Alchemy of Women's Circles

The Charter For Compassion Women and Girls sector is proud to welcome you to a very special call featuring Jean Shinoda Bolen and Ann Smith in the V2020 webinar series called The Alchemy and Power of Women's Collective Power in Circle on Oct 10th at 8:00 AM PST, 11:00 AM EST. 

This will be a power-packed conversation and every bit about what we will be nurturing and manifesting together in Toronto.

All are welcome to register and soak up the wisdom of these two amazing experts in their fields. Both are providing leadership for our event as well!

Please pass this on to all the women and men in your life to join us on this call. Following their discussion, the lines will be opened up for more voices to be heard in the "After Party".  Please try to log on with your computer so we can see your face!

I hope to see you all on Oct 10th and look forward to greeting you in Toronto on Nov 1st with the rest of the Alchemy team.

Please follow the link to Register. It's free!



Power of Circle

Here is an excellent article to give to people about the power of circle written by Kelly Jane Farrell, Managing Editor of e’Bella magazine.  Circles and Sisterhood: Meeting in Circles Provides an Alternative Power Structure.

There are many different kinds of circles.  Circle organizations are becoming the preferred organizational structure because everyone is fully engaged, respected and leadership and resources shared.

Alchemy of Women's Wisdom and Power November 1st

Help make this the largest circle event worldwide.  Join us by hosting a circle on November 1st and sending this flyer to organizations, circles and friends.

Join us on Facebook

UN Circle Workshop

Lauren Oliver and Ann Smith, Millionth Circle Conveners, are featured in the latest issue of the prestigious women's magazine of Southwest Florida, e'Bella. Thanks to Lisette Morales, the fabulous photographer who accompanied Ann to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, we were given a four-page spread. The article highlighted the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, CIW) Fair Food Campaign rally in NYC and UN Commission on the Status of Women workshop, Circle Empowering Rural Women and Girls for a Sustainable Future. CIW has won many awards for stopping slavery in the fields, women's rights and protection against rape and harassment, and bringing fair wages and workers rights. CIW is based on Circle Principles of shared leadership, equality, listening, respect for all. The UN workshop continues to have a global influence, circle by circle.

Story of Circle Past and Present

Circles with a sacred center are ancient, the oldest form of social interaction. The fire was in the center as the people gathered around to cook and eat their food, hear stories, worship their gods and goddesses and to pass down their traditions and wisdom that kept them alive and healthy.

Menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions are all over the world that date back to 800 C.E. and are still practiced today. The red tent and moon lodges grow in popularity as a sacred space for women and girls to affirm their spirituality/sexuality and to heal from the wounds of patriarchy.

When ancient people gathered together in large numbers they built cities and temples for worship. The oldest temple is believed to be 11,000 year’s old in a place called Gobekli Tepe, in Turkey. This first human-built holy place has great stone rings, one of them 65 feet across, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. The stone rings indicate they worshiped in circle.

The early Christian Church was more circular than hierarchical. In the 5th and 6th centuries (and even beyond!) the Celtic church was one of the most spiritually vibrant churches in the world. The Celtic and early Christian Celtic practices of religion were carried about by women and men as equals. Wicca one of the oldest Celtic religions is recognized by the Peligion. Wicca is practiced today and continues to grow meeting the needs of those who want an Earth-centered circle-based religion that honors women.

Candomble is another Earth-based non-hierarchical and women-led religion found primarily in Brazil that is strongly influenced by religions from Africa, which came to Brazil by means of the slave trade from the 16th to 19th century. There are about 2000 followers. Candomble is found in small numbers in Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Columbia, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The worship of Candomblé has been called the religion of nature; its beliefs, rituals, and medicines depend on access to the natural world. Candomblé’s deities include: Yemanjá, Goddess of the Sea; Oxum, Goddess of fresh water; Yansã of wind and storms; Oxóssi of the forest; Ossain of sacred leaves; and peace-bringing Oxalá to name a few. Candomblé and nature are inseparable.

Indigenous people around the world have and continue to meet in circle where their traditions, culture, language, wisdom and ceremonies and rituals are handed down. Their land, traditions and right to practice their religions was taken away and many have been and continue to be killed. There is a resurgence and respect for their traditional Earth-centered way of life. Women’s circles use the Native American “talking stick” as a tool for deep listening. Who holds the “talking stick” speaks from the heart and others listened without judgment. Many rituals and ceremonies that honor women and the land are now being carried out by native and non-native women.

In a 1995 study of women in religion, it was found women and women’s leadership in the church were going outside the church and forming women’s spirituality circles. The book Defecting in Place: Women Taking Responsibility for Their Own Spiritual Lives by Miriam Therese Winter and Adele Loomis has stories and statistics. Women’s rituals and ceremonies are borrowed from religious, indigenous, and created by members to embrace the Divine Feminine within us and all around.

Why did circle seem to loose favor or another question would be why were circles forbidden.
Anything seen as pagan was deemed evil among the Christian, Judaism or Islamic religions. In 1484 Malleus Maleficarum the Hammer of Witches publication by two German Dominican monks began the systematic destruction of women’s spiritual practices and health care by torturing and murdering women healers and spiritual leaders. This oppression lasted 500 years and was carried with colonialism to every corner of the earth. The Divine Feminine was hidden and forbidden to be worshiped and still is in many areas. Women’s circles were feared by the men in power. Sewing and quilting circles were allowed as long as they were seen as handmaidens to the men in control.

Hierarchy for thousands of years was seen as the most effective means for controlling people. It was the model used for waging war and grew to become the only model seen as viable. Now people don’t want to be controlled but to become equal partners in carrying out the mission. And by doing so, ensure the success of the organization.

The human potential movement that began in the late sixties empowered laywomen within the church and in organizations to seek a better way. This is where I learned the value of circle as the setting where people can reach their potential, groups can be highly functional and organizations can achieve their mission and goals while caring for the people involved and the Earth.

Today women’s circles are encouraged even within some churches. Earth-centered and honoring of the Divine Feminine is welcomed in more inclusive religions. Women who have left organized religions are forming spirituality circles. They borrow rituals from others and make up their own.

There are many kinds of circles depending on the needs of the members. They can be support circles, healing and wellness circles, spirituality circles, action circles, meet regularly or just once. They can be in a small setting or for over a thousand. A 2002 UCLA study has shown that women’s circles provide a sacred and loving container where each one walks away feeling seen, heard and supported and realize they are not alone in their experiences.

Circles are replacing hierarchies. Re-Inventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux has documented in his book that there is a sea change in leaving hierarchies and creating new organizations.

There is a proliferation of circles, circle leadership and circle organizations. Hierarchy is seen as no longer viable in bringing about a new paradigm of justice and peace for all creation. Because circles are shared leadership they are easy to start and with full participation invested and empowered to carry out the mission, they are highly successful.

When two or more are gathered together we can be a hierarchy or a circle. Choosing circle empowers us to be the change we want to see in the world.  Namaste!!!  Ann Smith

UN Commission on the Status of Women 62 Session

Lauren Oliver and Ann Smith co-facilitated Circles Empowering Rural Women and Girls for a Sustainable Future workshop, held March 15th at the Armenian Center in New York City.

We put on the floor in the center of the circle a scarf from India, the Native American sacred hoop, 5WCW India 2022 buttons and other sacred objects making a beautiful and meaningful altar. The room was more oblong than square so our circle reaching to all four walls became an oblong circle. Every chair was filled by a woman leader and one ten-year old girl, who with her mother, was one of the presenters.

We opened the circle by Ginny Doctor from the Mohawk Nation giving a blessing.  She talked about the power of circle, the sacred hoop, the talking stick and the importance of bringing back Indigenous ways that have sustained people for thousands of years.

She then passed the talking stick to Erin Toppenberg and her daughter Hudsyn for their incredible work creating the WaterBearers organization that allows for women who have access to clean water to give money to their non-profit organization so they can give water filters to those who don’t. These filters are simple to install so don’t need an engineer and women and girls like Hudsyn can teach others especially in remote areas. They had just returned doing this in the Amazon in Ecuador.

They then passed the talking stick to Pam Rajput who as a national leader of India serves as chair of the National Committee on the Status of Women committee on the Status of Women. Her CSW report tells of thousands of women in rural areas who are saving trees, bringing clean water to their communities and using indigenous seeds for good farming practices.

She passed the talking stick to Irene Kizito from Kenya who worked with the YWCA bringing clean water to areas where the women had to walk great distances to get it. She will work with WaterBearers to get water filters to Kenya. Ginny also will work with WaterBearers to get water filters to her people in Canada and the United States who don’t have access to clean water.

The talking stick was then passed to Arati Patel, President of Earth Child Institute (ECI), who was the sponsor of our workshop along with Millionth Circle, Circle Connections and CirclesWork. ECI brings children and youth to the United Nations so their voices are heard and they are part of finding solutions to ecological challenges. It is a global UNNGO with UN Consultative Status. They have many water and tree planting projects worldwide. 

Everyone self-select into small circles of six women each: Indigenous with Ginny, WaterBearers with Erin and Hudsyn, Pam for India, Irene for Africa, Arati for ECI, and Lauren for circle information.

The hour and a half time period wasn’t enough and it still worked beautifully. Every voice was heard, everyone was now connected so they could continue the conversation, networking and resource sharing. We closed in one big circle ending with holding hands and singing songs. We were a joy-filled circle of women and one girl leader. Those who already knew and loved circle were gladdened to be in circle. Those who this was their first time loved being in a circle and were excited to start a circle back home.  Irene is planning on using the circle model to start a community organization in rural Kenya.

Millionth Circle Conveners provide resources, coaching and ongoing support to all who want to start a circle and circle organizations.