Circle Spotlight – Liverpool, UK

Circle Spotlight – Liverpool, UK

Circle Spotlight is a new feature of our blog…
An opportunity to explore the many circles of Gather the Women worldwide by focussing on one at a time and learning about the circle’s history and members.

The first circle we are visiting is in Liverpool, England, UK.

Circle When Meeting a New

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Photo Deb

This circle has been running monthly for 3 years and was started by me, Regional Coordinator for Liverpool, Deborah Zaher. I’m now also the Communications Convener for Gather the Women and my role is to ensure the website, Facebook and Twitter all run smoothly. This includes the website blog, hence the inspiration for this feature arose. I thought about the net of Gather the Women cast all over the world and a desire arose within me to “know” all those sisters out there! As many as possible! To see their faces, know their names, see them sitting in circle. I have a vision of a beautiful book featuring all these Circle Spotlights… All of GTW’s circles… So we can see between two covers the many incredible women of GTW!

I’ll admit, I had no idea what I was doing when I started the Liverpool circle! I had read Jean Shinoda-Bolen’s book Urgent Message from Mother and I had to act. Within reading the first paragraph I was emailing Gather the Women asking how could I help? How could I be the tiniest cog in the works of this important machine? Three years later the Liverpool circle has grown from around 8 women per circle to around 25 women per circle. In the early days I really had no clue what a circle was or how to create one! But the call was so strong… so I did what I could and over the years I’ve learned such valuable  lessons and depth about circle, all through my own experience. I’ve grown with circle and matured with circle and have much to thank circle for. Setting a safe, still space is important to me; when women walk into the room I want their hearts to feel held. I wish for every woman in my circle to feel that she’s sitting on her mama’s lap having her hair stroked and being given undivided, unconditionally loved attention… that it’s okay to be honest, okay to cry, okay to laugh, okay to say nothing. I pay attention to the atmosphere of the room and how it feels and looks… creating beautiful circle centres (sometimes hugely elaborate ones!) and ensuring the space looks and feels calm and relaxed. When I first paid attention to the look and feel of the room, women walked into the room and gasped. Some contacted me afterwards to say as soon as she walked into the room she felt held and safe and I began to consider that how the circle looks can have instant impact before people have even sat down. I spend time in the room alone before circle begins, asking that each woman feels heard, held, connected and loved. That’s my only intention with the circles I facilitate.
It is such an honour to hear women’s journeys, stories, truth… I am inspired by each woman who attends our circle, by her courage, her honesty, her capacity to love. I’m blessed, so very blessed, to know these sparkling women. To all my sistas in Liverpool… I love you very much, I honour you and I support you on your journeys.

Circle Shame

In Liverpool, due to the incredible women who attend our circle, the love we share for each other and due to my passion and perseverance, we’ve created a beautiful, genuine sisterhood. We have over 50 active members who attend at least twice a year. We welcome all women and recently have been running out of chairs and seating women on the floor! We come together and listen intently and gratefully to each other. We all feel safe and held in our space and I always mention that it’s everyone’s responsibility to hold the space for each other and that it’s rare to fully lend your ears and presence to another and that we’re all grateful to each other for doing so.

Circle Centres
As a circle we’ve found that we like to share our feelings, thoughts and stories around emotive deep issues and this has led us to set themes such as “Shame” “Sexuality” “Death and Dying” “Forgiveness” and “The Unspoken.”
After circle there is often a group of us who spend the afternoon together, eating, catching up, sharing ideas… Last month there were 16 of us who shared lunch!
We have a thriving Facebook group… Join us here.

Here are just a few of the incredible women of Liverpool GTW…

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My Name is Aria Maria Christina Madariaga.Photo Aria

What I do for Love~ I live life honestly, authentically and openly as much as I can. Connecting with love though practices of 5 Rhythms Dance, prayer, singing, hugging trees, cycling, walking, simply being~ which fundamentally connects me to the love for myself, others, nature, animals and all in the universe. I honour and respect the energy of love deeply and actively try to practice being consciously aware of love in each moment, as it is always there, deep in my being I know this.

For Fun~ I play…play with children, animals, adults, trees, leaves, the wind, rain, ocean, myself…I simply Play, this is the best fun.

For Money~ I exchange knowledge and wisdom with children. Otherwise known as a Primary School Teacher. Still striving to find the environment and attitude that reflects my hearts passion for teaching and working with children but as I am on that mission I still go to various schools and spread the love, earning some pennies to get me by.

I have been part of GTW Liverpool since March 2011.  I am part of GTW firstly because I was drawn to the first gathering which was on International Women’s Day and my heart wanted to be with a group of women to honour that day. I wasn’t aware of GTW then but as I have attended over the years I am simply part of GTW because it is a safe space where all beautifully different kinds of women gather in a circle, with a candle and simple altar in the middle and speak whatever their truth is in that moment. The guidelines allow fluidity so that no-one is interrupted and all that is said is directed into the middle of the circle. It is an empowering space as it gives women the permission to speak openly and know they are being heard by their sisters. Each woman’s story is respected with sometimes their stories triggering parts of your own. Laughter, pain, tears and more are all shared and deepen the strength within ourselves and being a collective. It illuminates and deepens the threads of the tapestry of life that connects us all as one.

The Liverpool circle is precious. I have journeyed deep with the sisters of Liverpool and have immense love for them all. It is open, affectionate, caring, loving, supportive, diverse, interesting, passionate and real. I love coming together with my scouse sisters.

Being part of GTW Liverpool is deeply important to me as it is a place I feel connection and connection to some women I wouldn’t necessarily cross paths with in my day to day life. It expands my love and connection for the sisters of Liverpool and strengthens my hope for women to feel empowered, connected and loved within a community they can speak their truth, expose all they are without fear and be respected and heard.

Each moment in circle has had a profound effect on me because in each circle I have felt deep love, Love for what’s being shared, Love for the sisters, Love for the circle but one circle I will always hold dear is the circle we honoured one of our sisters who had died. Her spirit was truly honoured, celebrated, loved, missed and respected. I could feel her precious spirit with us that day, as a chair was pulled up for her with flowers and a candle on. I was deeply thankful how the circle held such a beautiful remembrance for her and came together in unity.

To finish, I feel the love of my circle sisters with me always. It is beautiful when we all come together to sit in circle but the circle doesn’t disappear when we are not as I feel connected to them always and for me that is the power of circle~feeling it’s with you always.

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Photo HeathMy name is Heather Stevens.

I love walking, people watching, food and travel. I am a chemotherapy nurse which allows me to meet many different people as part of my job. I love my job because it makes me feel lucky to be healthy and alive every day.

I have been a part of Gather the Women for years… since it began in Liverpool. I am privileged to have watched it grow and develop.

I am part of Gather the Women because it allows me to feel connected to other women. Hearing people’s stories and journey’s makes me realise that although we’re all vastly different, we all share the same scope of emotions and share similar experience. For me it’s a way to feel oneness. The circle guidelines and feeling of equality is spot on! I feel that being in circle has helped me begin to conquer my fear of public speaking, and provides me with a space were I don’t feel judged. I feel safe to speak.

The Liverpool circle is special because it comprises of women of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone has diverse points of view and the most inspiring thing to me is people’s frank openness and total honesty. The kind of honesty that isn’t normally shared in day to day conversation. It’s inspiring and has helped me to become more open outside circle too.

I feel that Gather the Women is part of a shift in our consciousness, it’s about collaboration for good, sisterhood and sticking together. I have met do many beautiful people that I would never have come into contact with in my usual ‘partying’ circles. For that I am very thankful.

Every circle has moved me. I always come out with inspiration, and feel calm and ready to face my day. Hearing the challenges others face makes me feel truly blessed for my life, and in awe of the incredible strength that women posses! Gather the Women has allowed me to meet some wonderful friends and has generally opened my mind. I am very grateful to Deb for starting the Liverpool group and hope other cities can join us.

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My name is Shirley Razbully. For love I write, read and listen to people. People and their stories fascinate me. For fun I read, write, Shirlcook, visit art exhibitions, travel and walk my gorgeous dogs. For money I teach in a further education college or more specifically I am part of the pastoral team there who supports students to realize their potential.

I’ve been part of GTW Liverpool for 14 months. It’s a place where I feel like I belong. I have consciously been on my own spiritual journey since I was about 16 years old, so for 23 years I travelled searching for pockets of communities of kindred spirits who would understand the path my intuition was urging me to take. I was so delighted to find a community of conscious, awakened, interesting, inspirational and glorious women in my own city! I am passionate about and committed to the power of sisterhood and this thrives within GTW circles. On a personal basis our circle is an oasis in which I feel I can truly be myself without the need to apologise for my human failings or edit myself.

Well, before the circle begins you are absolutely guaranteed to receive an amazing heart felt hug from someone, which is such a precious gift. Our circle ebbs and flows. We have quite a few familiar faces who attend circles often but equally there are new participants who contribute their energy to the space when they feel moved to. Attendance is very much flexible and never feels like an obligation. Sistas will be attracted to a theme or moved to attend a particular circle from inner guidance. I am always so touched by the honesty with which women share experiences and wisdom within the circle. We share tough life experiences by creating a safe space in which we can give voice to our wounds, or blessings and our wisdom. We share joys and sorrows. Every circle is common in ritual or structure but no two circles are ever energetically the same. There are often tears shed, belly laughs, realisations made, inspirations struck and moments of deep contemplation within the same circle. It’s amazing how we all interpret the same theme in such different ways. There is a feeling of security, nurturing, acceptance and connection. We are a frank group of women who share the most intimate details and have the courage to be vulnerable in one another’s presence. We have established a true sense of community and often attend events to support one anothers paths outside of circle e.g. art exhibitions, birthdays, house warmings and we are in the process of working on an event to celebrate women which will have to stay under wraps for now! Our wonderful Co-ordinator, Deb Zaher, does an amazing job between circles to keep us updated through social media. The magical space Deb has created through bringing circle to Liverpool is something I will be eternally grateful for!

Being part of the GTW Liverpool circle means so many things: acceptance, connection, belonging, sisterhood, kindness, hope, inspiration, activism. Overall I attend because I enjoy being surrounded by such amazing, beautiful and inspirational women. They remind me who I am and encourage me to evolve into the greatest manifestation of who I am able to become so that I can be of most service to the world. Attending circle is such a nurturing experience. It is essential to me to keep on an authentic life path but I gain so much strength from being connected to my circle sistas. I show up when things are good in my life. I show up when I am struggling and dealing with shadows. Circle embraces me entirely so it has encouraged me to show up even when I’m not feeling strong because it has taught me that it’s ok to be vulnerable. Attending circle has literally changed the course of my life which I will tell you more about below!

I have had many realisations in circle. To respect our confidentiality agreement I will not disclose specific details here but I have found myself revealing parts of myself that were not healed when speaking and been moved to tears. I often recognize myself in the stories of other women and I learn to look at things from a different perspective also when I feel resistance to a statement another makes which challenges my value system.
The most significant circle moment I have had which has had a profound effect on me was when I was facilitating a circle on characters from fiction which have had an impact on you as a woman. I was in the final stages of an MA in Writing and I realized that I wanted to share the magic of circles through a novel entitled, A Circle of Women, which would allow women everywhere to experience fictional circle stories of different characters in the novel and then hopefully inspire the reader to create circles in their own communities. In 2000 I completed an undergraduate degree in Literature and Cultural History, specialising in feminist theory. As a result of researching for the novel I am writing I realised that I wanted to take this even further and devote myself to a PhD on women’s circles and sisterhood in the hope of sparking knowledge of circles in academic arenas and beyond. So you see, circles have literally altered the course of my life and I intend to add my voice and my pen to spreading the word far and wide about the magical impact that women’s circles can have on women both personally and politically. Germaine Greer was right when she stated, ‘The personal is still political’. You can find out more about my writing at:

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SheaMy name is Shea Sumner and out of love I take care of my boyfriend’s little boy 2-3 times a week , I sing my heart out at least once a day and I love to play with my new kitty kat Berbo who also loves his cuddles!! I love to spend time with my boyfriend and everyday I call my loved ones to have my daily chat. I am a very sociable person and I love to socialise with my friends.
I have been part of Gather the Women for a while now, I probably started going at the start of 2013. I started going to GTW as I had a hard time coping with my past more things were uncovered and I didn’t understand reasons behind why things had happened. I was in a pretty dark and gloomy place before I started GTW but our Liverpool circle is amazingly heart-warming and open. It is filled with women who are, I have to say, the loveliest women I have ever met. Everyone listens and it is judge free, no one judges they just open there ears and hearts. Being part of this circle means a lot to me as it’s helped unpick the questions I had over the past so I can slowly learn to put them to rest slowly moving on with just happiness no more pain. Each and every circle I attend have a great impact on my life, one specific circle was the Shame circle. I think we all feel shame at some point in our lives and I believe shame is a killer, fills you with nothing but anger and embarrassment, this helped me realise that I should never be ashamed for who I am.
I love my sistas at our Liverpool circle! Friends for life! Xxx xxx

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Laura Mc

My name is Laura McKenna (Laura and Shea, above, are real life sisters – Deborah Z) and I love to sing and write songs and being a mummy is my fave job. I love to socialise and be with all my amazing friends. I have been a part of Gather the Women for just under a year I think now and the reason I am part of GTW  is because it is beautiful, peaceful and a place to feel safe an not be judged. It allows me to let go of all the things I hold back and wouldn’t usually share. The Liverpool circle is a beautiful special circle, the way all of the woman just come together and support each other. Being a part of Gather the Women I feel honoured and just so blessed to be part of such a gorgeous thing. Sharing with women and relating and just generally comforting each other. I love how the circle brings you all together and you just feel appreciation from all.

The circle that will stay with me for ever was saying goodbye to our special beautiful circle sista Carla. That day helped me to deal with it. I had struggled with it and I found closure. After our circle we went to lay flowers outside her home an formed a special circle adn said our goodbyes. Dedicating our circle to Carla was so so special and filled me with such emotion. I will never ever forget that day. It was such a strange experience feeling like she was with us at times and just a sense of comfort and LOVE. xxx


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My name is Joan George, I work with the mind, body and spirit for love and for fun – it is my life. I have been involved with GTW for a year. It is a wonderful space where women from all walks of life can safely share their amazing stories, inspiring all in the circle, giving a sense of belonging and of being supported. The Liverpool circle is the only circle I have any experience of, and all I can say is that if any other circle are anything like Liverpool, they must be outstanding circles.




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I’m Louise Cheers. I love spending time with my dog out walking in the countryside and sharing my love for house music with my partner going to gigs and concerts. I work for an investment bank in Liverpool and I’m currently studying for a diploma in Investment Advice. I’ve been part of GTW for over two years now and amongst other reasons I joined for friendship and support. Being part of Gather the Women Liverpool allows me to meet-up with like-minded females who are interested in topics that impact on women both locally and far-afield. Not only am I able to participate in group sessions, but, I take the opportunity to socialise with those who attend afterwards. I am always made to feel very welcome and feel that I can contribute in a safe environment free from any prejudices. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy each and every circle I have attended and from these I take away much love and happiness.



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JackieI have been part of Gather the Women in Liverpool since October 2012. I discovered it at a time when I was awakening to new possibilities in my life, to being more of my true self and opening my heart to love – for myself and others. The first circle I went to the theme was ‘mindfulness’ and we concentrated on our breathing and what mindful meditation meant to each of us. This was so helpful for me as this was something I was beginning to explore as part of my blossoming ‘soul-full-ness’.

As I have become more familiar with the circle and the safe and deep space it provides for me, I have been enabled to be open about who I am and what is important in my life. Being accepted and loved unconditionally within the circle has taught me so much and I have taken this into my everyday life and living, sharing with others and offering unconditional love and acceptance to myself and  the people around me as much as I can!

Being part of the circle has brought a deep sense of love and belonging, sharing my innermost thoughts, dreams and longings with a loving and accepting group of women. Some women struggle  at times to express their feelings, their sadness, their joy but the love that is offered, in respectful  and honouring silence, is felt by all who gather.
Gather The Women in Liverpool offers a beautiful and inspiring model of ‘circle’ – through the sense of love and safety, respect and being heard, I have experienced a real sense of equality and equanimity, of compassion and generosity.

For one circle the theme was sexuality and relationships. Having been married for many years I loved this rare opportunity to speak of my enduring love for my husband and his for me…to speak of continuing to have a wonderful intimate relationship with the same man for so long…It is something I don’t often share and It was liberating to speak of it, to celebrate it and to speak of my beautiful man. After the circle two women came to me to thank me for sharing, that they had no experience of anyone being married for so long and still being in love! It was good to feel I had touched them and they had felt blessed by my words. And that is what happens in our circle – people feel blessed through speaking and listening, through remaining silent and opening up, perhaps for the first time speaking from the heart more than the head.

My name is Jackie O’Carroll…for love I have lovely family, especially my husband, son and daughter, friends and ‘tribe’ who support me in my vision, my dreams and my work.  My journey is about opening my heart to others and enabling others to open their hearts; it is about loving myself for my imperfections, my mistakes and my determination to continue to grow and blossom, to be all that I can be, all that is waiting for me!

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I’m Clare Campbell.Clare

For over 18 years I have been following my passion birthing social enterprises which help people heal and connect in juicy circles and creative spaces! I have been part of the Liverpool circle for over a year but before then I was part of the Millionth Circle where I met so many incredible women from all over the world.

I have been sitting in circle in many ways since my twenties and have never found a place to call home as deeply as in circle. I am part of the Liverpool Circle because I am passionate about connecting in deep authentic ways with my sistas and I see many of the women as my family, my tribe. The Liverpool circle is evolving, growing, earthy, candlelit, divinely held and always involves lots of raucous chatting afterwards in local cafes! It is where I meet my tribe, touch base with my sistas and connect with the diverse topics we raise.

Every circle gives me something… I loved it when we looked at the topic of what we don’t talk about and don’t say in circle (Clare facilitated this deep circle – Deborah Z)… I loved hearing the unspoken and unspeakable given space…. I know we are going to just keep getting juicier! Yay!

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