This past Friday night, Imbolc and the full moon, I went to a women's spirituality circle. I was very hesitant at first because I am not good with large crowds and also because in the past group work was just not something that worked for me. I much prefer doing my rituals and celebrations as a solitary or with a few select friends. But, I'm trying to learn new things, and expand my comfort zone.
I had heard there were to be about 50 people at the group. 50 women. That in and of itself scared me. I don't mean this to be offensive, but when I think of a group of 50 women all in one room I think of chickens in a hen house cackling around. I was very worried that the sacred space aspect would get lost in the chance to gossip.
When I got to the shop, there were just a few people and I waited along with everyone else to go to the space they had reserved for circle. It was a long wait. Apparently they were not ready on time and then everyone had to walk a block to get to it. I have serious social anxiety disorders and this was not working well at all. After getting to the space for the circle, we had to wait in a line so that as we went in we could be smudged and cleansed. It seemed to take forever to get through that line. I had purposefully made myself wait until the end of the line so that I could be near the door in case the claustrophobia kicked in. There was another lady who suffered from the same thing and she kept getting out of line and getting behind me so she could be last. The area that we were using is used by therapists during the day and we were supposed to remain quiet while we waited to go in so as not to disturb the other people that worked there. I can't tell you how loud people were. It was as if each little group had to compete to see who could be louder. It was very annoying.
The circle ritual itself was nice. The organizers had arranged several altars that you could visit and had also setup several activities. The first part of the ritual consisted of an introduction as to what the group was about, why it had been setup and the each of us stated our name and said anything that we felt like sharing. After a short break we had our activities which included some questions that were written on scrolls and would be buried later (part of the Imbolc ritual). The questions were very well done and provoked quite a bit of thought and emotion from the attendees. Several people became emotional and even cried a bit. Overall I was impressed by the group meeting. I was not sure how I would like this format, but I think it went well and was well received by everyone in attendance.
Other than a few little things, like making sure everyone understands the meaning of sacred space and respecting that space, it was an interesting event. I'm even considering going next month.