This past winter grabbed me by the hair and pulled me down. Hard. And deeply into retreat. Naturally, I resisted the whole way. But my ancestors - dwellers in winter's silent waters - are a fierce, feisty and unrelenting bunch. Eventually, surrendered into thick darkness, I let them lead. As always, it was terrifying, painful, horrifying and revealing.
I journeyed into underworlds, navigated archives of cataclysmic and age-old dramas, andexcrutiatingly released residual pain from these long-ago-lived lives through my body and breath. My heart was dark. And so heavy. My grief came from depths within my bones and blood that I have not previously known. I was undone piece by piece.
So it is with soul transformation and transmutation. It's a death process first. It's devastatingly humbling.
The returning of the light and life here has been slow this year. It reflects my own return. It's temperamental and casts meaningful sideways glances as a reminder to not abandon what was revealed in the depths. And it has a pace and timing of it's own. It won't be rushed.
But it is also potent. It's creative. It is life-affirming. It wants to come together, connect, reconnect, collaborate, and share, build and grow in new ways. And I feel inspired to do it's bidding. I am re-orienting myself. I have learned some lessons. I am learning still. I am serving my soul and this life from once-more widened lenses. A softened heart. A lifted spirit. Slowly. Gently.
And through this, I am also holding and sharing sacred space in different ways. Further ancestral knowledge and wisdom is revealed and reflected through my DNA and the shape of my soul. I am re-membering. More. Creative inspiration has arrived. I am ready for it...
So I want to share. I have new offerings...
Born from the teachings in power impressed upon me over the last number of years is the realization of need for not just personal practices or rituals, but for the creation, re-creation, recognition and respect of community and cultural ones too. I hear this hunger and call. And I know I'm not alone in this.
And after over 25 years of journeying, retreating, questing, seeking, gathering, holding, witnessing, leading, facilitating, listening, leveling and humbling in an inestimable number of ways, I feel drawn to lead in this way at this time.
So beginning this month of May and for each month until the end of the year, I will be holding Witnessing Circles: each month a Women's Circle and a Men's Circle.
In short, it's a gathering of souls present to what is arising and wishes to be shared and witnessed in ourselves and each other.
But it's so much more...
It's true listening. It's transformation. It's spiritual practice. It's energy work. It's relationship healing. It's life-affirming connection. It's resilience building. It's community creating. It's space to speak into, be heard in, and hear others in. It's what we bring to it. It's what we receive from it. It's where we go with it. It moves no faster than any one person and leaves no one behind.
This practice is simple but it's powerful. It draws from the generous sharing of traditional Aboriginal practices of Talking Circles and it draws from other traditional circling practices too...those from my own ancestral roots.
A circle is a sacred geometric form. It is unbroken, balanced, and infinite. It's inclusive. It's ancient. And more and more as a culture we are circling in ways shared with us by the wisdom keepers on the earth, because even if we've lost our way, our bones know this medicine. It resonates when it's right for us.
What is the practice?
We gather in a circle with the intention of being present to what is true in our hearts, share it if we feel compelled, and witness what is in the hearts of those we have gathered with.
When the talking stone reaches our hands we respond to the question, "what is on my heart?" and share this with our circle if we wish, or pass the stone to the next person beside us. The stone is passed around the circle until we all feel complete.
This is not an intellectual process. It's a practice. And like every practice, it's wisdom reveals itself to us in time. It's another path into our hearts.
Why a Women's Circle and a Men's Circle?
Binaries in gender have profound and often damaging limitations too, but these ones are intentional and not exclusive. Circling with the gender we identify with, or most closely identify with, also has geometric power that can be drawn upon to support connection and belonging. These circles are working with this energy. I am not currently offering specifically gender neutral or inclusive circles.
Elements of a Circle:
(adapted from https://themotherdaughternest.com/)
Sanctity - We step away from other worlds into sacred space. There is an agreement both spoken and unspoken to hold ourselves, each other, the gathering, and the practice itself in sacred space.
Trust - We are not expected to automatically trust. Trust is something that builds as we risk sharing ourselves and we discover that our feelings, experiences and stories are heard and held with respect, care, and in confidence. While we are encouraged to share our own experiences and stories, it is understood that we do not share the words, information, experiences, or stories of another.
Listening - We listen with our whole hearts. The only person who speaks is the one holding the stone. Everyone else listens. Deeply. We do not offer advice, feedback, or referrals. We do not fix, solve, discuss, network or comfort. We listen. And we understand that each of us has deep wisdom held within us that we are more likely to come into connection with if we are heard and we can hear each other and ourselves. So we listen. Deeply. With our hearts.
Authenticity - Circle is a space where we get to show up...just as we are. Circle is the space where we get to share exactly what we feel. This is what makes us human. In circle we have time...time to pause, reflect, take a deep breath, go inside, and notice how we feel in our body before we speak and therefore share what will more authentically connect us with others too. In circle we invite acceptance of our own authenticity and that of others.
Silence - Silence is a powerful response and sharing. Silence allows us to unearth the mysteries and wisdom within and allows integration of experience. In circle we recognize the power and choice to remain silent and pass the stone without sharing verbally. In circle we honour and respect pauses, spaces, and the inevitable tension and desire to fill the space that we may feel in response. Tension and desire are feelings/sensations too. We lovingly witness these as well.
Ritual - This is a ritual. It is an intentional practice that invites us to connect with ourselves, others, the world around us, our humanity, and the divine.