Women have been gathering in sacred circles together throughout time, but somewhere along the way this ancient gathering declined. Luckily for us, women’s circles are on the rise again.
There’s a deep remembering happening among women, a calling to gather again and to live by the cycle of the moon and embrace the feminine. In many cultures, women would traditionally gather in circles to tell stories, to share the ups and downs of their lives, and to be together during their menstrual cycle. Great wisdom is revealed during women’s circles, and something immensely powerful happens when women gather together in order to create a sacred space.
For so long a patriarchal, consumer-led culture has dominated our lives and although we have become materially richer, we have suffered spiritually. The rise of women’s circles helps to fill the gap that so many women feel in their lives, the ache to be part of the feminine, to join together with other women and celebrate the seasons of their lives.
My experience of joining a women’s circle in Portugal
I moved to Portugal for a while last year, deep in the middle of the pandemic. I didn’t know anyone when I arrived, and I wondered how I would meet like-minded people in rural Portugal. But then an invite came through a woman I met during an herbal training to join a women’s circle. At first, I was a little hesitant; as an introvert, I wondered if I would find it hard to share with a group of women I had never met before.
My worries soon melted away when I arrived at my first circle. Everyone was welcoming, and we shared food before we sat in the circle. In a women’s circle, each woman is invited to share something, and the other women create a safe container for you to be heard.
This is a practice of deep listening. It can be hard at first not to offer advice—we are so used to trying to solve each other’s problems. But in the listening, something deeper happens; we see ourselves reflected in the other. Instead of working to find a solution, or thinking of a response, we really hear what the other women are saying—the lessons they have learned, the challenges they are grappling with. We feel united in our shared humanity.
My Women’s Circle Training with The Goddess Space
After sitting in circles in Portugal and being welcomed into this sacred space with other women, I felt called to explore holding my own circles upon my return to the Netherlands.
As a yoga teacher, I’m experienced in holding space for others, but I felt like I wanted some guidance on how to hold a women’s circle and be of service to other women. I found the online Women’s Circle Training with Anoushka Florence, who has been holding popular women’s circles for years in the U.K. It’s a 4-week training, and each week throughout January we have gathered via Zoom to learn how to call in our own women’s circles.
It feels especially potent during these uncertain and unsettling times that women are gathering together to support each other emotionally and spiritually. In order for the world to heal, women need to heal, and each time we sit in circle with other women we heal a little more.
Of course, nothing beats sitting in a circle with women in person, but you can still make a sacred gathering via Zoom. You can light candles, gather sacred objects that have meaning to you, bring something from nature to represent each season, select a beautiful crystal to work with, wrap yourself in your softest blanket, sip your favorite herbal tea, and jot things down in your journal.
What to expect during a women’s circle?
Many women’s circles follow the cycle of the moon, and often women gather during the new moon, which is a wonderful time for intention setting, or during the full moon, the perfect time for reflection.
Each women’s circle will have a different energy and intention based on the person holding space but traditionally you can expect the following:
A women’s circle begins with the women entering the space and leaving the outside world behind them. Tea and water are offered and usually there’s time to decompress with each other before officially sitting in the circle. Once everyone has arrived the woman leading the circle will ask everyone to be seated on the floor. Often there will be an altar in the middle of the circle with seasonal flowers and sacred objects. The woman leading the circle will often smudge the space with palo santo or another cleansing herb, and then the circle can begin.
Often, the circles are sharing circles, in which each woman in turn shares something with the others. This could be something joyful, something upsetting, a challenge, a story—really anything she is called to share. The other women hold space for her to share. This is such a potent practice, and many people feel deeply healed after sharing in a supportive space with other women, knowing that judgement is left at the door.
After each woman has shared (and you can also remain silent if you feel called to) the circle is closed by the host. Some circles end in silence so that each woman can take the sacred feeling home, whereas other circles end with feasting together and sharing tales of their day.
What are the benefits of joining a women’s circle and is for you?
A women’s circle is a time for you, a time to nurture yourself and prioritize your self-care.
If you feel disconnected from women in your life or need a safe space to share with others, then a women’s circle can be a wonderful experience for you. If you are looking to deepen your relationship with the feminine and the cycles of the moon, then a women’s circle is also a wonderful place for you to do this.
I feel like during this time we are more ‘connected’ than ever before via social media, emails, and messaging apps, but we have lost the depth of the connection. A women’s circle brings back a deep connection with other women around you.
A women’s circle is also an ancient, sacred space where you connect with the women who have gone before you and pave the way for women who will come after you.
If you are feeling called to join a women’s circle you can find one near you on the Red Tent Directory.
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Photo: Becca Tapert via Unsplash