Join in circles everywhere,
filling Earth with loving care.
Join the Spirit moving in circles,
spreading Her peace.
Sacred circles bring rebirth,
giving everyone full worth.
Join the Spirit, moving in circles,
changing the world.
Words © 2019 Jann Aldredge-Clanton
Dr. Angela Davis proclaimed, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” As a political activist, professor, and author, she continues to work to change racism, sexism, and other injustices she cannot accept. Her words inspire me to keep working to change things I cannot accept: sexism, racism, heterosexism, and other intersecting injustices.
My friend Ann Landaas Smith confirmed for me the power of sacred circles to bring change. I participated in circles she facilitated at annual meetings of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York and at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City.
With Jean Shinoda Bolen and other women, Ann co-founded the Millionth Circle. The name “Millionth Circle” refers to the circle whose formation tips the scales and shifts world consciousness by bringing “values of relationship, nurturing, equality, cooperation, and interdependency into the global culture.” One of the stated goals of the Millionth Circle is “to seed and nurture circles, wherever possible, in order to cultivate equality, sustainable livelihoods, preservation of the earth and peace for all.”
Sacred circles embody these values:
- Everyone is a leader
- Everyone has wisdom to share.
- Every voice is heard.
- Every voice matters.
Circles follow these principles:
- Create sacred space.
- Listen with compassion and for wisdom.
- Speak from your heart and experience.
- Invite silence and reflection when needed.
- Take responsibility for your experience and your impact on the circle.
- Keep the confidence of the circle.
- Make decisions, when needed, by consensus.
New Wineskins Community has embodied these circle values and followed these principles from our beginning, more than 25 years ago. We created New Wineskins as a collaborative community, where every voice and every gift has equal value. Our mission includes changing culture from hierarchical to mutual relationships. New Wineskins Community has gathered in various locations, always with everyone sitting in a circle and sharing leadership. We understand that an egalitarian sacred community has at its foundation an inclusive naming and imaging of the Divine. Since female divine names and images are excluded or only marginally included in most faith communities, we give precedence to female divine names and images in order to bring change. This is our mission statement:
New Wineskins Community explores new ways of seeing divinity so that the spiritual gifts of everyone are equally valued and nurtured. New Wineskins Community offers rituals especially focused on the Divine Feminine, to change culture from devaluation to empowerment of the feminine. The rituals also symbolize shared power and responsibility to change culture from one up/one down and win/lose to mutual relationships. The mission of New Wineskins is to expand experience of Divine Mystery and to contribute to healing, peace, and justice in our world.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic makes it unwise for New Wineskins Community to gather in an in-person circle, we still experience the power of our sacred circle. When we gather online on Zoom, we share leadership and give equal value to every voice. Everyone in our online sacred circle has wisdom to share, and we create sacred space for every voice to be heard. Together we have been celebrating the rise of the Divine Feminine, even in the midst of this pandemic. We have explored ways we’re experiencing Her rising in ourselves, others, and the world. We have named ways we see Her bringing racial and gender justice, such as the removal of racist Confederate symbols and the many protests for Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name. We have sung and prayed together for Her continual rising, and have been empowered to continue co-creating with Her and with each other a world of equality, justice, love, and peace.
For many years numerous sacred circles have been gathering around the world. Many are discovering new possibilities through online circles. Now we are seeing changes these circles have been cultivating as our world grows toward greater equality, justice, love, and peace.
Join the Spirit, moving in circles, changing the world!