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circles as ancient medicine for modern times with mitle Southey on wild flow podcast

It’s safe to say that sacred women’s circles are making a big come back. No longer lost ancient forms of gathering in community, circles are now becoming increasingly available around the world as an opportunity to gather with shared intention, possibly to meet new friends, devote time to spiritual practice, to experience particular ceremony.  The way of the circle offers us a very different form of connection and community in which we can come to understand ourselves and each other- and to find the magick and medicine we need at the time. Whatever happens and whoever you meet, you are sure to come home to yourself. If you’re curious about attending a sacred circles, want to learn how to host a women’s circle or love holding sacred space this is for you.

Circles are an ancient way of life, but are now being held in towns everywhere, in schools, board rooms, and online, and they have the potential to support healing and transformation of communities on many levels. I believe that when you attend your first Circle, you awaken to a new way of relating and being, and its addictive.

tune in to hear:

My first ever circle was with today’s guest Mitlé Southey in 2018, when I attended her 3 day circle facilitator training, and that immersive experience changed me deeply, and revealed a deeper path forward for me personally in my own healing, as well as in my work that I do. I’m overjoyed to welcome MItlé to the podcast, and to share with you a delicious conversation about:

  1. What is a women’s circle, and what may happen in a circle,

  2. Our first circle experiences, and how they shaped our lives,

  3. How circles are medicinal, transformative experiences that can set deep healing in motion,

  4. Why receiving guidance and training in how to hold circles is an important consideration as space holders,

  5. How circles are available for all people, and how the circle process can be imbued into our work, lives, and relationships,

  6. The role circles can play in rites of passage processes for all people, and how Mitlé is hosting Mother-Son circles, and I am host Mother-Daughter circles particularly.q

meet mitle Southey

"circle is an incredible time to listen deeply, to let whatever that activates within us to work its magic" mitle Southey wild flow podcast

Mitlé Southey is a Circle Holder walking the ancient path whilst contributing to a modern movement. The founder of Circle School, she teaches internationally and has facilitated circles, retreats and courses since 2016. She believes in the power of connection, community and circle to provide a path of integrity back to ourselves, and authentic relationship with the more than human world. As a woman of British heritage, Mitle’s circles and courses are deeply rooted in the old Western wisdom traditions and British native mythology. As a former lawyer now learning the old ways, she is seeking ways to fracture the current systems that uphold oppression and is committed to increasing her capacity to hold diverse, inclusive and safer spaces for those marginalised by those systems. When not in Circle, she can usually be found out walking or in a cosy corner with a book and a cup of tea.

Connect with Mitle

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transcript

[00:01] Mitle: So when we gather in the circled space, there’s a lot going on. It’s this incredible time for us to share, but also it’s an incredible time for us to listen deeply to others and let whatever that activates within us work its magic in us, know that we have to take self responsibility for that and learn how to not project that outwards. And so it’s like a cauldron or an our chemical process. This is all going on. And I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to put into words. And for many people who I’ve spoken to, who have attended circles or held circles, because there’s so many layers happening, we have the collective experience and then we have each individual participants experience, and we have then how that is affecting the greater whole and all of that’s happening together. And that’s magic. And that’s the medicine of Circles.

 

[00:57] Charlotte: Before we begin today’s episode, I’m thrilled to share an announcement with you about First Moon Circles. The facilitator training applications are opening on the 1 March 2023 for our May 2023 facilitator training round. And if you are interested in sharing circles with your community, particularly introducing the Circle Way to girls, to children and to their mothers in sharing menstrual cycle awareness and puberty education that is holistic positive empowering and a beautiful rite of passage honoring a celebration, a preparation for menarch, then this may be for you. I’m calling in women from all over the world to join our three-month online training, where you will be initiated into the first Moon Circle Way, where you’ll receive the benefit of our methodology of sharing periods with children and puberty and helping them to feel positive about something that so many struggle to feel positive about, that so many people hold deep shame around and taboo that lives on. So if you want to be part of the movement, this experience of learning about how we can support and empower future generations and also understand, recognize, meet and heal and transform what it is that we experience at the times of our first periods and turn that into the gold that we want to share and offer back.

 

Applications are opening on the 1 May, so you can join our Waitlist. The links are in the show. Note. Please visit the First Moon website, which is www.firstmooncircleschool.com training. And there you’ll see the link to join the waitlist as well in the Show Notes, so that you receive a first invite to apply when applications open. Places are very limited because this is a small, intimate experience, a gathering and online circle of women coming together, and places will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. So head over to the website, check out the Show Notes, and if this is for you, I really look forward to receiving your application and potentially welcoming you into the First Moon Circle School. Thank you.

 

So welcome to the Wild Flow Podcast.

 

It’s safe to say that sacred women’s Circles are making a big comeback. No longer lost ancient forms of gathering and community, circles are now becoming increasingly available around the world as an opportunity to gather with shared intention, possibly to meet new friends, to devote time to spiritual practice, to experience a particular ceremony. Whatever happens in whoever you meet, you are sure, though, to come home to yourself. The way of Circle offers us a very different form of connection and community in which we can come home to understand ourselves and each other, and to find the magic and medicine that we need at that time. Circles are an ancient way of life, but are now being held in towns everywhere, in schools, boardrooms, and online, and they have the potential to support healing and transformation of communities on many levels. I believe that when you attend your first Circle, you awaken to a new way of relating and being, and it’s addictive. My first ever Circle was with today’s guest, Mitlé Southey, in mid 2018, when I attended her three day Circle Facilitate Training, and that immersive experience changed me deeply and revealed a deeper path forward for me personally and my own healing, as well as in the work that I do. I’m overjoyed to welcome Mitléto the podcast and to share with you a delicious conversation that we had about what Circles are and what may happen in a Circle, our first Circle experiences and how they shaped our lives. How Circles are medicinal transformative experiences that can set deep healing in motion. Why receiving guidance and training in how to hold circles is an important consideration of spaceholders, how circles are available for all people, and how the circle process can be imbued into our work lives and relationships and the roles that circles can play in rites of passage processes for all people, and especially how Mitléis hosting mother son circles and I host mother daughter circles. Settle in for this beautiful conversation and allow me to introduce you to today’s guest.

[06:46] Charlotte: Mitlé Southey is a Circle holder, walking the ancient path whilst contributing to a modern movement. The founder of Circle School, Mitlé teaches internationally and has facilitated Circles retreats and courses since 2016. She believes in the power of connection, community, and Circle to provide a path of integrity back to ourselves and authentic relationship with the more than human world. As a woman of British heritage, Mitlés circles and Courses are deeply rooted in the old Western wisdom traditions and British native mythology. As a former lawyer now learning the old ways, she is seeking ways to fracture the current systems that uphold oppression and is committed to increasing her capacity to hold diverse, inclusive and safer spaces for those marginalized by those systems. When not in circle, she can usually be found out walking or in a cozy corner with a book and a cup of tea. Welcome to Dame. It leigh. How are you?

 

[07:56] Mitle: Hello, Charlotte. Thank you. I’m well. Yeah, I’m delighted to be here with you.

 

[08:01] Charlotte: Brilliant. I’m so excited that you’re here, too. And I’m so looking forward to spending this time with you and having a conversation that I know is going to be just wonderful about all things circles. So let’s start with a cycle check in, as always. And so I’m going to share my version of a cycle check in, and then afterwards I’ll invite you to share with us how you connect to your cyclical nature in whatever way that means for you. So, for me, it’s evening time here in Australia, and we are right at the very end of summer. Just well, by the Gregorian calendar, we’re a week away from autumn beginning, but I can already feel the seasonal shifts. We are where are we? We’re about three weeks two, three weeks past la Mass here. So that point in the year, that comes after summer stor, some summer solstice, that’s halfway between the solstice and the equinox. So the sun is the evenings. It’s getting a bit darker already in the evenings, and we’re at that really humid point here now, the last hot days, it feels like. But where I live, we’re already getting some cool days. And, yeah, it just feels like we’re on that precipice kind of looking. The only way from here is down and inwards to autumn. We’re not there yet, but it’s kind of like you can see, looking over the edge of the cliff, what’s coming, but, yeah, it’s not here yet, so it just feels like this really interesting transitional point. We just passed a new moon. Where are we? So it was yesterday, so we’re 24 hours past the new moon and I’m day four of my menstrual cycle. And so feeling this sense of new beginnings emerging. But I’m still very much in my inner winter, so I feel slower and inwards and quite restful and less socializing. It sort of hasn’t come as easily to me over the last few days and I’ve just been sort of enjoying a bit more downtime, I think. So, yeah, it feels like I’m coming towards the end of that and going to be emerging on the upward swing into spring. So at the complete kind of opposite end of the cycle to where we are in nature, in the season here in the world. So that’s sort of all the contrasting energies that are at play for me at the minute. How about you? How do you feel in your cyclical self today?

 

 

[11:17] Mitle: Thank you. Thank you for that invitation. And actually, as I was listening to you and sort of tuning in, I was thinking how wonderful, if that’s how we each met each other, started with that question. Thank you. Well, I’m in the opposite hemisphere and so we are emerging as we head towards the equinox into spring and the days are lengthening. And I noticed yesterday when I was up for my new moon ritual that the light was already coming through the windows. And that was such a beautiful moment of recognition to start with. Just minutes are added to how much daylight we have and suddenly it is the light is returning, so that’s feeling beautiful. And the snowdrops and crocuses are out and the daffodils are blooming. And so we’re stepping in to that glorious spring energy, which for me has a real sense of hope every time I think it really embodies, that sense of hope. And so that’s what I’m leaning into. And in my own cycle, I now really lean into the Moon and where she is, because I haven’t had a period for about five months now. And before that, I hadn’t had a bleed for nine months. And so I’m in this dance of perimenopause and really kind of partnering or collaborating with the Moon even more as a guide and indicator of helping me align with the energy that I’m feeling and what’s happening in that wider cosmology, so to speak. So, yes, reaching into hope and spring and in this energy of the new Moon, feeling a little bit energized after last week, where I was feeling very needing to retreat and hibernate for the week, so I can feel myself emerging like a little door mouse peeking out to see what’s happening.

 

 

[13:24] Charlotte: Oh, I love that. Thank you for sharing. Yeah, I think it’s so interesting. I felt a twinge of envy when you said you could see the extra minutes of light being added to your day, and I thought, oh. And then I thought, well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? That shows my love of spring. And I think it is that sense of hope and possibility and it’s all ahead of you. Whereas now I sort of feel like the best is behind and it’s sort of and then how that kind of plays out into all of the life cycles aging as well. I guess that just gives me clues about how I feel, about how I might feel, particularly when I get to postmenopausal later life, maybe. I just think it’s interesting, these sort of thoughts and judgments that come up about how I feel about the seasonal cycle have the clues about how you can feel about these different cycles as well. And in my menstrual cycle, I think it can play out there, too. So I just noticed that when I was listening to you. And I thought, she’s got it all to come, the joys of your summer to come and spring and really loving hearing you talking about how you are following the moon cycle and letting that invite you into certain energies at different times and how you can feel that playing out for you. So how you’re feeling inwards with the dark darkening moon, the waning moon, and then this sense of renewal now. So that’s really interesting to hear that that does feel like a useful cycle to work with for you. So, yeah, thank you. Beautiful.

 

So we are here to talk about circles. So I think of you I think of you as the go to woman when it comes to circles. So you taught me how to hold circles a few years ago now, I think it was four years ago or so. When I think about circle work, I always think of you as being somebody who is like a keeper of the circles. And I’m really looking forward to this conversation because I think that we can share some really beautiful invitations and reflections and invite people to consider what circles mean to them and how we can work with circles in our lives and in our work and to just elaborate on the work of circles and the medicine that circles are bringing for these times that we’re in especially just love to ask to start with, just in case anyone is listening and maybe has no idea before. No experience, has never been to a circle before or has dabbled a little bit and got a bit of an understanding, but would like to expand on their understanding of circles. Could you share with us in your language what a circle is?

 

 

[17:09] Mitle: Yes, I’d love to. Thank you. And thank you so much for sharing that you really equate me with circles. I think it’s such a beautiful thing to hear that it’s reflected back to us in something that I really dedicate my life to since coming into contact with circles. So I appreciate that. And so the way that I often describe circles, and there are many different forms of circles, so I’m talking really about what I would call a sharing circle. Others may call it a listening circle, which is the usual format, particularly for women’s circles, but it can be used in many different spaces and places. And I see it very much as an intentional gathering. So we come together with a shared intention and a meaningful purpose. And so this differentiates it from just gathering.

 

Of course, circles can happen around a kitchen table or in a local cafe or when we come together in other forms, but it’s because of that shared intention and that commitment to a meaningful purpose. And then there are various principles that hold that space with us. So the circle holder may convene that. And then we have guidelines or agreements which really scaffold that space so that everybody understands what that intention is and what for meaningful purpose is it doesn’t control where the circle will go, but it allows us to know that what is shared there is held in confidence within the circle. It allows us to understand that we’re there to listen and to share. We may use different tools like a talking piece, to indicate who is talking, to help us step out of the way that we often engage in life, which may be not to listen, maybe to interrupt, maybe to feel the need to share or express an opinion on something that somebody else is saying or to be listening in such a way that actually what we’re doing is formulating our response.

 

And so when we come together, we often, if we’re in person, we would gather in a physical circle. And the idea being that we’re then breaking down the hierarchies that we’re so used to, that everybody takes an equal place in that circle. We can all see each other, we can all see the centre, we can all see above, we can all see the space between us. And we may not be seated at the same height, depending on people’s accessibility needs, but we’re gathering in that format. And the circle itself is a sacred shape across cultures and we see it repeated again and again in nature. It comes up in art and story for thousands of years. I can never offer a simple answer to this question, I feel I should be able to after all these years, but for me it brings in all of these elements. And what we’re really tapping into is an ancient practice, but it’s within our DNA, it’s within us. How we gather in this way, we just need these little reminders through the agreements, through the scaffolding, through the circle holder, to really reconnect with an ancient way of gathering, in order to listen, in order to be seen, in order to share, in order to gather for ceremony and ritual, for governance of our communities. And so it’s all of those elements. And of course we can gather online as well. We may not be sitting in a circle, but we can gather in the spirit of that idea. So yes, that’s not a succinct answer, but hopefully evokes a sense of how we gather. And then I often say after we come away, when we step away from our circle space, we may not know what actually just took part took place. So we may not know what happened, but we have a sense that we were altered and that the circle itself has sent a ripple out and other things have also been altered by that. We may not know what or how, but we get that sense. It’s a felt depth within us that by taking part in that gathering, something magical and medicinal has happened for us and for the greater whole.

 

[21:16] Charlotte: Thank you. And it’s quite interesting, I asked that question and felt this sense that in asking you in that way what is a circle it was kind of like, I have no idea what she’s going to say here, because I think the answer to is so expanded. And you have reflected back to me that my view of a circle has very much evolved since I first met you and trained with you and to now because I’ve held different types of circles for different intentions and different purposes, but also my own. Women’s circles have evolved a lot over the years as I have evolved, as my intention has evolved, as my experience my experience of holding that space, but also of my interest in different rituals and practices and kind of what I want to offer to the space has changed.

 

And also I work with other people, not just women, I work with young people too, through the first moon circles. So that’s a different kind of circle. But what you have said there is that it’s a process, it’s a format of gathering, and it’s a transformational process, which I really think it is, even if we’re just sat there like you mentioned there, about governance. And I think one of the things on the most fundamental levels that is such a transformation for us, which you did touch on without even needing to go into deep ritual and ceremony, I think one of the most transformational. Things we can get from it is this experience of being given the floor, so to speak, to be heard and to speak without interruption and to speak in a carefully created safe space with the guidelines that you spoke of that I think are just so important. So we all know what to expect. We all know what to expect from each other, from ourselves, from the experience. And I just think, where in the world do we get chance to speak without being interrupted and to just be accepted for who we are and for what our truth is? That’s very radical.

 

 

[23:43] Mitle: I think it’s radical, and it’s one of the sort of feedbacks that I’ve had over the time when I’ve guided people through circle who when I started holding circles, I really held them for people who’ve never been to circle before and offering that experience. And one of the things that people would often say to me is, oh, I feel so awkward when we don’t offer anything back to someone who’s shared, I want to say something, I want to offer something. And I was so curious about this because I seem to have an innate capacity to be willing to sit with someone, mostly, I think, because I think I have no idea. I don’t know what you should do. I have no desire to offer you advice. And I also have quite a strong reaction to receiving unsolicited advice. I think we all do. Somebody sent me something once saying all unsolicited advice is criticism. Pretty much. I was just like, yeah, in a nutshell, I can see that.

 

And so I was really curious about what is it? Why do we have this strong desire to offer something to people when they’re sharing? And it’s something I go deeper into my course presence because I think it is a cultural indoctrination, it is a societal expectation that we need to have an answer. So from our school, our education, getting answers, and there’s a right answer as well. So it’s not just having an answer or having an opinion. It then needs to be the right answer or the right opinion. And that when people are sharing. We have somehow been trained to believe that our role is to give that answer, or to give a response, or to give advice or to offer a solution. And yet, what most of us, in my experience, I know it’s what I’m craving. And from talking to people who gather in circle, what I think many of us are craving is just space to share and not have to then filter opinions and advice and solutions. And so often that’s not even what we’re seeking. Yes, of course we have everything within us. There is something so transformative in speaking freely, learning how to speak without censoring ourselves and knowing that we won’t then have to meet other people’s needs in order their needs to give us advice or to meet their discomfort. With our pain or to meet their challenges with our grief or to meet their pain that they’re now meeting and hearing our grief or their inability to meet our joy because that’s activating something within us. So when we gather in the circle space, there’s a lot going on. It’s this incredible time for us to share, but also it’s an incredible time for us to listen deeply to others and let whatever that activates within us work its magic in us. Know that we have to take self responsibility for that and learn how to not project that outwards. And so it’s like a cauldron or an alchemical process. This is all going on. And I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to put into words. And for many people who I’ve spoken to, who have attended circles or held circles, because there’s so many layers happening. We have the collective experience and then we have each individual participant’s experience and we have then how that is affecting the greater whole. And all of that’s happening together. And that’s magic and that’s the medicine of circles.

 

[27:18] Charlotte: Yeah, absolutely. And a lot of it’s unspoken as well. And it’s all happening consciously, unconsciously, across time and space beyond, like you say, the more than human world. It’s happening in this bigger picture because the ripples from it influence how we feel. Like I’ve often described when I was first starting circles, trying to explain it, explaining it as like a space for self care, where it was coming along to just be with yourself and look after yourself and be nurtured in the space. But on an individual level, it’s a release and a relief and a connection and being together with women who are willing to hold that space for you and receive that space as well, then the benefits of going to circle are limitless. I know it influences how I am at home. I get home and it’s late at night, for example, and kind of have a bit of a chat with my husband about how I’m feeling. And I might sort of debrief a little bit with how I’m feeling and my personal experience and not speaking to the circle because it’s a confidential, safe space. But I kind of feel like, oh yeah, what is it? something’s happened. I kind of want to process it a little bit or debrief it a little bit, but know that I will go to sleep and that magic continues. And I feel like over the next few days, it’s continuing and continuing to sink in and things have changed on all the layers. But I think it influences how I am as a parent, how I am in my work with fans, just in all the ways I genuinely feel like a circle is just a very powerful way of meeting yourself as well as others. And one of the other things I’d love to ask you about is about being around other people. So, for example, just from the experience of a woman’s circle, so with women, just using this as one example, so a lot of women have experiences of not feeling safe around other women and then going to a circle where there’s this, as you’ve described, intentional space. There’s use of guidelines to honour the reciprocity, the listening, the sharing, self responsibility, these kinds of things. And I find it’s a real place of learning to hear your voice and share your voice and speak your truth, and also to be surrounded by and witnessed and held by other women. And I’m curious as to whether you’ve experienced that and how circles might have supported you in that way or similar.

 

 

[30:30] Mitle: Yes, it’s such a wonderful question. I love it. So when I first came to circles, if I may, I just would like to share the first circle that I went to it and that really sparked that. I’m going to call it a healing journey because one of the things I’ve heard so often when I started holding circles from other women was I literally can’t think of anything worse than sitting in a circle with a group of women. And I just kept hearing that in different forms. And when I reflected back, I thought, I think I pretty much felt the same the way that I was brought up, I guess. And again, through our education, through the patriarchal system that we live in, through my brief career as a lawyer, through all of these places, there was this kind of rejection of wanting to spend a lot of time with them. And I did have beautiful friends. And then when I was pregnant, I attended my first circle. It was a red tent circle within our community. And I had never been part of a community of women in this way before and I found it quite challenging. So as a community of women, we built this red tent. The woman who was leading that was an incredible creatress and she had designed it, we made it, we put it up. And there was a festival in the town that I was living at at the time. And as part of that, circles were being held in this red tent. And so I went to my first red tent circle and the theme was birthing. And I gathered with a huge group of people who birthed women who had were sharing stories of their own birth, birth of their children, or a birth that they had attended in a role as a doula or companion. And it was one of those experiences that did change me forever. And I just remember sitting there and listening to these stories and I was quite newly pregnant. It was my third pregnancy. That River is my only child. And so I was quite tender. I was in those that raw stage of not really knowing what was going to happen and whether this pregnancy was going to go full term. And I was listening to stories of utter joy and utter devastation, the grief and the celebration all within this one space. And there was something so affirming and connecting and glorious in that experience. And I realized as they were coming around the circle and it was getting closer to my turn to speak, that I had been listening so intently that I’d forgotten to be anxious about it being my turn to speak. And as it got closer, I did have to start having that heart racing. Oh, gosh, I’ve now got to show into this space knowing also that you don’t have to share. So there was no pressure. I didn’t have to contribute my voice if I didn’t choose to. But I now recognize when your heart starts racing, that’s the invitation, isn’t it? That’s the invitation that it is your turn to speak. And it’s a prompt, it’s an activation to use your voice. And so, when it came to my turn, I was able to for the first time, share about my previous two pregnancies, how they had ended and all my fear about this pregnancy and be met with no judgment, no one passing me on the head saying, they’re there, dear, this one will be okay. There was no sympathy, but there was absolute collaboration with me in that moment, like that’s what it felt like. It was just being utterly loved and supported and seen and everyone knowing that that was enough. And it was an incredible experience.

 

And of course, I left that circle. Feeling changed and then probably forgot about that circle. Did have my beautiful baby boy, river, and started a business with my partner. And then we were learning how to be parents, we were learning how to be business partners. Everything shifted and changed. And I call it answering a calling and it’s literally like, I don’t know what to do. Do I leave my partner? What do I do? What’s happening here? And I just had this calling that was sit in circle, sit. It’s going to make me cry now. It’s like sit in circle. And so that’s what I did. I reached out, asked people if they’d like to sit in circle with me. And I sometimes use quite dismissive language about my own journey and say I kind of made it up as I went along, but I really believe that I was guided and that I was shown how to do this. And that circle, we started with six women and then it grew and I was able to rent a venue and we had about 14 women coming once every month for that circle. And it was the magic of medicine that I absolutely needed. And I think, as so often happens when we find the thing that is our thing, we want everybody to experience. And so that was kind of my next step, was helping other people experience it. And I’ve so gone down that my little story that I’ve forgotten what your question was. You were there.

 

 

[36:04] Charlotte: That’s beautiful. I was asking you about learning to feel safe in spaces with women. And I think that what you just shared really speaks to that, that sense of just being held and heard and nobody needing to fix you, like, wow, because you say we do. We are raised to come up with the right answer and say the right thing and do the right thing. And it’s so nice to just take that responsibility off of the women and just to relate and to relate from our hearts, just feeling like we empathy for each other or just hearing each other but not needing to do anything with it and knowing that that’s enough. I think that’s really powerful and exactly what I experience in circle, too. I get to take a really big breath and let go of some things I’ve been holding on to. But just that reminder. It’s been a really big healing experience for me from having a lot of unsafe experiences with other people, with women, with friends, as a child, with other girls in my class, for example, things like that, and just being able to experience that. It is something that you want to share with everyone. Like come. And I’ve actually made some of my best friends three circles. It’s so funny because you do, I feel like and I’ve said before that you can be friends with someone for years and not know them as well as you would know somebody who you’ve sat in one circle with. Do you agree?

 

 

[37:48] Mitle: Absolutely, yes. One of the things I say about circle as well, though, is that you may not find your best friends in Circle. That may happen and it may not happen. And I think our experience is that has happened, but also the connection and the experience of circle, I say, is broader and deeper than friendship. There’s something else in that deep connection. You don’t have to become best friends, you don’t have to have shared backgrounds, shared lifestyle, shared beliefs. And that, I think, is one of the medicinal aspects. And that’s why they can be so healing. And I think what you were speaking to really, is what is often referred as the sister wound. And through because I grew up in the UK, lived in Australia for a while, I’m now back in the UK. In those cultures, there is a lot of wounding for all sorts of things. And one of those is how in a patriarchal society, in a capitalist culture, we are pitted against each other often. And for girls and women, I think it starts quite young. And so we carry that on and we don’t have maybe as many examples of women friendships, women collaborating together, and that sort of seeps its way into our own relationships. And so when I started speaking to women who were saying, I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in a group of women, I think we must take note of that. Let’s not dismiss that as you taking us deeper into it. This is a thing. Now, I’m sure there are social scientists who have studied this and understand it, but from my own personal experience, and my experience in circle is that it is a shared experience. And circles can be an incredibly healing shared experience, even if we can’t explain it, even if we can’t prove it. That is what we reflect on when we offer our reflections about circle or what that experience was. It’s so often that it is this sort of gateway to tending to that sister wound, to knowing that for a myriad of reasons, we have often experienced harm from other women and we have often inflicted harm on other women in many different circumstances, whatever those may be. And circle. There’s room for circle, I think everywhere. In institutions, in corporations, all humans together. And women’s circles also have a very unique and special role in this time, I think. And so that healing aspect of that sister wound is one of the core parts that people reflect back. And it is really life changing, which I know is a big claim, but I think it is, and that’s what people say, that’s what people share with me.

 

 

[40:45] Charlotte: Yeah, absolutely. I do agree. I feel it, I feel the effects of that every single time, whether I’m attending or holding the circle. It’s one of the biggest feelings, I think, that we’re all just left with, and just to kind of bask in that beauty, that depth of connection is really, really special. So, Mitlé, I’d love to ask you, so you’ve told us about how you went to your first circle and then how you held your first circles, and how did you get from there into creating Circle school. Why do you believe that we need to have training, we need to have guidance, we need to have a kind of structure around holding circles so that we can begin holding our own circles? Why do you offer that training?

 

 

[41:50] Mitle: Thank you. Thank you for that question. I think I absolutely loved and adored the first circle that I attended as I shared. And when I came to holding my own circles, there was a recognition from me that I wanted to offer more scaffolding. There were no real guidelines at that circle, and so there were a lot of experienced circle goers and circle holders there. And so there would seem to be a bit of an unknown or to me, unknown language, an unknown structure. And so I was very aware that as someone new to holding circles and inviting people who were new to circle in that I felt it required more scaffolding. And I think part of that was, I’m a former litigation lawyer. I was sort of channeling a little bit of that in terms of how do I create a safer space, how do I help everyone who attends understand that shared intention and the meaningful purpose of this gathering, and therefore, I need to to offer something. And so that’s the first guidelines I wrote was so that we understood really what was expected of each of us and how this would work. Because if you’ve never stepped into that space before, you need some help. You need some support to understand how this process works. And of course, once you’re experienced in it I was going to say once you’re experienced in it, sort of, you can take it for granted.

 

But actually, I’ve recognized that even when you gather experienced circle holders together, reminders of how this works can be very helpful, because I think there’s such a tendency to go back into how we interact in social settings. I decided to create, I guess, my own structure, my own methodology for creating my circles each month. And people started to ask me if I could help them create their circles.

 

People were traveling to come to them. And then it was the online world, people who couldn’t come to my circles. And I asked if anyone was interested if I perhaps had put together a guidebook or something. And there was a resounding, yes, please. So that’s what I did. I popped it all into a guidebook to start with, all into a sort of guidebook to help people create their own circles, because my philosophy has stayed the same, which is that I don’t teach you how to hold my circles. I guide you to create your own. And I’ve tangled with that sometimes because it means that what I offer in terms of a training and I kind of tend to call it an untraining or an apprenticeship is my current favorite word that we’re apprenticing with circle, rather than I’m teaching you how to hold your circles. So, yes, there’s a methodology for you to apply. It’s like a framework that you can then apply depending on what your intention is, what is the purpose of your circles.

 

And so I sit in that slightly odd space. I think that if you want to hold circles, many, many people reach out to me because they would like guidance, and they would like some help, and they would like some direction on how to do that. And I can offer that. I have that. I’ve spent a lot of time understanding the processor circle, understanding the architecture, really, in my own way, researching why it works, how it works. And so I can offer that. And I think if we want to step into things, then having help along the way is a brilliant thing. We don’t all have to do that. And so when I created Circle School, it was to meet a request from others, and it’s evolved over time. As you know, it started off as a one day workshop that I held in Brisbane. Then it became a two day workshop, then it became a three day workshop. And actually, I didn’t really use that word workshop. It was then, like, three days in circle, really experiencing circle and understanding the architecture and process. Then I took it online before when we all went online before that time. And it’s similar evolution. It was a nine week immersion, then a twelve week immersion, then a 14 week immersion. And now I’m thinking about, you know, should it be six months? Because it really is that deep dive apprenticeship with circle as the teacher.

 

And I think one as part of your question was, was why training? And I always worry a little bit because I wasn’t trained in Circle. I did follow the breadcrumbs and really deepened myself into understanding it as an ancient tradition going back through my own cultural heritage to understand that, yes, my ancestors would have gathered in circle thousands of years ago and kind of follow that her story through, that humans would have gathered in circle, then followed from when? I guess in some of those feminist waves, circles became a way for people to once again gather and to listen to each other. How circles can be used in activism circles, activism spaces. And so there’s all these different places that the form of circle is used. And so I really drew on all of that and my understanding in terms of how do I now create space in this moment of time, in these times of transition and change. And I think it can be helpful to lean in to the work that somebody else has done and help guide you to create your own circles. So I think that the training or the untraining, the scaffolding, can just be a really powerful way to help people get started and then create their own along the way. And that’s always been my approach. So I don’t offer templates, I don’t offer a set form, but I do offer a lot of helpful ideas and maps. I call it a circle map that you can sort of draw on to create your own.

 

 

[48:00] Charlotte: Yeah, beautiful. I’ve learned so much from you over the years. The first circle that I ever went to was actually the training that I went to with you. And I didn’t know really what I was getting myself in for. I didn’t really understand why I was signing up to do this. I’ll use the word training, for want of a better word, with you. It was this incredible magnetic pull, this sort of like you say, following the breadcrumbs. But I felt that there was something really powerful in it. And I’d heard you speaking on a podcast about it and don’t even know how I found that. It just sort of appeared magically. The universe truly conspiring to get me in the door. And I remember the first day of the training and you held a circle, and I was like, what is this? What are you doing? I had actually no idea, but found myself in it. I was like, wow. Oh my gosh. It was a very, very powerful moment. And then to go from that into understanding, the deeper, this is what I just experienced. And now this is why you experience that and how you experience that and how this experience was crafted and contained with the safety structures and the guidelines and all the other things that you put in place to really hold that nurturing space so that people can come and be vulnerable and drop into another dimension, really. And to have that experience. And I really felt firsthand that I was truly apprenticing with circle at that time. It really felt like that. It was like, oh, okay. I kind of learned a lot. I remember at one point actually interrupting somebody else when we were doing small group work and being lovingly advised. We’re listening, we’re not interrupting when somebody else is speaking. And the way that was expressed to me was with the deepest love. And I remember feeling like, oh, wow, that was a really powerful moment to receive, just a simple invitation to listen. And I wouldn’t have had that, I think, if I’d have started holding circles without really understanding what was happening and why and the history of it, for sure, or the history and really how we can weave circles together to be these experiences, but with deep, deep structure. And this container being said as well, the integrity of it, I wouldn’t have been able to hold the circles that I hold if I’d have not experienced that and learned that. So it’s been really powerful, and it’s a continuous learning process. Every circle teaches me something else, whether online or in person. So I’m really grateful that you did put your training together. I don’t want to use the word training, but you know what I mean.

 

 

[51:24] Mitle: I think the word training is fine. It’s just one of those things. I think we are grasping for new language. That’s what my experience of life at the moment is. We’re looking for new language, and sometimes that can feel a bit contrived. And also, I think it is relevant for us to be questioning the language we’re using in the context in which we’re using it. And I so appreciate that reflection. I mean, the Sydney training that you came to, let’s call it, that, was particularly for all of us, I think. And for me, I really felt that training was an initiation. It’s almost like practice runs, which had been wonderful, but that one was a real initiation to me that was like this this is what you’re here for. You take this and there’s another stage, and this will keep evolving and it’ll keep developing. And whenever I’ve had moments of like, I don’t even know, why am I doing this? There’s millions of trainings out there now. When I started. If you googled, I couldn’t find anything. That’s really the reason I wasn’t invested in somebody else’s training, because I couldn’t find one at the time, whereas now there’s so many, and that is amazing and wonderful, and then also stirs a little pot of self doubt every now and again and thinks, well, what am I offering? I’m not offering a certification. I’m not offering a guarantee of anything, but I just feel that what I am offering is what you just described, and it’s an experience, it’s an immersion, it’s a connection to circle. It’s a willingness to apprentice with Circle. And I work with people who are already deeply skilled in their craft or their modality or their work in the world. And I could have and I did offer a certification for a while, and there are these different paths I could have taken with Circle school.

 

At the moment, where I’m at is that what often these practitioners are asking me for, is I really want to hold circles for my community, my clients, and I don’t want to invest huge amounts of money and time to do that, because I am already skilled in many, many ways. And that was what I am now tending to. It’s that space, because we need more circle holders. I really do think that I get requests all the time for people looking for circles. And I live in an area now where there are a lot of circles happening, and yet people are still looking for a circle, because that approach that I have, I really think everyone has a unique thread to offer into the circle movement. And we will find our circle. Not every circle is for everybody, and not every circle experience may be life changing for you, but there will be a circle experience that is that I’m sure of, and there will be a circle holder that is the one to meet you in that capacity or that space. And so coming to somebody who has invested their time and energy in understanding the architecture of a circle, understanding that process, and I think what you were speaking to is really my approach was almost I reverse engineered what I was doing. That’s how those three days came about. It’s like, okay, this is how I hold it. I need to take this apart step by step as to how I got here. And I think that matters. I think understanding the architecture, understanding the history, understanding the future of Circles as well. What’s the movement you want to contribute to? What is the world that we want to contribute to, and how are Circles contributing to? That, for me, is a really powerful part of it, rather than a done for you template, which absolutely serves a purpose too. And they can be really useful to get started. But the people that I’m working with, the people who are coming to me, are those who want to apply what they already have and create their circle around that.

 

 

[55:32] Charlotte: Yes, I agree, because there were we’ve talked about women’s circles here, but the circles for everybody in all kinds of different ways. And what I have done with what I learnt from you is I have created my own women’s circles. But then the circle almost like the concept or the you said the spirit of a circle, almost like the spirit of a circle has infused everything that I actually do. And I’ve taken what you have taught me into the way I might hold space one on one over zoom for coaching, or I’ve said before that it comes into my relationship as well. I forget that a lot and I just go back to normal interaction with my husband. But sometimes circle principles can be really helpful in listening and being heard and into friendships and into all kinds of things, really. And I’ve also taken that and created First Moon Circles with it, which is a menstrual education circle for nine to twelve year olds. And we have a mother daughter blessing as well, included in that. And it’s very much held as a circle. And it might not be a sharing circle. Always there’s more kind of educational components to it. There’s different elements within that. But it’s held very much in the spirit of a circle for so many of the reasons that we’ve talked about here, about giving children experience of being heard and listening and interacting and having safe space to engage with each other and to be with themselves and to understand guidelines. And for the mums and the carers to come in as well and to experience that. And part of it is I also infuse into that a rite of passage experience. So it’s this sense of it’s it might not be happening exactly around the time of a child’s first period, for example, but it’s a special occasion, it’s this honoring, it’s this recognition of a transition from one phase to the next. And so different rites of passage experiences can look like different things, but it’s very much in the sense of we here to honor, to celebrate, to share wisdom, to guide, but it’s done in that way. So what I’m saying is I’ve also imbued what I’m doing with this circle principle, and that’s very powerful. And I know that the women that you work with, the people you work with, who have learnt from you, who you’re mentoring, are doing very similar things. They’re taking the idea of a circle, these principles, the process, and like you say, putting it into either making their own circles for people or putting that sense of the circle into their work. And I think that circles can be for so many, they might not look like a straight up circle, they can be different kinds of circles. So, yeah, tell us a bit about what you’re seeing in terms of how different types of circles and some of the different circles you’ve done as well, because you’ve been doing different circles, not just for women as well, and not just in a kind of training sense. Would you share with us a bit more about how you’re using circles to support other groups of people at different times of life yeah. For change in those different ways.

 

 

[59:30] Mitle: Yeah. Thank you so much. And yes, I mean, I loved, I love the form that circles offer and I think that they can be applied and used and embraced in so many different settings. And so I started with women’s sharing circles, and in some areas they may be called listening circles, but they involve sharing and listening. And I have, you know, played with that format in different ways, both in in person and online.

 

A couple of years ago, I ran a twelve month online circle called the crone coven, and I was a part of that. It was awesome. You were. And actually that’s knocking at the door to come back, I think. So one of the things, again, just to pick up on this idea of how circles infuse our lives, the year I ran the crone coven, it was one of those ideas inspired ideas that I ran with. And I didn’t know then that I was going to go really fully into my first challenging perimenopausal year. So I was aware that I was in perimenopause and I created the crown cover. And I think I said at the close of that, that as a group, you saved me. I had a dreadful year for all sorts of reasons my mental health really struggled. But I had a circle to go to twice a month for twelve months. And that was my thread, that was my safety thread that year through ups and downs, emotional roller coasters, and being surrounded by women in we had some younger women in there, a lot of women in midlife and postmenopausal women. And being able to come to that place twice a month was phenomenal.

 

And I started off with quite structured circles at the beginning to really explore the archetype of the crone. And very quickly they fell away and we just gathered in the rawness and the simplicity of sharing circles and just came and very simple questions of what is most present, where is this circle going? And we also used what I call council gatherings, which I first learned as a form from Danielle Dulski. I was part of her heathens in business group. And these are a form of discernment circle. And so our second circle of the month, we would come with a question, a provocation, an inquiry, and then each of us in the circle would take a role, maybe a deity or a Celtic tree or an archetype, and respond to that question through that energy. You can also respond as who you are, but it’s a really beautiful way to connect with another part of us. And so it’s this gorgeous form of circle that can help us uncover, in this case, uncover answers. Not the answer, but answers and maybe more questions and maybe even a solution. But it’s without actually telling people what to do. And we don’t contradict one another and we don’t disagree with somebody else. It’s this beautiful way of offering things into the central cauldron which can be stirred up for whoever bought that question. And that was real medicine for me that year as well. Just facilitating. That was incredible.

 

And so coming out of that, I’ve had more experiments with circles. My current experiment, I should call it the experiment, but I’m running another twelve months. But this time it’s a mother and son circle. And you know me well, so when I decide to do something, I do like to do it for twelve months. I like to put it all in, not just have a dabble, let’s be fully committed to this. And so I really looked around and river and I have a beautiful relationship and he’s turned nine last year. And that child developmental stage, this is when our children start to turn away from us and they start to be more influenced by their peers and it’s a really interesting developmental time. And I home educate as well. And I thought really, he had some great friends and I’m friends with their mothers. And I think it would be really lovely if we gathered in this intentional way rather than just on our play dates or our home ed days. What if we gathered in circle with these boys and A taught them about the Circle process and offered them they’re boys growing in who knows what they’re growing into, but at the moment, still in a patriarchal world in the UK at the moment, the level of misogyny and our headlines is phenomenal. And we are guiding these boys into that world. So how can we contribute to them being able to navigate that and stay true to who they are, who we can see they are now? And of course the influences of the likes of I don’t want to mention him, but these big misogynistic influences whose schools are now having to introduce programs to try and counter that message. And so that’s where it stemmed from. Again, so often for me, the Circle is I create what I’m seeking. And we started that. We’re in two months, this will be our third month of gathering. March will be our third month of gathering. And I don’t like to call it a curriculum, but I have put together sort of themes for the twelve months.

 

So we’re exploring, we started off with them exploring their qualities and quirks and who they are and really acknowledging, accepting themselves. Last month we explored friendship, what does that mean, how do we support each other, et cetera. Next month we’re exploring, expressing our feelings and listening to others and of course they get that beautiful experience within the Circle. We’ve got lots of other topics coming up, including questioning gender stereotypes, puberty, looking at sex as sacred activism, conflict resolution and peace building and offering them this opportunity and us as their mothers and caregivers. To embrace the circle process, to feel what it’s like to be in those intimate spaces, to feel safe with one another. To understand guidelines, to explore topics that may be a little bit tricky and a little bit icky and a little bit complex. And to do that together. And one of the things I actually because I knew we were talking, so I just wanted to share this with you because it was such a beautiful reflection from our last one. I received this and I have her permission to share. She said, thank you so much for giving us all this amazing opportunity to deepen our relationships, self reflection skills and plant seeds for emotional resilience and strength for our boys and ourselves. And I shared that because I thought it was just such a succinct reflection on the process that we’re going through and that is still unfolding. And actually she is the founder of a community interest company called Revolutionary Women who stepped in to sort of support me in order to create this. But it’s using everything I knew from sharing circles and gathering and then going, okay, how do I adapt this to gather with mothers and boys? And it’s a learning curve for me and I am mapping that learning curve and hopefully I’ll be able to have something really of use to offer other communities. Who want to do this as well, other parents who may want to do this. And I’ve had some fathers reach out to me who want to start father in some circles. And I’ve had the mother of a non binary child reach out to me because there are all these spaces for our children. If we can offer these spaces for our children, that really matters and different people will be stepping in to offer those and hold those. But we can come back to the structure and form and architecture and process of the sharing circle and allow it to meet the needs of that group. And I think that is one of the powers of circle. I also think I’m really dreadful answering questions. I’m like, I don’t know where I’ve gone now. It’s like when I come into a room and I can’t remember where I’m there, I am. Anyway, you answered that.

 

 

[01:08:08] Charlotte: That was a big question. I asked a really big question because I know that you do so many different things. And you say you go all in and commit, and I really gratefully receive your insights into what you have created, why you have created it, how you’re creating it, what the experience of that is so far, and how it’s unfolding for you as the Space Holder and for those who are coming as well, and what you’re learning from that process. And for one thing, I’m asked all the time about holding circles for children of other genders and mother son circles as well, and being able to teach boys particularly about periods and puberty and mental cycle awareness that they might not experience themselves if they’re in a male body. Not going to have menstrual cycles themselves, but to be able to, like you said about your intention is to share as well with how you’ve learned this. And I think that that’s really powerful because when I think about how I’d approach that, I kind of think, oh, I’m not really sure, and is that my place to do that? And what could my contribution be? And I think that we can have this collaborative approach as a community of sharing templates and ideas and how we can do this. This is just how it has to be, but this is the way I have done it and this is what I’m giving you. And then make of that what you will. And I do that through first moons and the training that I have. Here’s a lesson plan, here’s the process that I guide. Take this. You can either do it the same way or make it your own and adjust that.

 

And what I’m hearing is that you have that sense of finding your own way with the mother son circles and knowing that rather than us all being competitive and keeping our knowledge to ourselves, necessarily we can share and we can do this in a community approach. And so I think that that’s brilliant. If anyone’s listening, going, I’d really like to do that. Potentially, this might be something that you would share at some point. But I also think it’s really important that, as you said about our intention for these things, like when we recreate something, it’s because we have an intention around it. Maybe it’s something that we need or needed beforehand, and that’s why I do the work that I do. It. What did I need? And it’s sort of this real sense of inner child healing, almost, and wanting to give that back. But for anyone who’s listening, who wants to create their own circles in any kind of format or do any kind of guiding work using circle principles, what I’m really hearing from you is coming back to that intention of why, and then how can I facilitate that? How can I imbue that with safety and structure and holding for it to be a nurturing space and not a harmful space as well? Perhaps. But there’s just so much scope for doing this kind of work. And I’ve joined your growth membership this year, which I’m thrilled to be a part of, which is for circle holders to come together. And I love the way you say it’s about Cope inspiring. And how else can we use our circle skills? There’s such a potential for circles to change the world, to offer healing and transformational spaces. And I do think it’s medicinal for our times.

 

 

[01:12:22] Mitle: Yeah. Thank you. And I think just picking up on those circle school. Circle school has evolved. When I started, I was helping first time circle holders hold their first circles. And as that evolves, and as I evolved and one of the reasons I made circle skills, which is a self led immersion, is because I really wanted to capture I realized that you always kind of evolved past something. So when people who were just starting on their circle journey were coming to me, I really wanted to capture what I’ve learned and drawn on over the last nearly decade since I attended my first circle to this point. And so that is there now people can access that. It’s a beautiful immersion into the art, craft, and skill of creating your own circles. And then the grove, that’s where I feel I’m going now. I’m working with experienced circle holders, and we’re starting to ask different questions, not how can I hold a circle, but where are we taking circles? How can these contribute to the world that we’re in? And how can we support each other in that? Using, again, the form and architecture and process of circle to come into a space together, and, yes, collaborate and conspire and genuine collaborations, learn how to do that really well and learn how to conspire together. How do we share ideas? How do we support each other in a world in which most of us, the people I work with when I say most of us, I mean the people who come into the grove, who come to me, is because we are holding circles as part of our business. And so we’re holding this incredible ancient tradition. We’re contributing to a modern movement, and it’s what is sustaining us and our families. And so there’s moving pieces here. And I think that that is the beauty of agreeing to come together and share those. Not because we’re all holding circles, some of us have got circle trainings, but it’s stepping so far beyond being in competition with one another and really that beloved feeling that circles on the answer, as you said, circles on the answer. And how do we weave that together across the globe, around the world, and bring it back into our immediate communities? How do we share those ideas and allow them to inform our work with recognition and acknowledgement and sisterhood support, community support. And community, I know, is a complex word when we’re talking about online spaces, because community is usually rooted in place. But I do think with intention and meaningful purpose, we can create a new type of community that still draws on those principles. And that matters because we are in times of transition and change, and maybe we always are, but this is the one that we’re in.

 

[01:15:20] Charlotte: Yeah. Beautiful. So much in there. Thank you so much, Mitlé. So where can people find you, please, if they want to be in your world and learn with you?

 

[01:15:34] Mitle: Thank you. So my website is Mitlésalby.com, or you can connect with me on Instagram, which is Circle School with Mitlé, and I’m also on substack at Circle School with Mitlé. And you can subscribe to my bloggy lettery thing there.

 

[01:15:52] Charlotte: Which I highly recommend because it’s gorgeous writing and, yeah, go check it out. Thank you so much. Thank you for a fabulous conversation that has reminded me of many things that I had forgotten about as well, about why I love circles so much and why it’s so important to me. And I hope that this is inspiring for people to listen to. And I’m really grateful that we got to weave this together. Thank you.

 

[01:16:27] Mitle: Thank you. Thank you so much. It was an absolute joy to join you. Thank you.

[01:16:34] Charlotte: Thank you so much for listening in. If you’re loving this podcast and you’d love to help me spread the wisdom shared, please leave a review or rating or share this with somebody who you think would love to listen in.

 

I’m really passionate about creating ripples of change and getting this information to more women, girls, and people with a cycle so that they can reclaim their cyclic natures, too. And if you’d love to dive in deeper with learning more about how to connect with your cycle and might surf passengers, come and join our free Wild Flow Circle community. Or choose a course and learn with me on my online learning hub. Until next time be well and go with the flow of your cyclical nature.

meet your host

Charlotte Pointeaux

Charlotte Pointeaux

Charlotte Pointeaux is an Internationally Award-Winning triple-Certified Coach, Youth Mentor, Host of Wild Flow Podcast, a sought-after guest menstrual educator and speaker. She is a Shamanic Womancrafter, a Priestess of the Cycle Mysteries.

Charlotte’s work as a Wild Feminine Cycle Coach weaves together shamanic womb healing and rite of passage work with menstrual cycle awareness and feminine embodiment tools, to guide women through their transformational journey of reclaiming their wild feminine cyclic powers to expressing their big magick as a sacred leader.

Charlotte founded First Moon Circles®, a renowned facilitator training program, to train new menstrual educators to prepare, honour and celebrate children and their care-givers at menarche (their first period). To date, she has trained almost 100 facilitators across 5 continents and is on a mission to infuse families, friendships, classrooms and communities with period positivity and menstrually inclusive practices.

Download your free menstrual magick guide by subscribing to my newsletter, and discover my coaching, courses and short classes at www.charlottepointeaux.com/coaching.

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