Partnership in Action: The Alchemic Power of Circle

by Sande Hart, Charter for Compassion Women and Girls

We at the Charter for Compassion Women and Girls sector have been thinking ahead to 2020, a significant year in the United States, being the 100 anniversary of the 19th amendment, the 150th anniversary of the suffragist movement, the 400th year of landing on Plymouth rock, and a Presidential election year that is already shaping up to redefine what it means for women running for office. Yet, what is undeniably present everywhere we look is a new sense of “awoke-ness”, a wake up call to every feminist’s moral outrage of the past 40 years that finally hits home. However, unlike past movements, its resonance is not coming from pounding firsts and beating pavement, although the millions who are marching with indignant messages on creative signage are powerful reminder we are a critical mass.  Now, we are hearing it through the lens of our highest and deepest value system. For us, that means compassion. It also means questioning assumptions about our roles in society, redefining how we got here, starting with our languaging in what we call our V2020 webinar series. We figure all the words that begin with V is a good place to start “making the profane profound again” as originator and Charter Women and Girls Ambassador Joan Marie says.

The reality is, everything about this past paragraph is coming from the experience of a 58 year old white women of privilege from Southern California.  I probably speak for a lot of women in our country “of a certain age”. While I am not an anthropologist, from my naked but observant eye, it appears our young women and girls are growing into a new species. Does any of this matter to them? I notice they are quick to question assumptions, want to cut through the smoke and see measurable results fast, and for the most part, just feel smarter to me. Could it be the digital and lightening speed technology they have, literally growing out of their fingertips on their devices?  Is it this generation of parents? Is it the growing cultural acceptance of gender fluidity? Is it indigenous prophecy that the Divine Feminine is here and get out of her way (my surmise)?

Maybe it’s all of the above.

Regardless of theory, we do have an awesome responsibility to insure the very values of compassion, and the conditions of Partnership are beacons as we move into this new era so that history does not repeat ourselves.

We have seen, particularly as pointed out with such clarity in Dr. Eisler’s book Sacred Pleasure, what happens when one era moves into the next, yet systems of domination only readjust.

A question we would serve best to answer is, how do we dismantle systems of oppression and recognize domination when it appears? How do we create environments in our homes, in our workplace, in our community events, in classrooms where we normalize Partnership values and practices on a daily basis so our children grow into the assumption that a viable Partnership social system is “just the way it is”?

I believe circle is where we start. When in circle, everyone is seen, every voice is heard, no one is at the head of the table; to make space for more, all you have to do is widen the circle without losing its shape or value. And, if every voice is not heard or idea valued, it weakens the circle. These seem like pretty easy concepts for any Kindergartner to grasp.

Practicing Circle Principles and literally sitting in circle whenever possible is powerful beyond measure for us grownups too.

Speak one at a time

Promote open and honest communication

Listen actively without judgment

Offer experience instead of advice  

Invite silence when in doubt or need

Share leadership and resources

Be willing to speak up when you feel hurt or triggered so there is accountability and respect for one’s self and others.

Agree to how decisions are formed and protocol for reconciliation if needed.

Practicing Partnership Circle Principles and literally sitting in circle whenever possible is powerful beyond measure for us grownups too.

In November of 2018, in advance of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, a small gathering of about 200 women met in 39 small circles of 6 each at an event called The Alchemy of Women’s Collective Wisdom and PowerThis gathering of women was designed to prepare us all individually and collectively for the dynamic week ahead which included nearly 8,000 people from 70 countries under one roof to dialogue, explore, demonstrate and teach about our distinct cultural and religious differences and our collective impact on just about every social issue known to humanity. Yet, across the street, in our relatively small room of only women, we experienced the power of sacred space, we deepened our skill of generative listening; discovered resonance and reverence and nurtured the root system of women’s spirituality. Providing this experience is, simply put, necessary for women and girls. We see shoulders pull back when speaking while others lean in to listen.  We know this is where we start to discover who we are so we can better contribute to a Partnership society.

Yet, we haven’t forgotten our boys and the critical need to provide space for gender reconciliation and to begin to model the power of Partnership in circle between us. To that end, I am now co-founder and produce such Alchemy events in various cities around the world. The Alchemy of Our Collective Wisdom and Power™ will soon be partnering with The Men’s Fellowship Network to bring gender reconciliation circles to communities, along with Gender Reconciliation International.

On March 9th, in New York City, in advance of the 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, The Alchemy of Women and Girls Collective Wisdom and Power will host a gathering for women and girls at the historic Henry Street Settlement. Together we will be led in dialogue in the wisdom of sacred listening, the power of our body, and anchoring our voice and our power. The Alchemy Gathering bridges the March 8th Int’l Day of Women and the Opening Forum of the United Nations Commission on The Status of Women. (March 11-22, 2019). Find out how to bring an Alchemy event to your community! Hosted at Henry Street Settlement, founded by suffragist Lillian Wald 125 years ago, we are certainly coming full circle. We hope she’s proud.

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Sande Hart is an inspired international Partnership leader. She is a Mother, Social Artist, Program Producer and Compassion Activist, Co-Founder of Alchemy of Our Collective Wisdom and Power, President of SARAH and she Leads the Charter for Compassion Women and Girls sector. Learn more about Sande’s work at

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    • Ann Amberg Reply

      We are so glad you enjoyed it! Please feel free to share on social media 🙂
      -Ilene (Digital Communications Associate), on behalf of CPS

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