Meeting Fiorella Kis-Major in 2015 was a synchronistic moment.
It was a few months after I’d returned from an initiation journey in Mexico. My intention for that journey had been to ‘heal my womb-space’, and so for the many months that followed, this is what was activated in my body and life.
During that potent time, new teachers and friends came along, as did documented wisdom stories of the old ways; memories of how women used to care, nourish and support themselves and each other, as a community.
All of which helped me make sense of what I’d seen and felt during my initiatory experiences.
In the weeks before meeting Fiorella, the idea of Women’s Circles kept flickering in my mind, and my desire to know more about the ancient origins of the gatherings kept tugging at me.
And this is when Fiorella and I met.
Fiorella is the creator of The Nourishing Goddess. She is a teacher of yoga & meditation, a writer and a speaker.
Her mission is to help women see self-care as a necessity and not a luxury.
And this is her wisdom.
M: Welcome Fiorella! To begin, will you share a little about yourself with us?
F: I’m a yoga and meditation teacher, coach, writer and speaker, and my biggest passion is helping women see self-care as a necessity and not a luxury.
Women by our very nature are very giving and nurturing. We look after everyone. In the office, we’re the ones washing the dishes. In the home, we’re the ones making sure everyone is fed.
My whole approach is ‘the oxygen mask’ concept from the airlines. Women really need to start putting that mask on themselves first. I don’t mean this from a selfish perspective at all. We are a global community and I believe that men and women look after each other, but we just need to make sure we’re coming from a solid foundation. Standing within our own power and looking after ourselves: so that we can then look after our friends, family, pets and whatever else is going on, from a stronger and more full place.
Why this is my huge passion, is because 10 years ago, I wasn’t really looking after myself.
In my early 20’s my body was sending me a lot of strong signals and messages, and I wasn’t listening until it was a little bit too late. So now I’d like to guide women before they hit rock bottom, to learn the messages, because our body, especially as women, is sending us messages all the time, and it’s so important to listen to them.
M: Thank-you for sharing Fiorella. As we speak, your passion for your work absolutely comes through! And I can completely relate to all of what you’ve said, as it was my very own experiences of not listening to my body, or knowing where to begin, that brought me to healing and Kinesiology.
Now, I’m really excited to speak to you about something in particular that you’ve created; your Goddess Sessions…
Can you tell us a little bit about Goddess Sessions and speak to Women’s Circles in general?
F: Out of all the work that I do, I’ll be completely honest; it’s my favourite thing to do. I run monthly workshops called The Goddess Sessions. Basically it’s a three-hour workshop where I have candles going, there’s oils and incense… I set up a very lush and sacred space.
Women come of all ages and backgrounds, and that’s what I really love the most. I’ll have someone there in their late-teens, and there will also be someone in their mid 50’s, and every age in-between.
So the focus for us is to gather in this sacred space… Really, women have been doing this since the dawn of time, and it makes me a little sad that when I mention Goddess Sessions, I see this fear (with compassion) because women are afraid nowadays. What’s going to come up in that sacred space? What is another woman going to talk about? What’s that going to bring up for me?
M: What do you sense that fear is really about?
F: The unknown, showing that vulnerability in the unknown in front of everyone else, and also witnessing it for yourself.
I get that what I’m doing is providing a very deep space for women to go into spaces that they’re willing to go. I’ve had women cry, had women have breakthroughs, and I have other women come just because they love to.
M: Will you share a little about the origins of women’s circles?
F: There’s an incredible book called The Red Tent, by Anita Diamont. It’s one of my favourite books, and it’s changed my life.
It speaks about a group of sisters in biblical times, and they would get together when someone what giving birth or menstruating, under this red tent.
It’s all about the divine collective feminine and women supporting and nurturing each other.
The origins are pre-biblical. We would sit together in a Red Tent, when women were giving birth, or women were menstruating. We would gather in this tent and be fed by the tribe, and the community around them would feed them, honey, cake, milk – which sounds so decadent – and all this nourishing foods whilst they were bleeding.
They would sit on hay, and let it flow and just stop. Which is very different to what we do now. This is the origins of what women would do, and how they were taught to care for themselves.
They would actually stop during that moon time and allow their bodies to heal and allow themselves to be vulnerable.
What makes me sad is that nowadays we plug it up, take a pill and we just keep going. And we keep pushing. We don’t stop and we don’t listen to our bodies when it’s in pain.
And so what our version these days looks like, I feel, is cocktails, high-heels, sex in the city… and as fun as that is, I feel that it’s only a mirage of connection. And so by taking away those barriers: the alcohol, the stimulants, women’s circles provide an environment for women to come back to their calling, come back to nurturing and supporting each other.
M: I love all of this, and know the depth of connection that comes from allowing the synthetic layers of life to drop. I also understand how vulnerable it can feel when you first come to sit in such a space, and how much courage it takes to show up.
For those women who have never been a part of a Women’s Circle before, what is the best advice you would offer to find a circle that best resonates, and also how can they can prepare themselves for their experience?
F: I’ll be very transparent here: I’ve gone to some circles myself, being very passionate about them, and gone: “you know, that was interesting and that was beautiful, but it didn’t quite scratch the itch for me”.
So I would say to ‘just have fun.’
Don’t see it as something serious, or worry that you’re going to say or do the wrong thing. If you’re going in placing expectation on yourself to come across in a spiritual or intellectual way, concentrate instead on connecting with your sisters and trying circles out.
There’s a plethora out there, which makes me so happy because I feel the divine feminine is coming back into focus. Google women’s circles Melbourne, or Sydney, or wherever you find yourself in the world.
Go, try, speak to other women that you meet at the circles you go to, and ask them, or take them along to another one with you.
My number one tip would be, if you are a woman exploring this and feeling a little self conscious, take your bestie, take your sister, take your mum, and that way you’ve got your support network within the circle, so that if stuff comes up for you, or that things feels a little weird, you have a support safety net with you.
If you’re in an area where there aren’t any women’s circles, start your own.
Once a month, invite some of your sisters over, or invite a friend; put out some candles, some beautiful nourishing food, and spend some time together. Take the power into your own hands and have that be your bonding time with your friends, instead of going for a shopping trip or a drunken night out.
Don’t be afraid to start your own circle.
M: Are there any guidelines for the creation of women’s circles that you can offer, particularly around the sacred container that needs to be held? I ask as naturally some women will hold space for others to vent, and then may walk away feeling depleted, instead of nourished and held, which is the intention for women’s circles.
F: That’s a really good point. I feel it’s important to have a theme and discussion questions. For example, self-love, and then a whole lot of questions related to self-love, and then allow the conversation to flow amongst the group.
When you feel like a topic has become stale and stuck, ask a new question, and above all make everyone feel that any answer is valid. Everything is welcome. There are no right or wrong answers.
And have fun! Above all, this is what we’re here to do.
M: You mentioned ‘gathering with your sisters’. This is something I’m also deeply passionate about, and so I’m interested to know what you’ve witnessed in others when you’ve joined a circle and have the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with other women.
F: From the moment we all ‘step in’, we come in with that backpack of luggage – the story – to see woman just let it go as the evening progresses, seeing the fabric of the skin on the face soften, and to feel it within myself, that for me is the most inspiring thing.
We haven’t gone shopping, we haven’t taken drugs or had any alcohol. It’s just from sitting there, supporting one another, listening to each other. It’s such deep magic that can happen which is so inspiring for me.
I also hear a lot that people love doing this work in groups. There’s something about that group dynamic that allows people to soften as opposed to being in their living room trying to do it alone.
M: Over time, how has your relationship to yourself transformed from doing this work for yourself?
F: We were talking a lot about fear, and fears that come up whilst doing this work… I’m an all girls catholic high school rebel, and I was severely traumatised by that experience. When I would see packs of women, for a very long time I would think “are they going to judge me, are they going to become bitchy…”
M: Ah, yes! This experience is really so common isn’t it? I believe this is one of the reasons some women have an aversion to being with other women, which is something I commonly hear. That they prefer being with men because they’re straight forward.
I think one of the definite benefits of seeking out your sisters, the women who understand you, and gathering in circle with them, is that you find that it’s actually safe to be with other women, and trust develops.
F: I really relate to that because in my early 20’s, all my friends were male. And what I found is that I then rejected the softness within me, the feminine in me. I dressed very masculine and I felt that if I showed any softness or vulnerability I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
And that is what I see as the biggest danger of womankind; is that we can’t always operate from that yang, go go go mode.
M: We’re not really meant to though are we? We’ve been taught to operate in a more high-functioning masculine way, rather than taught to honour the power and wisdom of the divine feminine ways; intuition, trust, discernment, rest and then action in alignment with intuition.
F: Absolutely. So I would say, any fear around the female pack mentality, understand that it’s the dark side of the female psyche. Thought, where there is that dark side, I have also seen there is such light and healing power from sisters coming together. When women guide each other, I just see the melting.
M: You’ve mentioned vulnerability, and power. I would love to hear your take on the merging of the two.
F: Vulnerability and Power. These are two words that I try to weave into my daily life actually, and we’ve been talking about cycles, and menstruation and birth. Females are by design, cyclical in nature.
In any given moment, over a four week period, we’re ovulating and in our power, and constantly creating life.
M: Yes, we are. We’re constantly in creative motion, and ‘birth’ every single month. When I first connected with this knowing, it was such an illuminating, liberating, empowering moment.
F: We’re freaking amazing! We’re creating an egg within ourselves, and I’m not saying that all women need to create life, but we’re birthing new projects, starting new friendships…
We are creatirixes by design.
M: I think this is a really important point to make, because many women don’t realise that every single month, we’re building up this incredible creative life force energy which needs to be funnelled into some form of creative birth. And yes, it’s not necessarily human life, but some kind of creative birth.
F: Whatever it is. If you’re a passionate home cook, and that’s your thing, that’s creativity.
I love what you’ve just said because women sometimes hear the word ‘creativity’ and they think “I’m not a creative enough person. I work for an insurance company. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
And I completely want to dispel that myth. We all have something we’re passionate about. Knitting, gardening – I don’t care what it is! Whatever burns your fire and gets you going.
We are creating on a monthly basis, and yes, you don’t have to have a child or be a mother to feel creative, and to birth. Yes! I love that.
Then, if we come to the other side, to vulnerability, I think it’s also equally powerful to put your phone on silent, not look at your emails, and for the first two or three days of your period, say “you know what life, I’m going to sit in bed with a hot water bottle, and just soften into myself.”
If there’s one take-away from all of this: feel what you’re feeling.
If you’re feeling powerful, don’t squash with self-judgement or criticism from others. Own your power. It’s your birth-rite. If you’re feeling vulnerable, don’t be pressured into feeling like you need to operate from a yang place. It’s all about honouring that cycle.
M: I want to go back to what you said about taking the first two or three days of your period to sit with yourself, stop and rest. There will be some women reading this who’s first thought is “I don’t have two or three days to do that.”
There will also be other women who feel that going into a softer, hermit-like space, is the ‘wrong thing to do’, because we’ve learned that the ‘right thing to do’ is to continue on, push through and show up with a cheerful face, even if it’s not the truth of how they’re really feeling. We’ve been taught to honour the social conditioning of society, before the innate call of our body wisdom.
What would you like to share with the women reading this who feel these ways, to help them feel safe enough to slow down, and honour how they’re feeling?
F: I love this. I actually had a client very recently go through this and I said to her; “Sunday, all day. I want that to be your day.” And the look of terror and horror! The feelings of being selfish.
Break anything that seems insurmountable into bite-sized pieces.
Even if it’s one hour per week, in that one hour, you’re doing what makes you happy. If that’s reading a book, having a cup of tea, or walking to your local farmers market. Whatever it may be. You’re dedicating that time to what makes you feel good.
You’re absolutely right, three days is a complete luxury for most of us, myself included, though begin somewhere, and this becomes your nourishing practice.
M: It’s about self-permission as well isn’t it? Re-learning to nourish yourself on all levels. And that it’s not just a luxury, that it’s quite necessary.
F: Absolutely. If you’re not filling your own cup from within, you go into burnout. We’ve all had that moment of ‘crash and burn.’
We’re seeing record levels of cortisol in the body, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, because we are pushing and pushing and pushing ourselves.
This isn’t me just being hippy-dippy about it all and saying “walk-through the flowers.” It’s what we need. Whatever that may be.
Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you Fiorella, for your infinite wisdom, passion and devotion to your message.
To connect with Fiorella and stay in regular contact, visit The Nourishing Goddess.
Now It’s Your Turn.
What one simple message resonated with your heart, which can serve as a reminder to cultivate your relationship with your body and self?
What one act of self-loving-kindness will you bring into your life today?
And, how do you gather in circle with your sisters, with the same devotion of our ancestors?
Let me know in the comments below.
Much love and soul wellness,
Ready to work together? Schedule your 1:1 Shamanic Kinesiology session in Elwood, or via Skype.
Come along to the Gathering Circle. It begins Thursday 6th of October.
Seeking restorative self-healing practices? Download 31 Days of Soul Wellness here.