Woodspriestess: Women’s Circles

“I see a chain of women, each listening to each, being present to her as she waits
for her Self to be born, for her feeling values to come to form and to birth…
Woman after woman, being present, as each finds her voice”
Judith Duerk: Journey to Herself

“The calling a woman feels to gather in Sacred Space with other Sisters starts first as a low and slow warmth that begins to burn. If left unfed, it rises quickly to a raging fire of desire. It will not be denied and can only be quenched by the nourishment of Truth, Candlelight,
Song And Sisterhood”
Ayla Mellani ~ Founder of Chrysalis Woman

“You will be teachers for each other. You will come together in circles and speak your truth to each other. The time has come for women to accept their spiritual responsibility for the planet”
Sherry Anderson & Patricia Hopkins ~ The Feminine Face of God

quotes via Chrysalis Woman

In February 2010, I bought the Rise Up and Call Her Name curriculum from the UU Women and Religion store. I listened to the CD that came with the curriculum over and over during one of my darkest personal experiences, the experience of my second miscarriage, and it spoke to me deeply at a time when I needed it and when I was not able to be “heard” in any other manner. It was at this time that the shift in my life’s focus became apparent to me, from birthwork to women’s life cycle work, and priestess work. I dreamed of facilitating the series of classes, but it took me until this year to actually make that dream a reality. We’ve been having quarterly women’s retreats locally since the end of 2010 and I’ve facilitated the Cakes for the Queen of Heaven series a couple of times as well as Meetings at the Moon for mother-daughter pairs, but Rise Up kept waiting in my closet. This year, I decided to offer it as a year-long once-a-month class, rather than as a 13 week series. I thought this made sense in terms of people’s busy schedules and ability to commit. As it turns out, committing to something once a month for a year may also be asking too much of many women and only a small handful of women made the commitment. We now have just a little circle of six, but we’re doing it and it actually feels like the perfect group after all (I’m easily seduced into bigger-is-better ways of thinking about groupwork, even though smaller groups can be much more rewarding experiences!). This afternoon was our March class and it really felt like it “healed” me from my disconnect, separation, can’t listen/reach out the way I wish to, feelings from my “making a place for others” post on Wednesday. My post from Wednesday was very much an artifact of not having any time alone to regroup from several stressful, too-busy days in a row. This afternoon before the Rise Up class, my parents had my kids over and I spent some time first down in the woods visiting the rocks further down the hill, including these that form a lovely circle…

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On my way back to the house, just look at what popped out at me from the ground…

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This is one of the “stepping stones” on the way to the priestess rocks. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed her before! When I came in, I put on the Rise Up CD and worked setting up a springtime altar. When I lay out an altar, I often kind of force myself to include the “right” objects representing the four directions. This time, I decided to just put on the altar what wanted to be there and what communicated something about the purpose of the day. I loved the result! It was one of my favorite circle altars so far.

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Altar with addition of springtime daffodil from my mom, rearrangement of many things by toddler daughter, and eating of fig cookies as part of the “ingathering” ritual…

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Circle round
circle round and celebrate
circle round and sing
circle round and share stories
circle round and reach out a hand

circle

no beginning
no end

In my college classes, I often tell my students that in working with people, we need to learn to think in circles, rather than in lines. Circles are strong. Circles are steady. Circles hold the space, circles make a place for others. Circles can expand or contract as needed. Circles can be permeable and yet have a strong boundary. Linked arms in a circle can keep things out and show solidarity. Linked energy in a circle can transform the ordinary into sacred space. Hands at each other’s backs, facing each other, eye level.

In the woods, I offered this prayer for our circle:

May our circle be strong
may our circle be harmonious
may our circle be steady
and may our circle grow and change

please guide me as I priestess this circle today
please help me to see, hear, and honor those within the circle
help me to act with love in my heart, hands, and mind
help me to guard the energy of this space
help me to facilitate sacred connection

let us all act as sisters
as companions and friends
hold hands
hold the space
hold each other…

I also chose the following reading to use following the “ingathering” ritual at the opening of the Rise Up class. We did it as a responsive reading (i.e. I read each line and then the group repeated it). It felt perfect!

I am a woman,
a human being of extraordinary strength, wisdom, and grace.
My woman’s body was created in the body of a woman.
I am daughter, sister, mother
in thousands of generations of women…
I am a woman,
part of and the whole of the first circle,
the circle that transcended space and time,
the circle of women joined.
–Ann Valliant and Kathleen Klimek (in Open Mind by Diane Mariechild)

I had such a positive, happy feeling after the close of our class. I did not feel drained or as if I’d been doing too much or giving away too much of my energy. I felt nourished, healed, connected, and satisfied. In February, when I took my annual computer-off retreat, I had the realization that a lot of the scattered and distracted feelings I experience are more often related to children and parenting than to technology (I’d been blaming technology, but with the technology off, I realized it was actually the kids!). And, today I had a similar realization—that perhaps I often feel drained by people contact as well as scattered, distracted, and unable to fully connect, because I’m usually trying to do that and mother at the same time. While mothering is fulfilling too and my kids are certainly extremely important to me, oh my goodness it was just a delight to spend time with these friends today just us, with no kids asking us for anything. It was much easier to see and be seen, to hear and be heard, when there were no other needs to fulfill but our own!

Right as everyone was leaving, I remembered I’d wanted to offer aura photographs via a little app I’d gotten for my phone quite a few months ago… March 2013 091 I would not really place a lot of stock into its authenticness, but it was really fun and actually surprisingly on target!

After everyone left, I headed back down to the woods with my husband and daughter. We went on a spontaneous ramble through the woods and made many cool discoveries that I will have to write about in a later post…

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stepping out on an adventure…

Categories: community, friends, nature, prayers, priestess, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

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