What would happen if you felt safe to share your secrets and your abject terror and your burning rage and your self-doubt and your wildest dreams and hidden super powers? Recently, from a beach in Montauk to a stage in East Hampton, I experienced the power of the circle.
Circles are not porous. Circles are vessels which can hold all of these emotions. And the women in these circles can sit with the pain and the joy and neither judge nor prescribe action. When your personal truth is not stifled, edited, sugar-coated, or stuffed into a pair of Spanx, the air twitches with energy. To simply listen and say, “Yes, I hear you. Tell me more . . .”
A circle has many ritual purposes: a Native American drum circle, Stonehenge, a wedding band, a Wiccan drawing down the moon ceremony, circling the wagons, “Ring Around the Rosie,” a beach bonfire, a halo, and even a salt-coated rim of a margarita glass. The key is the positive energy you want to keep in and the negative energy you want to keep out. A circle’s beauty is in its egalitarianism with no power positions, everyone equidistant from the center. You learn the collective power becomes more than the sum of the individuals’ energy.
The first circle I experienced was part of a women’s empowerment retreat with a Summer Solstice ceremony on the beach, held in a circle ringed with roses, sunflowers, shells, and sea glass. The astrological forecast predicted some chaos, but also conditions ripe for spiritual growth, releasing karmic knots, and deepening your inner core of self-respect. We were reminded of the sun’s longest day and its corresponding element of fire. Fire can burn, consume, cook, shed light, and purify. This was the time to shed that which doesn’t serve us and leave it to turn to ash.
The group could hold this collective regret and look to the undulating waves to wash away these cares. Next was focusing on that which everyone wanted to manifest, rubbing the pieces of sea glass which remind us of the power to survive emotional seas while smoothing down rough edges. Each woman had a story, many filled with unreliable narrators and shady characters, but one which was ready for an exciting new chapter.
The second circle took shape as the Andromeda’s Sisters creative workshop with Sarah Greenman of Statera Arts and Kate Mueth of the Neo-Political Cowgirls. The group gathered in support of their missions of women’s advocacy in the arts and our own communities. This time, a ring of chairs stood center stage at Guild Hall, the drama unfolding not scripted but from the cycles of life of women: maiden, mother, and crone. Often, we move only in our own circles, professionally or personally, so this was interesting to enter a circle of strangers. I like to call this safe space but Sarah terms it resilient space. In this spirit of trust, we realized that the risk of truth-telling is that you realize the enormous amount of effort that it takes to hide it. “I’m fine,” extorts a high emotional price. Women of different ages, religions, social status, cultures, and professional backgrounds explored where they are from and where they are going. It is the power of storytelling which fuels the arts as well as personal dreams and is the agent for change.
At the center of both of these circles was a message loud and clear. You are not alone. You can take the collective energy created in this circle and know that even when you leave this resilient space, that power is still with you and yours to tap into at any point. You are seen. You are heard. You are loved.