Words and self portrait by Alison Love
In the beginning there were circles. Since ancient times, humans on this planet have engaged in circle work; huddling around the fire, sitting as a tribe and gathering as a community. Our history and future is women gathering in circle.
Circle work is not a definitive name labeled by any one path or lineage. It is a multidimensional path that is as simple as sitting in circle, and it available to us all. It serves as a door and portal to human history, a place for learning, prayer, practice, governance, ritual, celebration, remembering and most importantly, BEing. In this unique, modern time we are in a resurgence of women remembering who we are. We are awakening to our truth, remembering that we are sovereign beings with the right to live our truth and our path as humans. Circle work is a supportive component of this awakening.
My own history with circles is rich and still expanding. In my early years, the desire to gather and circle was innate, whether a sewing circle in my high school Home Ec class, smoking a joint as a teenager in the parking lot, or a knitting group from my daughter's school. Circles have been a way that women naturally gather. We share in-depth stories of our lives, as a way of making meaning and understanding ourselves through the eyes and reflections of others. Storytelling, caring for others, listening, celebrating milestones, and honoring many of life’s thresholds and initiations are a part of our humanness and womanhood. In circle, we can return to the power of coming together, a tangible manifestation of the communal web that has been and can be a vehicle for collective transformation.
In my early thirties, it became clear to me that gathering in circle is a multidimensional path. After divorcing myself from community living for 10 years, I was searching for what spirituality meant for me. I had thrown the baby out with the bathwater and wasn’t interested in chanting, yoga or much of anything I had known and done. A friend of mine introduced to me medicine ceremonies. These ceremonies threw away the notion of the hierarchical guru, books of teachings and formal practice as I knew it, and allowed me to connect directly with God and ultimately myself. Being in a circle made sense, without having the proper language to explain my experience, I just knew it made sense. The accessibility of spirit was in the nature of all things, the circle itself, the medicine man/woman holding space, the participants bringing prayers, our pain, suffering, song, celebration, and music!The connection of life came alive from the relationship with the earth, her voice, her rhythm. My connection to this was instant.
We are living in a unique time that calls for ancient practices together with our inner technology to come alive for our souls and bodies to thrive on the planet. With this we are seeing the resurgence of women’s circles from feminine empowerment, to mother and bridal blessingways. For each interest, circles are sprouting up to support them. Women's Circles hold space and gives space for organic wisdom to arise, for the spontaneous to occur that only happens when women gather together. Natural magic unlocks in each person that attends, whether you're the participant, the facilitator, or host. When attended consistently, there are breakthroughs, gifts, a healing, guidance, and bonds forged. At every circle I have attended, I have always left with more than I came with. I have gone away being more myself, more because I shared, more because I showed up, more because I met someone else’s needs, more because I danced wildly, laughed hysterically, or cried. Ultimately women's circles give permission for me to be me, and you to be you. Sometimes the benefits are immediate. Others are not so quickly translated, they are a time-released capsule that slowly and gently breaks the barriers of the heart. Circles call forth the feminine voice, the one that is receptive, allowing, sensual, creative, wild, and alive! The circle gently restores each individual back to herself, helps us listen, gives permission, activates compassion, builds leaders, and awakens community.
So where is the alchemy? Have you ever had the same day over and over? Have you seen the moon the same way each and every day? Do you have children and do they grow up overnight and right in front of your eyes? There is not one circle that is the same, just as you are not the same every day. The circle changes as we change. Every time you show up to a circle it has a new offering, as do you. The alchemy is the melting pot of souls gathering with intention in sacred space. Women's Circle are a metaphorical cauldron, where we place our hurts, desires, wishes, heartbreaks and by offering them forth together with the hearts and voices of others, they are alchemized.
My suggestion is finding a group you can sit with weekly or monthly, but consistently. Find your rhythm. Find your circle. It may even find you.
In our fast-paced world, women's circles offers us a time to stop, slow down, and listen to deeper voices waiting to be heard. With intention our soul wisdom is called forward and amplified by the collective wisdom of the other souls who are called forth. We sit in agreement, we sit in conflict, we sit with what is. We sit with who comes, committed to a deeper understanding of who we really are and who they really are. Together we make agreements about the good of our circle, and in that we practice the skills our world and our planet most need: compassion, truth, and love. Circle is where we go to remember, who we are alone and who we are together.
Connect with author through Instagram- @absolutbeauty