Here’s how they can help mental and physical wellbeing.
It’s 7 p.m. on a late April evening. In a couple of hours, the full moon will be visible. I arrive at a Greenwich Village apartment wrapped in my giant mohair sweater. Inside, there is a beautiful circular cloth in the middle of the room that is adorned with candles, flowers, and quartz crystals. I normally add my jewelry or another personal item, and this time it’s the manuscript to my upcoming book.
I first started attending moon circles a couple years ago after I was introduced to Andrea Takacs-Carvalho, a Brazilian shaman who leads intimate groups in New York City. Being able to find support with fellow women during tough times, such as when I was writing my book, is a reason I regularly participate.
The 11 other women—of all ages and walks of life—and I form a circle and sit on pillows, blankets, and yoga mats or blocks. Andrea clears the room by using palo santo and sage, smells that are calming and set the tone for what we’re about to experience. We participate in a short meditation to settle in and then briefly introduce ourselves and share what is going on at this moment in our lives. As a veteran of moon circles, I try to share something engaging to break the ice for first-timers.
While they can be held at any time, moon circles, or women’s circles, are often aligned with the moon’s cycles, which represent beginnings and endings and the natural circle of life. New moons represent opportunities to set intentions, or direct focused thought on what you would like to achieve, be, and work towards. Full moons, like tonight, represent culminations, the end of a project, a certain approach, or thought process.
We lay down with our heads facing the circle. I know I will feel cooler as I get into a meditative state and my body temperature drops, so I cocoon myself in my sweater. Andrea drums and takes us through a guided meditation. She asks: Is it something or a thought you need to let go of? Is there a block that is preventing you from succeeding in an area of your life, is something out of balance?
A rain stick provides a soothing sound that helps us return to the present moment.
We then share our experiences and thoughts we had during the meditation. You are not obligated to share and similarly there are no judgments or opinions allowed in the room; all the conversations are supportive and productive.
The through lines that emerge in each circle tend to be powerful. Many women struggle with fertility and hormonal issues. Stress and a misplaced sense of shame can exacerbate these issues and sometimes you have a breakthrough moment by sharing in a safe space.
Both homeopathic and medical approaches to hormonal health are shared. Doctor and acupuncturist recommendations, stress reduction techniques, dietary changes such as seed cycling, recipes, exercises—many of these topics have come out during or after circles as a result of connections forged during the experience.
In no way am I claiming that circles have fixed participants’ hormonal issues, rather they create a space of relatedness, thus normalizing them and triggering change. The shame associated with hormonal health dissipates when you realize that you are not alone in an experience.
To end the evening, we enjoy some antioxidant-rich chocolate that boosts endorphins. We share our experience from the night, creating connections with one another, and listen to Andrea’s reflections. After a final short meditation we are able to depart or socialize; I float out after a few grateful goodbyes in order to sit with my thoughts that have arisen.
Being open to healing practices and meditative experiences is step one in readying yourself for a moon circle. Acknowledging the power of women coming together is step two. Step three is trying it. One of the most fantastic things about healing modalities is that there are so many. Those that resonate with you can go in your tool box.
Katzie Guy Hamilton is the food and beverage director at Equinox.