Sisterhood ~ such a powerful word, painting an evocative picture of diverse women bonded closely together, despite their lack of family ties. I visualise sisterhood as a mighty, invisible cloak wrapped around a group of women, keeping them safe and held beneath its collective folds.
I’ve been blessed to hold women’s circles, red tents and ceremonies for a few years now and have observed many women sitting in circle as ‘sisters’. What does this form of sisterhood mean?
It describes a way of being, where women are their best possible selves, listening attentively to one another, hearing another woman tell her story, be this a tale of tragedy, joy or merely the humdrum of day-to-day life.
I have witnessed some incredible and inspirational stories – tales of courage and bravery, but also loss and grief, some so sad that they made my heart ache and my eyes overflow with compassion for the sister baring her soul. Hearing another woman’s words also has the added benefit of making us count our blessings and take our own lives less for granted.
The start of deep bonds forged in circle begins with the rawness of sharing our stories; fragments of time, when you could hear a pin drop, such is the intense concentration of listening sisters. These bonds become cemented after the ceremonial space is closed, over cups of tea and the exchange of recipes.
We begin to identify with sisters who we may not have ever troubled ourselves to get to know, had we not met them in circle. So many times in everyday life, we switch off to others because of their face, dress sense, interests or perceived albatrosses that we all carry. It is said that we make a judgement about others within 10 seconds of meeting them, based on their body language and even their pheromones. We fail to notice their soul. Meeting in sacred sisterhood takes us beyond this superficial realm, to a place where we give people second and third chances to speak their truth and be truly heard. Witnessing others in this way stretches us, taking us out of our comfort zones and into a new tender place where we grow.
Once we begin to exercise the muscle of developing sisterhood with others in a sacred setting, we can extend this to all women we meet – be they at the bus stop, work photocopier, school gates or at the checkout in the supermarket. We can begin to operate from the starting point as treating every woman as a sister. This can start consciously or naturally, arising from a new positivity found in relating to others.
I carry all my sisters’ stories safely with me in my secret story cauldron, stashed away with the lid securely on. They feed in to who I am and my ever-evolving understanding of what the many-stranded journey of womanhood means.