Create your unique Signature Circle

When you hear the phrase “Signature Circle,” what comes to mind?

I believe that creating your unique Circle format is an essential practice for Circle Holders.

It takes time, but once you’ve developed your signature Circle, you possess a beautiful and reliable format that can be adapted to the theme and setting for all your Circles.

A signature circle is a consistent and unique structure that supports you to hold space for others with integrity, clarity and confidence. Whether it’s for a group of friends, a business meeting, or a community gathering, having a signature circle can offer a sense of familiarity and comfort, nurturing a safe and inclusive environment for participants.

As a facilitator or host, my signature circle grounds me and keeps me present, knowing that I have a tried and true format that works for me.

Now, you might wonder if a signature circle could become monotonous or repetitive. This is a valid concern, but I want to assure you that no two circles are ever the same, even if you follow the same format. The people, energy, and intentions that enter the space always make it a unique and distinct experience.

How do you create your signature circle?

The process resembles any act of creation, whether it’s writing, cooking, or making art.

First, you need inspiration or an idea to work with. It could stem from a theme, a specific intention, or a feeling you wish to cultivate in the space. Once you have that spark, you can delve deeper through research or introspection, enriching your understanding.

Next comes the planning phase, where you consider the structure of the circle such as:

• The intention and meaningful purpose of your Circle

• The concepts, themes and practices you’ll be sharing

• Who your circles are for

• The format of your Circle

• Transitions between elements and practices

• The opening and closing ritual / ceremony

• The time to be allocated for different aspects of your Circle

• Logistics of how the circle is to be held

These considerations are essential in creating a cohesive and intentional experience.

Then we reach the moment of holding the circle itself; when your unique circle shines as you follow the format you’ve created. Remember, even if you follow the same structure for multiple circles, each one will be unique and distinct based on the people and energy present.

Finally, allow time after each Circle you hold to reflect on the experience and any reflections or feedback you received and refine your Circle.

Crafting a signature Circle requires time and effort, but it becomes a rewarding and fulfilling part of your journey as a facilitator or host.

What are the benefits of doing so?

It’s important to note that creating your unique Circle is never about striving for perfection or a fixed concept. Instead, it reflects who you are and what you bring to the space. This means that your Circle is always evolving, transforming, and growing as you gain new insights, learn from experiences, and embrace new perspectives. Emphasising authenticity and true connection is the essence, rather than pursuing an unattainable ideal of flawlessness.

The benefits of creating your Signature Circle include:

  • Provides familiarity and consistency for participants.
  • Allows you to infuse the space with your unique voice and perspective.
  • Reflects your personal experiences, cultural heritage, and ancestral wisdom.
  • Evolves and grows as you embrace new insights and perspectives
  • Invites you to focus on authenticity rather than perfection.

I invite you to take some time to reflect on what your signature circle could look like. Consider how you can incorporate it into your work, drawing from your holistic and nurturing approach, informed by your lived experience, modalities, cultural heritage, and traditions, whilst honouring the diverse backgrounds and experiences of those you hold space for.

In Summary:

A signature circle is a unique and evolving creation rooted in personal experiences, cultural heritage, and ancestral wisdom; a creation that is truly yours, cultivated from your experiences, learnings, and deep-rooted connections.

I believe that it is an integral part of both creating a unique, powerful and transformative circle experience for those that come, and in embracing sharing circles as spaces for collective care and sacred activism.

If you’d like further guidance on creating your signature Circle, I have a free 10-day course* on YouTube, or if you’re ready to dive deeper into the art, craft and skills of holding unique, powerful and transformative Circles for these times, you’ll find detail of all my courses here.

And if you’d like to receive my circle musings straight into your in-box, you can subscribe for free on Substack. This is where I explore how the architecture and process of gathering in Circle co-creates spaces of sanctuary and rebellion in (r)evolutionary times.

*My work has evolved since recording this course and now centres on sharing Circles rather than specifically on women’s Circles. This free course remains a great introduction to holding Circles.

How Charging for your Circles Supports your Communities

I advocate for charging for our Circles to honour our work and support our communities

My approach to holding sharing circles is holistic and nurturing, rooted in my lived experience, modalities, cultural heritage and traditions, and informed by the rich and ancient wisdom and stories of the lands of my ancestors and where I now call home, whilst honouring the diverse backgrounds and experiences of those I support.

Since Circles found me and I started holding them in my local community, I knew I was responding to something deep and ancient within me; a soul calling.

Over the years my Circle work has evolved in unexpected ways, most enjoyably in supporting others to create their own unique, powerful and transformative circles (and charging for their circles), by being the truest expression of who they are,

My love and devotion to the tradition, process and architecture of sharing circles is expressed through my courses, one-one-one circle companionship, guest teaching, my current on-line membership The Grove, and the upcoming Sacred Grief Retreat (I’ll share more about soon).

For as long as I have been in the on-line business space I have repeatedly come across two overlapping narratives about those of us who charge for our Circles (and other offerings that are considered soul work, or a calling) and include them as part of our business model.

Firstly, there is the idea that we shouldn’t charge for Circles and that in doing so, we are commodifying or exploiting an ancient, sacred and healing tradition*.

And secondly, if we do choose to charge, our Circles must be affordable / financially accessible for everyone.

*Before I elaborate further, I want to clarify that I am not talking about the harmful practice of cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation refers to the act of taking elements or aspects of a culture that does not belong to you and using them in a way that is often disrespectful or harmful to the culture’s originators. This can include things like using cultural symbols, dress, language, or traditions without proper understanding, acknowledgement, or permission from the people whose culture it belongs to, for profit or personal gain.

Should we charge for our Circles?

There is no “should”; each of us has the agency to make our own choices and do what feels aligned with our principles and resources. Here, I am advocating for those who desire to include Circles in their business model and offering reassurance that charging for Circles is a legitimate and ethical choice.

Circles are a powerful technology for building community, fostering connection, and supporting collective healing. It is my experience that by incorporating them into our business models, we’re not trying to commodify or exploit them – we’re seeking to share their benefits with as many people as possible in a way that is sustainable and generative for us and our communities.

I’m incredibly grateful to have the privilege of doing what I love – running a business that has Circles at its’ heart, and working with wellbeing practitioners and space holders, who desire Circles to be a flourishing and fulfilling aspect of their business, and who share my commitment to inclusivity, social, and economic justice.

When we charge for our Circles, we’re acknowledging the time, effort, expertise and energy that we pour into the planning, creating and holding of these sacred micro-events. In addition, there are costs involved with holding Circles, from marketing, to venue hire (or on-line platform charges) to providing supplies (from food to candles!).

Charging for Circles enables us to be financially supported for our work, and to invest more resources into the communities we’re supporting (or co-creating).

By asking participants to contribute financially to their experience, we’re valuing our work and establishing a sense of respect for ourselves, each other and our wider community.

When we charge for circles, we’re creating a sustainable model that enables us to provide high-quality experiences and support to our communities.

Affordability and Financial Accessibility

If we can agree that charging for our Circles is beneficial for us and our communities, do we need to make them affordable / financially accessible to everyone within our communities?

I desire to help co-create a world in which we can all thrive, and that happens through economic justice.

For most of the practitioners that I work with, their Circles are their lowest cost offer, and when they come to me, they are often asking if they are a viable part of their business.

Perhaps this stems from a lurking shadow that we’re not “allowed” to receive in exchange for sacred and healing experiences such as Circles (but if we look across history and cultural traditions this is simply not true). In our times, that translates to not being allowed to charge (much) money.

I think it’s also interesting to recognise that in many areas of services, the fewer places available for something, the higher the price. Most of the practitioners that I work with hold small intimate Circles of 8 – 14 people, and yet their Circles are a low-cost option.

Over the years I have explored many different pricing models in my commitment to economic justice, and I’ve experimented with a variety of strategies that I’ve seen people share. There is more to economic justice than pricing.

Each of us needs to navigate what is the right approach for our business in alignment with our values and principles.

I have found Kelly Diels approach to feminist business practices and economic justice very helpful, and I often return to her words that:

…..if the feminist running the business isn’t being taken care of, it’s not a feminist business.

Economic justice isn’t just about making our Circles affordable or financially accessible to everyone (and indeed this might not be the right goal for solo-practitioner-businesses).

Instead we can contribute to economic justice in a number of ways, such as:

  • pricing your Circles in a way that reflects the exchange of time, money and energy that they take, and contributes to you flourishing (don’t exploit yourself!)
  • creating and offering free resources, such as social media content, your newsletter or blog or podcast
  • offering no-cost payment plans (for a circles series or retreat-style event that is a bigger financial investment)
  • offering a payment scale so those who can afford to pay more, have the opportunity to contribute towards places for those with fewer financial resources
  • once you’ve reached a sustainable revenue point for that Circle, offering a certain number of spaces for an alternative exchange or pay-what-you-can
  • implementing a pay-it-forward scheme, where participants can choose to buy a second place that can be offered to someone, or make a donation towards a scholarship or bursary fund
  • contribute a percentage of your revenue to causes that are relevant and important to you and what your business stands for
  • applying for funding to offer your Circles as part of wellbeing or mental health programs for other organisations or funding bodies (your eligibility will depend on you business’ legal identity)

Our Circles can be containers for radical collective care and sacred activism, whilst supporting us to flourish and contributing to economic justice.

I don’t have all the answers and I can’t possibly know what approach will work best for you. I do know that watching kind, generous, compassionate people who have heaps of experience and useful skills and who are already marginalised by the current systems we exist in, exploit themselves in an attempt to be affordable is heart breaking.

Last weekend Britain spent £100 – £250m (I’ve read different estimates depending on what is being taken into account) for the King’s coronation whilst the majority of the population are experiencing a cost of living crisis (make it make sense!!). Money is an intriguing and complex topic.

I’m reading Decolonizing Wealth, indigenous wisdom to heal divides and restore balance by edgar villanueve, (which has been on my bookshelf for a while!) in which he says:

Money should be a tool of love, to facilitate relationships, to help us thrive, rather than hurt and divide us. If it’s used for sacred, life-giving, restorative purposes, it can be medicine.


Something For You: 

If you’re ready to start your Circle Holding journey, I have an audio training to guide you through the 3-stages of self-discovery, planning your circle and filling your circle.


How Women’s Circles can help you Manage Guilt

By Katie Carswell, Women’s Circle Holder, Mindfulness Life Coach, Reiki Healer, member of The Circle School Grove

Guilt. A small word that casts a large shadow.

Guilt is pervasive and insidious in can also be the master of disguise.Hidden in our sense of duty and obligation.

Guilt can keep you stuck, stop you from progressing, from doing things that you love or that you know will make you feel better.

We rationalise our guilt away as having no choice, it’s part of our human condition. 

Guilt can sit alongside people pleasing, loose boundaries and lack of self care/worth. 

Guilt is such a part of our everyday lives, many of us just live in a permanent state of feeling guilty – 

Guilty of having our own needs

Guilty for wanting time for ourselves

Guilty for asking for what we want

Guilty for taking time out for us

And more often than not, that sense of guilt is so huge, we let it win, even if it’s totally unfounded. 

But I wanted to write to you today about the fact that you have a choice and guilt is just a state of mind.

At the end of last year I sat in Circle with my gorgeous mentor Mitlé and other Circle holders, reflecting on our life and work during 2022, looking at things we might want to release as we move towards 2023.

For me it became clear that as a holder of many spaces, in work and life, for many people, I am rarely held myself. So I made the commitment to change that this coming year, to practise what I preach and fully embody my own beliefs about the power and medicine that can be found in Circle ~ but this time for me.

As it often goes in life, I went from making this beautifully empowered decision and gorgeous plans of how I would gracefully ease into 2023, fully embodying all the magic and wisdom of the practices I teach…to it being much different.

Life threw me a curve ball. 

A beautiful, fertile, nurturing one, but a giant one all the same. 

A large puppy bomb went off in our lives. Our beautiful Beddy Whippet, Daphne, had 10 pups on the first day of the school Christmas holidays. From 3.30am we sat with Daphne, as she started labour, watching her pace and 9.30am on Saturday 17th December the first little bundle of fluff eased his way into the world, with one pup following every half hour after that. 

It was both magical and humbling to witness our dogs’ natural instincts and know exactly what she needed to do. My husband and I had very little input but were on hand just in case help was needed. Two sadly didn’t survive, even with our attempts to save them but Daphne was an awe inspiring mum, birthing and feeding just as nature intended.

Christmas was quiet and not as we had planned but with a house full of pups our daughter was more than happy. And mum was doing brilliantly..but I had an inkling this might be the calm before the storm! On New Year’s Day we ALL ended up in the vets, mum with mastitis, we were told she needed time off from all feeding in order to heal, meaning my husband and I were now taking on that role. Since then we have fed 8 pups every 4-6 hours, day and night. It’s taken us back to when our own daughter was a newborn. The house has turned into a giant kennel. If we are not preparing to feed, feeding or cleaning up from a feed, we are washing and drying bedding and all of the other areas of care I had no idea would be needed.

All of this is just to give you a little insight into my world at the moment, life was full before, now it’s 8 times fuller.

We have all been in this situation, well perhaps not this situation, but a curveball one. 

Your own particular type of bomb. 

An illness, an accident, an unexpected life event.. but even without a monumental thing happening, how often do you find yourself prioritising other people / things before yourself?

 Life is busy for all of us and so many of us find ourselves prioritising others needs before our own, often through necessity but also because we don’t know any other way. It feels selfish not to.

All of a sudden the promise I made myself for 2023 didn’t just seem like an impossibility but one that I would be completely selfish to consider right now. 

This Sunday I had a chance to go to a Circle. My internal dialogue about whether I could or couldn’t, should or shouldn’t, was exhausting in itself. I noticed how, not being able to come to the decision myself, I reverted to asking my husband for permission, not that he ever asks me to or expects it, that’s purely my own thing. I knew he would say yes, in a way I couldn’t say yes to myself…why…GUILT.

There was too much to do

It was my duty to be here

What about time with my daughter

There are 4 piles of laundry to put away and another 4 lots to do

What about the puppies, will I be back in time to feed them

Is it bad if I leave my husband here whilst I take some time out

I’m holding my own Circles next week, will my family think I am always out of the house

And on and on it went. 

I almost didn’t go..mixed with a tired mind, the voice of guilt was almost overwhelming, luckily I have worked with her for many years and could recognise her for what she is.

So I tuned my head out and dropped into my heart..and what did my heart say…

It’s just a couple of hours Kate

Everyone will manage without you

You’ll feel better and be a better human to be around for taking some time out

The washing can wait.

You are not a bad mother if you take some time out for yourself.

And so I went to Circle and I am so glad I did ~ as I always am.

The Circle will always offer you what you need at that moment. 

For me I needed some time out, space to reflect and tune in. To stop the perpetual to do list and just be for a few hours. What felt self indulgent was so needed. 

Rather than pushing on through, I stepped back into my home just a couple hours later feeling like a totally different person, having charged up my batteries, filled up my own cup, so I was in a better space to pour all of the love, attention and care that the other areas of my life needed.

Not from a place of depletion but from a place of joy and gratitude. 

That’s the power of Circle, of time and space alone, it gifts you reconnection to you. 

So you can feel more balanced and then operate from that place, not from one where you feel so far down the pecking order in your own life, you are not sure if you are coming or going.

I know guilt, I understand her. Most of us have been raised in a culture that uses guilt and obligation as a method of control, so much so we don’t even stop to question why we are feeling it. We don’t pick it apart and see if it’s even ours or if it’s valid.

We are so caught up in the loop of guilt to even realise. Guilt keeps you stuck, repeating patterns of negative behaviour and thoughts.

If it’s something you struggle with too, next time you catch yourself feeling that familiar sensation, or listening to those thoughts swirling in your mind, I invite you to get curious for a moment..and ask yourself ~ Is this true? Is this mine? 

Then, acknowledge it but not let it stop you.

Quite often it’s just taking that first step, out of a comfort zone.


If you are feeling guilty this new year for taking time out for you, perhaps you have just had time off so taking more time for you might feel greedy, or perhaps it’s financial guilt about spending money on yourself…just know that the benefits of gifting yourself time and space for you have far reaching ripples, not just within your own life but of those who you love and those who witness you prioritising yourself..that is an inspiring thing to model to others, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Remember filling your own cup first can only ever benefit others.

This was first published on Katie’s website where you can find out more about her work and her Circles. 

Guidance and Training as a Circle Holder

The Importance of Receiving Guidance and Training as a Circle Holder

Circles held by skilled and experienced Circle Holders offer powerful and transformative experiences for personal and community wellbeing. 

In my experience, holding circles can be an incredibly powerful way to connect with others, explore our shared experiences, and support one another on our journeys.

It is important to recognise that there are multiple facets to holding Circles; we are space holders, ceremonialists and facilitators (and more).

When I started holding circles I could find hardly any information about “how” to do it! A google search led me to a few short blog posts, but they weren’t really what I was after, and so I just began and learnt as I went. I have dedicated many hours (and money) to continually learning more about the origin, architecture and process of Circles, the systems they can function within and the communities they can serve.

I believe that holding circles is a calling for me, and I seem to have an innate capacity to do so (which has deepened and expanded over the years) and I also recognise that it would have been really helpful to have benefited from training when I began this journey.

Since 2018 I have been offering guidance and training to wellbeing practitioners, creatives and community organisers who feel the call to hold Circles, already have multiple modalities and skills to offer, and don’t want to spend years working out how to hold unique, transformative and inclusive circles.

By working with others, I have witnessed how guidance and training can support us in the art of holding space, teach us the craft of creating ceremony and enhance our Circle facilitation skills. The effect is to nourish our confidence as Circle Holders and nurture our willingness to show up and hold our Circles.

Here are a few reasons why guidance and training can be important:

  • Holding space requires a deep understanding of group dynamics and the ability to create a safe and inclusive environment. This is especially important when working with marginalised communities and those who may have experienced trauma or oppression.
  • Effective Circle Holders need to have a strong grounding in their own practices and rituals, as well as an ability to adapt to the needs of the group. This requires a deep level of self-reflection and an openness to learning from others.
  • In addition to the practical skills required to hold circles, training and guidance can also provide valuable support and mentorship. It can be difficult to navigate the challenges that can arise when holding space, and having a community of fellow Circle Holders can be incredibly helpful.
  • Holding circles that are inclusive and welcoming allows for a greater diversity of voices and perspectives to be heard, leading to more creative and transformative experiences for everyone involved. It is important to have guidance and training in how to hold circles which privileges diversity, equity, and inclusion.

By creating spaces that are truly welcoming and inclusive, we can support women and those marginalised by their identities, by providing a space for self-reflection, connection, and community building.

Ultimately, inclusive Circle Holding can be a powerful tool for creating a more equitable and just society.

By investing in our own growth and development as Circle Holders, we can create more meaningful and transformative experiences for ourselves and the communities we serve.

Through Circle School I offer self-led online courses and a membership for Circle Holders. These immersive experiences offer wellbeing practitioners, creatives and activists guidance and training to hold your own unique, powerful and transformative Circle experiences.

If you are seeking a practical and wholehearted circle training for rebellious facilitators, you can find out more about Circle School here and I invite you to join us in Circle Skills

*This is not a replacement for investing in anti-racism, accessibility and inclusivity training

Create a Sacred Altar for your Sharing Circle

How to create a Sacred Altar for your Sharing Circle

The art of creating the sacred altar (or centrepiece) is a magical and mystical aspect of a Sharing Circle.

As participants arrive at your Sharing Circle, they see the sacred altar at the centre of the space. This acts as the focal point of your Circle. It is the gateway into the Circle dimension of time and space. It is the anchor point that each participant’s energy passes through.

…each women connects to her own centre, connects with the centre of the circle, and feels like both a spoke and a part of the rim. Invisibly part of a wheel, connected to everyone else in the circle through the centre. This is what makes circle a sacred space.
– Jean Shinoda Bolen in The Millionth Circle

The Power of the Sacred Altar

The centrepiece is a powerful contribution to the wider experience of your Circle. Dedicating the care and time to create (or co-create) the altar is always worthwhile.
An altar is something that, when you behold it, it brings you back to yourself.
– Margot Adler in Drawing Down the Moon
Sacred Altars may be complex or simple.
You can create them as part of your own preparation or ritual.
Or, you can co-create the centrepiece in ceremony with the circle participants.
As with everything in your Circles, your approach will be an expression of who we are and how you hold space.
When you’re planning and creating your altar, remember it:
  • is a representation of your intention for the sacred space
  • brings a beautiful focal point to the Circle
  • gathers the energies of all present in the Circle
  • is a ritual process in co-creation

8 Steps to Create your Sacred Altar with Intention and Beauty:

Take time to connect with your intention and the meaningful purpose of your Circle.

Start to collect the materials and items that represent your intention and theme.

Decide if you will create the centrepiece alone or within your Circle. If you will co-create, extend an invitation to the women gathering to bring an item to add. You may wish to be prescriptive in line with your theme or simply ask them to bring an item that has meaning to them.

Choose a beautiful piece of fabric, sarong, scarf or invest in an altar mat, cloth or tray.

Think about the colours you wish to us and what they can represent:

  • Red for playfulness, vulnerability, passion, energy, fire, root chakra, maiden archetype
  • Orange for warmth, enjoyment, nurturing, creating new things, sacral chakra, mother archetype
  • Yellow for cheerfulness, self-power, focus, self-esteem, individuality, solar plexus chakra, wild woman archetype
  • Green for connection, harmony, balance, compassion, forgiveness, heart chakra, medicine woman archetype
  • Blue for freedom, space, clarity, communication, truth, throat chakra, muse archetype
  • Indigo for inspiration, wisdom, perception, intuition, third eye chakra, wise woman archetype
  • Purple for transformation, shape shifting, crown chakra and priestess archetype
 Choose items to represent the elements:
  • Air: feathers
  • Fire: candles or red flowers
  • Water: a bowl of water or a mirror
  • Earth: stones, soil or crystals
    Choose items for their beauty and function:
  • fresh flowers or petals
  • oracle cards (I love the Moon Deck and Spacious)
  • candles
  • responsibly foraged items
  • pictures
 Plan how you will lovingly and intentionally dismantle your centrepiece. You may choose to do this as part of you Closing Ritual, inviting to reclaim their item. Or you may do this as your own personal ritual after everyone has gone.

Create a Sacred Altar for your On-Line Sharing Circle

If you’re holding an on-line circle, there are many ways you can create the altar:

  • create the altar in advance and share a photograph or the individual items, with an explanation of what they represent
  • join the call from a second device and have the camera on the centrepiece so they can see it throughout the Circle
  • create a collective virtual altar by inviting participants to bring an item for the altar and share what they brought and why

How will you Create your Sacred Altar?

I would love to hear how you create your altar or centrepiece for your women’s circles. How you approach the process for your in-person and and on-line Circles?
In Circle School, we explore the power of the altar together with creating and sharing ritual and ceremony in in women’s circles.
If you are seeking a practical, wholehearted and radical women’s circle facilitation training, I invite you to join us in Circle Skills