The Girls Stand in the Center: Re-making an Ancient Container
We begin with an inspiring vision of the Ancient Container which holds the girls. We form the container, and are held in turn. Then onto a survey of the practical picture of the circle process including community, schedule, preparation, rhythm, leadership, inner work, and some examples of what a Circle looks like for different aged girls. You’ll digest the top-level view of the key elements of structuring a multi-month Girls’ Circle that is safe, on-message, effective, energized and enspirited.
Map of Well-being: Physical, Emotional, Social and Spiritual
In a Coming of Age Circle, girls are empowered to take responsibility for these four facets of their well-being. Physical well-being is the foundation; you may choose to include anything from building a fire, to growing a garden, to financial literacy to understanding and honoring a women’s monthly cycling. Circles for younger girls too are developed with this map as a guide; the intended outcomes and experiential aims are less weighty but no less engaging and empowering. You’ll know the scope of each of the four facets of well-being, and what types of activities and teaching messages support them.
Rhythm is the friend of a Girl’s Circle in so many ways. In this session, you’ll discover the rhythm of gathering – how often you meet, how long you meet, and where you meet – affects the energy and effectiveness of a Girls’ Circle, and how this varies by the age of the girls. You’ll learn ways of attending to the space in between gatherings: how to stay connected and fruitful through check ins, tasks and (for older girls) challenges. Most of all, you will learn about the tools for managing the energy and rhythm of one session of a Girls’ Circle, including
- In and out breaths;
- The Sonata Planner tool;
- Intuitive responsiveness (a.k.a., winging it, in a good way).
Guiding Principles and Desired Outcomes
What We Wish for our Girls, What Truths or Principles Will Guide Us, and our Teaching Messages. You will learn why clear intentions are vital to your success. You will begin to develop your Desired Outcomes and Guiding Principles for your Circle (which will likely evolve over time). You’ll learn how the Teaching Messages for each Circle are developed, drawing from the Map of Well-Being, your Desired Outcomes, and your Guiding Principles.
Parents too are initiated through collaboration, skill-building, trying on new parenting approaches, and inner work. Moms typically meet monthly, both before and subsequent to the launch of the Girls’ Circle. Mom’s Circles are designed to be replenishing and fun overall, but also challenging and transformative. The fact that moms are circling too has a *strong* positive impact on their daughters as individuals and as a Circle of Girls. We’ll review the key elements of a basic Mom’s Circle and options for formats. We’ll talk about the choice of whether to include one or more mentors in some or all of your gatherings. We’ll talk about shared leadership, collaborative decision-making, and paths for study and inner work.
P.S. Dad are important too! We’ll touch on the key elements of Dad’s Gatherings and fathering a daughter, and follow up with some Red Tents on these topics.
Emotional and Social Well-Being
Teaching emotional intelligence (EQ) through modeling, experience, dialogue, stories and skillful verbalization is a central vital facet of girls’ empowerment for both parents and mentors. Key EQ skills include:
- Identifying, accepting, expressing and releasing one’s emotions
- Seeing your emotions as allies with an important message
- Empathizing and responding appropriately to the feeling of others.
You’ll learn more about these EQ skills as well as (a) ways to model EQ as a parent or mentor, (b) the importance of your inner work, and (c) core teaching messages for a Girls’ Circle and (d) examples of Circle activities for cultivating EQ.
Many of the skills needed skills to care for one’s Social Well-Being are one and the same with EQ skills. You’ll learn which social skills and topics are generally most engaging for girls of different ages, and receive detailed instructions for leading some superbly fun and effective activities for your Girls’ Circles.
Body Sovereignty + Pleasure => Sexual Well-Being
Overview: Body sovereignty; healthy boundaries; healthy relationships; the Super Protective Factor; positive body image; ; media literacy; pleasure as a guide rather than a taboo. We’ll cover these topics broadly, including examples of how to incorporate them into Girls’ Circles of different aged girls. Some of this material applies especially to parents, but it is important for non-parent mentors to understand, and a very powerful conversation for us as we connect with our experiences as girls and what messages about our body and our pleasure and our changing bodies that we received.
Understanding and Honoring Menstruation
Overview: Understanding how menstruation works; honoring menstruation; preparing a Moon Basket; celebrating menarche; Coming of Age as an adolescent Rite of Passage; charting and surfing one’s monthly hormonal cycles; alternative and conventional menstrual products; menstrual myths and taboos; cultural menstrual shame and embarrassment; positive menstrual traditions old and new. An overview of these important topics with examples of how to incorporate them into Girls’ Circles of different aged girls.
Puberty and Sexuality
Overview of age-appropriate sex education ranging from masturbation, intercourse, alternatives to intercourse, birth control, STIs, the gender spectrum. You’ll learn about the Super-Protective Factor, the Dutch Model, and the importance of open, down-to-earth, relaxed parent-child conversations about all things related to bodies, relationships and sexuality.
Connecting with one’s intuition or inner knowing is an essential life skill that helps one make choices that are wise, safe and life-serving. And of course, it is also much more than that, but learning about it as a key component of one’s Inner Guidance System is a good introduction for girls, and it’s also an angle that draws in many parents.
Generations ago, the gift of intuition was passed down from mother to daughter – and here I am thinking of the story of Vaselisa the Wise, particularly as told by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in “Women Who Run with the Wolves”. I suggest you read the story before this session.
You’ll learn learn a variety of engaging activities where you and the girls may explore and practice the art of intuitive knowing. Girls really enjoy this, and there are so many cool, awakening, fun intuition-cultivating activities.
Ceremony, Coming of Age and Transformative Rites of Passage.
In this session, we’ll look at the role of ritual and ceremony in how you gather in circle each time as well as how you may choose to celebrate or acknowledge completion points in your overall process. You’ll learn the basic elements and how to adapt them according to the age of your girls and your group’s preferred way to connect with the Divine, with the Earth, with the Universe, with Energy.
The circles I guide draw from a number of wisdom traditions including Buddhist, Taoist, pagan, Native American and shamanic, and yet are completely secular and appropriate for girls of all open-minded religious/spiritual/philosophical backgrounds. I choose these elements according to my sense of the needs of the girls, which is most often to acknowledge the Feminine with the Divine, to be fed and grounded by the boundless love of Mother Earth, to be bathed by the golden light of acceptance and blessing of Father Sky, and to sense the Beauty and Mystery that is within us and all around us. We talk about what we’re going to do before we begin, and we adapt and experiment according to the wishes of the girls. However, your Circle may be less “spiritual” or may be centered on one belief system. So you’ll learn how to adapt the key elements of circling to match your aims and the needs of your girls.
I will also offer an overview of ceremonial elements that you may wish to incorporate into your process, such as Coming of Age Celebration, menarche ritual or a Red Party, and building a Willow Lodge. And I’ll describe the difference between a developmental Coming of Age process and a transformative adolescent Rites of Passage process.
Charting Your Course.
You will identify your core teaching messages, drawing from the Map of Well-being, your Guiding Principles, and your Desired Outcomes. Then we will pencil them into your imagined calendar of Girl Circles and begin to fill in the stories and activities that will support what you will be teaching. Exciting!
The Gift is being present in every step of the process. Doingness is necessary, but we miss the boat without Beingness.
We pull together and reflect on what we’ve learned and experienced, and aim to see the Girls’ Circle process as a artful balance of Doingness and Beingness, and to recognize it as a Holistic Whole, which we’ll embellish with particular attention to:
- beginnings (including a how to create excitement in advance with a very special invitations to the girls that will knock their socks off),
- middles (including a round up of arts, crafts and skills projects that girls love) and
- endings (which are actually continuations, but still deserve to be honored as a turning point).
It’s the end of the course, but not of our connection. JOYW stands by every student as they plan, launch and lead their Girls’ Circles. There’s no end date to access to the Red Tent Video Library, invitations to our thrice-monthly Virtual Red Tents, and online support and dialogue with the amazing JOYW community.