I went to a Psychedelic Women’s Circle in London
It was pretty weird.
I’ve had some new experiences with women recently. The biggest one to note is that I’ve kind of started dating one.The smallest worth noting is that I saw a drunk lady peeing on the street on my way home last night.
This story, however, is about my experience participating in a Women’s Circle. A Women’s Circle is quite literally a circle made of women sitting on the floor, chanting and sometimes holding hands. It’s supposed to be a safe space for “sisters” to come and learn new ways to express themselves through means more abstract than conventional chit chat. Bubble a cauldron and throw some salt on the floor and you could mistake it for a coven.
I found out about this through my friend, Juliet. She’s such a friendly and open girl, she wears her gentle soul on her sleeve and has an enticingly large smile to boot. She’s also what some might label a hippy. Not the dirty kind, just the long skirts, crocheted tops and bare feet-in-the-forest kind. Juliet fully rates Women’s Circles and this particular one really helped her with some healing she had to do this year. I thought “a psychedelic sisterhood who come together to share how our psychedelic experiences have helped us to grow and heal” sounded zany, so along I went.
As we sat in our circle like a bunch of new besties, each person introduced herself and talked about why she had come to spend her Wednesday evening doing sober-psychedelics. Reasons were everything from lack of self worth, to worries about money, to just needing to hide from the world…
Then of course there was me who had to openly admit that, ironically, I was feeling particularly vulnerable in this warm and fuzzy sisterhood. I told them that my safe space is actually amidst the chaos of everyday life where I’m not expected to hold hands with strangers.
The Psychedelic part of this Women’s Circle is the idea that you can induce a similar sort of mind-altering experience and come to the same sort of emotional revelations that you might with a face full of psychedelic drugs. The sisters here believe it’s possible to reach this sort of disco brain through a mix of meditation, chanting, dance, kundalini, play, emotional release and prayer.
I get how it works, but you have to really want it to work. That kind of stuff makes me cringe a little though. And when we began meditation I tried very hard to focus my mind on being in the room. But obviously I kept going off track and would find myself daydreaming about things like the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
When it was time for chanting, there was a lot of ahh-ing, oooohh-ing, oooo-ing, eee-ing and ughghg-ing. And even a bit of crotch grabbing just to make me feel more ridiculous. This was the beginning of opening our voices to “truly express who we are”.
IT IS TIME TO STEP INTO A NEW STORY OF WOMANHOOD, ONE WHICH ALLOWS OUR MOST VIBRANT, EMPOWERED SELVES TO EMERGE.
The whole thing reminded me of all the craziness I’ve been part of in acting classes in the past. All those ridiculous activities that required me to act weird like no one was watching. I’m actually quite expressive and quirky with my personality and movements on a day-to-day basis, but when I’m asked to do kooky in a group, it makes me feel like a bit of a dork.
But I guess some people are quite the opposite to me and because they don’t feel comfortable expressing their eccentricity in a world full of judgemental pricks, this kind of crazy group thing is exactly what they need.
The next thing we did was probably the most challenging piece of human interaction I’ve had since the Cuddle Workshop. We were asked to turn to the person next to us, move in close enough so that our knees were touching and gaze into each other’s eyes for like, four minutes without saying a word. As the dramatic soundtrack revved up in the background, our hosting sister, Gaia, encouraged us to look deeper into our partner’s soul to try to get to know them. The girl I was staring at had a dead-straight face while I uncontrollably beamed at her in a state of intense social anxiety.
After the four minutes was up I was totally exhausted and ready to go home. When we were asked to reflect on the experience, I was first to chime in with how challenging it was and how weird it made me feel. Of course I was then made to feel like a total ninkum poop because everyone else loved it and went on to talk (and even cry) about how good the connection with the other person was. Maybe that has a bit to say about my own weaknesses in human connection.
The night ended with us breaking into groups of six to do more chanting. Each woman took her turn at standing in the middle of the harmonious circle of voices. And with hands sensually placed all over us, we basked in the surrounding sounds of women hitting notes I’m not sure some birds could.
It was at this point that I came to another realisation about why these women congregate in these circles. While I didn’t enjoy chanting because I could only make noises similar to a train going over a bridge, other people were using this as an opportunity to share and enjoy the wonderful voice box they were born and blessed with.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with an event like this. I knew it was a place for healing, so I expected that most people would in some way or another be emotionally wobbly. But I respected what they were doing because I believe anyone proactive enough to seek therapy when they need it (whether that’s paying £150 an hour to talk to a psychologist or £15 for three hours of chanting and shaking it out) holds an admirable level of intelligence and self awareness.
Gaia who hosted the event is part of Sanga Sanga and this is how they explain who they are. Which I really like:
“We are High Priestesses of Sacred Silliness. We are artists and healers with a mission to empower all humans to be fearless, honest and compassionate. We have worked together for over 6 years bringing together the divine and ridiculous. We are trained in Mindfulness, Sound Healing, Tantra and Performance Art.”
This is her next event if you’re interested in going.