Women’s Circles: Where vulnerability meets empowerment, and self-love becomes a powerful ritual. In this enchanting episode, your hosts Clare Sente and Rachel Watson discuss how they originally met through a women’s circle in 2020 and their positive experiences of being in other women’s circles. They discuss how women’s circles are more than just a trend—they’re a timeless source of wisdom and support for women seeking authentic connections and self-growth. These sacred gatherings have been instrumental in the lives of many women, offering a space for healing, self-discovery, and empowerment. Together, Clare and Rachel have created a nine-month, bimonthly women’s circle that begins Wednesday, October 11, and runs to June 19, 2024, for a maximum of 25 women. It’s time to nurture your soul and celebrate the strength of womanhood. Tune in now!
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The Transformational Magic Of Women’s Circles
This is Season 3 Episode 5. In this episode, we are talking about women’s circles, the magic of being together as women and sisters, and the beauty and the things that can happen when we sit in a circle with one another. Clare, have you been to many women’s circles?
Rachel, that’s how you and I met. It was through a women’s circle a few years ago. I wanted to discuss this for the readers who maybe don’t know the value of it. You’re looking at trying to do some self-development and make your life the best version that it can be. I love the things I have learned, acquired, or experienced in a women’s circle. One of the best things is that I get to meet you. It was a few years ago and a group of 25 women.
My coach Morgana asked me to speak from the heart because your group had already started. I came in a few months later and maybe your group started to gel but I’m glad that you let me in. It was magnificent. It was like floating in a positivity gel. In this episode, we wanted to talk about some of the things that we have seen and experienced so that we could perhaps introduce you if you are not used to a women’s circle and you might look for one of your own.
Full disclosure, Rachel and I are going to have our first collaborative women’s circle online. We did get to have a one-day women’s circle in Scotland in 2022. This has been one of our desires, along with some destination retreats and also to create a women’s circle. This is another check-off for Clare and Rachel’s show. Women’s circle starting in October 2023, check. We’re living our dream. Back to you, Rachel. What do you want to say about a women’s circle for you?
The very first in-person women’s circle that I attended, I knew the person leading it. If you’re not familiar, let’s go through what on Earth a women’s circle is. For me and I think for you, Clare, but you can tell me, a women’s circle is about women coming and sitting together. There is something created that’s a sacred space. There’s an attunement that happens with those sisters quite often. Even if we’re online, start a women’s circle by taking some deep breaths.
Imagine the breath going into your heart. Imagine light coming from your heart and it’s connecting with the heart of the sisters who are there with you all over the world. You’ll feel that it’s so good. Also, in-person. We have created some other dimensional space it almost feels like. Many things can happen in a women’s circle. No circle is the same as another one. Every guide or leader does it a little bit differently. Clare, you thought it was important to let everybody know that if you go to one and it doesn’t feel right, that’s okay.
You have to give certain things a try. It reminds me of a comment that I heard when I was attending some Family Anonymous programs a long time ago. They said, “Go to six different ones and see because that same one you could have come in and it wasn’t your vibe for that day. Go back again because there might have been different people that will be there or the leader might not be your style and you try a different one.”
One of the things I told Rachel I wanted to make sure that I, at least, told out loud was that it may not be a fit when you go to one. It’s part of trusting your gut because we want you to feel empowered and trust how you feel. Do you feel like you are enveloped, feel nurtured, and be your authentic self? In the worst-case scenario that I’ve been in, it is, are you there to try to always support and be the audience so that someone can shine so brightly? You are there. It’s almost like the group is for this 1 person or these 2 people.
Something that’s very important to me and maybe because I’ve taught classes for nutrition for decades is I always want to make sure that everyone in that circle has a chance to talk, and as I call it, to take up space, be heard, and be listened to. A lot of times in life, if you are doing your work as a personal development, that’s already some work there. You don’t want to go into a women’s group and then do more work to support other people. We’re supporting other people but you want to feel like you’re getting that support too. That’s part of that trying to take up space and ask for support.
The things the way that the leader doesn’t like the people might be great and it still might not be right for you but try another and another after that. Try online and in-person. I was very confident. Here I am with my show, talking to lots of people but I’m anxious a little bit in my heart. I almost went through like a list of, what would be the worst thing that I could encounter if I went to a circle. I thought any weird dancing would be so awful. I am not chanting. That’s not happening. In the first circle that I went to, we did both of those things and I loved it.
With the free dancing thing and movement, the leader is excellent. She’s so good. From her, there was not an ounce of judgment. There was no way you could be doing it wrong. That’s the sense I got from her and that’s a beautiful thing for somebody who facilitates a women’s group to have. We were like little seeds. At first, we started curling up on the floor like little seeds. As the song went on, our little seeds grew and grew until we were these big beautiful flowers. We had our eyes closed. A couple of times, I peeked my eyes open and everybody else was all dancing.
We all did it to be fair at some point. That’s quite human. They were all dancing and had their eyes closed. My eyes were closed again. I got to move. I relaxed because that thought was going to come into my head. If you’re like me, you’re going to be dancing with your eyes closed and thinking, “This is a horrible practical joke. No one else is dancing. They are all watching me.” You feel safe and go, “That’s not happening. Nobody’s watching and judging me.” It was lovely to move for the pleasure of movement and the way that the music made you feel. Stretching, twirling your fingers, and doing whatever you like was gorgeous. I love it. Have you done movement as part of women’s circles before?
I have. It’s in my blood. I love to move. Do you remember in one of the groups we were in and my friend Deb led the group?
I loved it. That was your group.
It was but she had us sway our hips. What was your reaction when you swayed your hips? Do you remember?
That was so powerful. Deb was wonderful as well. She talked about all of the shit that we hold there and the trauma. We clench our hips, don’t we? With that free-opening swaying rotation, I wept.
That’s not unusual. It’s going to make me cry too. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Trauma is stored in the body. It went in with pain and it comes out with some pain and emotions. Not maybe physical pain but that’s how you release it. Moving the body releases it. Music and moving your body are healing. It’s lovely.
Indigenous cultures didn’t have psychologists or hospitals. They had the local shaman or medicine woman. What they did have is they danced together in a circle for tens of thousands of years. Moving your body and dancing together is part of natural human healing. It goes beyond words. It’s about a connection and connecting to your body.Moving your body, dancing together, and getting shivers are part of natural human healing. It goes beyond words, it's about a connection. It's about connecting to your body. Click To Tweet
We are going to move, aren’t we, in our women’s circle? Not the whole time but that is part of getting out of our head and into our body. For a lot of women, your power is in the lower half of your body. If you can’t connect to that, you want to live in your head. It’s the moving of the body and some dancing or maybe some chanting. I don’t know what that means. It’s like you listen when you’re hearing that but it could be singing so singing and dancing into music.
How lucky are we that we get to release trauma and pain by dancing? What a great way to do that.
You get used to moving energy through your body like that and not holding it, clenching it, and letting it release. It’s the release in the surrender. That’s part of having the same steps for having a great orgasm, whether that’s by yourself or with a partner. I weave those things in because my mind goes there but that’s a two-for right there. Release trauma or some pain and get your body more open for wonderful pleasure.
That’s what we call a win-win situation, Clare. Talking about releasing, I’ve said the word chant a couple of times. I know that’s a terrifying word. We’re not starting a cult, I swear to you. When I say chant, what we did in my very first circle was there’s a song that you can look up. It’s by Alexa Sunshine Rose and it’s called I Release Control.
The lyrics to it are just, “I release control and surrender to the flow of love that will heal me.” Those are the words over and over in the same tune and melody. That way, it is like chanting. It’s a small phrase that is repeated. It’s beautiful. I loved that experience so much. That was one of the things that when you and I got together in Scotland, I said, “As part of our day and circle, please can we play this song?”
I hadn’t heard it before. I love it.
My friend came. It’s another Deb. We’ve got a Deb and a Debbie. She won’t mind being made a show not that famous. She sang with us and was nervous about coming like me like, “What are we going to do? This is going to be weird and out of my comfort zone.” She loved that so much that she shocked herself. I remember her saying to me, “I was not just singing. I was singing and going for it.” In the end, she begged us, “Please, can we do that again? Please, can we do that one more time?” We did and it was gorgeous.
Rachel, that means we should make sure we do that perhaps in the sample one we’re going to do in September 2023. Would that be nice?
That will be nice.
Come and sit with us and shake your booty. Those are some things. What else is your memory of value or what you got out of a women’s circle?
My favorite thing, and the thing that I find in every women’s circle and I hope every woman finds in any women’s circle, is that secret space and opportunity to speak if you want to speak. There are ground rules set. I believe there should be ground rules set. When somebody talks, we spend so much of our brain space thinking about what it is that we’re going to see back to them and we are not always fully listening.A thing that hopefully every woman finds in any woman's circle is that secret space and opportunity to speak. Click To Tweet
Within a circle, one of the rules is that you don’t say anything back. The woman gets to speak. She gets to share what she needs to share and your job there is to receive it, support her, listen to her, provide her a space, and express whatever she needs to express. She has the answers already. She doesn’t need you to solve things or give her advice. She’s got all within her and you have that all within you. Sometimes, we need space to express what we need to express safely. That’s my favorite.
That’s powerful. I probably would have missed to say how important that is. There’s something magical. At least, it was for me. I’m not sure if it was in a women’s circle or an active listening course. It’s to be listened to when someone doesn’t have a pithy response like, “It’s okay. You’ll be fine,” but just flipped and listened to what I had to say. I could see it in their eyes. There is something.
Your brain has to turn on if you’re ready to come up with something that’s going to be repeated back to the person. I cry a lot but having someone listen to you can make me cry because I feel it. I feel that they’re there. Some of us have never had that experience and never experienced the, “I don’t need to say anything. My presence is enough holding the space letting you speak.”
It goes back to we’re human beings. We’re getting to be in that space or that magical part of listening to one another and letting her express herself, the good, bad, ugly, and the authentic where she may never have that experience before, and witnessing that magical transformation happens with that alone. No pity response. Just listening and holding space.
It doesn’t matter if you’re single or you have a partner, partners, or whatever you’re living situation is. It is impossible to speak to a friend or a partner, have them only bear witness to your expression, and not think about, “How does that affect me and them? What am I going to do about this? How does this affect our relationship or friendship?”
That’s not how life works. It’s such a singular experience to go and not worry about, “Will this wreck my relationship?” Go, speak, and have people who purely are at the same time so disconnected from you in the ways that you think matter but connected to you in the way that does matter in that moment, to be able to hear it, hold it, hear you, and hold you. It’s my favorite.
One of my favorites is that you get to practice being authentic. I love that other people are listening. I like that especially when it’s about self-care because we always hear so much about self-care. You’re in a group and you get to hear some of the ideas of what other people do or how someone’s had success. Say we’re working on creating a morning ritual or in our group, one of the things I was working on with you guys was creating a meditation practice. When you’re starting something new, to try and do it alone, it’s harder. There’s a resonance there or an energy that comes from seeing someone either problem-solve their way into a success or find out through trial and error something that didn’t work. You get to tranquil the learning curve and go a little faster.
Along that same line of being in a regular group with people where you’re doing that regular check-in, whether it’s every month or whatever it is, be able to watch the ebb and flow of the other people and feel allowed to also ebb and flow. Sometimes, you’re going to show up and be like, “I have been so productive this week. I have done all these things. I meditated every day. I am feeling euphoric.” Some days, you will come and think, “I have done nothing. I am rubbish. I am not doing this.” Put to watch other women do it too and go, “It’s okay. I’m going to say B-shit this week. I don’t think you’re shit any week.” We judge value by our productivity to such an enormous amount.
We judge our value using our productivity as the measuring stick. It’s so good to see other people have bad days too and realize, “This is the whole thing. Maybe it’s the patriarchy that’s trying to make me feel bad so that I’ll keep being on that hamster wheel.” Instead of saying, “I can take a day off or have some bad days and recover.” That’s part of the cyclical nature of being human.
That’s the word that was in my head. It was cyclical. That’s what life is. That’s why we’re here. It’s in the title of the show. It’s permission. Sometimes you have to watch other people and see that other people are experiencing the same things as you to feel permission and feel your feelings. What women’s circles give you as well is permission from other women. We’re all in this together.
When I went back and talked about the indigenous cultures, one of the things that I learned from a mentor is that women learn in resonance with each other. They learned best. They’ve been learning that way for tens of thousands of years. You’re a little girl. You start going and watching the older women weaving the baskets or cooking the food.Women learn in resonance with each other. They learn best that way. Click To Tweet
You learn by watching. No one’s giving you like, “Here’s the standard operating procedure.” You get to learn through being in that group and that’s where I feel like if you, perhaps, didn’t have the best upbringing in terms of caring for yourself or active listening to some of these things, you can be in the resonance of a group that is working toward that and modeling that. You do. It’s like you’re in that nurturing gel and it absorbs into you.
There’s an element of we’re all working on ourselves and interested in self-improvement. What circles managed to do is say, “We’re all working on ourselves and looking to improve.” Also, you are okay exactly as you are. That’s what you get to share and hear. It blends that we’re doing self-care and self-improvement. You’re great and right as you are.
We’re practicing self-acceptance.
That was good. That got me excited. See how loud I got there?
Where do we get to practice that? It’s harder alone. It’s much better as a group. That’s self-compassion, self-awareness, and self-love are all part of a great combo of feeling good where you’re at so that it’s not always the striving. That’s both of us in our origin stories. We have that in common. Part of it is to keep trying to get better but there’s never that inner peace that comes from standing where you’re at and saying, “I’m okay. If I never improved one more thing, do I have worth?” Being part of a group that helps to celebrate that is very important.
Anything else that you feel like you learned or that you liked from a women’s circle past or current?
In my brain, it’s something that I’m excited about. We’re going to have our free taste there for people to come to listen, join in, and be part of an experience. One of the things that has come up in circles past is they’re quite often tied to the cycles of the year or the moon. I know that’s something that we are going to do as well. We’re going to find ways to honor the solstices and full moons.
I went to a Chinese tea ceremony. It was online and you might think that would be weird. It was during lockdown. It was only two years after I’d left the church. It was silent. There were six cups of tea poured and you sit in silence. At this point, you’ve got your tea prepared and you take a sip. She then prepares another cup. From cups 3 to 6, I wept uncontrollably and sat in with myself afterward.
What I realized was that I missed the ritual. I had removed that from my life because I’d removed my religion from my life and had been so focused on thinking, “That was a good thing. I did a good job. I did what was best for my kids. I’m proud of myself.” I didn’t realize that there was also grief there and the grief was for lost ritual. I don’t think that we have enough rituals in our lives in this Western modern world. That’s one of the things as well that soothes a part of me that I can’t quite name. Honoring the cycles of the air and the moon in any form is the ritual of coming together, which I love.
Ours is going to be nine months. We worked out that way but I love that that’s creating something. It’s a container. Babies are made in nine months so let’s get some new things. I also love that it will be coming around solstice time because solstice is on September 22nd, 2023. We’re catching that with October 11th, 2023 when ours starts. We’re heading into that deeper inner work time of the winter solstice where the nights are longer and the days are shorter. We’re doing some growth and cultivating.
We’ll come into the spring and what we can do to start bringing in more things that are nurturing. End of June 2024, we’re ready to have a little break. We’re planning. We’re building it around what we feel is sustainable, which should be for any person in life. You should look at your choices in life and be like, “Is this sustainable? “I might know I have to do a push for something but Rachel and I plan to have women’s circles for a while.
We both agreed, “Summer is July and August. I don’t want to be in a women’s circle. I want to have that break so that we can attend to our needs, our family, the summer growth, and the long days, and then come back in the fall and go through the way children go through like going to school and circling back in.” That was powerful about the rituals.
The primal brain from what I heard, the part of our brain that existed before we even spoke as human beings, loves ritual. That’s why maybe you don’t even know what part that craved that but it’s probably in our DNA from tens of thousands of years ago. Ritual is very important to feel part of a tribe, belonging, or things like that.
It’s so lovely to have the excuse. Life marches. “How are we this late in the year? How was it this month? How was it already this day of the week? How is it already this time of the day?” We say that stuff all the time. Time flies. It’s so lovely to have the excuse to go, “It’s been a month since the last circle. It’s time to come back to myself.” It stopped that flying-off time the way it zooms away from us. Suspend it for a little while like once a month and say, “You can stop flying. You can sit there and I’m going to be here in this quiet still space or this other dimensional space that I’m sure I’m creating where time doesn’t exist.” It’s nice to have the excuse when there’s something regular like that.
Women and societies looked at the cycle of the moon as a 28 or 29-day cycle. It seems more manageable when you can go with a cycle of a moon as supposed to it’s a whole year, twelve months, or things. You can look at things or seasons. I am more in tune with the cycles of nature, which I love. In the Northern Hemisphere, the fall is the time to look at, “What do I need to let go of like the trees are letting go of leaves and the harvesting of the fruit? What do I harvest that’s been working? What do I let go of that I don’t want to carry into my next cycle?”
Be okay with going into a winter or an introspective mode. I feel like we don’t celebrate that phase as much as, “No, let’s be all celebrating and producing.” How do you get to that if you don’t have a chance to let go of the last things that you did produce? What did you learn from that and then go within to create something new? I’m excited to do that in a group. I’m doing it alone but it’s more fun to do it in a group.
It’s funny you say that because of the next question I was going to ask you. For you, it is hugely about being in a group and the connections that you’ve made. Two other women in women’s circles have been important to you. Do you want to tell us a little bit about how you feel about not having to do it alone to get into it with other women? Both of us have made real and true friendships in women’s circles, haven’t we?
With that group from a few years ago, there will be some lifelong friendships that were in that 25-member group that were magical. I would love to create the magic in our group to have that lifelong connection. Why? It’s because we went deep. We were vulnerable. We did things together. We also probably went through the pandemic together so that was an interesting world that no one knew what was happening there.
Lifelong or deep meaningful relationships that can lead to something that you are years later, “I met her in that women’s group,” is very important. It started when I met you and I was like, “Who is that woman with the bright hair? I don’t know anyone in my world who has bright hair like that.” Your heart spoke to mine and I was so happy you were in my group. After that, I was like, “This woman would be a perfect co-host for our show.”
I want to find a woman who’s motivated to improve her marriage. What’s better than someone who has been in those 12 or 13 years of marriage? Someone can say, “It’s easy for you, Clare. You’re not in a multi-year marriage with someone and having young kids.” You were it, Rachel. Plus, you make me laugh with you. You bring out the best in me. We have the best time.
I thought it was my funny accent.
What did you do to yourself as a result of my evil influence of colorful hair and craziness?
I remember saying to you, “Tell me how you decided to have this colorful hair.” My world was a little smaller. It still was about following the coloring within the lines and you were coloring outside the line for me. This was a few years ago. You turned the interviewing question on me. You said, “What’s something you would like to do that you haven’t done?” I said, “I’d like to get my nose pierced but I feel like I’m too old to do that.”
What happened after that? I got my nose pierced and I love that. For me, it could be a little or big act of defiance of following the rules and being a good girl. I got to do this for me alone. It’s this little thing that you start opening, opening a doorway or a portal and then it’s easier to keep doing more of that. That’s what we’ve been doing, dear Rachel.
It’s been so much fun. I’m so excited. I didn’t pressure you. I didn’t tell you how to do it. I just gave you permission to do it. I said, “You could do it. I don’t think you’re too old and that’s a real thing. That’s a story in your brain that maybe you need to look at.” Should we have a warning for our women’s circle? You might feel so empowered that you pierce your nose or dye your hair.
Maybe do something very bold that you didn’t think you could do alone by getting that resonance or being in a powerful group where you feel that energy. It raises everyone’s vibration a little bit more which helps you to feel like, “What else can I do?” You’re asking me, “Is that a self-limiting belief?” It was. No one had something holding me down. It was somehow growing up in the environment where I grew up to be a good girl and not get tattoos, get my nose pierced, or be loud. You gave me permission.
That’ll be a word that I put out together. I love that I was part of your story like that. In this episode, we wanted to talk to you, lovely reader. Wherever you can find it and wherever feels right for you, we both love being in a circle with women. We’ve done it in different cities, countries, continents, online and in person, and in lots of different ways. It’s such a beautiful experience. We would be thrilled if you wanted to join us in our circles. I was a tease and said we’re going to have a free one. By the time this episode comes out, Clare, you’re right. That’s going to have been and done but it is not too late to join us.
It will be twice a month on Wednesdays. We picked a daytime for the North American people so that we could catch the evening with the UK and the European ladies. It may not be the right timing for you but if it is, I trust that if you’re reading this and looking at it and you think it’s something that your heart is pulling you towards, I encourage you to look at that and follow your heart. There are plenty of other ones.
That’s the whole thing for this episode. We hope we gave you enough reasons to check something out to support you as a woman making your way through the world and trying to up-level yourself and self-love yourself. It’s okay wherever you’re at. It’s tough to be the best version of yourself in this world that has been trying to convince you that you’re not. Rachel, I will see you in the next episode. Is there anything you want to tell our readers about maybe sending us any more ideas for what they’d want to know?
No. Our regular readers know that Clare has said that because she has no idea how people contact us. Clare, what is our Instagram handle?
I have a note for myself. I’m good, Rachel. I’m just trying to share the mic. If you would like to send us a question, we have a Gmail account and it is EnchantingPodcast@Gmail.com. We would love to hear any ideas you have for what’s on your heart that you would love to hear us talk about and get some information together.
If the times that we have these circles don’t suit you, what we would love to do is more of them. If you let us know what time works for you, what we’re going to do is create a little bit of a waitlist. If there are a few people who say, “This time works for me,” then we’ll make it happen in that time that works for you. Don’t be shy. Let us know. You can follow us on @Permission_Podcast on Instagram as well. We’ll see there. I love you, Clare.
I love you, Rachel. See you next time.