What exactly is a women’s circle and why do we need it more than ever today?
“The fundamentals of spirituality connect us rather than separate us. Women meeting in circles with a spiritual center are in a sacred space, are practicing and developing compassion when they listen, and are deepening themselves. The more circles there are, the easier others can form. At the same time, each circle adds to collective human consciousness.”
(Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Antidote)
The History of the Women’s Circle
Throughout history, women have gathered in sacred circle. Be it around a fire in prehistoric times, within hushed monasteries of the Middle Ages, in consciousness-raising groups in 1970’s living rooms or online groups in the digital age, women have long congregated to laugh, share, heal, care for children, grieve, and spiritually connect in community.
As someone who has participated in several circles with women of all ages and cultural backgrounds, I value the power, energy, and solidarity that is fostered when women convene. In such gatherings, women can experience a deep authenticity within themselves – a truth or ‘realness’ that is often lacking as we tend to our day-to-day lives and its multitude of roles and responsibilities.
Women’s circles operate on unique principles and values. Within the structure of the circle, there is no hierarchy; each woman’s voice is equally important, her story honoured and received fully. In this sacred space, a collective power is harnessed. And when there is focused intent on healing – individually and collectively – magic happens. The support, creativity, and sharing of ideas that is fostered in women’s circles has the power to translate into something much larger and more palpable. There is a ripple effect that positively impacts society at large.
Why We Truly Need Women’s Circles Today
It could be said that in these transformative times of global conflict and economic uncertainty, the women’s circle is needed more than ever. In the words of renowned Jungian analyst and writer Jean Shinoda Bolen, “When women come together and make a commitment to each other to be in a circle with a spiritual center, they are creating a vessel of healing and transformation for themselves, and vehicle for change in their world”.
It is the Dalai Lama who stated in the 2009 World Peace Summit visit to Vancouver, BC that the world will be saved by the western woman. Though feminine qualities of interconnection, vulnerability, relatedness, and cooperation have historically been undervalued in a patriarchal society which largely celebrates individuality, dominance, and competition, there is a growing sense that a mass planetary awakening is occurring. Despite outward appearances of destruction and decline, human consciousness is evolving at a very rapid pace and, in these shifting times, feminine principles are central – if not essential! – to the new world that is being birthed.
Mooh Hood, our Bali tour leader, co-founded and and currently sits on its Advisory Council of the Pacific Women’s Circle Association, an organization which for twenty years has held annual Goddess Camp retreats for women in the Pacific Northwest. Mooh now leads women’s retreats on the beautiful island of Bali and, in our upcoming journey, each day will begin with a morning circle. Bali’s peaceful and lush landscape provides the perfect backdrop for women to spiritually connect with their inner selves, and to each other. Women will engage in the creative and artistic process, visit the Mother Temple to connect with the Divine Feminine, and chant at the holy springs.
The Millionth Circle Initiative
Women are increasingly realizing the power and necessity of their leadership on a global scale. In 2000, Jean Shinoda Bolen and several other women were inspired to create the Millionth Circle Initiative, an organization whose intentions are “to seed, nurture, and connect women’s circles, to bring the circle process into United Nations accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the 5th UN World Conference on Women, and to be a means through which women’s circles become aware of being part of a larger movement to shift consciousness in the world.”
There is no doubt that women’s voices are more important than ever, and the circle remains the perfect place to plant the seeds for a new vision for humanity based on love, connection, and compassion.
Ways to participate in a women’s circle: Start your own! If a circle does not yet take place where you live why not invite other women to join with you and start your own! There are many great resources available online to guide you through the start-up process. Visit Sacred Earth Journeys and read through our journey itineraries – many of our journeys include opportunities for meeting in circle with like-minded travellers.
~ Aleya Abdulla and Sacred Earth Journeys