The WILD Woman Project (http://thewildwomanproject.com/), is a world-wide movement of spiritual gatherings (circles) during the new moon, for meditation, intention setting, healing, and connection with community. More specifically, the circles create a sacred space to help participants access their inner guidance through contemplation and reflection, while allowing for deeper connection to other women, to nature, and a dismantling of learned, harmful behavior (such as competition). My circles began in February 2018 and are part of the official WILD Woman Project. Find my page here: http://thewildwomanproject.com/allison-mitch-naperville-il/
Below I address some common questions regarding WILD woman circles.
What to expect during a WILD Woman circle?
The format of a WILD woman circle is as follows:
- Ritual greeting
- Invocation and lighting of the candle
- Centering exercise/meditation
- Introduction to astrological theme
- Creative visualization
- Divination/reflection using goddess and/or earth cards
- Group sharing
- Intention setting
- Group sharing of intention, if time allows
- Closing ritual
The astrological theme will be related to the current astrological sign of the moon and associated elements. You do not have to “believe” in astrology to use the theme; instead, the theme can be thought of as metaphor for something that may have more resonance with you. Similarly, when we draw goddess or earth deck cards, you do not need to “believe” that you are divining information directly from Spirit (some do); you might choose to think of the goddess as archetype or metaphor and a tool to use for self-reflection and discovery.
What are the 2018 WWP circle dates through Wild Woman in the Suburbs?
Dates are subject to change secondary to scheduling constraints that might arise at our circle location. In general, circles will be held on the Sunday closest to the new moon from 2-430pm. At this time (December 2018), dates for the circles are as follows:
January 6th 2-430pm
February 3rd 2-430pm
March 3rd 2-430pm
April 7th 2-430pm
May 5th 2-430pm
*Note the gap in June, secondary to holidays and new moon schedule*
June 30th 2-430pm
August 25th 2-430pm
September 29th 2-430pm
October 27th 2-430pm
November 17th 2-430pm
December 15th 2-430pm
Please arrive approx. 15 min early to the circle to allow yourself time to socialize and settle into the space.
Where are the circles located? And how does sign up work?
I have partnered with The Resiliency Institute in Naperville, IL. The circles will be located in the education building ("Clow", 2-story stone building) at McDonald Farm, located near Knoch Knolls Nature Center on the southern end of Naperville. Plenty of parking is available and is along the wire fencing.
Please be aware that advanced registration is required and closes a day or two before our circle is held. I recommend early registration, as our circles are limited in size to allow for greater intimacy and sharing time. In addition, payment is required with registration and cannot be collected at the door. We cannot accept walk-ins due to the planning involved for the space and materials needed.
We are intentionally keeping prices low to allow greater access for participants. Fees cover overhead and materials. Classes currently run $25/class with class package options. Financial limitations should not prevent women from attending; please let us know if this is a concern for you, and we can discuss other forms of energetic exchange (trade, volunteer assistance, etc) or a reduced rate.
You can find more information regarding the location and registration here: http://www.theresiliencyinstitute.net/learn/learn-classes/
Any logistic, registration, and/or payment questions should be directed to Michelle at The Resiliency Institute (email@example.com)
Are there any rules?
There are some basic “rules” to follow during circle.
The first is confidentiality – what is said in circle, stays in circle. While you may speak of your own experience, you may not share the words or experience of another participant without their permission.
The second rule (or group of rules) is in regards to council sharing or group sharing – when one person has the talking item, no one else may talk. We do not offer advice, unless specifically requested, and then, only at the end of circle. We practice presence while a participant speaks, refraining from thinking about what we will say and instead listen to her experience without judgement – it is time for the speaker’s voice alone. When speaking, it is recommended that sisters use “I” statements to take ownership of the experience and avoid generalizations. If a woman is experiencing powerful emotions (ex. crying), we do not offer her tissues, pat her on the back, or hug her at that time. Doing so is an interruption and distracts from her experience and ownership of the emotions; we are deflecting from her and might shut down the fullness of her moment; this is a practice for others as well in not moving toward "fixing" something or someone, but allowing.
The last rule is related to the above rules – listen without an agenda. We don’t offer solutions or interpret the speaker's words. You might notice if you agree or disagree with what is being said, but those feelings are not relevant to the moment, as we are focused on the speaker’s reality.
What do I need to bring to circle?
The specifics might change, depending on the location (indoors vs outdoors at the Resiliency Institute), but in general, just yourself in comfortable clothes (yoga or street clothes), a journal and a pen or preferred writing instrument, yoga mat, a pillow or cushion to sit comfortably on the floor for meditation, and inside shoes or slippers. You may also bring an item for our altar.
What is so healing about women’s circles?
The gathering of women, as a path toward healing, was not on my radar until mid 2016 when I began reading The Wild Feminine by Tami Lynn Kent. In it, she addressing patterns of wounding to the feminine and reflects on how speaking our stories, either alone through ritual and self-reflection or with other groups of women, can be healing for the individual as well as future generations. Similar sentiments are shared in the books Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Embodying the Feminine by Chameli Ardagh.
Women have historically come together to relate, tell stories, support, and heal. When giving voice to a concern or issue that arises during self-inquiry, there is a healing - a dissolution, dissipation, and rounding of the edges of what might have been a challenging issue. There can also be new discoveries, considerations, or revelations that were previously unknown to the woman until she was given the opportunity to reflect and speak her truth and authenticity in a supportive environment, free from judgement.
Women’s circles are a form of creativity – creativity of sacred space, community, and ritual. These ingredients result in a unique alchemy of moving into a wholeness (WILD-ness) of being. WILD woman circles in particular allow for healing through self-exploration using tools mentioned previously (ritual, guided meditations, journaling prompts) and exploring themes, archetypes, and metaphor around the divine feminine and well as nature. During Wild woman circles, community is formed as we support one another in this self-reflection, self-discovery, and soulfulness (WILD-ness or re-wilding).
Why women only?
Many WILD woman circles are open only to those that identify as female, including our transgender sisters. This inclusion of female is not to diminish or denigrate the masculine (see more below). Instead, it allows a certain freedom and safe space for self-exploration and expression. Think of the #metoo movement and all of the indicators and truths of gendered abuse that are surfacing. A woman dealing with gendered trauma and interested in addressing this in circle might have a more difficult time working through her moment of reflection and healing in a unisex circle.
From my experience, women’s circles have not been a place for “bashing” men. Women are multi-faceted and diverse. Typical experiences and issues that come up in circle for self-reflection and discovery are often outside of relationships with men and include existential questions, work-life balance, parenting (relationship with children, infertility, pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion), relationship with family (including ancestors and ancestral wounding), life change (moving, jobs), etc. Bashing men, or any group for that matter, is a form of violence, and while anger is a welcome expression at circle individually, it will not be fostered as a group. Part of this extinguishing of the flame occurs from expressing the issue verbally in group (council) but the council being asked to not respond or offer advice (see above on what to expect in circle). Offering up and hearing your own words and story is healing in itself and diminishes some of the intensity of emotion.
Why is the WILD woman circle held during the new moon?
The moon is an embodiment of the feminine and reflects a creative cycle and change – new moon, waxing, full moon, waning, and return to new moon. Astrologically and mythically, the new moon period is a time for going inward, self-inquiry and reflection, as well as intention setting verses the full moon, which is representative of expression and manifestation. The moon cycles traditionally (historically and metaphorically) have been linked with a female’s menstrual cycle, with the new moon as being time of bleeding (think red tent here). There are many women’s circles that meet at the time of the full moon. WILD women meet for a fresh intention setting for the new moon cycle, like a new beginning or a fresh start. The Global Sacred Sisterhood is also a collective movement of new moon women’s circles that this circle plans to coordinate with.
Let’s come back to the issue of gender – a leveling up.
I mentioned above that by keeping the circles for those that identify as women, we allow for a safe space that explores experiences specific to the feminine. However, everyone is a combination of feminine and masculine. Psychic wounding occurs to both elements, in specific and unique ways, some of which I am just learning about and coming to terms with myself. It has been said in the community of women I know that the divine feminine needs to heal and will then rescue and heal the divine masculine, both within individuals as well as community.
Another consideration: gender is non-binary and the concept of binary gender is a result of colonization. Gender exists on a spectrum, or even more appropriate, as a multi-dimensional entity (can gender really be linear and 2D?). The enforcement of the gender binary is seen as a tool of colonial domination (What??? Mind blown yet?? – for more, see Jailbreaking the Goddess by L.F. Allen). In the end, who is “male” vs. “female” and where do we draw that line?
My intent with these circles is service – I want to help the most individuals in the best way I can. So, while the themes of the circles may be unique to the feminine on occasion, individuals that identify as male may relate to these issues (remember, gender is non-binary) and have equally profound self-discoveries during circle. Final decisions on the inclusion or exclusion of males within these circles will depend on the needs of this particular community, but at this time, I recognize the need for a women-only space. If you are in the Naperville area, interested in attending circle, and identify as male, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The WILD Woman Project, which trained me as a facilitator and inspired my circle offerings, values diversity and recognizes systems of oppression that limit access to these circles (see #9 of their 13 values here http://thewildwomanproject.com/13-values/). Part of my personal and professional work and commitment involves being an ally and undoing these harmful systems (through writing, through my teaching, through my work with children, and through these circles). My circles, OUR circles, embrace and honor diversity and the fullness of feminine presentation and experience, of all nationalities, ethnic and racial groups, sexualities, across ages (older teen to elders) as well as gender non-conforming and transgender women. Please do not allow any personal "difference" to restrict you from attending our circle. We would love to have you.
If my circle dates do not work for you or you want to explore additional women's groups, please see:
The Global Sisterhood https://www.globalsisterhood.org/
Awakening Women: Women's Temple: https://awakeningwomen.com/womens-temple/
The Wild Woman Project: http://thewildwomanproject.com/
The Divine Feminine App is available for free, created by a woman from St. Charles, IL. (see http://www.thedfapp.com/#/home and http://www.findawomenscircle.com/) The app allows users to search for women's circles and events by location.
I am also aware of a few gatherings that are local to the Naperville area but are not online.
To start exploring your own WILD journey, these books are essential reading:
Embodying the Feminine by Chameli Ardagh
Jailbreaking the Goddess by Lasara Firefox Allen
If Women Rose Rooted: A Journey to Authenticity and Belonging by Sharon Blackie
All works written by Brene Brown
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Seeing In the Dark by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
How to Love a Woman by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
The Creative Fire by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
How to be an Elder by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
At the Root of this Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst by Carol Lee Flinders
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Sisters of the Yam by bell hooks
Mothering from Your Center by Tami Lynn Kent
Wild Feminine by Tami Lynn Kent
Wild Creative by Tami Lynn Kent
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic by Lisa Lister
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Woman in the Shaman’s Body: Reclaiming the Feminine in Religion and Medicine by Barbara Tedlock
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle