By Caryn MacGrandle
I am in the process of moving from Illinois to Alabama. After seven years of hosting small, intimate women’s circles in Illinois, usually three to five of us, I am now trying to find that here in Alabama.
To help form these small, intimate community Circles was the passion behind why I first started the divine feminine app.
But that side of the app has not materialized yet. Instead, the divine feminine app has become a larger way to connect across the world, in virtual classes, find retreats and other resources.
Hopefully someday it will connect us in small local community Circles, but for now, I [as you perhaps are, too] am on my own.
And I know no one where we moved. Not one person. So I start fresh. And I thought I would share the experience with you all.
My first opinion of Alabama? If you think the US is divided, Alabama is divided times ten.
I just recently attended a birthday party for my 8 year old where a man was carrying a pistol on his belt.
Because you know 8 year old birthday parties on large mansions in the middle of a hundred acres or so can be quite the dangerous place.
I keep meeting people who within the first minute or so of meeting them have told me way more personal information than I ever wanted to know.
Years ago I might have been flattered to hear such whisperings about my neighbors. “Ooh! They like me. See what they are telling me.”
But the older me understands they are saying the same about me ten minutes later.
Bless My Heart.
So far, I have met two very definitive types here: very Christian religious, no Halloween decorations because you know, it’s evil. They don’t even ask you what Church you go to, because if you went to their’s, they would already know it. It is their family.
And very Pagan Pagans. These I find very interesting, because I find so much of the Goddess there and interesting Appalachian folklore. Met a woman last night who had the most beautiful home: a serene peaceful garden and home filled with gorgeous statues honoring just about every female deity I have ever heard of: Hecate, Cerridwen, Demeter and more.
I enjoyed meeting her, and she was lovely.
Except for that extra helping of flavor I also found there: my fear.
I think I get it. To survive as a Pagan in this most organized Christian religious of states Alabama, you must have your own weapon, and it is this fear.
Because that fear keeps people away and from bothering you.
I’ve already heard more about blood and hoodoo than I would care to.
And it’s easy to let yourself get caught up in that fear.
How can I hold a Circle here? In my new fishbowl neighborhood? Do I invite everyone or just Pagans? If I invite everyone, how in the world would those two ‘factions’ get along?
But I refuse to stay on that level of fear, because I understand both sides.
The owner of the mansion on the hundred acres with Christian statues all over her land? I had an interesting thirty minute conversation with her about the world in general and politics and everything in between. I admired her.
She spoke of being born poor and then working hard her whole life to get what she now has.
I spoke of Community First! Village in Austin, Texas, the homeless community providing tiny homes and livelihoods for homeless people. I saw her eyes light up when I shared what the founder Alan Graham said is the number one reason people become homeless: lack of family. Everything else, mental and physical health issues, addiction, loss of job, is manageable if you have a family that takes you in. Community First! provides that family to those who have slipped through the cracks.
Ahh. There I go. That is the vibration I would like to get back to.
Because I am all about inclusion and bringing people to the Center.
To me, that is an integral part about coming together in a Circle. Here is an article that I wrote in 2013 in elephant journal where I speak of doing a Circle where my friend did a Muslim ‘Bismallah’ dance.
Because my first husband was an airline pilot, 911 changed my life for the worse and was really my first introduction to the Muslim religion, so doing that dance took a conscious effort on my part.
Back in 2013, when my friend told me that she planned for us to do that dance, my first internal reaction was ‘no thank you’. But then I started to research it and found:
Bismallah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim is considered by many to be the pillar of the Islam religion. All but one chapter of the Qur’an begin with these words. In short, bismallah can be translated as by means of the very essence of God. The rest:
Both rahman and rahim are derived from the Semitic root r-h-m which indicates something of the utmost tenderness which provides protection and nourishment, and that from which all of creation is brought into being.
It took a conscious action on my part to step into the Center and believe in the good of all people. And doing that dance in my backyard helped me heal my anger towards Muslims.
I know there is bad. I know there is evil in this world.
But again and again, I will choose the good.
After all, Jesus would ask no less of you.
That is the way the world is healed.
Welcome to the Circle. Welcome to the Center.
Other thoughts: What exactly is my version of a Women’s Circle? a Sacred Circle? How is this different from a Pagan Ceremonial Circle? Is it interfaith? Interested in this? Join us for conversation over at the divine feminine app.