Why It’s More Important than Ever to Start a Moon Circle (& How To Do It)

Please note: At the time of this blog post, I was still spelling woman with an “x” (womxn). I have since been challenged that this spelling can be confusing & even harmful, as trans women are women & don’t need a special word for it to be inclusive. And we can’t use “womxn” & pretend it covers non-binary people. While the word “womxn” is riddled throughout my site & this webinar replay, I am now using the words “woman” & “women”. I am ever learning. I seek to use the identifying language I am asked to by those impacted, & welcome feedback on how to do this better. For more, check out some resources here, here, & here.

Cue I Know a Place We Can Go by MUNA

Six months ago, I womanifested possibly the most meaningful miracle yet – my Moon Circle! A moon circle is a group of womxn (women, trans women, non-binary folks) who gather based on the cycles of the moon to share their struggles and celebrations, and to honor the goddess in us all. With the reaping of this deeply sacred harvest, I want to share its importance and the exact steps I took.

In the Trump era, it has never been more important to gather in circle with other womxn. Female and trans bodies are degraded and devalued like it’s going out of style. Rape culture pervades, consent is an afterthought, and female pleasure is considered dangerous and dirty. A womb-bodied person’s right to choose if and when they’ll get pregnant is threatened and vilified, and survivors of rape and harassment are disbelieved and further traumatized. The patriarchy is internalized to the point of powerlessness, and our capitalistic culture further isolates and separates womxn from their inner and shared power. The sacred feminine is considered sacrilegious by dominant theologians, and our connection to the natural world and cycles of the moon is severed and making us sick.

A friend introduced me to the idea of Moon Circles when I was living in DC, as I was craving spiritual sisterhood and rituals for making meaning of my life. Unfortunately, in that season, I was too busy and too insecure to ever attend a gathering! Ironically it was also when I needed it most, as I was over-worked and lonelier than ever. When I moved to New Mexico, I thought it would be simple to do a google search and easily connect with like-hearted womxn. Sadly, when I finally did type “Moon Circle” into the search bar, it returned zero results.

I was a new coach, and very high on the newfound awareness that I had magnetic womanifestation power. I heard a small voice whisper: If this was something I deeply craved but didn’t see, there had to be others out there who wanted the same thing. Why couldn’t I start it?

I was nervous about so many things – What if no one showed up? Would people be untrustworthy? Would it all be too much work and coordination for my already busy schedule? But that nagging voice wouldn’t quit. If I didn’t start it, who would?

Finally, I figured if just one womxn signed up for my Meetup group, that was one person who understood how I felt and was willing to co-create a community with me.

I hit “Create Meetup” and overnight it had over 40 members!

At our first gathering, I met a group of womxn who all looked deeply into each others eyes, tearing up with realization that we are all the same, we are not separate, we have the power to create the meaningful community we’ve been longing for.

And for the record, this applies to all areas of life:

If you look around and don’t see the kind of spaces you crave, there’s a good chance other people are looking around and longing for them too. You have a responsibility and a power to create the community you long for!

We all have different gifts to offer. Don’t think that – just because you don’t have the space to host or the knowledge to share (yet), others won’t chip in and contribute! Reflect on what you’re good at, and find a way to give that back. For me, it is my unabashed extroversion. I love people, have basically no shame in asking folks to be my friend, and enjoy challenging people in my community to contribute what they’re good at (aka hosting and facilitating!).

The past six months have only reinforced within me the need for this group. We’re rapidly climbing to 100 members, and have long wait lists for every gathering. It breaks my heart to think of all the womxn out there who need a monthly circle just like this but don’t have one! That’s why I hosted a free webinar on How to Start a Moon Circle. Get the replay here!

I believe it’s never been more important to co-create safe and sacred spaces, especially for womxn. I became tired of helplessly listening to my friends tell me that their anxiety was through the roof, they were afraid to leave the house, they had to quit watching the news, or they had no hope for the future. I’m sure you’ve heard or felt similarly at some point over the past few years.

Our society is individualistic to a toxic level. We’re becoming more and more isolated as a culture, and studies show loneliness is as dangerous to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (source). Disconnection to each other, ourselves, and the earth are all contributing factors to a host of mental and physical healthproblems. Especially in this age of technology and false intimacy/fake connection, actually connecting with another human being in person is becoming more and more rare.

There is hope – circles are the answer! A circle could be any group of folks who gather regularly to hold sacred space for each other. Ideally it is a diverse group, so try to create your circle to contain an age range, different body types, and folks from different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. Include language on welcoming folks from across the gender spectrum if you truly are inclusive.

Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book The Millionth Circle is a fantastic, quick read resource for anyone looking to start a women’s circle. She taught me that the circle is symbolic, because no one who comes to the circle is above or below another. The circle inherently eliminates hierarchy. And it’s quite a feminine/feminist symbol – a portal into the sacred feminine, where all are heard, valued, and loved. After all, what we all long to hear is, “I see you. I hear you. You matter.”

Moon Circles, specifically, tie in the symbolism and ritual of tracking the phases of the moon. Much like a menstrual cycle, the moon cycle is 28 days long and goes through 4 stages: the new moon (the bleed), waxing (hormones climbing), full moon (ovulation), waning (hormones falling). Whether or not you bleed, we all have emotional and hormonal cycles and can find meaning and comfort in seeing that mirrored in the sky. Plus, the moon classically represents the feminine – governing the night’s rest, play, and desire. The sun conversely represents the masculine – governing the day’s activities and busyness. In a culture that needs to learn how to stop, rest and regenerate, celebrating the moon is a healing salve.

How to Start Your Moon Circle

Now that I’ve convinced you that Moon Circles are going to save the freaking world, let’s dig into how you can start your own!

1. Write Your Womxnifesto (Woman/Womxn + Manifesto = Womxnifesto)

The first thing I did was open a google doc and start writing my womxnifesto, or my vision for the Circle. The benefit of starting your own circle, is you really get to set the vibe of the whole group.

Consider before you begin: what kind of leader do you wanna be? Do you want it to be collaborative, or do you want to retain some control over the topics, facilitation, etc.? I kept mine completely non-hierarchical and emphasized my desire to really co-create the space and the vision with my sisters (whom I hadn’t met yet!). I think ultimately this helps welcome more folks in, and invites them to share their voices when they have concerns or ideas.

Your womxnifesto should have 5 main elements: (1) What a moon circle is, (2) Who is welcome, (3) Your intention for the circle, (4) Your logistical vision, & (5) Your story or why you’re starting the circle!

Define it for yourself (lots of people have never heard of it) & make your language extremely inclusive if that’s important to you (and is something you’re willing to educate your community on and live up to).

Your intention is a big-picture vision for the group: What do you imagine your group doing each month? What values will everyone who joins share? What are your future members longing for, just like you? What things will you learn & explore together?

Your logistical vision should spell out exactly what you need. Do you plan to host every month at your home? Do you feel safer meeting in a public place? Will you all take turns hosting? Be as clear as possible here, so everyone knows what they’re signing up for.

And finally, your story and reason for starting the circle can be a short statement about who you are and why you’re doing this now. Trust me, people will relate!

This document will become the “About” section of your Meetup Group (should you go that route), so keep it short, simple & engaging. In my moon circle webinar, I shared my womxnifesto template as your starting point, so grab the replay here!

2. Find Your Courage

At every gathering, my sisters thank me for starting the Circle. I insist all I did was start a meetup, but they tell me repeatedly, “I wouldn’t have the courage.” Well I didn’t have the courage to attend one, much less start one just a couple of years ago. I believe I tapped into something that is available to all of us when we really want something.

My courage came from my loneliness. One night, Jon came home from work to find me sprawled out on my yoga mat, bawling my eyes out. “What’s wrong?!” he asked.

“I’m so lonely,” I said.

“Do you need to call your friends? Should we make plans for the weekend?”

“No, I’m lonely for sacred sisterhood,” I said.

What the heck was I talking about? Deep, meaningful community. The kind I had in church or camp growing up, but hadn’t really seen since. Spiritual partnership where I could feel safe talking about what I was learning and experiencing, without fear of judgment. And space where others could do the same, no matter their belief system. A place where the only shared values that mattered were inclusivity, open-heartedness and a desire to love and be loved.

From that place of intense loneliness, I was able to empathize with the imagined others who were also experiencing it! I had compassion for myself and for everyone else out there who might also be starving for the sacred.

Also spurring me on was the realization that, if not me – who? If not now, when? I decided to see the lack of moon circles in my area as an opportunity to lead and set the tone for the whole group, rather than wait to be invited in to someone else’s dream on someone else’s timeline.

Find your courage and share your womxnifesto. I had the luxury of being new in town and somewhat anonymous in that way. But even if you can’t hide behind a new girl label, make this your moment to become the next evolution of yourself. Only from that embodied mindset can you step into your new role as the founder of your Moon Circle! I used Meetup.com, but there are tons of other apps to connect with like-minded folks, if Meetup’s not your jam. Do some research or watch my free webinar for more tips.

3. Design the Logistics

There is no way around it – you’ll be coordinating logistics to some degree. For my circle, there are 3 main roles – logistics coordinator (me), host (another sister), and facilitator (another sister). Sometimes the host facilitates the circle, sometimes not. I created a google form that includes all the information I’ll need from each host/facilitator, and share it regularly on the Meetup page to remind folks to sign up to host.

I recommend keeping things as simple as possible. I usually charge the host with deciding about food – will it be a potluck or will they provide a few bites and nibbles? I also let the host decide if alcohol is acceptable or not (more on this below). They provide their phone number so folks can contact them if they get lost on the way. They create enough space for us to sit in a circle and provide an altar for us to place our sacred items upon, and usually light a few candles as well. The facilitator can get as weird with it as they want! If they want to lead a talk on Hellenistic astrology, they go for it! If they want us to start with a dance, we do it! They also come up with 3 sharing questions we will all answer as we pass the talking stick. And it’s up to them to really set the tone for the gathering, hold the space, as well as open and close the circle in ritual.

As coordinator, I simply gather the info from the google form and create a Meetup event with the date & time, as well as the max number of attendees (usually based on the host’s space). I can let attendees know anything they need to bring, and the day before the event I privately message each attendee the host’s address and contact info. It’s really that easy. In six months, I’ve never struggled to find a host or facilitator – it always comes together with plenty of time to spare. But, if I ever need to, I know I can host and facilitate at my place. It’s great to have a backup plan.

4. Community Agreements

While your womxnifesto was about your vision for the Circle, it’s vital that you co-create your community agreements in the first few gatherings. Community Agreements are not rules, they are the things every member must agree to in order for the Circle to function. It doesn’t hurt to have a few ideas going into it, but definitely begin by opening up the floor to others. Take notes during these discussions, and make sure all are in agreement for each point that gets added. This will require you to take an active role – holding the space, resolving any conflicts that might arise, and helping everyone see each other’s perspective in order to arrive at the same place. I’ve heard this defined as “Circle Mother” and I quite like that. 🙂

After our first couple of gatherings, I typed up a google doc based on my notes. I included our vision for the Circle, and typed up a few expectations for sisters who wanted to host or facilitate. We even created a template agenda for how each gathering could be planned, and clarified it was a starting point, not a requirement. I then shared the link to the document in the Meetup and invited everyone to comment or send me a message if there was any part they disagreed with or wanted to add.

In the six months we’ve been going, there has only been one modification! It was to add in a statement about alcohol – saying it was allowed if the host agreed to it, but that we should all remember it’s a sacred space and know our limits. A sister brought her concern to me, and I anonymously brought it to the Circle. We had an open discussion, and all agreed to add the language into the document. I worded it and shared the link again, asking everyone for input. Periodically, I re-share the document on the Meetup group’s forum to keep it fresh in everyone’s minds, and as a welcome to new members so we’re all on the same page.

When you start from the assumption that everyone has the best intentions to make it a safe, supportive space, I’ve found that people will consistently rise to the occasion.

7. Let Go & Have Fun

I used to get really nervous that there would be a conflict or someone wouldn’t feel heard or respected, and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle it. But those fears were quickly put to bed when I saw the way my sisters showed up with love and understanding every time. Women are consistently separated from each other. In many places around the world, it’s not safe for women to gather together. This is why we need to create sacred spaces! We need places to share what’s actually going on – not the “I’m fine & you?” response we give a million times a day to the question, “How are you?” We need to look into the eyes of a group of women who actually want to know the whole story, and sometimes to fall into their arms crying after we’ve shared it.

I used to worry before each gathering that wouldn’t know what we were doing or how to proceed. Now, I laugh just thinking about it! Every circle is unique, but they always flow with ease. Even when a host or facilitator looks to me like a deer in headlights, we figure it out together. Above all else, remember to let go of control – control does not create safe spaces – and have fun with your new Moon Sisters!

There is so much more I have to share with you, including my templates for a womxnifesto & Community Agreements, inside my free webinar! Grab the instant replay here, along with the slide deck, audio recording, and Moon Circle Start-Up Guide.

May you find Sacred Community wherever you may be, and create it if you can’t!

Take gentle self-care,

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I started Luminous Leanings to share my passions of meditation & self-care. As a self-care coach, I'm really just a holder! I hold space for busy people on their self-care journey. Then I hold them accountable as they integrate self-care into their lives. If you want to develop more self-compassion, but aren't sure where to start, you've come to the right place. Be sure to check out my guided meditations & journal freebies, & sign up for the Letter to keep in touch. You don't have to self-care alone - I'm in your corner!

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