Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Power of the Women’s Circle

Women in circle on the beautiful island of Bali, Indonesia

The fundamentals of spirituality connect us rather than separate us. Women meeting in circles with a spiritual center are in a sacred space, are practicing and developing compassion when they listen, and are deepening themselves. The more circles there are, the easier others can form. At the same time, each circle adds to collective human consciousness. (Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Antidode.

Throughout history, women have gathered in sacred circle. Be it around a fire in prehistoric times, within hushed monasteries of the Middle Ages, in consciousness-raising groups in 1970’s living rooms or online groups in the digital age, women have long congregated to laugh, share, heal, care for children, grieve, and spiritually connect in community.

As someone who has participated in several circles with women of all ages and cultural backgrounds, I value the power, energy, and solidarity that is fostered when women convene. In such gatherings, women can experience a deep authenticity within themselves - a truth or ‘realness’ that is often lacking as we tend to our day-to-day lives and its multitude of roles and responsibilities.

Women’s circles operate on unique principles and values. Within the structure of the circle, there is no hierarchy; each woman’s voice is equally important, her story honoured and received fully. In this sacred space, a collective power is harnessed. And when there is focused intent on healing - individually and collectively - magic happens. The support, creativity, and sharing of ideas that is fostered in women’s circles has the power to translate into something much larger and more palpable. There is a ripple effect that positively impacts society at large.

It could be said that in these transformative times of global conflict and economic uncertainty, the women’s circle is needed more than ever. In the words of renowned Jungian analyst and writer Jean Shinoda Bolen, “When women come together and make a commitment to each other to be in a circle with a spiritual center, they are creating a vessel of healing and transformation for themselves, and vehicle for change in their world” (

It is the Dalai Lama who stated in the 2009 World Peace Summit visit to Vancouver, BC that the world will be saved by the western woman. Though feminine qualities of interconnection, vulnerability, relatedness, and cooperation have historically been undervalued in a patriarchal society which largely celebrates individuality, dominance, and competition, there is a growing sense that a mass planetary awakening is occurring. Despite outward appearances of destruction and decline, human consciousness is evolving at a very rapid pace and, in these shifting times, feminine principles are central - if not essential! - to the new world that is being birthed.

Bali tour leader Mooh Hood
Mooh Hood, our Bali tour leader, co-founded and and currently sits on its Advisory Council of the Pacific Women’s Circle Association, an organization which for twenty years has held annual Goddess Camp retreats for women in the Pacific Northwest. Mooh now leads women’s retreats on the beautiful island of Bali and, in our upcoming journey, each day will begin with a morning circle. Bali’s peaceful and lush landscape provides the perfect backdrop for women to spiritually connect with their inner selves, and to each other. Women will engage in the creative and artistic process, visit the Mother Temple to connect with the Divine Feminine, and chant at the holy springs.

Women are increasingly realizing the power and necessity of their leadership on a global scale. In 2000, Jean Shinoda Bolen and several other women were inspired to create the Millionth Circle Initiative, an organization whose intentions are “to seed, nurture, and connect women's circles, to bring the circle process into United Nations accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the 5th UN World Conference on Women, and to be a means through which women's circles become aware of being part of a larger movement to shift consciousness in the world.” (

There is no doubt that women’s voices are more important than ever, and the circle remains the perfect place to plant the seeds for a new vision for humanity based on love, connection, and compassion.

We would love for you to join us on our upcoming Women's Spiritual Art Journey in Bali with Mooh Hood and Lori Goldberg, from March 12 - 23, 2015. View our website for more details: Space is limited so register soon!

~Aleya Abdulla

Saturday, January 10, 2015

5 Sacred Travel Books to Warm up Your Winter Reading

Indulge your body’s craving for hibernation this winter and curl up with one of these fabulous books on sacred travel – simply add a warm cup of tea and a favourite wool blanket and you’re good to go. 

The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred by Phil Cousineau

Author Phil Cousineau is a regular tour leader for Sacred Earth Journeys and his “long conversations” and daily discussions on travel, spirituality and culture continually enthral all who journey with him. Those same insights and wisdom are ever-present in this work, described by Deepak Chopra as “a classic”.

"I am convinced that pilgrimage is still a bona finde spirit-renewing ritual. But I also believe in pilgrimage as a powerful metaphor for any journey with the purpose of finding something that matters deeply to the traveler. With a deepening of focus, keen preparation, attention to the path below our feet, and respect for the destination at hand, it is possible to transform even the most ordinary journey into a sacred journey, a pilgrimage."
~ Phil Cousineau, from The Art of Pilgrimage

A new edition with a forward by Huston Smith was released in 2012. Read more here. Phil will be leading a tour to Ireland as well as a writer’s retreat in Connemara, Ireland in 2015 with Sacred Earth Journeys. Visit our website for more information.   

Mayan Shamanism by Miguel Angel Vergara Calleros

Another regular tour leader for Sacred Earth Journeys, Miguel Angel is a Maya Master Teacher and an expert at making Mayan culture profoundly accessible to journey participants and readers. Mayan Shamanism and its companion book The Maya Goddess Ix'Cheel: Our Divine Mother use prayers and hieroglyphs to explore Mayan culture, “helping us to see the beauty of life and the sacredness of every being in this universe.”

Available through Lightnews bookstore. 

Sacred Travels: 275 Places to Find Joy, Seek Solace, and Learn to Live More Fully by Meera Lester

Self-help author and sustainable living blogger Meera Lester provides a guide to, as the title suggests, 275 sacred spots around the globe. Organized into ten chapters by emotion or value (Chapter 1: Love, Compassion, Devotion; Chapter 2: Health, Healing, Wholeness, and so on), the book neatly summarizes the sacred importance of each place, suggests an activity or meditation the traveller can perform when visiting and shares a “deeper look” fact about the site. A good book to dip into and discover places far and very near that are worth seeking out on a future sacred adventure.

In a similar vein: National Geographic’s Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations

Shamanic Voices: A Survey of Visionary Narratives by Joan Halifax, PhD

Originally published in 1979, this book allows shamans their own authentic voice to tell us about themselves and the work they do. The anthropologist, and now American Zen Buddhist roshi, Joan Halifax, collected the words of shamans – either from living people or “hard-to-get primary sources” to create a work that explores the universe of the shaman from his initiation to his transformation, the medicine he uses and the dreaming state he enters.

These “technicians of the sacred and masters of ecstasy” are “familiar with cosmic as well as physical geography; the ways of plants, animals, and the elements are known to them”. With this excellent book, that’s still very much relevant today, their ways become more tangible and even more intriguing to us.

The Spiritual Quest And the Way of Yoga: The Goal, The Journey and The Milestones by Swami Adiswarananda

In this book Swami Adiswarananda takes us on an inner spiritual journey that is, in terms of yoga, not a choice but rather “a vital necessity for our total well-being”.

“The spiritual quest, from the point of view of yoga, is an inward journey – a journey through the layers of our mind, through the wilderness of temptations, desires, and delusions. The journey has its peaks and valleys, hopes and despairs. […] Yoga is raising the blaze of Self-awareness”.

While every travel experience helps us connect more deeply with our own true self, it is important to consciously honour our continually evolving inner journey and this work beautifully guides us through the steps we need to take.

Whether you’re planning your next sacred destination or journeying solely inwards in 2015, I hope these books will inspire your travels. For further inspiration, our website offers details of all our sacred journeys and custom group tours!

~ Kim Bridgett