Creating Circles

Institutes for Women and Global Change

Our recommended formats for Circles

There are many different ways to organize a circle. We prefer to have a specific focus and to organize the circle around it. The group can decide from the onset on topics. For example, the processes I have been teaching regarding (1) balancing power and beauty or (2) how does a women’s power differ from masculine power, (3) learning about ancient Goddesses, (4) women’s history and (5) need for global gender balance and so forth. (Good to ask women for a list of issues they would like to focus on in upcoming meetings.)

Creating the group.

First, consider the background of the women as this will impact the style of the setting and the processes. The following directions are for women who are focused on including ritual in order to deepen the process.

Good to have an initial meeting to learn about the directions (elements of air, fire, water, earth, powers above and the powers below, etc.). Acknowledging these directions empowers the circle by setting sacred space. It is also good to have different women focus on what direction they will be calling in so they can focus on it ahead of time. (See bottom of this page for some defining of the elements.)

Creating a center with scarves and candles provides an awareness of setting sacred space. Women can bring special relics, jewelry, etc., and put it in the center during the circle gathering.

Learn how to “release” the directions as the circle closes. (See directives at the end.)

Actual Circle Meeting

Preparation can be drumming (percussion). Also, smudging with incense sets the space. This can be done by “smudging” with incense as each woman arrives and enters the room.

  1. Call in the directions. This can be done by one woman or by each woman taking a direction. I usually add a final dedication to the Earth Mother to "set" the circle. It is explained in my chapter, Tales of the Goddess: Healing Metaphors for Women (also on this website).

  2. Inspirational reading (poetry, something from “Circle of Stones” or something similar. A member of the Circle can do the reading.

    How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you, a place of women? A place where other women, somewhat older, had reached out to help you as you rooted yourself in the earth of the ancient feminine...A place where there was a

    deep understanding of the ways of women to nurture you in every season of your life. A place of women to help you measure your own help you prepare and know when you were ready.

    A place where, after the fires were lighted, and the drumming, and the silence, you would claim, finally in your Naming, as you spoke slowly into that silence, that the time had come, full circle, for you, also, to reach out...reach out as younger women entered into that place...reach out to help them prepare as they struck root in that same timeless earth. How might your life be different? (Judith Duerk (2004). Circle of Stones. Novato, CA: New World Library. p. 67).

  3. Name the topic that will add to the development of the group/individual woman. Each woman discusses her experience with this. (This could be something such as a focus on balancing power and beauty.)

  4. Some sort of deepening process occurs next. This can be chanting, breathing, creative imagery, etc. Allow enough silent time after the process so any integration, intuition, guidance arises from within.

  5. Each woman then shares her experience with this (avoiding cross-talk).

  6. There are Goddess focused songs to sing or some focus to draw on for closing the circle

  7. Release directions (going in the opposite direction starting with “below” until ending with “east”). Can chant, “Merry Meet and Merry Part and Merry Meet Again.” With a close group it’s very uplifting to pass a kiss on the cheek around the circle one by one starting with the circle facilitator.

    Note: We find it is best to keep the group focused. Then after the circle has been opened, tea can be served and the women simply enjoy one another and hang out.

    © 1994-2016 Sharon G. Mijares Institutes for Women and Global Change This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

    DIRECTIONS (The correlation of element and direction differ in other paradigms):

    East is the element Air and is associated with mental clarity, enlightenment. Bird: Eagle

    South is the element Fire and is associated with inspiration, enthusiasm, the inner child

    West is the element Water and is associated with flow, emotions, relationships.

    North is the element Earth (think of the force bringing form into being) and is associated with endurance, strength.

    Powers Above is all of the celestial bodies (sun/moon/planets/stars and so on), Angels, Archangels, Buddha, Christ, Masters…

    Powers Below is the deep, yet unknown, the underworld of death and transformation.

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Dr. Sharon G. Mijares is a Depth Psychologist. She has authored seven books and numerous articles, and is a Core Faculty member of the California Institute for Human Science. She is a also a professor at National University assisting with its addition of Cultural and Social Justice components in its programs and within her courses. Sharon has studied mysticism, occult, and shamanic traditions for 48 years and is Shodan (Black Belt) in Aikido.