I just returned from another fabulous week with my current cohort of Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training students and the creative energy was completely OFF THE CHARTS!
And being part of yet another magical healing circle of women made me think about what those circles mean to me.
I spend a great deal of my life sitting in these circles. And I have done that consistently for more than 40 years.
At this point I do so primarily in the role of leader, facilitator and guide. But in the beginning of my personal healing journey, I sat in many of those circles as a participant before I started facilitating my own.
And those early circles literally saved my life.
So I knew first hand the healing power that came from being part of a group of women who have gathered together with the intention to practice self love, to become more self aware, to develop their relationship with their intuition, to regain their divine feminine power, to speak their truth, to reclaim their creativity and to become more fully themselves.
A typical meeting unfolds with all of the women sitting in a literal circle around a central focal point that serves as an altar or shrine. The altar is usually adorned with sacred objects like beautiful cloth, candles, flowers, crystals and statues or figures of the divine feminine. We often begin with a meditation that is designed to bring the women in contact with their inner world of feelings and sensations. And to also to help bring them into the present moment.
After the meditation we go around the circle where the women take turns sharing from what I call their point of greatest aliveness. What that means is that they are being invited to take a few minutes to talk about what has the most heart and meaning for them in that moment.
This is a sacred opportunity for the women to courageously tell the truth about their lives. So sometimes the point of greatest aliveness looks like sharing from a place of joy and celebration. But other times what feels the most alive might be grief. Or anger. Or despair and frustration.
And one of the things I always say is that the circle can hold it all.
Everything is welcome in the circle. You don’t have to pretend or perform or put on a show to entertain or comfort anyone else. You can be totally yourself. The sacred circle is a protected sanctuary that ideally creates a safe haven where you can feel free to be open and honest and real.
This particular type of circle is also known as a witnessing circle. Which means that each woman is given time and attention to share her truth without distraction or interruption. Everyone in the circle is there to hold space for the woman who is speaking which means you as a circle participant are simply asked to be present with your grounded attention to whatever is being revealed.
Sometimes what is being shared is painful. Sometimes women need to cry or weep or rage. Sometimes they need to express their hopelessness and despair. But holding space also means the other women in the circle do not offer advice or begin problem solving or try to fix the person who is sharing. They are there to simply listen with their hearts open. To develop faith in the natural unfolding of each woman’s healing process. And to trust that each woman has in inner wise woman and inner healer that can be activated through the simple process of being in community, giving voice to her truth and expressing her authentic creativity.
After the initial sharing circle we spend time doing something creative like painting or writing, collage or some kind of craft project, with the intention that making art will help each woman connect more deeply with her own inner world.
And then at the end of the creative time we come together once again to talk about our process, and to integrate our experience before the circle ends.
I love this whole process. I love the sharing. I love the honesty. I love the transformation that happens when women are given the space to be seen and heard without judgment or interference. I love the deep and juicy creativity that happens. I love the unfolding of each womans unique and beautiful soul. I love supporting women to become more empowered and more trusting in their natural intuition and creative gifts.
I mostly love the feeling of creating a world that I want to live in.
And that is a world where women treat each other with honor and reverence. Where women are supported to revel in their power. Where women are free to create and express themselves without fear of judgment. Where women are celebrated and valued for who they are unconditionally.
An incredibly poignant example of the potent healing power of a woman’s circle happened for me in the fall of 2018. One of my offerings is a four day residential retreat I call Women, Painting and Power. And during this particular retreat we had spent days exploring the issues of power and disempowerment through movement, dance, writing and painting. In the evening we had a group sharing circle that I had assumed would be about an hour long. But the workshop dates happened to coincide with the Kavanaugh hearings for the Supreme court and the powerfully courageous testimony of Christine Blasey Ford.
We ended up sitting together in that circle for over two and a half hours with one woman after another sharing stories of abuse and violation and being attacked or silenced by men in their lives. And as you can imagine, everyone in that circle was completely riveted.
Some women shared stories they had never told anyone before. There were copious tears. There was rage and anger. There was tenderness and vulnerability. There was triumph and the release of shame. It was an incredibly transformative experience of the power of the circle to exquisitely hold space for the fierce intensity of women’s voices and women’s truth.
A women’s circle is the manifestation of what I call The Predictable Miracle.
It doesn’t matter who shows up. It doesn’t matter if the women have known each other for years or are total strangers. There’s a magic in being part of a circle where there is permission and love and acceptance and no judgment. And it’s the magic of the unfolding and flowering of a woman’s soul.
It’s true that people are pushed out of their comfort zone ALL THE TIME during these gatherings. That’s kind of the point of a womens circle. I often talk about how important it is to be open to discomfort when you’re doing this kind of emotional and spiritual work. The edges are where the growth happens. Without being willing to challenge your conditioned beliefs and old and outmoded patterns you won’t ever find your way home to your true self.
Some people assume that women’s’ circles are just bitch fests where women get together to gripe about men. Or complain about their lives thus feeding the belief that they are powerless. They take it as a given that women are inherently catty and just want to get together to gossip about other women. They are of the opinion that when women come together they automatically form mean girl cliques and treat each other unkindly.
However, in my many years of experience as a facilitator and guide, I have found that in a true women’s healing circle NOTHING could be further from the truth. In a circle where healing and empowerment is the goal, women focus on becoming the best selves they can be. Their sacred intention is to cultivate a deep connection to each other in an atmosphere of acceptance and love. They are drawn to the circle because they want to create something meaningful and learn how to use their gifts in a way that brings fulfillment to them and beauty and goodness to the world. They want to celebrate each other and see each other grow. They get incredible joy out of supporting each other and creating a community that lifts everyone up and allows each woman to feel valued and precious and treasured.
Womens circles are as old as the human race. Women intrinsically know the value of developing a trusted community that helps and supports each other whether that’s in practical, spiritual or emotional ways.
I firmly believe that being part of a supportive and empowering women’s circle is an ESSENTIAL element of a woman’s emotional, psychological, spiritual health and well-being.
Which is why I continue to offer the opportunity to participate in them again and again and again through all the work I do in the world.
If you would like to be part of a fabulous women’s creativity circle experience come and join me in April of 2020 for my upcoming The Art Of Goddess Creation workshop where you will discover the identity of your powerful divine feminine archetype and make a crown in her honor!
For more info and to register click on the button below.