The Power of Sisterhood

Several weeks ago, I was inspired to start a Women's Circle in our village. I posted the first event on my Facebook page and mentioned it to some local friends and clients hoping that a few people would turn up. On the night, I was quite amazed when so many women arrived we ran out of chairs - we were in the local Chapel and literally had to 'pull up a pew' to fit everyone in. It was less a circle than a very long and elongated lozenge. At one point, I asked the women to share why they had come and what they hoped to get from the evening. Most were not really sure on either count. Many admitted they didn't even know what to expect or what the evening would involve, but (for some reason) had come along anyway.

I had opened the evening with a quote from Rebecca Campbell's book Rise Sister Rise:

"Sharing stories, holding space, and a passing down of wisdom, there is nothing more healing than a group of honest sisters that truly see and accept you. In a period of history where we live more separately than ever, the ritual of coming together is one that we must not underestimate. In my experience, it is something that all women crave but most aren't even aware of. And when we get a taste of it we wonder how we ever survived without it."

Hearing woman after woman say they didn't really know why they had come, made me realise quite how true Rebecca's words are. There seemed to be a need for 'something' and they were willing to see if they could find it in the group. It started me thinking about the importance of our relationships with other women and the different ways in which they nourish and support us.

Sisterhood is commonly defined as the bond between two or more females, who may or may not be related. It denotes an open and truthful relationship, in which all parties are honoured, supported and loved. For many of us - especially if we don't have sisters or female cousins of a similar age - this often begins with childhood friends. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to still be very close to two of my own school friends after thirty-something years. While we speak most days via various forms of digital communication, we live far apart and have to rely on annual weekend breaks to get together - in fact we're going on a city break next week and I can't wait!

In a Huffington Post article from 2016, Angie Frederickson wrote about the importance of these getaways. She said "what old friends know is the soul of the true person underneath all of the daily details, and maybe that’s the best part to know. Despite our very different adult lives, with careers or lack of, and children of different ages and struggles, we are still the same girls we were 20 years ago. We just forget because responsibility landed squarely on each of our shoulders and dug in for the duration. A girls’ weekend is the reminder we need."

There's something very special about being with old friends like this. There's a shorthand, a deep understanding of where you are from, what you've been through, and everything that made you who you are today. Those layers of mutual experience can't exist in new friendships, simply because they take time. If it's true that friends are for a season, a reason, or for a lifetime, then those are definitely the 'lifers'.

So what about the others? I can think of many women who have blessed my life for a shorter time, each of them having their own special role to play, no matter how big or small. For example the first person who befriended me after we relocated - our relationship was fleeting, as she moved away soon after we arrived, but we had fun at the time. There were the women at ante-natal classes, some of whom I am still in touch with and others I no longer know. We held one another through the early months of sleepless nights, leaky boobs and poo-monitoring in ways our chi