Featherheart Holistic Paths was founded in 2006 when I began my first women's circle, organizing and leading it with the intention of creating a safe space for others to do personal growth work. Because of my own participation in two circles, one therapeutic and the other shaman-based, I was inspired and motivated to give back what I had received... endless lessons in sharing and listening to the stories of others' lives, expressing my truths and using my voice, learning to hold back judgement of others and trusting /hoping others would do the same, and the importance of giving myself this time, in a sacred way within a community.
Fast forward to 2019. I have probably led over fifty different circles of women lasting anywhere from four weeks to one year, using various themes and intentions. Each time I create a new one, I make the intention of holding sacred space, a container with which everyone can feel a sense of trust, safety and belonging. By no means am I the originator of this idea. Many indigenous peoples throughout history sat in council circles, listening to one another and sharing ideas before coming to consensus. Numerous books have been written on the subject of circles, particularly in the 1980s and ‘90s when people were already beginning to feel isolated from our contemporary lifestyles.
That feeling of isolation has only deepened in society. In order to combat that, we seek out those people and sources who share our values, beliefs and attitudes, then develop and maintain that network. I believe this is the definition of tribalism. I don’t think I have ever “sought out” people of like-mindedness, rather I have attracted them into my life. But either way, I think most folks do this. It gives us a sense of unity and intimacy within our peer groups. But right now, we are in a societal state of deep separation. A society becomes toxic when we negate or deride all those who don’t have the same beliefs and we demonize the “other side”, or anyone who thinks, looks or acts different than us. This can cause fear, isolation, anxiety, and a host of physical, mental and spiritual illnesses.
Michelle Obama in her book Becoming says that no matter what she experienced over the past few years, she will not let herself become cynical. This gives me hope. If a woman like her “can take a breath and remind myself of the dignity and decency I’ve seen in people throughout my life”, then I too will not be cynical. There is optimism everywhere you look if you pay attention to ordinary people living their lives, with hope and gratitude.
As I continue my path of creating and leading circles for listening, sharing, and connecting to one another, I do my own inner work alongside each woman. It is not easy to NOT judge, to not separate ourselves into s/he and I, them and us. It is definitely a continual practice for me.
I invite and welcome all to join my circles. Let’s appreciate our commonalities AND embrace our differences. Let’s hope and rise up for a more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.