By Misa Hopkins

About 25 years ago, I was in the midst of healing the childhood abuse that had locked me into years of unworthiness and patterns of self-sabotage. A dear friend, who was also doing deep emotional healing work, invited me to go with her to a women’s circle.

As if she had read my mind, I had been wondering what it would be like to sit in a women’s circle, and there she was extending her hand to take me to one.
I had been reading Judith Duerk’s book, Circle of Stones, and so I wondered if the circle would provide me with the same kind of emotional healing I was experiencing just reading the book. When I found out that the circle itself used Judith’s book as a basis for discussion, I knew I needed to go.
Although I felt some trepidation when I walked in the door, the facilitator, Marilyn Thelin, was so warm and inviting, I immediately let down my guard and took my place in the circle.
After drumming together for a while, Marilyn read a passage from Circle of Stones and then picked up a talking stick, passing it around the circle. One by one, we spoke the deep truths that had been buried in our hearts most of our lives.
Between the tears of sadness and the tears of joy, we were finding ourselves—as women—beyond the defined roles of mother, daughter, partner or business woman. We were discovering our true natures, our loves and desires, and our unique purposes for being.
Week after week, for several years, I sat in circle with Marilyn, and later with other facilitators. I discovered that my natural, heart-felt words carried insights for me. And so did the words of my sisters. Finally, I was not alone, and I was healing deep-old wounds in the loving presence of women who accepted me just as I was.
I was blessed to sit in several circles with Judith Duerk, and to receive her counsel from time to time. Within each circle, women listened to me unravel the knots of my own existence, until a new and beautiful web emerged, that I was proud to call my life. Of course, I gladly did the same for them, and found great delight in watching the reweaving of their lives.
Some years later I was called to facilitate my own circles. I did so with great respect for all of the women that had silently held me all those many years that I was deep in my healing. I still hold women’s circles and hope I am privileged to do so until my last days on earth.
The original circle I attended is still going with a lovely woman and friend, Susan Egnor. Somehow it is reassuring to know that women still sit in circle there, even though I left the area many years ago.
Though in a beautiful way, this original circle is still a significant part of my life. The president of New Dream Foundation is Ariann Thomas, one of the original circle members, and I still have good friends that I met in that original circle. Such are the bonds that are formed in circles.
I watch this with great pleasure now, as women gather for our Women, Water and Spirit retreat every October and forge the same kind of bonds that Ariann and I created through  our circle.
Women have gathered together in circles for eons, whether it is to do ceremony, heal, make a quilt, or just visit. Women in circle have a way of holding each other through the disappointments and the joys of our lives. In being held and in holding each other, we discover our true source of strength within.
There may be no greater power on earth than the compassionate holding that is done in a circle.
As we hold each other, we discover the nature of our Sacred Feminine essence, where there is nothing to fix, only people to accept and to love. We touch unconditional love, where painful emotions dissolve, and all that remains is pure, Divine love.
A few weeks ago, Marilyn made her crossing to the other side. I wish her a wonderful journey in the pure love of the Divine. She touched my soul and my life with a powerful imprint that still lives inside me. She led me to myself and for that I am forever grateful.
Safe journeys Marilyn. Because of you, I am proud to be the woman that I am. May we meet again soon in another circle, where yet again we can hold each other and remember who we truly are.