The experience of transformation in circles of women: Development of voice in a sacred setting
This study explored the possibility that participation in a women's circle that holds a sacred center can serve as a useful process in creating transformational change. Twelve coresearchers, 2 African American, 2 multiracial, and 8 Caucasian women, aged 45 to 61, who had been part of a women's circle for 3 1/2 years or more, participated in individual, 1 to 1 ½ hour, in-person, and in-depth interviews during which they answered questions designed to promote a full description of their stories of participation in a women's circle. A qualitative research method was utilized combining the organic inquiry approach and feminist research methods. A narrative was written for each of the coresearchers to illustrate her experiences of growth and transformation. Numerous themes emerged from analysis of the data including increased feelings of connection; reports of taking circle practices into relationship, work, and community settings; increased appreciation for diversity; increased emotional awareness and healing; feelings of empowerment; increased ability to handle conflict; increased confidence and authenticity; increased communication and listening skills; increased spirituality and association with the Feminine Sacred; and increased vitality and creativity. In response to 3 additional questions, the coresearchers affirmed and validated their experiences of transformation that occurred as a result of participation in this research. The responses of 4 early readers served as a measure of validation of the findings. The findings of this study supported the premises put forth by the relational-cultural theory that the development of self occurs best in relationships that support increasing capacity for mutually supportive interdependence and competence in relationships, with other properties of self, such as assertiveness and creativity, developing within the underlying context of interrelatedness. This study illustrates the growth and development that are possible through participation in women's circles that hold a sacred center.*
*This dissertation is a compound document (contains both a paper copy and a CD as part of the dissertation). The CD requires the following system requirements: Adobe Acrobat.
0453: Womens studies