When Women Gather

Posted by: on Dec 19, 2014 | 1 Comment
When Women Gather
image from Chris Maddox

We lie on our stomachs in the bright white tent.

45 women breathing, breathing.

We’re just a few feet above the ground; we can feel the earth through the spaces in the hardwood floor. Breathing, breathing.

“Cup your hands around your mouth and whisper your fears into the earth,” the circle leader says. “No one else can hear you, and Mother Earth knows. She wants you to lean on her.” Breathing. “Now prick up your senses to feel her encouragement.”

I could feel the earth beneath me, sensitive and strong. “Now whisper your heart’s desires to Mama.” Mama Earth.

It was during this retreat, Chris Maddox’s Wild Woman Fest, a step beyond a women’s yoga retreat, where I learned to talk to Mother Earth, but she wasn’t the only mother I talked to. It is a powerful thing to experience a circle of women on top of a mountain, looking into each other’s eyes, holding roses for one another, seeing each other’s simple beauty. Or even just gathering together to break bread and talk about where you are, who you are, where you’d like to go. Every conversation I had on top of the mountain was rich and deep.

I cannot tell you what an exhilarating feeling it is to be seen and heard by so many women, collectively and one at a time. Saying, I know you, I hear you, I am you. Some a lot further on their paths than I, others just taking the first step. I cannot tell you because you already know. You know this already. Your heart knows it. This kind of gathering together is ancient and (dare I say it) sacred. And you don’t need a mountain for it; you can do this anywhere.

I never had a sister, but I always took kinship in circles of females; I self-identified as a “girls’ girl.” When I left for college, I parted with a gaggle of 15 female friends, and I made six or seven new ones by the end of my first year of school (strangely enough, our names all sounded the same and my parents confused us: “Anna, Alina, Amanda, Elyssa, Eva, Misha”).

A few weeks after my wild woman time, I found myself yet again in a circle of women: “Lisa, Lyndsey, Marisa, Elyssa.” One morning, Marisa led us through this group exercise: “Put your hand on the shoulder of the person you would like support from today on. Look her in the eyes and tell her why.”

Not a dry eye in the tent. “Put your hand on the shoulder of the sister you’d like to support today. Look in her eyes and give her strength.”


What power in the gathering together of women, the original gatherers, the ones who sewed the furs with the needles of bones, who sang, and bled at the new moon, and always laughed, laughed, laughed, laughed and hugged and smiled and cried as we still can and do.

So why do I share these experiences, these snippets? It is not to tell you that I have a lot of female friends. This is a call for you to deepen your womanity.

We all have places and times we’ve been jealous of our fellow women. Maybe (I must confess this has been me at weaker moments) we’ve looked at her on the street and said “Oh yeah, she may be cute, but my __(insert body part)__ is better than hers.” Or “I don’t know why she has a boyfriend and I don’t.” Or, perhaps the worst: “I found him on Instagram and there were pictures of his ex and she was skinny and tall and pretty (or she was not as cute as me) and GAH!!!” All this competition. All this pressure to be thinner, prettier, healthier, more successful, more balanced, better, perfecter.

That’s enough now. That’s enough. You know where our power lies? It is, as Sarah Jenks and Nisha Moodly say, in making friends with those we’re jealous of and bringing them onto our team. Often jealousy speaks of desire, of who we’d like to be. It is in taking moments to do the following:

  • Look with the eyes of love (rose-colored glasses, if you will). Whether you’re meeting a new woman or spending time with an old friend, take a moment to really see her, take her in. Look at her with admiration and sympathy. Look at her in her brilliant female power.  All women possess a piece of the sacred feminine. Send her a silent message: “I support you. I offer you my support. I wish for you your heart’s desire.”
  • Connect to mother earth in any way you can. Whenever you’re in nature, take your shoes off and feel the strength of the earth underneath you. Imagine a red cord from the base of your spine (your first chakra) going deep down into the core of the earth, giving you vitality, strength and ferocity. I like to think of the image of the goddess Pele…a google image search will make you smile.
  • Dance, dance, dance, all the time.
  • Play dress-up. Remember your dress-up box? Remember that time in high school/college of all your girl friends getting ready together and stealing each other’s clothes (I hope you had this!)? If a few of you are going to an event, why not ask your friends to get ready with you? My college friends and I liked to call this “doing the makes and the hay hay” (makeup and hair). Girl time, group grooming, celebrating our beauty and femininity–this is so powerful, fun, and awakening. Give compliments to your friends; it will make you all feel great. Celebrate the goddesses you are! You can even take this up a notch and have a luxurious spa day—keep the compliments flowing.
  • Have an intergenerational women’s brunch and share wisdom.
  • Call up a female friend and tell her how much you appreciate and admire her. Ask her how you can help her, and let her know she always has your support.
  • Let your female intuition guide you. Create your own sisterly experience, and tell us all about it!

With these actions, we honor our sisters, and we honor the wild woman within each of us. The more we feel our own feminine power, the more we give permission for others to awaken and join hands.

Come now sister, take my hand. Come now sisters, it’s time to howl at Mother Moon and walk boldly on our stretch of Mother Earth.

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1 Comment

  1. Chris Maddox
    November 20, 2014

    Beautiful Elyssa! xoChris