“We are a global sisterhood that connects women through circles. We create a safe place to share our true selves. Meeting in circle, we find our voices, claim our power and celebrate our self-worth, leading to personal and planetary transformation.”
Gather the Women – Vision Statement
Three years ago I read Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World and felt compelled to act within reading the first page! I contacted the organisation, Gather the Women, who encouraged me to create my own circle in Liverpool.
For the first time in my life, competition dissolved when I read this book. Collaboration, something that I was conditioned against, arose deeply and urgently. I felt compelled to collaborate, to help, to be part of something that I know, deep, deep down inside, will make a difference to the imbalance of female and male in our world.
At the time, I had no previous experience of circle and no idea what a circle was… Almost everything I’ve learned has been from my own experience. I’ve matured and grown with circle, learning a huge amount along the way in how to create a safe, nourishing space. I used social media, word of mouth and posters in local shops to gather the women of Liverpool: I found that social media is the modern word of mouth!
Today in Liverpool we have around 50 active members and have created a genuine, loving, supportive sisterhood. We meet monthly in our city centre and all of us value our time spent together.
We live in a world created by and dominated by men, where women are not equal in decision making. Since I was a very young girl I’ve noticed this imbalance; in my school life, my home life, in the media, in the working world… I always wanted to be of service in the rebalancing even from a very early age. Until I learned of Gather the Women I didn’t have the appropriate medium, that suited me and who I am, of taking part in this rebalancing. I knew from my own observations as a child and adult that the media representation of women is that they are not leaders, they don’t make decisions or choices that affect others on a local, national or global level. Why? Because from when all women are little girls their minds are imprinted with images of men in power, men calling the shots, men in control, women being submissive, women being praised for looks over all other qualities, women having to fit in to a structural system taking a long time to change. I realised that girls were growing into women having a deep feeling of dis-entitlement whether they recognised this or not.
So why Gather the Women?
For me, it means real change. We can tell women and men until we’re blue in the face that they are equal but what use is telling someone something if they don’t internalise it and discover from it? Real change and transformation, real wisdom, happens within a person, they must reach that realisation on their own. What I instinctively knew about circle (even when I didn’t know anything about it!) was that through coming together in circle women would learn about themselves, find their voices, be truly heard (sometimes for the first time), forge a sisterhood, dissolve competition with each other, feel compassion for others and hear what other women have to say… She would transform herself, her conditioning, her beliefs, come to KNOW she is ENTITLED and at the same time gaining a sisterhood and nourishing support system along the way.
Circle is a beautiful and safe space where each woman can explore the totality of who she really is… She is not just feminine nor just masculine, we come from beyond a duality… in circle we can be angry, protective, sexual, strong, rebellious, open, soft, emotional, quiet, sensitive… We can be who we really are, beyond the stereotyping of female and male, because that’s our authenticity.
Setting a safe, still space in circle is important to me; when women walk into the room I want their hearts to feel held. I wish for every woman in my circle to feel that she’s sitting on her mama’s lap having her hair stroked and being given undivided, unconditionally loved attention… that it’s okay to be honest, okay to cry, okay to laugh, okay to say nothing. I pay attention to the atmosphere of the room and how it feels and looks… creating beautiful circle centres (sometimes hugely elaborate ones!) and ensuring the space looks and feels calm and relaxed.
When I first paid attention to the look and feel of the room, women walked into the room and gasped. Some contacted me afterwards to say as soon as she walked into the room she felt held and safe and I began to consider that how the circle looks can have instant impact before people have even sat down. This combined with my many years of serious meditation and working on increasing my self-awareness, dissolving knots and troubles deep within me, has led to ever deepening self-knowing, expanding my heart and allowing me to act from a place of true service and compassion. I bring this to every circle… I spend time in the room alone before circle begins, asking that each woman feels heard, held, connected and loved. That’s my only intention with the circles I facilitate.
It is such an honour to hear women’s journeys, stories, truth… I am inspired by each woman who attends our circle, by her courage, her honesty, her capacity to love. I’m blessed, so very blessed, to know these sparkling women!
Only when women know the fullness of themselves will men know the fullness of themselves also. That will be the time when we bloom into our full potential as human beings. Through circle, women can come to be aware of her conditioning, release her conditioning and discover the fullness of who she really is.
Deborah Zaher is the Regional Coordinator for Liverpool, UK as well as the Communications Convener (our Conveners are our Board of Directors).
“I’m the one tweeting and updating the website and Facebook! My aim with the role of Communications Convener is to really bind our global sisterhood together and I enjoy coming up with creative ways as to how to do this! A few years ago, circles around the world each created a patch that was lovingly sewn into a sisters quilt and most recently I’m asking Regional Coordinators one at a time to shine the light on her circle in an article on our website blog so we can discover more about our sisters around the world… My goal with this is to see all of these articles combined into one big gorgeous book of Gather the Women amazingness!”
Gather the Women has been gathering women all around the globe since 2001 when Carol Hansen Grey had experienced numerous women contacting her describing the same vision that we needed to begin to gather the women of the world. Though these women came from diverse backgrounds, all shared a deep passion for awakening the power of women in service of a better world. Since then, Gather the Women has continued to expand, drawing new individuals, Regional Coordinators, and partner organisations into the matrix. We now have Regional Coordinators spread around the world, each Coordinator gathering local women into circle.
Gather the Women website: www.gatherthewomen.org
Gather the Women Global Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/Gatheringthewomen
Gather the Women Liverpool Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/gatherthewomenliverpool