As I entered the space, the heat and closeness of the air, the tinge of red in the light from the scarlet canvass, gave the impression of a waterless womb.
There were red rugs, red throws, red cushions, scattered everywhere. It was uncomfortably intimate. I nervously took my place on a cushion, my self-conscious face matching the furnishings.
The tent filled with women speaking in hushed tones; their wisdom and confidence shone forth from their whole beings. I was an imposter, completely out of my depth. We were seated in a Circle and following a guided mediation, the sharing began.
Each woman took her turn to share a birth story; her own, the birthing of her children, or a birth she had witnessed.
As we went around the Circle, there were no interruptions, no opinions or advice offered. I listened to the experiences and feelings of these women and I felt my anxiety and nerves fade into the red-tinted air. I began to grasp the sacredness of this time and space.
I heard intimate details of the birth of their children and listened to the retelling of their own births from family memories that had been passed down. They gave words to the pain and ecstasy of childbirth, to the joy of a new baby and to the devastation of loss, and the grief that follows.
I saw the interconnectedness of life woven together word by word by each woman.
I hardly knew these women and yet I trusted them completely to witness me without judgment.
I had never felt an overwhelming urge to be a mother, I just assumed that I would be. My first pregnancy was ectopic. My second pregnancy was a silent miscarriage. And now, at 38 and in the early stages of my third pregnancy, it wasn’t a given at all.
With one hand on my tiny bump, I shared.
Through the process of using my voice without self-censoring, without fear of criticism or judgment, I was empowered to unburden myself. I was able to share the beliefs that had bought me to this point. I delivered into this sacred sanctuary, both my fear of losing this third pregnancy, and my fear of giving birth.
I was seen and heard with love and compassion and this had a powerfully transformative effect on me and my pregnancy. I left that Circle with a renewed sense of my own power; I knew that I had to take self-responsibility for my pregnancy and to free myself from beliefs that were clearly not serving me.
Sitting in this Circle of women was the medicine that I hadn’t known I needed.
In the following months, I became a mother and opened an organic cafe with my partner. As the complexities of life with a baby and a business took over, I remembered being held and witnessed in that first circle and craved the deep connection and acceptance that I was wrapped in.
And so it was, that I found myself one Sunday afternoon sitting on the floor of our cafe with six slightly nervous women. Those first tentative steps led to me facilitating regular Circles in-person and online and creating Circle School to help others to hold Circles in their communities.
I remain in wonder and gratitude that birthing my son, set me on my path as a Circle Holder.
Update: River recently turned 10 and I’ve been reflecting on 10-years of holding Circles and the journey with Circle School.
These days Circle School is my work in the world; honouring the ancient tradition of Sharing Circles whilst reimagining them for these (r)evolutionary times.
My approach to holding sharing circles is holistic and nurturing, rooted in my lived experience, modalities, ancestral heritage and cultural traditions, and informed by the rich and ancient wisdom and stories of the lands that I call home, whilst honouring the diverse backgrounds and experiences of those I support.
Over the last 7-years of guiding and supporting circle holders, I’ve come to know who I work most enjoyably and effectively with:
A wellbeing practitioner who is already skilled in your modalities and are looking for guidance on how to translate that into holding transformative circles for your client communiy
An experienced circle holder seeking grounded and practical support, and intuitive and heart-led guidance to enhance the visibility of your circle work and attract circle goers who will most benefit from your circles
You desire Circles to be a flourishing and fulfilling aspect of your business, share my commitment to inclusivity and social justice, and want your circles to be a form of sacred activism and collective care in your communities.
You can find out more about Circle School and all that we offer here.
With you in Circle in these wild times