This post is the third in a series, prompted by the book Calling the Circle by Christina Baldwin:
There is a ‘wobble’ that always occurs in human relationships. With this wobble our sense of direction and our purpose are lose, the communion of coming together is broken, many we face the differences each of us has carried into the group. One real gift of circle is its tenacious ability to hold us in a container of combined social and spiritual contract while we work through the wobbles to genuine community…PeerSpirit circling can help us manage these wobbles differently. But in order to learn how to take our place at the rim of the circle, we need first to understand how to honor center…
I very, very much like this notion of a “wobble” in human relationships. We’ve all experienced it. I think that life would change a good deal if I remembered to recognize wobbly experiences for just what they are: oh yeah, this. A wobble. I recognize that. I know that this happens. Too often group endeavors fail because we mistake normal wobbles for permanent problems.
Later in the book, Baldwin returns to the notion of the wobble:
“The intention…is to serve as connective tissue…The purpose of the group is what remains, and yet, when wobbles occur, which they will, the members of the circle have agreements to call upon, and a container to hold them, so that they can come back to purpose and continue on.”
And, she quotes this awesome little reading from Starhawk that I then used during our spring women’s ritual:
Somewhere, there are people
To whom we can speak with passion
Without having the words catch in our throats.
Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us,
Eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us
Whenever we come into our own power.
Community means strength that joins our strength
To do what needs to be done.
Arms to hold us when we falter.
A circle of healing. A circle of friends.
We can be free.
–Starhawk, Dreaming the Dark quoted in Calling the Circle.
On a somewhat related topic, I also saved a quote to share about why a healthy and beneficial women’s spirituality circle is not the same as our other encounters with women, in which we may be used to primarily bond through chatting and sharing various woes:
To hold the group and space as sacred is one of the most important guidelines, and the guideline that may bring up the most questions or protests. It goes against our habits as women and against our identification with the small self; we are quite used to creating intimacy through sharing our wounds and problems. The Temple Group is not a place for processing wounds, analyzing ourselves, solving problems, complaining about our lovers, healing our addictions or sharing the stories of the personality. Many women’s circles (and support groups or sharing circles) are focused mostly on the personality. The Temple Group is, in a way, impersonal because it focuses on the larger vast nature of our true self. In the Temple Group we focus not so much on our identity as separate women, but on the whole group as one feminine divine body and expression. The impersonal guideline may sound uncaring at first, but as you explore new ways of being intimate and nourish each other as women, beyond the words, you discover that those are infinitely more fulfilling and caring than the personality talking and processing.
–From Create Your Own Women’s Temple (p. 61) from Awakening Women
When we first began meeting regularly for women’s retreats and rituals, I noticed that we did fall into a pattern of being focused on the “personality,” often having moments during which women cried and shared various hurts and disappointments or “vented.” As our group has deepened and evolved, I feel as if we’ve moved beyond this type of “story-telling-as-sharing” and into a shared, community experience of the now and what is happening in the sacred space we’ve created together in that moment. We’re not perfect and we keep learning and growing, but the circle experience is pretty powerful.