I remember feeling the yearning, years ago, to gather with women in circle. I poked around, but as far as I knew, no one was hosting women’s circles in Brooklyn. The closest I came to something like it was a 12-week long weekly gathering, which I immediately bowed out of when I found out it was an online thing. Nothing wrong with telecircles, but what I craved for was an in-the-flesh, across-from-me kind of visceral experience.
And then I though- “hey, why don’t I just start one?”
And on to start one I went. I spent hours upon hours reaching out to women, promoting it online, putting up posters around the hood– the full monty. It was also around this time that I began to hear people’s success stories of “creating financial abundance while being of service.” It felt like there were more and more people who were thriving financially doing spiritual work. This was at the heels of having just walked away from a career in museums, and the idea of being able to support myself teaching yoga and leading circles seemed like a dream. And so, I took a stab at it.
Getting the circle started was like pulling teeth and herding cats simultaneously. I eventually gave up because it didn’t really take off. It did, but it didn’t. It took way too much effort and it wasn’t really reaching many women. Looking back, of course, the fact that I expected this to be some kind of income revenue gig thing most definitely tainted the energy of the circle. Heck, it probably repelled women right and left.
It was the classic example of impulsive masculine energy combined with a misunderstanding of how money and spiritual work support one another. And even though my intention to just be with women may have been pure, I see now that I had to go through a heck of a lot more life training to truly be able to hold space.
I also had to learn a thing or two about desires, feminine energy, and trusting in right timing.
Here’s the thing about my desire to gather with women: I had identified it, and without giving so much as a minute to breathe space into it, I took off and started doing the things I thought needed to get done in order to make it happen. I struggled and it was exhausting. My desire led me to burn out.
Which didn’t sit quite right with what I had recently learned about desires from the School of Womanly Arts, a training I attended a few months prior to starting the circle. At the school, I had learned that desires are things which we must listen to and heed.
But after my experience with the circle, I became disillusioned with desires. Kinda put them in the back of my sock drawer, so to speak. It felt like one of those things that worked for everyone else but me.
Years passed, and I continued my studies in the sacred arts, be they prayer ceremonies or movement classes. I slowly began to have a better understanding of the opposite energies of masculine and feminine, and consciously began to lean in more towards my feminine. Meaning, I began to slow down and be more receptive.
Looking over this past year, I see with more clarity how this has served me. My year started quite rocky: the relationship between me and my child’s father ended. I had virtually no money. I had moved to a place where I knew very few people. I was even farther away from the place I *really* desired to be (Hawaii). Shit had hit the fan and frankly, with a newborn constantly in one arm, it became awfully hard to clean it from all the places it had landed, so to speak.
It was precisely at this time that I reached out to my friend Chris Maddox, who had invited me the previous year to lead Qoya at her Wild Woman Fest. She was starting a new cycle of Wild Woman Circle Leader Training, and I asked her to be part of it. I told her I didn’t have the funds but would be willing to do any exchange she proposed. My wounds were too fresh, and I didn’t share with her all that was going on, but she didn’t hesitate to invite me to partake in the training as her guest.
I also reached out to my friend Shola, one of the most beautiful singers I know. She was about to start a sacred song workshop in Brooklyn, and being carless and in Western Mass, I begged her to youtube in. Not long after, my path crossed with Meggan Jane Watterson’s, and she too allowed me to be a guest in her weekly telecircle, “How To Love Yourself.”
All of this to say: shit hit the fan, and unlike previous shit-hitting-the-fan times when I would wail without end in sight, this time I wailed but quickly reached out to sisterhood to hold me. I knew that I had to focus my energy on sacred work.
Yes, my relationship ended, but as Goddess Kali is not afraid to teach you, with every end comes a new beginning. Since the “end” of our relationship, my partner and I have reached new heights of intimacy that weave together patience, communication, love and respect. No, we’re not “together.” But in truly the most important ways, we are together.
The other day I sat down to watch Joy (a Jennifer Lawrence flick), and in one pivotal scene, where Jennifer’s character is asking money for her new business venture, her father looks over at her ex-husband who’s standing behind her and asks, “What is he doing here?” She wasted no time answering, “He is the father of our children. And my friend. And he looks out for me.” Totally nails my own relationship.
Not many people get it. I’ve learned that in our culture, there is a black/white polarity to relationships. You’re either with someone or your not. And it’s taken me a long time to share this, but where I’m at with my partner is my own way of rebelling against what our society expects of us. We have molded what works for us, and have devoted to continue to change and evolve as needed over time. I also realize that in my lifetime, we have shifted something MAJOR in my maternal bloodline: for the first time in at least 3 generations, there is a father who is present and has a healthy relationship with his child. And equally important, our relationship ending has set me on the path that I truly need to be on: that of self-love.
So my child has a devoted father, they have stars in their eyes for each other, and I have a friend who looks out for me. I’ll take it.
That’s been my year. I see with clarity now how practicing being in my feminine and allowing to be guided led me to meet this man, have this child, and end up in this part of the world. Which, despite what I “thought” I desired, is where I now see I am meant to be.
Which brings me back to desires.
Since my experience trying to start an ongoing women’s circle in Brooklyn, desires became like fire to me: very attractive and powerful, but dangerous. Of course, I didn’t know then that extensive training goes into becoming a fire keeper, which could be said the same for women and desires. This year, I learned the importance of fanning the flames of my desires. I’m not a fire keeper, but I do wonder the parallels between the two.
Not long after finishing the Wild Woman Circle Leader Training in March, I had a burning desire to start a circle in Western Mass. The baby was still too young for me to devote my energy to start the circle, and with summer on the way and everyone being everywhere, I set my desire free by deciding I wouldn’t do anything until the fall.
No hunting for spaces. No mass emails. No marketing. I would wait for the right space to show up, and I would wait for the guidance to follow. In the meantime, I fanned the flames of my desire by simply savoring it.
One lazy summer day, as I nurtured another desire of mine to find an herbalist to study under, I came across a website that listed a few different apothecaries in the area. I picked one at random, grabbed the kid and diaper bag, and drove the 20 minute drive to the Bower Studio. My jaw hit the floor when I walked into this space. It’s apothecary meets loft meets beauty meets a-house-in-Byron-Bay. I returned a few more times over the summer, and on one of the visits, I asked one of the owners about their events. Did they curate their events, or could anyone propose an idea for one? He told me I could shoot him an email about the event I wanted and we could have that conversation. Deep in my belly I felt that yes that reverberates throughout the body. I asked him what the fee to rent the space was and he said nothing, as they just want to bring people into the space.
Not having to worry about paying a fee for space rental completely removed any worry about having to charge people money to attend the circle. Which removed stress about marketing it. By then, I had landed a permanent position on the One Fire Fest team, so income wasn’t an issue. There was so much alignment in this and so much yes coming from within. And this became my lesson in right timing: without even trying, the right space had presented itself under the right conditions.
I hosted my first circle in September, which is what I had intended back in March. It gets wilder. I’ve done virtually no marketing. The first circle, 8 women showed up. The second, we were filled to capacity with 21 women in the room.
Which, again, brings me back to desire. Desire was the theme for our second circle. In the process of planning the circle, I got to sit with desire and have since made peace with it. I now realize that there is an art to desiring. A way to connect with desires. Savor them. Let them go. Trust. Stay open for guidance. And act when appropriate.
Desires are sacred. They are more than just the ego’s constant want for gratification. They are more than what we think we should want, what others want us to want, what we’ve been programmed to want. All of those wants are derailing us from living in love, as Marianne Williamson would say. In one of her recent lectures, she talked about how our society is so lost because so many of us go out there asking ourselves “what do I want?” and march on achieve, manifest, etc. Out the window goes the opportunity to be of service, to stay connected to the divine, and to work collectively with others, because we are so wrapped up in our “wants”.
Marianne compares this malaise to cancer in the body. Just as every cell in our body has an innate intelligence to do its work in a specific part of the body, so do we as people have an innate intelligence that guides us to do our work in this world. When the cells work together, the end result is a healthy organ, a healthy tissue. When a cell marches off and decides it wants to do its own thing, and surrounds itself with other cells who think the same way, this becomes cancer in the body. And as a society, it’s easy to see the results of people who are only out for themselves. There’s too many examples and far too much suffering. (Marianne is far more eloquent on the subject, so if you’re interested in hearing the full lecture, I’ve attached the link here.)
But desires are not wants. Desires come from a deep place of knowing. To listen to our desires takes tact and practice. As Regena Thomashauer puts it:
“Your desires are your guiding pole star. That impulse, that vision, that pull you feel towards whatever you want is your connection to the Divine. A desire is the interface between you and that which is greater than you.”
So what if, after all, in order to be of service, all we need to do is ask and listen to our desires? Desires are visceral- not an instant gratification, but a feeling that shakes your whole body. They’re a powerful thing.
I leave you here with an exercise Chris Maddox shared with us this moon cycle, which helps us connect to that voice of our desires. Cause maybe, just maybe, if we each begin to awaken to our true heart’s desires, we can begin to cooperate on this planet as healthy cells cooperate in a body. And maybe, just maybe, our planet can heal.
Close you eyes. Connect with your womb – breathe into it, feel it – deeply. Find the deepest desire in you. See if you can feel it on a visceral level – breath and movement can help. Keep coaxing it into fullness in anyway that moves you – dance, sound, meditation, writing poetry, song, anything goes – follow the powerful current of desire (physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically, in your heart/soul).
This practice helps you own your DESIRE and the more you do, the more you will help others connect with theirs.