We can speculate that many moons ago in ancient Druid times, the Ovate Wise Woman would have met other women quietly around a fire at night. They might have shared knowledge of the blood mysteries, the secrets of the unseen world of the spirits and the healing qualities of herbs. Across the Atlantic Ocean, Native American women would have pretty much done the same, sitting together during their bleeding time in the Moon Lodge whilst the moon was dark.
Women from many lands, cultures, religions and walks of life have come together since the beginning of humankind in small groups to talk about themselves and their families as well as about issues which face us in wider society, those of poverty, violence and greed. In the modern British world women meet up all everyday at book clubs, toddler groups, committees and Women’s Institute meetings. Yet, this isn’t ‘sacred’ women’s work although much good work may be done…
The notion of sacred or spiritual group work is a concept which is alien to many. So what makes it a sacred women’s group? The purpose is to enable individual and collective spiritual growth. It is about developing a deep, mutually beneficial bond with other women which goes beyond the everyday snatches of conversation we exchange at work, the school gates or through our hobbies. While we may experience glimmers of spiritual connection whilst having a heart-to-heart with another woman or in an informal group, this will not reach the depth and power of sitting in sacred circle.
Many women’s spiritual groups exist. Some are aligned to a particular faith; some are inter-denominational and some would not see themselves as having a religious dimension even if their work is more spiritual than secular. As a Druid woman, I create a dedicated space, requesting blessings from a variety of energies in a ritual circle according to what feels intuitively right. These may include the three realms of Land, Sea and Sky; the four Elements and Directions; Spirits of time and place. We can also reconnect with our lost lineage, welcoming in the ancestral Grandmothers who surround us. In this way we prime ourselves for spiritual growth, through connection with other women and the divine, however we choose to define this. Regardless of our individual spiritual beliefs, we can still explore the close connection that lies between our womb (or womb space) and the Earth.
A sacred circle is a ‘held’ space, with one woman taking the responsibility for the process of deepening which the group goes through. She will act as time-keeper and enable the pulse of the circle to beat rhythmically. We can learn powerful women’s songs and create new ones for these changing times. We may drum and chant. With other women witnessing, we can share stories of pain, joy, triumph and fortitude. We can explore our wounds safely, holding a light to them so that we may understand them more fully and begin to heal whilst a supportive sister holds our hand. We empower our own inner wise woman so that she may help us to grow and develop by witnessing other women’s stories. We can talk about the blood mysteries of menarche, menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause and spend a decent amount of time discussing these subjects. We may share cake and will almost certainly drink tea. The sacred circle may have a theme or may be a more spontaneous and free-flowing affair. Women may pass their knitting round so any who want can add a row. They may sew or create a piece of craft together.
In a mature sacred circle, we may plot to change the world or at least our neighbourhood. We may dream up innovative campaigns for community gardens. We may plan to seed bomb abandoned wasteland. We may knit protest scarves to end war.
We may meet under the light of the full moon or under a moonless sky filled with stars or clouds. We may howl. We may gather around a bonfire or a warm hearth fire with the addition of candles. We may meet in a cosy sitting room with sleeping children upstairs. We all dream of meeting in a yurt, tipi, or roundhouse and some do. We may meet by a river for a moonlit swim or by a sacred holy well or standing stones to ask for blessings.
A circle has no beginning and no end. Its power is limitless. We can work in a variation of the circle whilst we sit – the spiral, which we see in naturally occurring in nature in the unfurling of a fern as well as the double helix of DNA. We experience this spiral through our menstrual cycle, month after month. Women take turns to speak following the form of a spiral whilst sat in circle, returning to express the deepening of their experience as the session intensifies. Once the circle is closed and we return to our everyday lives, its power ripples out like a stone thrown into moonlit water.