ARTICLES & STORIES
Millionth Circle in Cholula, Peubla, Mexico
by Peggy Sebera
In May, 2006, via plane, bus and taxi to Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, I had the opportunity to visit my friend, Ginger Clarkson. As we planned for the visit back in January, we began to think about the possibility of hosting a Spanish- speaking women's circle at her newly renovated 17th century, hacienda-style home. Ginger is fluent in Spanish and I am a constant student of Spanish at my local junior college. Ginger had not been part of an all women's circle, but was very experienced in the graceful hosting of reflective group experiences – she is a therapist, she teaches Music Therapy and Meditation at the University of the America's. She and her husband moved to Mexico eight years ago, when he became a Professor and Department Head at the University.
All the participants
Twenty of us gathered for the circle. Ten were professional friends and students whom Ginger had come to know through her work. Eight women came from Mexico City, including Patricia Ortega, who was accompanied by two American women and their daughters. We were a mixed age group, as we introduced ourselves on a Thursday. afternoon at the lovely hacienda in the middle of a neighborhood where cows and goats, and old homes made of mortar, surrounded the deep rich, newly painted, orange and yellow walls of the hacienda. We got acquainted while having tea and cookies on the veranda in the sequestered courtyard. We then moved into the beautiful library – living room to convene the circle.
Participants in Circle
Most everyone spoke good English, so sometimes we shared in English, but mostly in Spanish, with simultaneous, close-up sideline interpretation (whispered) for those few who needed translation from Spanish. This kind of translation works well when only a few people need it. The flow of conversation was not stopped for translation.
The joy and warmth of this circle continued, for me, the following day. I said good bye to Ginger (with reluctance) and headed on another adventure with Cristina, Luz Marie and Esther. We went to stay at a special retreat center, where Cristina is planning for a larger circle– a circle for US and Latin women in 2007. I struggled to keep up with the intimate conversation in Spanish for the next two days. We spoke mostly Spanish, but when it came to talking about the upcoming Circle plans, we spoke mostly in English!! It was important to share our connections and ideas for circle in a clear way! I am thrilled to have been asked to be the US connection for the plans, which are unfolding for a Circle – entitled, The Latin Spirit, Feburary, 2007 in Mexico. More details will be available on the Millionth Circle Website by July, 2006. I hope many of you will be able to go to Mexico from the US, in the middle of our rainy, snow season to a beautiful retreat, vacation spot in the heart of Mexico.
In the last two months, I have also been happy to make a wonderful connection through emails (in Spanish) with a circle in Argentina and two more circles in Mexico. I hope that we will soon have some news articles from the women in these circles. The groundswell for Gathering the Women Congresses on 6 continents is growing in Latin America! I am thrilled to continue to study Spanish and enter into this flow with our Latina sisters.
Our process for conducting the Circle in Cholula was this:
We set a table in the middle of the room with a Mexican cloth, a candle, a vase with a flower, a cross, a photo of The Virgin of Guadalupe, A talking stick made of bark, a large seed from the Jacaranda Tree, the Millionth Circle book and a photo of the Millionth Circle Conveners.
Welcome and Introduction by Ginger – her story of how she learned about the circles when watching the film: "Becoming – Women's Circles, Women's Lives" and reading Jean Bolen's book, The Millionth Circle.
Setting the Context of the Millionth Circle and showing photos of women at various of our world wide gatherings. Sharing a photo of the volunteer organizers of the Millionth Circle.
Check-In: Using the talking stick: Tell your name and where your name come from.
In partners: (To warm up) Share with each other in small groups: "What question is on your mind as a woman today?" (everyone went outside to sit near the fountain or on the veranda as a few drops of warm rain fell on us. We shared in groups of 2 – 4.)
In circle: We opened the dialogue inviting the use of the talking stick. The first to speak was a young American woman who choked up when she shared the deep longing for such a circle as this in her own life, in her own setting, imagining that such warmth can best be found in Latin America or in Tibet, where she had recently been.
Women spoke of the dreams and longing and hard work of raising their sons (as well as daughters) in a new way – focusing on treating them equally. Some spoke of their relationships with their husbands/partners, spoke of their work and the desire and need for a break or a "rest" – a moment of pausing , such as this circle. Most of the women were professional women – several psychologists. We paused a number of times to receive the release that occurred through the tears of the women. There were quiet pauses between comments. And the opening up to each other continued after the circle. I spoke a couple of times – once asking a question – a reflection. What would Latin American women want American Women to know?
Reflections on Starting and Maintaining a Women's Circle: I spoke of some of the things that are common in establishing a new circle. Some of things learned in being in a circle and some of the challenges that arise such as the experience of Inclusion/Exclusion, Leadership/decision making processes and challenges.
Check-out: "What will you take with you from the experience in Circle?"
Ginger Clarkson and
Hugs and excitement in our new connections.