing therapy! Seeing us all reflected in each other helps me feel into the cyclical flow and remember that all expressions and experiences are important. Nothing to be hurried, all of it to be savoured. I feel deeply stitched into the circling of all Women, through all time. All my grandmothers and great grandmothers and mothers of mothers, called to the circle and mixed in the pot of our eternal song, soothed on the unifying beat of our drum."(R.E)
"When you sit in a circle of women who have become like soul sisters to you, just walking into the room makes your body relax and your spirit heave a sigh of relief."(A.S)
"The sisterhood within Moon Circle is a true true blessing. It offers blessings of trust, of love and of creativity. It has restored wisdom of sisterhood that I had thought lost before I became part of the privilege of Moon Circle. The energy that evolves when we are together astounds me. Each time we meet I listen and learn and when I leave to come home I bring the wisdom home and share it as I nurture my children and my family. Moon Circle holds me strong. It holds me when I feel unable or stuck or weak. The words spoken, the rhythm of the drumming, the songs we sing absorbs me into a whole new space that replenishes my inner self. It mends. It sustains it encompasses every sister to one togetherness.
It is a privilege to be part and take part in this. It has enabled me to understand the complexities of the moon, it’s cycle it’s purpose and its link to the feminine. It finally makes sense after 50 years of wondering and not completely understanding. The links with Mother Earth, the moon, the sky, the water, the fire. It makes sense and finally I have the answers. Understanding it all will take a life time. Its information is so immense, so beautiful, so much purpose and purity.So thank you dear sisters for the gathering of Moon Circle. Sharing our inner most thoughts, the speaking , the offering to others by word and by touch. It is an all encompassing sisterhood blessing."(A.B)
"Moon circle is a sacred space where I feel completely accepted for myself. I am free to be Me, rather than a mother, wife, sister and daughter. The sisterhood of the circle has actively demonstrated that women are my allies and not to be feared as competition or examples of amazing creatures that I could never be."(S.E)
"We gather together to sit in circle, to connect to the space, to ourselves and to one another. We share our stories, witness the stories of others and replenish ourselves. We create our visions, manifest our dreams, sing, chant, meditate, dance, laugh, heal, grow and support one another. A place to nurture our cycles and celebrate our creative potential in a community of women. We also drink tea, and share delicious food!"(A.C)
"Moon Circle helps me feel seen and heard by my sisters but most importantly, by myself.Us mothers need this because we are so often looking outward - busy thinking about the emotional needs of everyone around us and forgetting to see ourselves and this is how we lose sight of our true selves. Moon Circle brings me home to myself every month.” (S.B)
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.