Circlework: Empowering Women Around the World

For over thirty years, I’ve been leading circle gatherings for women from all corners of the world—India and Afghanistan, Kenya and Australia, Europe, North and South America. The method I teach, Circlework®, is both a spiritual practice and a peace practice. It creates safe, sacred spaces where women connect deeply and authentically, find their voice and reclaim their power. One of the gifts of Circlework is inner peace. Another is the clear recognition of the unique contribution we’re each called to make towards healing our world.

Circlework is, you might say, a 21st century way of applying circle medicine to our modern lives and relationships. I call it a medicine because throughout history, that is how it has been perceived. A universal symbol of oneness, wholeness, and divinity, the circle has always been revered as a tool that can help us align our consciousness with that of the cosmos. Like many traditional practices, Circlework too approaches the circle as a mandala—a geometric form imbued with sacred power that can help us reclaim our wholeness.

In a few weeks, I’ll be leaving for the Middle East to lead a series of circles for Jewish and Palestinian women. This is something I’ve been doing most years since 2005—my way of offering a droplet of healing into the nucleus of one of the world’s most tenacious conflicts. I’m under no illusions—a few women’s circles aren’t likely to end centuries of war. Still, if what happens in our circles can shift things even infinitesimally towards love, peace and healing, it will all have been worth it.

Unlike the women I work with in the Middle East, we in the United States aren’t living in a warzone. However, that doesn’t mean we need circles any less than they do. Politically and environmentally, we’re in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. Collectively, our levels of fear and despair, hopelessness and anxiety are at an all-time high.

Fear has its uses, but feeling anxious and stressed for long periods of time is clearly detrimental to our health and well-being. In this situation, Circlework can make a huge difference. By giving us access to circle medicine, it restores our inner peace and sense of wholeness. Simultaneously, it connects us to our essential feminine power and to the strength and courage we need in these challenging times.

Different from men’s power, that of women is inextricably linked to the archetypal figure of the mother. Whether we are physical mothers makes no difference—every woman has access to this uniquely feminine kind of love that is simultaneously gentle and fierce, wild and self-sacrificing. Based on what I see in my circles, I believe this fierce motherlove is presently rising up like a tidal wave within women’s collective consciousness. If a woman loves the planet, if she loves nature, if she cares about the fate of future generations, then she’s likely to experience it. Unfortunately, this also means that in the face of nature’s rape, she can expect to suffer the same fiery torment that a mother might suffer upon seeing her child violated.

Many spiritual teachings portrait rage as a sign of spiritual weakness. Of course, rage can be an ego-based response to not getting our way. But for a mother whose children have come under threat, it’s a healthy, natural and absolutely appropriate response. To the extent that we are able to channel this fierce love wisely and with humility, placing it in service of life itself, it connects us to a source of protective feminine power that our planet is in urgent need of.

Therefore I encourage women to embrace the mother within as a passionate force of nature that can make them fearless and courageous. I invite them to honor the wildness that lives in their hearts and bellies as a sacred force without which our species would long have gone extinct.

On this journey of personal and collective healing, the circle is our greatest friend and ally, an invaluable guide who can help us navigate the major transitions we’re facing at this crucial point on our evolutionary journey. As a nature-based shape that mirrors that of our planet, the circle reminds us to hold nature sacred—including our own. Centered and balanced as it is, it can help us too re-center and rebalance. Essentially empty, it invites us, too, to let go of everything that is not real or true.

Thus it guides us home to ourselves, and to the greater planetary circle we belong to. Gently, and with infinite compassion, it reveals our essential connectedness and unity, our beauty and wholeness. The sense of sacredness and power that can be felt within a love-infused circle of wise, open-hearted women is breathtaking. It renews our hope, inspires courage and prepares us to walk our path with ease and joy.