women, sitting in circles

i have had three recent occasions to sit with women, discussing the matters of women, in simple circles. it is such a powerful experience to sit together, and i want to invite so much more of this level of conversation into my life.

the experiences were very different.

the first one was a meeting for a radical women of color group – INCITE. such brilliance and principle at the table. wow. i’ve definitely been one of those people who was intimidated by INCITE in the past – all that analysis and edge and power…it was beautiful to sit with the current national body as a facilitator and just see the humility, the practical approach to their revolutionary work, and the dedication to making sure radical women of color have ways to connect, organize, analyze and transform this world.

the second circle was the most unexpected. it was called panocha platicas, organized by young women united in albuquerque. it’s basically a space where young women have liberating conversation and ceremony about their panocha (vaginas), connecting to the lineage of panocha “knowledge, wisdom, distortions, silences, misinformation”, and power. i had a moment’s pause [“am i about to have to look at my vagina in a mirror in public or something??”], but was then just overwhelmed by the openness and beauty of these women, at such ease with each other, and with the support and care that they were each being offered by being in the room. we prayed, checked in with each other, ate together, did a hilarious/wonderful exercise on what was our sexiest part, and learned a full moon bath recipe:

pour clean water into a wooden or earthen bowl
add healing herbs like rosemary, sage, lavender (ours also had fresh roses to add the petals)
set the bowl out under the moonlight for the night, so that it is imbued with the pull, the feminine power of the moon
in the morning, pour the water over yourself, use the rosemary to scrub your skin

we all left with panocha platicas zines, a bag of herbs for the bath, and smiles on our faces. i met an incredible black midwife who i know is going to teach me things in the future.

the third circle was a potluck, tonight at my home, for women interested in supporting other women going through birth (home, hospital, prison, birthing center, etc), breastfeeding, abortion, unintended pregnancy loss – all in detroit. this is the newest, and possibly oldest, path in my life.

i started what-can-be-called-my-political-career wanting to radically change the relationship women have to our bodies. i felt that if young women were taught about our bodies, encouraged to discover them, it would be much harder for society and men to disconnect us from our pleasure and power in the sexual realm, and in the world.

many cycles of work later, i started getting asked to help women have their babies. at first i said no, because “i don’t know nuthin bout birthin no babies”, but when you get asked to do something enough times, it becomes a calling.

as soon as i started to answer, a community became visible to me, and now all these powerful women who were already in my life, and all these new fantastic women, are gathered together, sharing a new vision for what it could mean, in detroit, to be a woman –> to be pregnant, to give birth, to breastfeed, to abort or lose your child in a field of support and love, to be empowered about all your options, to be in touch with your body, to be informed and intuitive about the food choices you make, to be in community with other women, to support each other, hear each other, build each other back up after hard experiences, to teach each other and learn from each other –> to be a woman.

what i see in each of these circles is the ever shifting power of the divine feminine. i can’t even believe i am quite saying those words, but it’s just true – sit women in a circle, and let them listen to each other? it’s a sacred space.

we know we need each other, and we can follow each other down the many pathways that lead through to a healing. we can share dreams and trauma across class and race and ability, and we can hold each other until visions for our lives become manifest.

i want all the women in my life to be more intentional about inviting each other in, holding space for each other, recognizing that a new force is moving in the world that is rooted in collective, collaborative, healing, wholistic, feminine power – in the circle. in us.

in a related bit of news, we had the allied media projects board meeting this weekend. the allied media network is always an explosion of love, because that is the central organizing emotion that guides our revolutionary commitments. and as of this weekend, for the first time, the board is all women. the transitioning process will get much more writing, because it’s been deep and beautiful, but i wanted to highlight the result and how excited i am to see that happen.