I’ve always loved gathering with women. When I was younger it was slumber parties. Of course, we weren’t quite women then. Whether it was one friend or many there were shouts of joy and constant, playful creativity. Dolls, pets, the trampoline, riding bikes, listening to music, using our imagination, building forts out of pillows and blankets, and constructing houses for our stuffed animals out of cardboard boxes, using markers to outline the doors and windows.
When I moved to Santa Cruz, I began hosting women’s full moon gatherings. I had a new friend, Blackbird, who was in the UCSC apprenticeship for agroecology and who had also lived among Native American tribes as she was part Lakota. She brought some of the traditions and many of the herbs from the farm for us to explore and experiment with. We lit incense, called in the four directions, and had an altar in the center of our circle of women which represented a theme we chose for that particular month’s gathering. We shared our hearts and delicious food after. This became a ritual for the next 13 years.
Women came and went. Friends brought new women I’d never met who became my own friends for years to come. We witnessed transitions and tears, laughed until our sides hurt and taught one another, supported one another, and grew together.
I’ve come to realize how valuable those years were. Such a foundation of trust-building and playfulness which I could lean into on a regular basis. We all found common ground even though we were different ages and in different stages of our lives. Every woman brought something extraordinary; a song, a recipe, a story, flowers from a garden, life experience, empathy, and beauty in its many forms. These gatherings have turned into ceremonies for life. I’ve held space for upcoming births, coming of age for teen girls, bridal showers, and marriage. It’s an honor to usher these powerful changes in sacred ways that help integrate the transition for everyone involved.
One of the women from those years of full moon gatherings will be passing soon. She has been like a sister and also like a mother to me since she is closer to my parent’s age than my own. Her light has always shone in her generosity of presence, support, and gifts. She has witnessed my children grow up into adults and I’ve witnessed her become a grandmother. We recently had a ceremony for her led by dear friends where I had the opportunity to prepare the setting along with other gracious women with flowers and an altar to represent the power, beauty, and grace of the life of our friend.
Life creates itself. I believe that as it expresses itself through us, we can respond with a thoughtful pause. Taking time to reflect and find creative ways to respond and honor the potency of our experiences. Sometimes it’s to clear and let go, other times it’s to call in what’s next and open our hearts and arms wide to receive. Acknowledging our transformations and holding space with women to do so is my heart’s calling.
Consider joining us for The Courageous Joyful Empowerment Journey, a rite of passage for whatever changes and transformations are moving through YOU!