Hello and welcome!
I am Mitlé Southey. I’m an intuitive guide, Circle Holder and founder of Circle School. I’m on a mission to help as many women as possible to experience the transformative power of circles. A big part of that is mentoring women to step into the role of circle holder and also supporting women to really embrace the principles of circle, throughout their lives and businesses.
On that bigger vision, I hold a space for where circles can be used throughout our institutions, businesses, in politics, and anywhere else people gather and have to communicate, connect and collaborate.
This podcast is part of a series where I talk about the curriculum of Circle School, and more importantly, give you an insight into what we explore, discuss and learn in Circle School.
My hope is that by listening to this podcast episode, you’ll find there are many takeaways for you, to support you on your journey with circles. Whether that is to hold women’s circles as part of your business or within your community. Whether that is to embrace the principles of circle with your family and friends and how you interact with them. Or whether it is to bring circles to a wider community.
Firstly, when we talk about planning, we start off with energetics and we always come back to that place. Really tuning into the circle. In an earlier podcast (You as a Circle Holder) I talked about connecting to the soul, the spirit, the essence of your circle. And reminding yourself that you are in circle with her (the soul of your circle), creating this circle. So you allow yourself to be guided.
Part of the energetic preparation is connecting with her. And taking time to visualise your circle in as much detail as you possibly can, and letting that guide you. You may wish to sit down with pen and paper and write or draw, and really heart-storm out how you see your circle. Use your visualisation, your imagination and then take that to your next stage of planning. Your vision is really important. So draw on that vision. Draw on your experience of other circles and other sacred gatherings. Draw on your modalities and what you would like to share in that circle. Draw on your own personal rituals and ceremonies and how you can share those in circle. Get as clear a picture as possible as you start your preparation.
Don’t be confined by any notions of how it should be. Allow it to be as it wishes to be. Allow yourself to be guided by whatever is coming through.
Topics and Themes
The second part of planning is looking at topics and themes. I actually get asked quite often for outlines. It’s not something I offer, because I encourage you to tune in so deeply with that spirit of your circle and to be guided by your own vision. There is plenty of scope to build your circle around a particular topic or theme. Women sometimes worry that they’ll run out of ideas. In my experience, you will never run out of ideas. You could probably hold a circle on the same topic, on the same theme, multiple times, and each time it would be different. So just know that you will not run out of ideas for your circles. Or if you do, you can just rerun one you’ve already run, because it will be different every time.
Format and Outline
There is an idea out there that the format or outline for your circle should be different every time. That’s not necessarily true. It may be true for you, and if so I would ask you to examine that. Look deeper and discover what is driving you to change it every time.
I also invite you to remember that when you are holding space for women, we are inviting women to become very intimate with one another, and we are creating a safe space where we will be sharing and exploring themes. Sometimes the themes may be shadowy or taboo.
The familiarity of a regular structure can really help us to feel safe. If every time we come to your circle, it’s completely different, there is a level where we may be a little bit disengaged, because we are conscious of what’s happening next and thinking about what’s going on instead of being as present as we mean to be.
However, if we come to a regular circle and the format is familiar, it allows us to drop in a little bit deeper each time. We understand the process. We understand what’s happening next. From that place, we can feel safer to engage in the practices at a deeper level and share more of ourselves with that group of women. I’m not talking about a particular type of circle being right or wrong or better. But just for you to think about how you wish to hold your circle, and changing the format every single circle is not necessarily going to work as effectively for you as having a familiar format.
That said, it’s possible that after some time you may find that the familiar format, instead of creating a space where we feel safer, becomes over familiar and it loses an element of the sacred. An element of reverence. An element of stepping over the threshold into that new dimension of time and space. So leave aside the notion that one way is better or worse, and allow yourself to be guided by what feels right.
Know that you can hold a circle on any topic you can think of. Don’t over agonise around those topics. When we are marketing and sharing our circle and inviting women to join, it can be very helpful to have a theme, to be able to explain what is going to take place.
Here is a list of some ideas, which you may already have thought of, but you can jot down any ideas that are new to you. These are just some topics that I have held.. You could do literally anything.
- New Moon or the Full Moon. Moon circles may be correlated with what’s going on Astrologically
- Sister Wounds, Mother Wounds or any variation where you create a safe space for women to explore how they have been harmed by other women. You might not choose to do this as a first circle, but with time and experience, this is a very healing journey. These could be done as a one off or for a series of circles.
- Topics around Self Love, Self Care or Self Nurturing. Circles themselves, in my opinion, are all these things. So exploring these themes within the format of a circle can be really powerful.
- Topics such as sexuality, menstruation, menopause, rights of passage, creativity and spirituality are all classic topics that women naturally come together to talk about. We may be able to touch briefly on these themes in our daily lives, but not be able to dive deep. Circles create a safe space to talk about things which in our daily lives may be considered taboo.
- We can look at death and birth. These can be tricky topics, but if that’s what you’re drawn to, I highly encourage you to explore those, because it is circle that provides us with a safe space to go to places we may not go to in our everyday lives.
- Changing seasons, celebrating the equinox or solstice. These can be beautiful themes depending on what you celebrate in your life.
- Exploring concepts of power. The patriarchy. The heroine’s journey.
- Themes around creativity. Maybe food. Book clubs. Craft circles.
- Yoga classes can be run as circles
These are just a handful of themes, and each of these could be subdivided into multiple themes. So just know you can never run out of themes. If you sit down with a piece of paper and heartstorm/brainstorm for 10 minutes, you’ll probably come up with hundreds of themes.
In the first year of Sistermind, my online membership, we explored 12 different themes just to do with self. Self love, self care, self honour, self acceptance, self awareness, self trust, self respect to name a few.
Whether you are running a closed or open circle may affect how your select themes. By open circle, I mean a circle which anyone can come at any point. In that scenario you are sharing what the theme is and letting women know they can join.
A closed circle is the term I use to describe when you have one group of women and you take them on a journey for a set period of time. With this approach, you may choose to apply the principle of shared leadership, so that you choose the themes as a group.
In Circle School we dive much deeper into all of this. I don’t provide templates. I provide what I call a ‘Circle Map’. You can use your Circle Map to create your own templates for each circle that you wish to hold.
In summary, in terms of planning your circle we have looked at:
Creating the vision of what you wish to have.
Themes and Topics
How you can use a theme of topic to give structure, content, intention and meaningful purpose
The main elements of this are two-fold. That is, preparing energetically and also preparing practically. Everything is energy. Whenever you show up, your energetic resonance will be matched by the women you are calling in. Remember that you are calling them in energetically.
As soon as you set the intention and you’ve seen the vision for your circle, and you have connected with the soul of your circle, then you are calling those women in, who have already agreed to come to that circle.
Of course preparing at a practical level is also important. Making sure they can easily find the circle, book the circle and come to the circle.
It’s a combination of energetic and practical preparation, and I highly encourage you not to dismiss either one of those. In this day and age, using tools such as Facebook, creating events and so on are practical steps you can take.
I am a former litigation lawyer. I also have experience of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So feeling safe is a really important aspect for me.
When I started, I was very aware of how things could go wrong (thanks to my experience as a litigator) and there was also my own desire to feel safe in a space within a group of other women. Over time, my understanding of guidelines has deepened, and I have slightly shifted my perspective.
Initially, I think I was trying to avoid conflict. Now I find that we can use our guidelines to help us navigate the situation if conflict comes up. The guidelines to me are so precious. They are the secret sauce. They the key to holding an incredibly safe space for women. They help maintain the integrity of that space, no matter what arises. They also ensure that you are seeking the collaboration and agreement from the women you are holding space for, so that collectively you have committed to having a safe container for each of you.
In Circle School, we have the opportunity to draft those. Some women borrow from mine. Some draft theirs completely from scratch. It is a process. The guidelines you start with are unlikely to be the ones you stay with forever more. It’s an evolution. As you deepen in your capacity as a space holder, you will enhance your courage and confidence in sharing your guidelines and what it is they are designed to do. It is a really powerful part of your circle, and not to be dismissed.
Whenever I have heard of experiences from women of feeling unsafe in other circles, I have asked whether those circles had guidelines, the answer is usually ‘no’. Guidelines are our container. They are the structure within we can flow.
Circle is so powerful and we can do so much with what we understand and learn and practice in circle. The more we do that, we can take that into our lives, into our businesses, into our workplaces, into our institutions, into our governments. Everything we do together is contributing to a ripple effect. There may be an unseen impact. We don’t know the extent of that. However, we absolutely know that it is having that impact at some level.