WILD Woman+ Project Circles, Naperville

The WILD Woman Project (http://thewildwomanproject.com/), is a world-wide movement of spiritual gatherings (circles) during the new moon, for meditation, intention setting, wellbeing, 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 and community and to nature. 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.

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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
  • Reflection and journaling
  • 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 archetype or metaphor.  

What are the 2021 WWP circle dates through Ignite Well-being (formerly 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 10-1130.  We anticipate meeting virtually through June, possible longer, Covid-19 depending.

Oct 3rd 10-1130am (in-person)

Nov 7th 10-1130am (in-person)

Dec 5th 10-1130am (in-person)

Where are the circles located? And how does sign up work?

I have partnered with The Resiliency Institute in Naperville, IL.  Typically, the circles are located in the education building when in-person (“Clow” 2-story stone building, see the picture under the Gallery tab) 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 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.  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, for circles  The Resiliency Institute

Any logistic, registration, and/or payment questions should be directed to Allison (ignitewellbeing.naperville@gmail.com) or Connie at The Resiliency Institute (connie@theresiliencyinstitute.net)

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 women is experiencing powerful emotions (ex. crying), we do not, in general, 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 presence 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 – deep listening without an agenda.  As such, 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, not the listener’s.

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, if circle is indoors. 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, her community, and even 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 (and really many people with shared, marginalized identities) 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 spirituality 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 women circles are open only to those that identify as women, including our transgender sisters.  This inclusion of female is not to diminish or denigrate men or 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 circle inclusive of cis men. Further, women are known to defer their inner wisdom or voice when in spaces with cis men, secondary to socialization and gender norms.  Lastly, women might feel that they are under the “male gaze” and therefore limited in the ways they can present themselves. All-gender healing circles are important and necessary, but circles that are limited to women allow safe space free of socialized constraints for a normally marginalized group for the abovementioned reasons. 

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 instead 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. (Story as a tool for healing deserves a blog of its own; I also offer a podcast series called Voices from around the Circle for this reason.  Other projects that recognize the healing component of story include StoryCorps https://storycorps.org/ and Tenx9 http://www.tenx9.com/)

**Our circles are open and welcoming to persons with marginalized identities including women and nonbinary folks** 

Why is the WILD woman circle held during the new moon?

The moon is an embodiment of the feminine, in the western world view, and reflects a metaphorical 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, 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).  Although there are many women’s circles that meet at the time of the full moon, the WILD Woman Project circles 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 (but this is also a tired storyline – why are women responsible for the emotional and healing labor of other adult people? when will those people take responsibility for themselves?).

Another consideration: gender is non-binary and the concept and enforcement of binary gender is a result of colonization and patriarchy. Gender exists on a spectrum – it is fluid and multi-dimensional entity. The socialization that goes along with gender expectations is often limiting and harmful – we limit ourselves and each other with ridiculous expectations about who can and should do what based on genitalia.  In the end, who is “male” vs. “female” and what is masculine or feminine? Ex. Inanimate, genderless objects like the moon is feminine in the west but is masculine in eastern traditions. Another example, emotions are considered feminine and logic masculine – this keeps men disconnected from emotions and makes logic appear hierarchically “better” (based off of implicit and patriarchal ideas about male supremacy). The gendered labeling of energies and traits is problematic, arbitrary and ridiculous, and perpetuates the gender straight jacket.  I try to navigate this issue carefully, I am always learning, and I am committed to refusing the binary. 

I personally think the binary is BS – it is a cultural construct and does not relate to how I experience things.  However, I know there is value in holding marginalized identity spaces, such as women’s circles, for the reasons mentioned above.  This is also where most people are – stuck in binary thinking.  And, for many, reclaiming “the feminine” – that is, recognizing the value and power of what our culture has labeled feminine = deficient is a necessary stage for our personal and collective healing.   

My intent with these circles is service – I want to help the most individuals in the best way I can.  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 and non-binary only space.  If you are in the Naperville area, interested in attending circle, and identify as male, please email me at ignitewellbeing.naperville@gmail.com

For more information on the fluidity of gender, see the books

  • Untamed by G. Doyle
  • Beyond the Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon
  • Gender Outlaw by K. Bornstein

Diversity

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 human 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.

What Makes My/Our Circle Unique?

The circles I facilitate on my own as well as through The Resiliency Institute are influenced by my own personal and professional leanings.  We welcome diversity and are open to folks with marginalized gender identities (see above).  Our circles include elements of nature connection via permaculture instruction and herbalism as a part of our theme and intention setting.  Further, I am a trained sexuality counselor and educator.  Circles have included sexuality education since I launched them in 2018 – concepts such as gender identity and expression, relationship health and expression, mindfulness, inner wisdom, desire, joy, consent, self-esteem, body esteem are all related to sexuality and come up in every.single.circle.  At the very least, our mindfulness trainings have the potential to carry over to sexual well-being by fostering presence and inner listening.  

 

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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.

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For a list of recommended books and podcasts for your own re-WILDing Journey, see: http://ignitewell-being.com/recommended-resources-for-rewilding/ 

 

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Contact at ignitewellbeing.naperville@gmail.com All material written by Dr. Allison Mitch (PT) is copyright protected.  Photo is from Pexels.