|Dancing Round the Maypole at Beltane|
The Women's Spirituality Movement is percolating up from the fundamental consciousness of our collective human experience. Women the world round are rising. Like sleepy children we are heeding Gaia's morning call and preparing ourselves for a new era on earth. As we stand together side by side in equality, expressing our hopes and dreams, finding our joy and passion, we leave our fears behind and claim our true power.
This power, that we women cultivate in our circles, is not the false power of holding dominion over another, it is the true power of knowing and being ourselves. It is the essence of our soul's calling combined with the loving support and interconnectedness of our sisters in circle. It is from this stance, day by day, household by household that women are claiming our place at the table and changing the world.
We have all seen the horrors of a world lead only from the masculine point of view. War, destruction, mass extinctions and global warming are all left in the aftermath. This doesn't work for anyone, men or women, children or animals, forests, oceans or trees. Like waking from a long nightmare, Gaia is calling the feminine and we women are stepping up to embrace the new day.
Unlike organized religion, the women's spirituality movement is a spontaneous uprising of individual groups of women who gather and meet together to reclaim the divine feminine. We meet in circles and these circles ripple out and create more circles. We dance, we cry, we sing and we share our hearts to find our ground. Meeting regularly in this way, we grow in love and learn how to heal ourselves with forgiveness and understanding.
It is in the crucible of the circle that we begin to realize that our challenges are really blessings as we help each other to see more deeply. In the safe sanctuary of circle we find our voice for self expression. We move beyond oppression and formulate new visions for ourselves, for our families and for our world. It is within the alchemy of the women's circle that we are calling forth a new world view into being.
No one started this movement. There are no rules, there is no one set way of doing a circle. The format, structure, shape and timing are all organically created by the various women within the circle. Time of day, frequency, intention and focus all come into being naturally from within the group.
Most of the women in the circles I've been fortunate enough to be a member of are eco-feminists, meaning that they have concern for the ecology of our planet and believe in the need for full participation of women both in government and the workplace. They see the need for women to be key players in the creation of our culture. Knowing that the personal is the political, they let their lives and choices reflect their values. Aware of the repercussions of pesticide poisoning and the cruelty of factory farming, many of the women in circles are inclined toward organically grown, vegetarian or vegan dietstyles. This holds especially true for the food that is brought to and served within a circle after our ceremonial celebrations are complete. Again there are no rules, but this one aspect seems to be a constant. And, in this way we women are able to include all of our circle sisters in the enjoyment of the wonderful dishes that we bring to share.
Over the twenty or so years that I have been participating in the Women's Spirituality Movement, I've noticed that most of the women in our circles are political or social or environmental activists, often joining or forming one or more of the hundreds of thousands of reform groups that have risen up throughout our world. Tending to home, family, culture and career can be demanding. So the time spent in circle gathering with like minded supportive women is cherished and sacred. And we do create the sacred in our circles. We honor our time together as holy.
When we meet often we will begin by purifying ourselves in some way leaving behind the troubles of the day. This can be as simple as hugs from everyone. Or maybe we will sprinkle a few drops of the water from a local hot spring over the heads of each woman as she arrives. Perhaps we will choose to use a few grains of cornmeal instead, to do the same. Often, using a bouquet of gathered feathers, we will waft the smoke from the leaves of various smoldering herbs around to the front and the backside of each woman. While doing this, we may whisper words of encouragement and appreciation as she enters the space we've created, acknowledging her beauty and her contribution. The bundled leaves of sage, cedar or lemon grass work nicely for this when held in a hand made ceramic bowl or an abalone shell. Once everyone has been blessed into the circle, it is considered closed. Then we do ceremony together. There may be song, poetry and meditation. Frequently there is an activity. Perhaps we honor the cycles of time. Maybe it is the full moon or the new moon that calls us together each month. Perhaps it is a weekly prayer or meditation group dedicated to peace. Women's circles can be crone groups honoring and holding the wisdoms of women who are in their elder years. Some women's circles meet only once as initiations celebrating the first blood of menarche or the last of menopause. These can be small family events or larger temporary combinations of members from several women's circles.
Some women's circles are educational groups with the members taking turns presenting information about the Goddess cultures of pre-history. Many celebrate the Solstices, Equinoxes and cross quarter holidays in ways similar to those that were prevalent prior to the advent of the Abrahamic religious traditions. Other circles may focus on actions like writing letters for peace or finding creative expression through dance. But the hallmark of the Women's Spirituality Movement is the overarching theme of honoring the feminine mind and worldview and holding our time together as sacred. As we do so, we look to each other for support and validation. This increases our confidence and fuels us forward on our path in our individual lives. We also strongly encourage our intuitive nature and honor our feelings, holding both of these as primary guiding forces in our lives. Our time spent in circle, in the secure embrace of each other's love and support, strengthens and renews us. It helps us to claim our power individually and move forward with it into the world.
If you are not already in a women's circle, they are easy to create. You can put a notice up on the bulletin board of your local healthy food store or at a yoga center. Or simply ask a few friends round to tea and share with them your ideas. See what they would like to offer. Ask each of them to invite two or three more women and set up an initial time, place and date. Most circles meet monthly, some meet weekly. One circle I'm in meets eight times a year, on the two Solstices, the two Equinoxes and the four Cross Quarter Holidays: Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas and Samhain. These are ancient markers for the cycles of time. We celebrate them as “The Wheel of the Year.” They also represent the cycle of life from birth to death. The babe is born and the seed sprouts on Winter Solstice. The pattern for that life is set and in place by Candlemas, February eve. The youth is learning at the Spring or Vernal Equinox. By the “lusty month of May,” young adulthood is reached and procreation is high. Come Summer Solstice adulthood is in full bloom, the seeds for the next generation are set. With Lamas the first harvest bread is shared. The year is ripe and we round the corner into elder age with the fall or Autumnal Equinox. Old age and death come with Samhain or Halloween, as the seed drops to the ground and all appears to be gone as winter's snow sets in. But then with the Midwinter Solstice the babe is born again and the wheel of the year has germinated once more.
Round and round we go,
We hold each other's hand.
Weave our lives in a circle.
Our love is strong.
The dance goes on.
© Josephine Laing, 2014
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