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HELLO UNIVERSE! CONNECTING THROUGH WOMEN’S CIRCLES

Image Credit – Nicola Wood

Nicola Wood founded a charity for those seeking sanctuary in Swindon and now juggles a role at a charity supporting carers alongside the needs of her young family. In the summer of 2022, she launched Women Replanting – circles for sharing and supporting others, which are held in-person and online. Here she shares her deep connections to nature and how she tries to live a more sustainable life. You can follow her on Instagram: @womenreplanting 

1. Can you describe where your connections to the planet (universe) grew from? Ie your sense of Gaia 

I’ve always been spiritual, as a child I was made to go to church but it never felt right for me, where were the women, why did they say it was the masculine that birthed a world when us women bring the creative life force out into the world? Where was the balance? It was clear that when I was outside, especially around trees I felt connected to something bigger than us all in this life. I got my first meditation book when I was around 13 and a Buddhist book that spoke about leading a life that could lead to having a ‘good death’ which opened up to me the cycles of life, the seasons, presence and awareness. Time spent outside becoming more aware of all that’s living other than humans has been a big part of my connection to Gaia, there is knowing in the trees, in the ocean, in the rocks. Our egos have been blind to listen but our ancestors knew and we all have deep inner knowing we can reach too. Now I know much more deeply how my inner cycles as a woman, my bleeds, all mirror the seasons, the wild parts of ourselves,  that we are all part of the consciousness of the universe, part of the stardust, the fire, rocks and breath of life.

2. How does this sense of the world influence your daily life? 

It’s part of how I live, there is now a sacredness to my daily routine; I start my mornings with honouring in the garden, facing each direction in turn honouring the elements and all they bring to my life followed by yoga movement and meditation. It also helps me to reflect on my choices in what I choose to buy and my impact on the earth. We as humans are walking contradictions and I in no way get this perfectly right, some days are better than others. It’s sad that our society also means to have ethics in your spending choices you need to be also privileged and/or financially well off. This is something I battle with as a family on a budget. However I care for all I come into contact with and this costs me nothing, from the people I meet to the birds in the garden I greet them all with love and care.

3. What is Women Replanting? 

Women Replanting is the name I offer and hold women circles under,  both online and in-person in Swindon, Wiltshire. The circles we hold are for anyone who identifies as a woman to be held in a space where we slow down, where we can share or stay silent, where we deeply listen to each of our sister’s stories, we do not try to fix or give advice, we can speak our truths without the expectation of comment on our words. We are truly heard, we don’t need to pretend to be anyone or anything, all the masks we wear in our day to day can be left off. This is a space of deep connection and community, it’s a radical, gentle and yet powerful way of gathering. 

Why Women Replanting as a name? As we all become more conscious of ourselves, our actions and our impact on the world, as we become more present in every ordinary moment of our lives, giving ourselves more time to pause & listen we are grounding, rooting back to our true connection to ourselves but also to the whole of the living earth we are part of. With this ‘knowing’ we also acknowledge the spirals and cycles of life; how life is not linear. We truly accept the inevitability of death and we feel more alive for it. As we come together in a circle as women, gathering again like our ancestors, as many indigenous tribes still do, bringing new stories to an ancient way of gathering,  

we re-plant, re-member and re-ignite deep wisdom within us that I believe we all hold. We begin to plant seeds of deep-rooted connection and collaboration. We are Women Re-planting with ourselves, each other and the earth.

4. What benefits do the women who attend report? 

Each woman gets something different from joining a circle but some of the common threads are how grounded they feel, how listening to others makes them feel less alone, more connected, a power in their vulnerability and shares, truly heard and seen, others have left the space feeling nourished. Some enjoy the chance for silence whilst others discover how little they have silence in their lives and how it’s teaching them to settle into the silent moments in a circle. many comments on taking the practice of listening and trying not to instantly feedback or ‘fix’ others into their day-to-day encounters. 

5. You worked closely with refugees – what have they taught you? 

My work with people who are seeking sanctuary in the UK (in legal terms people who are refugees and asylum seekers) has taught me so much. On one hand, the horrors that other humans are capable of can be unbearable to face up to and yet the resilience, strength, care and love the people who have suffered and the many who are still suffering show – and have to live with the memories of while trying to put their lives back together – gives me such hope for humanity. It also highlights the luck of the draw, where you are born, where conflict, dictators, and persecution ensue, that any one of us would wish to flee to safety, to help our loved ones to do so if their life was in danger. Our common humanity, the threads that unite us is so obvious to me, that we should help each other, that welcoming people to safety and our communities become more enriched by being culturally diverse. Sadly this is not the thoughts of all and having to leave the charity at a time when the environment for people in the UK asylum system is at its most hostile has been incredibly difficult. 

6. Please name some of your favourite eco products and lifestyle habits

My go-to for eco and ethical products is Peace with the Wild, we use shampoo bars and refill conditioners from there as a family. We all have thick curly hair so I love to get the Bain and Savon orange shampoo bar (smells amazing)! and the Nirvana Natural super omega-7 conditioner. I don’t like to wash hair too often, allowing the natural oils to breathe so for us this goes a long way. Same for showers/baths, I suffered from eczema head to toe as a child and realised as I got into my teens that only using natural products on my skin and not washing the skin daily has helped to heal it completely, and also saves water! I love Ben and Anna Natural Toothpaste – whitening and fluoride-free, I’ve tried a few natural ones and this is my favourite by far. As a family, we use bamboo toothbrushes. I also use Kuti natural deodorant and natural makeup from Zao. I used to be a manager at Neals Yard Remedies in Bristol in my early twenties and I still love their wild rose beauty balm. I like to cycle or walk, especially as I don’t drive. My husband recently got an electric bike which he uses for his daily work commute instead of driving the car. When my kids were smaller I ferried them everywhere in the bike trailer. I try not to buy new clothes, and I like re-fashion and recently discovered Vinted. When buying new I try to go with ethical, eco-conscious brands created for lifelong use such as Thought Clothing. I also have been enjoying sewing up and fixing holes in some of my favourite items. I also wear only Barefoot shoes which are long-lasting whilst also healing issues with my hip/knees after 3 pregnancies. As a family we holiday by camping, we love our bell tent and it helps us all to reconnect to our natural surroundings, have less ‘stuff’ and be outside 90% of the time. Our food as a family can be tricky, I was veggie for a while, tried vegan and now eat meat but prefer to be mostly veggie. It’s an ongoing struggle with food, wishing to eat seasonally and locally produced alongside a tightening food budget can be difficult for a family of 5. It’s one area where my ethics don’t feel matched with the food I consume and finding ways to get closer to this is important to me. 

Nicola Wood – Interviewee

07/11/12

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