Why the Women’s Circle is such a healing space

In the winter of 2022 I felt a deep ancestral calling to hold sacred space for women in a healing and ritualistic way. It’s an urge that comes through me like connection to earth of the ancient roots of a tree. At the time it seemed a little out of place with the work I was already doing with the wonderful Somatic School, but there was part of me that revelled in the excitement of indulging a desire that I couldn’t quite explain. I decided to engage in training as Women’s Circle Facilitator with the thought that at the very least it would give me a way of connecting with people on a larger scale, but also to find a way to observe sacred rites of passage that often go unrecognised. My feeling has been that by letting go of ritual, we have let go of an opportunity to find joy in the everyday, but also the opportunity to share in our emotion with community the passing of events and celebrations.

It seems so obvious now in retrospect, but my call to Circle was not at all separate or “at odds” with the somatic work I was immersing myself in, but it is in fact deeply connected and a space that naturally has so much potential for healing.

What is a women’s circle?
Women’s circles are sacred space for self-reflection, sharing and connection to self and others in a completely non-judgemental setting. Women gather to share stories, deepen identities, shape their way of being and bring a sense of healing to their lives. They meet in circle to share joy, mark the passing of events, share pain, be witnessed or just to connect.

Gatherings are held by a Facilitator who supports the group to feel safe, connect and to share their wisdom and experiences. There are often rituals, like the burning of cleansing herbs, meditation, intention-setting, sharing cacao or sitting with an altar of meaningful objects. The format of the session will vary but will normally include a sharing circle and elements that enable connection, pleasure and enjoyment.

“A women’s circle is a space for you to remember who you really are. And in remembering who you
really are, you let go of who they told you to be.”

Anoushka Florence, Author of The Women’s Circle

Circle origins
Circles are an age-old tradition, for which there is evidence of them happening 300,000 years ago in middle Palaeolithic societies and beyond. Communities gathered for spiritual and shamanic experience with the central representation of female divinity. Women also gathered around fire for ritual and as they prepared food for their families and community. Sadly, with the onset of patriarchal ideology and religious influences about 6-4,000 years ago, this began to change. Circles were replaced with meeting in lines and a more passive way of information receivership and a separation of leaders and others. Many indigenous groups still gather in circle, for example Native Americans, the Masai tribe of Kenya. These groups regularly gather in circle to confirm the identity of the community, through ritual, storytelling, dance and music. These ways of being are so integral to their culture and are often thought to be the reason they don’t have problems of trauma or depression.

In the 80’s circles started to have a resurgence of popularity, with western women discovering circles to share stories and promote healthier communication. Popularity has continued to build over the last 40 years and circles are very much seen a movement for the modern woman.

Potential of women’s circles
The circle can have endless uses, but the community, co-regulation, honest openness and the chance to talk and be listened to, means that it has successfully supported cases of depression, anxiety, social anxiety and feelings of loneliness.

What’s involved
Can be held on-line or in person at a venue like a yoga studio or village hall
Flowers, oracle cards, crystals, natural or loved items to make an alter

Possibly cacao if you’d like to use this
A group of women…from 2 to many
Group practices like meditation or breathwork
Sharing circle to explore emotions/ thoughts/ what’s alive
Many different themes or subjects can be taught or experienced in this format

How does a somatic approach naturally show up in a circle?
Circles are so powerful in the way that they bring women together and the opportunity to share what’s real for them. Women have long been separated by society and conditioning by the media. The “witch wound” has women set against one another in competition often, so spending time together in community is hugely healing in itself. Of course, bringing women together is also the perfect opportunity for co-regulation, which can have a hugely restorative effect on the nervous system.
They enable women to explore emotions, thoughts or whatever might be alive, all in a safe space, held by others. Almost every circle will include a sharing circle, which will ask that each woman shares something that they’re thinking or feeling, something that might have happened or just whatever is alive for them at that moment. As with the principles of coaching with somatics, the voicing of thoughts and feelings is done without the intervention of others, so it’s an opportunity for women to be with their thoughts and feelings in a way that feels safe. It’s a completely non-judgemental space and the Facilitator will ensure the safety of the attendees by sharing group rules that will include not interrupting individuals when they’re talking, not offering sympathy or advice but just bearing witness.
Not only that but with all the activities (like guided meditations) we are encouraging women to return to the body and connect with what’s there. Finally, the circle might also facilitate activities such as dance, other play or music that encourage safe activation of the nervous system and an opportunity to expand the window of tolerance.

I am thrilled to be bringing this space to my work, check out The Embodied Sisterhood to find out more.

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If hearing about my work has ignited something in you and you’d like to get together human to human to find out more, or if you are ready to book and start your journey, then I’d love to share some real time with you. Book a free informal chat here.