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Health & Wellness

Words of Wellness: Women’s Circles

Quilting bees, a best-selling novel, and a girls’ night out: What do they have in common?
Circles of women have been coming together since the early days of many civilizations. Traditionally, women would remove themselves from household and social responsibilities during the new moon, gathering to share stories and wisdom. These circles, often referred to as moon lodges or menstrual huts, included women of all ages, giving the youngest an opportunity to learn from the oldest–and vice versa. These lodges afforded the women in a community a chance for deep listening, the exchange of ideas, and restful time away from the chores of daily life.
As societies became more patriarchal and gatherings of women were considered suspect–particularly during the days of witch-hunting–many of these circles disbanded or were destroyed. However, the fundamental need for circling remained. Women began to gather for quilting bees, knitting klatches, and other exclusive meetings that allowed them to express themselves, share information, and rest for a short time from the business of life. Even modern rituals like bachelorette parties and girls’ nights out could have this same intention at their core, however obscured or misunderstood. Women often feel a longing to gather with other women, to be understood and seen as more than their roles within families and businesses.
Mystic Mamma’s Mijanou Montealegre said this about women’s circles: “Most of us live our lives so disconnected from the Earth, and devoid of any kind of ritual that creates the space for us to connect. So the New Moon provides us with an opportunity to take the time to create sacred space for ourselves… There is something so powerful when women come together to support each other on their journey… We are healed, we are nurtured, we feel comforted and understood. Moreover, when you share sacred space together you magnify the power of your intentions and you energetically create a web of support for not only your circle of women friends but with women everywhere.”
In recent years, the Red Tent Temple movement has gained momentum in towns and cities across the world. Inspired originally by Anita Diamant’s 1997 best-seller, The Red Tent, women began opening their homes for new moon circles. Women’s empowerment facilitator, Alisa Starkweather, calls gathering in this way “a revolutionary act. It is more than a woman’s circle. It is a deep learning process of unlearning the busy and finding the moment… It is time to create change at the very fiber of our cultures that will help build good relations.”
There are many variations of monthly women’s circles, including gatherings specifically for women of color, some that are secular or networking-based, and those that focus on particular spiritual traditions or an expressed intention to foster sacredness and healing. Some are public, while others are held by invitation only. Many circles welcome all who identify as women.
Two public women’s circles occur monthly in Nyack. Both offer space for self-expression, listening, and the potential for new friendships.
At Soul Flyte at 13 South Broadway, “all ages, shapes, colors, sizes, religions, backgrounds are welcome” to a gathering on the Friday closest to the new moon. Facilitated by Shira Turkl-Rubin and Kate Stoeckeler, the Sacred Monthly Circle has been meeting consistently for well over a year. “Women are provided a safe space to share anything they would like. By others sharing their stories, hardships and stressors in life it allows others to open up as well to feel comfortable in the circle. We are always welcoming each person to speak their mind and to share when they feel like it–even if that means in response to someone else’s share. We welcome an open dialogue; there isn’t a strict structure to the group,” said Turkl-Rubin. Soul Flyte’s next women’s circle will be held on April 5. Admission is free and online sign-up is requested: https://www.soulflyte.com
Hartwick Studios, at 127 South Broadway, offers a women’s circle on the first Friday of every month, which sometimes coincides with the new moon. After a meet-and-greet (where facilitator Lorriann Hartwick promises there is always tea and chocolate), a guided visualization gives way to sharing and journaling. “We laugh, sometimes cry, but always walk away with something personally significant. I am always planning something new and interesting for Women’s Circle,” she said. Hartwick’s circle is part of the Wild Woman Project, which has a mission “to awaken women to their most authentic, undomesticated nature, so they may feel like themselves, all the time, no apologies.” The next circles is scheduled for April 5. Registration is $20, and to sign up or ask questions, please email lorriann@hartwickstudios.com.
Next time on , we’ll explore the importance of men’s circles and hear from facilitators in our area. Until then, be well!
Mikki Baloy is a shaman in Nyack. 
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