We interview Antonia Utrera, the driving force behind the Women’s Circles in Barcelona.
Why a Women’s Circle?
A Women’s Circle is a support group, a safe place where women can discover who we are, or who we could be, as whole and independent human beings. It’s a space to grow and to build confidence, with a lot of respect for our particular differences.
Now you’re forming a second group?
Yes, that’s right. We meet in the Libreria Sintesis in Barcelona. In February last year we started our first group. After several months inviting women to participate, we decided that if we wanted to go deeper and generate trust, we needed to close the group with those who were participating. Later on some friends became interested, so after more than one year, we are very happy with the formation of a new group.
And what is it that brings you together?
We come together out of a need to share our experience, to share the things that happen to us, our dreams and also our fears, our difficulties. Shared experience is our sustenance. Our groups are inspired by the proposal by Jean Shinoda Bolen, author of the book “the Millionth Circle”. She proposes the creation of Women’s Circles around the world, as a way of transforming ourselves and the world.
How did this initiative arise?
I’m a siloist. My background is in Silo’s School. The four disciplines, Mental, Energetic, Formal and Alchemical, as ways to access The Profound, and I chose the Mental discipline. My commitment with the School on finishing my work was to contribute the best of myself to this world in which I have to live and the best way that I know of doing so by beating the drums for all women to hear, encouraging us to wake up from our lethargy.
To awaken the goddess?
Why not? In every woman there is an enchained goddess of Strength, Wisdom and Kindness. It’s time to liberate her. It’s time to meet each other, to call to one another, to look each other in the eyes, to recognise each other. It’s time to articulate words, sounds and dance, to build a more human world for our children and loved ones.
What age do you have to be to join the Circle?
Women have died a thousand deaths before reaching twenty-one. So, any age is a good age for a woman to start to heal herself, healing.
Women’s Circles are therapeutic?
No, we aren’t forming therapy groups, although healing can be the result. Therapy needs an active side, the therapist, and the passive side, the patient. Moreover, there should first be a diagnosis. We are active and passive at the same time, we heal by healing, sharing our experience deeply. The most valid diagnosis is the one a person does themselves by listening internally.
Do you meditate?
Yes, we start with a meditation, an experience of peace, a work with an [imaginary] sphere, to quieten the noise, to make a bit of internal silence, so that our exchanges may be from a more profound place in order to connect with ourselves. We sit in a circle around a spiritual centre, some stones, symbols that represent Mother Earth, fire, water… And we have a ‘speaking stick’. When one woman speaks holding the stick in their hand, the other women listen. Sometimes we may remain in silence for a few moments, words return as sacred. There is no judgement, no advice. There is listening. It’s a truly creative act.
In the meetings, do you propose some topic or other?
No, there are no topics. We are the topic. What happens to us. What we feel. One feels free, happy to be there, to remain. You feel profoundly respected. The Circle exists because we are there; it’s our presence that makes it possible. It’s an experience and a profound commitment to form part of it. And we all take care that the Circle doesn’t lose its essence, or lead to anything that we don’t desire.
The feminine is communal?
The feminine is strengthened within the group, whereas the masculine is strengthened by its individuality, the archetype of the hero in Jungian terms.
Have Women’s Circles always existed?
Yes, throughout history and in all cultures women have always come together. In Andalucía, from where I come, grandmothers met when they went to wash in the river, they spoke about their things, they laughed, sometimes hysterically and other times they cried… and also when they went to sew and they taught one another.
The laughter of women…
Yes, we know it, the shared laughter of women is medicinal, it becomes something healing, above all when it favours integrity and repair of the heart. When laughter makes us feel alive, strengthened, when laughter dissipates sadness and liberates us from fury, then laughter becomes sacred.
Women today have lost their strength as a group?
With the arrival of capitalism, the control of pregnancy and maternity, women stopped being the owners of their own bodies; we became production machines for the labour force. Throughout the centuries feminine values have been silenced, devalued, negated… Intuition, instinctive wisdom, undomesticated wildness, delicateness, sensitivity, creativity, the capacity to nurture, the language of the heart, all of this has been undermined. The feminine has been weakened in this process of individualisation. We must find one another, recover and strengthen one another, and there is a genuine way to do it through sharing profoundly with others.
Women come together through need.
Yes, that’s right. Through need the women of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina met in that square every week. Through need Arab and Palestinian women became sisters of a movement. Through need the Women Standing for Peace Movement. Through need the Protectors of Life for a World without Violence Movement, Women of Central America, etc. Women have always moved through need. And today, more than ever, we need it. The human being is marvellous. We shouldn’t let our children go to die in wars of profit, that our old folk feel displaced and alone, that even one human being dies of hunger, that violence runs riot as it does day by day.
How much does it cost to belong to the Circle?
The activity is free. We need more women! The only thing that we pay for between us is the cost of the room for the two hours that we meet.
And to get in contact with you?
Oh, yes! Our contact e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck with your project.