I started my first wimyn’s circle when I was twelve years old. We talked about all things relevant to our lives. I had a special ritualized opening and closing and I infused the time in between with sacred words and small rituals that I let come forth from I knew not where. I had never read or heard of such things or such gatherings. I was doing something very innate and instinctual and it fed my soul. I was thrilled that there were other girls who wanted to gather with me. I spent a lot of time in silence and solitude in the woods and walking the creeks and day dreaming as all young maidens do. It was a critical and necessary part of my unfolding life but the wimyn’s circle! It was something superior to all my activities. I shook with excitement when it was time to meet and I came running with my feet pounding the earth and my skirt flying. I was so excited to see what we might end up talking about or figuring out. I looked forward to it more than any of my studies or shared glances with boyfriends or serving on the cheerleading squads. We met before class started at the government school in junior high. We were a secret society and not everyone or anyone could sit in the circle with us. Though I knew not the words “secret society” at that tender age, I felt it. I protected the other wimyn and their stories and I determined to preserve this sacred circle all the days of my life.
Five decades later I still meet once a week with a circle of wimyn in the woods under the moon where we talk about what is relevant in our lives. The rituals remain simple and sacred with an opening and closing and in between we infuse small rituals and sacred words that come from the more experienced and mature soul of a womyn. We study Clarissa Pinkola-Estes book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, and we are now called the Wild Womyn gatherings.
My life as a midwife carried me around the world where I spoke and taught about instinctual birth as a result of having birthed my three divine daughters in power and my passion to help other wimyn both birth and midwife from a place that others might call miraculous. All the while I kept the wimyn’s circles alive wherever I lived. In 1993 I moved to a little cottage in the woods of Missouri surrounded by hundreds of acres of Ozark Mountains. The wimyn’s circle grew into a community. The community wanted seasonal retreats. The decades passed. The next generation gave way to the next. As Dona Cuca, a traditional Mexican midwife said, “One grows up and along comes another,” in 2018 we celebrated our quarter century anniversary and still the wimyn’s circles are the heart beat of our community life.
With sparked insight we began Village Prenatals to preserve simple and sacred birth and return pregnant mothers to the communities in which they lived. After decades of trying to preserve natural birth with the legalization, certification and professionalization of midwifery, we watched professionalism and medicalization of birth fail mothers and create harm in place of help. I looked back on the preceding 5 decades of travel and international teaching and realized that what I had actually done was to inspire, uplift, encourage and empower wimyn to gather and keep gathering. I spoke and wrote about the Power of Women and what happens when we hob nob with like minded souls. I infused my teaching with ritual and story telling and saw that wisdom and innate community building preserved something that learning the maneuvers of shoulder dystocia never could.
By 2000 I began to shift my focus and create wimyn’s circles as part of my official teaching. I flew into nations and states and towns and planted seeds that spiraled out around the world. With such simple elements as a candle in the window or a moon over head, a sacred cloth or an ocean wave; a scented oil or a holy word; I invited the wimyn to gather and to begin to speak of their unspeakables. We traveled the journey of the maiden, mother, crone and brought forth the stories and irrefutable wisdom of first moon flows, first sexual experiences, first births, first deaths and how to walk as a womyn of prominence and wise elder.
I realized that, whether in my hotel room or before and after conferences, I was doing what had come naturally to me when I was 12 years old. I saw that this is how wimyn make promises to one another and to themselves. These stolen moments of secret gatherings were where we told the out-of-bound stories and got support and endeavored to live closer to our inner truths and soul selves. We crossed our hearts and placed one hand upon another and vowed to howl under the moon and stay connected even if oceans and mountains and time put distance between us. Nothing distanced us from having formed a circle of wimyn who spoke of what was deep and true in our bones and our beings.
Back home, I formed circles of wimyn who longed to birth in power and those who were grieving the loss of not birthing in power; those who struggled with motherhood and those who were burying their baby; those who lived instinctually and those who longed to do so. We gathered around the fire circle and questioned the state of our soul. We drummed and sang and held sessions about birth, health, wealth, worship, emancipation, education, death and everything in between. Deep in the night we spoke of the unspeakables and still stronger we grew in self knowing and living from our instinctual center. We developed Maiden’s at the Well for our maidens to talk about and experience their sensual, sacred sexual natures. We developed Village Prenatals for Mothers, Crone’s ceremonies, Soul Retrieval rituals, BlessingWays, Equinox and Solstice retreats with 25 years of sessions on every topic from taming to crowned crones to taboos. Always there was vegetarian feasting, tea and chocolate. Always there was tissue, time and trust. Always laughter and tears and howling at the moon. Always we gathered with the hope of deepening our souls. Never once was I disappointed. Right people. Right place. Right things for the Right reasons. We kept gathering. We are still gathering.
Fueled with the spirit of these gatherings, I spread the radiance and enthusiasm into the world that invited me.
What one womyn can do all wimyn can do. What one village can do all villages can do. What I can do you can do.
Gather the wimyn. Start your wimyn’s circle. Talk about what is relevant in your lives. Ritualize your time together. Tell the wimyn, “Come running! Slam the door. Grab the baby. Pack the drum. Lift the skirt. Heart pounding. Limping or Leaping. Eager or scared. Dim or Radiant. Ready or not. Come Running!” Under the moon where wimyn gather, Magic awaits.
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