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Last week's blog posts on starting your own Goddess Circle generated a lot of email about how to actually facilitate a circle gathering. I'm not gonna' lie...sometimes this is the only time women get to share with others the most tender details of their everyday realities. When you are circled around with twenty or so women who all want to feel seen and heard and valued, being a sacred space holder can be overwhelming if you have never done this before. So, I wanted to share the guidelines I use at my own circle events with the hopes that it can help you out.
Remember, the key word here is "guidelines." As in, not set in stone. This is a structure that works for our circle, but it may not work for yours. Feel free to take what resonates, modify what doesn't work for you and let the rest fall away. Aho.
This is not a religious circle, but it does offer spiritual connection. We do not practice dogmatic routines/rituals, but we do focus on connecting to our spirituality. What is spirituality? You may have your own answer, but I resonate strongly with this offering, "a conscious connection to what makes us feel alive."
Be on time. Circle will start promptly at 1/2 hour after scheduled event time. This allows us time to chat and catch up with one another before we get started. Circle will last for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, and there will likely be time after, as well, for networking.
What happens in the circle stays in the circle. When we circle together, we enter in a space of vulnerability and trust. We honor and respect each other's rights to confidentiality. This does not mean you can't share YOUR experience with anyone, but it does mean that we will not divulge intimate details to anyone that was shared by other people while in circle.
We take responsibility for meeting our own needs. A lot of healing takes place here within this group, but please understand that while we are a support group focused on women supporting women, we are not able to give you what you need unless you speak up! If your needs are not being met, please speak up -- ask for what you need and don't expect the group to just know how to respond. Also, please know that declining to participate in any part of the group discussion, exercise or ritual is perfectly acceptable, and the rest of the group can carry on.
Witness each other, and allow each other to witness you in turn. Speak truthfully and from the heart. Listen without an agenda. One person at a time takes a turn speaking while others listen. Do not interrupt while a person is talking. State your truth, your authentic feelings and try not to generalize...let the space hold you and support you. Listen without thinking about what you are going to say. Being vulnerable is a profound feminine trait that we've been largely conditioned out of. Goddess Circle is the place to open to your femininity and discover your authentic power. This kind of presence and vulnerability is where the magic happens.
We respect the process of release. As women we have been conditioned to nurture those who appear to be hurting. This often looks like supportive hugs and words of encouragement, and this is a beautiful thing. However, when in Circle, this kind of nurturing actually stops the energetic flow of healing and, ironically, the instinctual hugs we offer up are actually a projection of our disowned pain. While in circle, it is understood that participants will share intimate details of their personal journey and this may produce the shedding of tears. Do not interrupt this flow...when we offer our condolences, or interrupt the speaker with a hug, it disrupts the potential for profound healing...so please be sensitive to this and respect the process of release...allow each other to flow and shed and let go...this kind of witness is the best kind of nurturing we can give each other. The willingness to be present for another through her discomfort is powerful. And we refer back to the guideline of taking responsibility for our own needs...if she needs a hug, she will ask.
I hope this blog post serves you well as you go about gathering your sisters together. And if you have any additions you'd like to see to these guidelines, please leave them in the comments below. Your suggestions may just help women from all across the globe find deep healing.
Sacred Circles: A Guide To Creating Your Own Women's Spirituality Group by Robin Deen Carnes & Sally Craig
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My name is Dawn Champine and I am the Creatrix of The Goddess Diaries. I am very passionate about helping women remember their REAL GODDESS selves.