What’s a Women’s Circle?
A women’s circle is a gathering of women who come together to share their experiences, feelings, and wisdom in a supportive environment. It is a container for women to connect with one another, to listen and be listened to, and to learn from each other.
In a women’s circle, there is typically a facilitator who guides the discussion and provides a framework for sharing. The conversation may focus on a particular theme or topic, such as a season or moon cycle, personal growth, or an aspect of womanhood. Attendees are invited to share their thoughts, feelings, and insights, and to support each other through active listening and compassionate feedback.
Women’s circles are a powerful way for women to connect with their inner selves and with one another, to explore their own personal growth and healing, and to create a sense of community and belonging. It is an opportunity for women to be vulnerable, to express authentically, and to receive support and encouragement from others.
Women’s circles came back onto the scene in the mid-1990’s after the publishing of the book The Red Tent. This book is a biblical fiction story of the tribe of Jacob and is told from the perspective of his only daughter, Dinah. This is an amazing story and I don’t want to give to much away, but a huge theme of the book is the personal history’s of the women in Dinah’s tribe told inside the red tent.
The red tent was a impermanent structure that was pitched every month prior to the moon cycles (aka menstruation) of the women of the clan. Only women who’d had their first menstruation (and beyond) were allow in the tent, as well as nursing babies… no men, boys, or pre-pubescent girls allowed. The young girls couldn’t wait until their first moon cycle so they could finally be apart of the happenings in the red tent.
As the story progresses, we learn that it takes a lot of work to prepare everything leading up to their moon cycle days. Chores and jobs completed beyond what was needed, food for the entire tribe prepped and ready for multiple days ahead of time, and everything ready to go so the women of the clan could enter the tent and not reemerge until their bleed was complete.
In the tent they shared stories and memories of the past as well as family matron’s passed on. They shared opinions and heartache; songs and talent in handicrafts. It was a time for the women to just BE… together. There was no agenda and no to-do list, simply a time to reconnect with themselves and come out refreshed.
When their moon cycles were complete and they would emerge from the tent, the men of the tribe would meet them and ask what sacred messages they had received from God; the divine. Then they would use these messages in decision making for the next month with the betterment of the clan in mind. Menstruation was revered and not seen as anything “disgusting” or “shameful.”
So today, women’s circles can take many different forms and structures but the main focus is for women to come together without any agenda in order to connect with one another and ourselves through various fun feminine activities!
Protocol for women’s circles can definitely vary from facilitator to facilitator. For me and my circles, I firstly, ask everyone to come as they are and share/participate as much or as little as feels comfortable for you in the moment. Of course, this is a beautiful opportunity to open up and get vulnerable – which is highly encouraged – but you will not be pushed to share anything you don’t want to.
Something that women are often taught growing up as girls is to affirm and relate quickly and easily to other people around them, in order to help those people feel as comfortable and understood as possible. While this seems generous at face-value, I ask participants to allow others to share while the rest of us listen and hold space for them. A nod or a smile, even a hand squeeze is certainly welcomed, we just ask that you keep your words of understanding to yourself until the end of the circle. Then you can ask a woman if she would be okay if you shared something on your heart with her.
During our circle, once we’ve begun, I ask that you please keep cross-talk to a minimum. Again, it is so easy to relate and understand other sisters in the circle – this is why it is so important to have them – thought we want to be respectful of the container that has been created. Some women may be in attendance to share stories and connect to others while other may be there to go inward and connect deeper with themselves. But don’t worry! At the end of the circle we will have time to open it up, chat/connect with each other, and eat chocolate!
How to Prepare
Wear clothing that you will be comfortable to sit on the floor in. I also encourage you to be intentional about what you choose to wear. Pick something that represents you on the day of the circle… this can be comfortable, soft, cozy, feminine, strong, dark, sparkly, flowing, etc. It is a great practice for matching the inner you with the outer you!
Most often we will be in a room together with the door closed (typically a yoga room). There will be natural scent sources used in the room (sage, palo santo wood, beeswax candles, essential oils, etc.) but never anything artificial or chemical. Typically hugs are exchanged afterwards, as well, so if you are able skip a day using perfumed personal care products or body sprays it would be greatly appreciated!