Circle of celebration | SteamboatToday.com

Circle of celebration

Women gather to embrace autumnal equinox

Autumn Phillips

The autumnal equinox is the time when day and night are equal, when the sun crosses over the Earth’s equator.

On this day, the sun will begin to rise at the South Pole after six months of darkness, beginning six months of daylight.

This year, the autumnal equinox took place at 11:30 p.m. Monday.

With the spirit of the equinox in mind, a group of women plan to meet Saturday night to drum and talk and celebrate.

Windhorse of the Rockies, owned by Sally Breedlove and Sherry Benson, invited two women from Fort Collins to lead the circle.

Katie Hoffner spends her days as a marketer, meeting deadlines from her Fort Collins office, but she leads experiential groups for women whenever she gets a chance.

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She and partner Zett Amora led a drum circle in Fort Collins on Monday night to celebrate the equinox.

“I’m always amazed what happens when women gather in a circle and share their stories,” Hoffner said. “It’s great to be able to celebrate what’s going on in Mother Earth’s natural cycles.”

The experience varies with every circle, she said.

“When we are celebrating the autumnal equinox, which is one of our universal truths, we are celebrating balance in the night. (Balance is) something every person in our society is struggling with,” she said.

The key to the evening, she said, is gathering people in a circle. In circle, everyone can see each other’s faces.

“Circles create a safe space. Even corporations use them for team building,” she said. “It’s a place for exchange.”

Once everyone is settled, they begin to drum.

“Everyone has musical talent whether they think they do or not,” Hoffner said. “This is an ancient way of expressing our souls.”

They encourage people to come to the drumming circle even if they don’t have a drum. They ask people who have extra drums to bring them.

The drumming begins with a simple rhythm.

“Our rhythm is our heart beat,” she said.

The autumnal equinox takes place in the harvest season.

“We will talk about harvesting the fruits of Mother Earth and about harvesting ourselves,” Hoffner said.

They ask participants not to think about it much. They ask, “What are you harvesting in this moment?”

“It can be as literal as harvesting a new business or harvesting a relationship,” Hoffner said. “When you share that exchange of stories, it is always empowering for the teller and the receiver.”

The evening will be spontaneous, Hoffner said. “I think that’s the real beauty of it. We are drumming, but we are not trying to play a tune.”

Hoffner and Amora have been leading similar groups for several years.

“Being in the corporate world, I travel a lot and this is a lovely way to gather and share and build a bridge between your other life,” Hoffner said. “I don’t call it ‘time out.’ I call it ‘time in.’ It’s time to take some quiet time and have people witness where you are in that moment.”

The Windhorse owners met Hoffner through Steamboat resident Anne Rooney. Hoffner and Rooney were sitting next to each other on a flight to Denver.

When the conversation turned to the women’s circles that Hoffner led, Rooney knew exactly who should meet whom.

Breedlove and Benson formed Windhorse of the Rockies with the goal of opening a retreat center outside Steamboat Springs. For now, however, they have been focusing on connecting women through events such as this winter’s “Circles of Wisdom” lecture series, where older women shared their life stories.

“This is going to be a celebration of the autumnal equinox,” Breedlove said. “It is an opportunity for women to celebrate this time of year. I have no idea what it will mean to anyone else, but these circles are very beautiful and always open a lot of hearts.”