“There is something profoundly powerful in a group of women sitting in a circle. It was an integral part of ancient cultures, a sacred practice of women coming together and sharing in feminine knowledge.”
Truth be told, there are very few times lately when I’ve sat in a circle of women. This is a sad reflection of my hurried life and explains why WomanScape’s week long exploration of soul searching and spiritual connectivity suddenly seems so important.
The ancient practice of women is varied among culture and geography, but the overarching intent is meeting and sharing with the purpose of connecting and growing. We all know this is central to our being even when you consider something as simple as the number of books on finding happiness or the explosion of tourists visiting Butan to learn more about gross national happiness!
I know I’m not alone in this opinion after listening to a recent Krista Tippett On Being podcast. Krista interviewed a Rabbi who spoke about the resurgence of Kabbalah and the popular rise in mystical religious interpretations within Judaism.
The Rabbi said this fascination is really an age-old pattern of what happens when organized religion gets too confining. He believes more people than ever are flocking to Kabbalah and other ways to connect more directly with God and their spiritual self.
The idea of being “spiritual” but not religious does seem to be “in-cycle” these days if the Rabbi is correct. It helps explain the popularity of women’s circles as well as the business and chaos in our world. So many perplexing and complex concerns have left us hungry for something richer – that desire for meaning and purpose. As a Christian, the words “I thirst” have never felt more personal.
It’s frankly what makes Mary Slessor’s missionary zeal for Christianity and Nigeria such a compelling story, or Jillian Maas Backman’s Beyond the Pews: Breaking with Tradition and Letting Go of Religious Lockdown so captivating. Both of these women speak to questions paramount to religion, the soul and the spirit.
Of course, how we answer these question is undoubtedly very personal, but the act of sharing and discussing without judgment is where women’s circles come into play.
The circles are essentially a place to find belonging with or without a spiritual foundation. The healing is one of energy – clearing a pathway with an instructor. In some cases, a clairvoyants help to guide spirits to energize women in the circle but that’s where I’d part ways. Honestly, the movie Poltergeist still bothers me.
But what stands out is the shared response to a world that beats you down – telling you how to look, what to say, how to act, and what to believe. Because I never liked the feeling that comes with, “because I told you so”, I recognize how we connect to our purpose and discover our own spiritual footing is as unique as we are.
To think end, we can accept or reject religion but why not discuss it as the Rabbi did? Understanding doesn’t come from a well-kept secret or something discussed only within a community of shared beliefs. Let’s talk about our search for meaning and purpose and stop treating it in the way we used to whisper the word ‘cancer’. The role of the sacred, the divine, the spirit or honestly whatever name you give it, is about connecting to something larger than ourselves. How can that ever be a bad thing?
When I first heard about sacred women’s circles, I was skeptical and wondered if they were just some new-age hippie-fad version of the feminine mystique dressed in a pair of yoga pants and a healing crystal pendant. Unable to find a woman’s circle in my neighborhood, I did the next best thing. I googled and YouTubed my way to enlightenment.
Seriously, I found one in California where a reporter put her shared skepticism on hold and paid $25 to attend a female moon-circle. What she found was a calm circle of patience – women listening without judgment and providing a place for other women to share their worries and their dreams. While she wasn’t convinced this kind of practice was for her, there was merit in the communion of women wanting to validate each other.
I really liked how one website described a woman’s circle as “an intimate gathering where we learn new ways of speaking, listening and relating to others.” My immediate reaction was how so much this felt like family gatherings when I was a kid. Relatives and friends had conversations around the dinner table and we loved and learned from each other.
Sure, my father’s, “eat everything on your plate because there are starving children in the world” weren’t exactly healing but the point was my parents listened. Until I experience a woman’s circle for myself, maybe I can’t really appreciate their full beauty but for any woman, man or child, we all need a place of belonging that connects us to a larger place and purpose in the world.
When you strip away all the methodology and the rules and create a circle of respect, tolerance, and security, the simplicity of this endless loop preserves the traditions of our ancestors in each of us. For me, this Your Zen Life says it all when women gather and share in honest ways:
“(they are) vulnerable, to explore their femininity and support each other in the full knowledge that the divine feminine that resides inside them is the same divinity in the other. Together we stripped back the layers of our different societal conditioning to lay our souls bare for the other women to nurture.”