The Wild Woman’s Circle: Handcrafting Space For Sisterhood
Howl for me, Wolf-Woman!
I’ve heard the call to create a circle of women in my community, but I’m not sure how to go about it or what to do while sitting together. I don’t want to scare anyone away using the word “witch” or “magic,” but I do want to connect intimately and to share insights and inspiration from Nature. Do you have any steps or guidelines that could help?
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You are speaking to my heart. One of my most deeply held convictions is this: The women’s circle is a technology integral to positive, global evolution. When women circle together and are afforded permission to share their wisdom, wounds, and wonderings without fear of judgement, they are bolstering not only the spiritual and soulful autonomy of circle members but that of all women all over the world. Wild women who feel called to create a circle often resist taking the initial steps out of a fear of inadequacy; they cite more training is needed, more reading is to be done, or any number of additional resource requirements which will never be sufficiently met because they are all undergirded by a fundamental, socially indoctrinated fear of not being enough.
You, my love, are the cosmic dance of Maiden, Mother, Crone. You are the rainbow palette of nature’s mysteries embodied. You are everything, and everything is you. Right now, make good use of the white-hot fuel of Imbolc’s fire and manifest your circle. See it to fruition, and you will experience a particular, soul-deep nourishment you have been craving, however unknowingly, since girlhood.
Permit me to use a lunar metaphor for your circle’s creation, and allow the sacred day of Imbolc, February 2nd in the Northern Hemisphere, to be akin to the stirring sparks of the new moon. Mind you, Imbolc is falling near the half-moon phase this year, but the waxing energy is still dominant and will absolutely support you in this endeavor. These mounting, warrior-woman energies are highly sensual and creative, so take a few moments to yourself on Imbolc and envision your circle. Who is there with you? What sounds do you hear? Where are you? What smoky scents are rising from the burning bowl? Describe your circle in your journal as if you were there in the moment, living the complete culmination of your circle’s vision.
Now, still drawing from this waxing moon energy, read through your notes on your circle vision and harvest the circle’s mission. Highlight the words that stand out to you most from your vision journaling, and write a feminine values-based purpose statement that will both ground your circle and draw the sisters who resonate with your mission to your sacred space. Name your circle accordingly, and you will have the fertile beginnings of your sisterhood. While I believe with my whole being that the name Witch can and should be reclaimed by women seeking to hand-craft their own spiritual path as holy healers, I also hold that there is no shame in making your circle accessible to sisters who may not have awakened their inner Witch.
Build your circle from the mudbricks of nature’s rhythms, creative work, and feminine communication, and those who have been thirsting for such an elixir will seek out your unique House of the Wild Woman.
They will find safe harbor there. They will share stories of communing with angels alongside cupcake recipes. They will find that their stories have been lived out by their sisters in different forms, and they will resurrect deeply seated pains and in-the-blood joys they never dared to share with anyone.
Use the generative power of the full moon to see your circle to fruition, with the full moons in February, March, and April ripe for high-fire sisterhood. This is Maiden time, and the feminine in us all will crave time spent in nature, sensory stimulation, path-working, and enjoyment. Return to your circle’s mission and create the circle’s theme for that month or season. I have found in my work that both monthly and seasonal circles work well, while weekly circles tend to burn out more quickly; this is not because the dose of sisterhood is too much but, rather, because the feminine requires dark-moon recharging time.
Late Winter and early Spring circles might be grounded in nourishing the inner Maiden through creating, cooking, vision-boarding, spending time in nature, sharing stories from childhood, or cultivating erotic innocence. As an example that I hope does not limit you, you could host a Quickening Moon circle in March where those attending will bring an object with them that represents their inner Maiden, as they conceive her to be. For my circles, we tend to follow this flexible ritual, but feel free to amend these recommendations as you see fit: Have the women meet in a dedicated space, ideally seated on the ground or floor if their bodies allow, with a small altar built at circle-center. The altar need not obviously be an altar, with candles and/or objects reflecting the five elements represented if possible. Have a talking totem that can be passed to control communication then you, as the space-holder, will “break open” the circle by reading a meaningful passage from a book, sharing a story, or asking a question. Pass the talking totem clockwise and have all women share as much or as little as they like in response to your initial words, placing their object at circle center after they have spoken.
After every woman has had their first chance to speak, introduce a journaling topic, some creative work, or, for Witch’s circles, spell-craft. Give the women time to work on this, whatever it may be, then go around and have all women share what they have written or created. Finally, pass the talking totem counter-clockwise along with some sage or other clearing herb and allow all women one last chance to speak before you “seal” the circle with a final invocation or reading.
Assert and maintain these rules as much as possible:
- No one may interrupt another circle member. Ideally, only the woman holding the talking totem may speak, but laughter, knowing sighs, brief words of affirmation, or raised hands in solidarity are always permitted.
- No one may directly challenge another circle member or invalidate what they have said; such communication is ego-born rather than heart-born, and this is when conflicts arise. In my experience, conflict is minimized when those in the circle do not meet outside the context of the circle; this keeps the circle sacred and protects the integrity of the communication. Of course, I am not saying that circle members cannot see each other outside of the meetings or have been friends before the circle was created, but do be mindful that it is easier to hold the space for women who do not have strong belly-to-belly ties to one another. It is the empathic communication within the circle that keeps it precious and renders it an instrument of feminine fortitude. We were raised to communicate from our egos in order to protect ourselves, quite necessarily, and the level of vulnerability in the circle can make even those who have been sitting in circle for years uncomfortable. Feminine communication is an art that women can remember, but it takes practice.
- No circle member may bring up any piece of information about another circle member unless she introduced that piece of information into the circle herself initially. For example, if I bring my best friend to my women’s circle, I have the right to expect she will not bring up personal information about me unless I bring it up first.
- What happens in the circle, stays in the circle. It is sacred space, and the women in attendance are under a fierce mandate of confidentiality. The circle has the power to make every member, however temporarily, a completely different version of herself, and this requires substantial faith that must not be undermined for the sake of gossip or a good story. The circle meets in perfect love and perfect trust always. This is its fuel. Every time a woman speaks from the heart in circle, it is a soulful trust-fall. She has the right to expect someone will catch and hold her.
- Finally, every woman has the right to stay silent. Holding the talking totem is not an obligation to speak, and no woman owes anyone else her story. In my experience, the circle feels safe and somehow familiar enough that most women will indeed share, but the option to pass on one’s turn is also necessary.
During the early months of your circle, you may need to assert the rules regularly, but, eventually, they will become second-nature. Do not discount the role of fatigue, however, as long circles create conditions where the energetic demands of heart-speech are overwhelming after several hours.
It is hard to speak without judgement, for all of our social training has been to shape our subjective mind and carve deep patterns into our relationships. Host shorter circles that do not go too late into the night, and the communication will be much more easily managed.
Melissa, my love, I am howling for you. Circles of feminine communication are game-changers. As a final piece of advice, let me say that gender is a social construction and it is ultimately the role of the feminine we are after in a sacred circle. Be open to expanding your circle beyond those who identify as women eventually, but begin with the resources you have.
And, wild woman, you have it all. The divine feminine is rising now. Right this minute, as our wounded world wails with the agony of labor, we must midwife the birth of the human community in which we want our children to live. Your circle is a load-bearing pillar in the house we are building together, a house with no locked doors, secret passwords, or required skin color. Create your circle, dear one. Don’t wait. It is your birthright, and you do not need a permission slip from me or anyone else.
For more self-study, Wolf-Woman recommends The Sacred Ego: Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World (Sacred Activism), Circle of Stones: Woman’s Journey to Herself & Woman Most Wild: Three Keys to Opening the Broom Closet and Liberating the Witch Within.
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Sip a little more from Danielle’s medicine:
➵ Witch, Howl Moonward:
The Timely Salve Of The Dark Primal Feminine
➵ The Wolf-Woman’s Book Of The Dead:
A Samhain Benediction
➵ Invoking Artemis: The Liberation Of Our Wild Spirituality
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