Seeking the Sacred in Women’s Gifting Circles

UNDERLYING STRUCTURES:
Recently there has been much debate about the groups calling themselves “Women’s Wisdom Circles,”  “Women’s Gifting Circles,” and “Vision Sisters” (among other titles), which claim to be examples of an emerging Sacred Economy.

The criticisms of “Circle” are wide-ranging, including social, ethical and personal levels. In this post, however, I am focusing specifically on a deeper look at the underlying structure of Circle: does it actually represent a sacred economy? Is it fundamentally sustainable?

I am a woman attempting here to communicate a balanced feminine/masculine view based on my research into sacred and living systems. I write these words in hopes of shedding some light on a goal that many of us hold dear: the creation of a sustainable and truly sacred economic model that embodies the concept of “The Gift.” I hope it will be received by Circle** Women.

**(I use the word Circle here as a matter of convenience in this post, even though I do not agree that the structure resembles a circle.)

MATHEMATICS and THE SACRED
When confronted with the basic mathematics that seem to prove that Circles** are destined to collapse, defenders of Circle often accuse their critics of being stuck in a “masculine” way of thinking that is far too linear to understand the “feminine” dynamics of Circle, which purportedly go deeper than surface math might predict.

Supporters claim that the Circle is an exciting and promising evolution beyond our larger growth-based economy where the deck is stacked against women’s success, generally speaking. They claim that it contrasts the larger economy by operating on spiritual principles, supporting life and empowerment of its members.

If this were true, it is reasonable to expect that Circle structure would function in alignment with natural and universal energy systems, where the male and female principles are in balance. An inquiry into Circle dynamics would ostensibly reveal fundamental harmony with fields such as Sacred Geometry, Unified Field Theory, and Living Systems Theory, which are examples not of “masculine” or “linear” thinking, but rather the basic principles by which all systems—living, energetic, cosmic, social—function.

By comparing Circle to these most Sacred of disciplines, I am hoping we can steer clear of knee-jerk dismissals (“too masculine!”) and arrive at an accurate assessment of Circle structures.

FLOWERS UNFURL
Let’s look at one chart commonly used by Circle participants to envision the structure. It is pictured as a flower. Simply beautiful! Who wouldn’t want to join?

lotuschart.jpg

But a closer look reveals a strangeness. I know of no flower that actually looks like this, with a rather squarish format, and two petals beside the core. Flowers in the real world generally follow a Sacred geometry called the “Golden Mean” or “Fibonnaci Sequence,” which is a complex spiralling pattern, not a simple doubling: one, then two, then four, then eight.

And even more importantly, flowers unfurl. The flow of this Circle flower is inward, as the “appetizers” give their cash “gifts” into the center. There is no flower in the world that has a continuous inward flow. Even flowers that close up at night furl and unfurl in a diurnal rhythm that is balanced. And they all end up feeding the larger ecosystem by design, as petals drop. Quite unlike Circle dynamics, where the core “dessert” position is the one that drops out.

This concept of an imploding bloom is not only innaccurate (more like a black hole than a flower), it is inappropriate at best, and at worst, deliberately misleading. The only structure that is even remotely comparable to this “eight-four-two-one” sequence is a pyramid. There ARE INDEED pyramids present in sacred geometry, but they have balancing features associated with them, as I will discuss later in this post.

For now, let’s follow this flower analogy even further. Say you have a field of annual flowers, in which the plant grows, flowers, all the while shedding leaves, petals and seeds to the earth. Eventually the whole plant, stem and all, decomposes, adding nutrients to the soil in which the next generation of seeds can now sprout.

In previous posts, I have used the example of a forest, in which mature trees drops leaves, branches, etc. to nurture the growing saplings. This is the way of nature: The current generation gives the “gifts” of its own body to feed the next.

Our growth-based economy does the opposite, cannibalizing the ecological inheritance of future generations to feed an increasingly voracious present. In effect, our paedophageous society has got it backwards: eating its children, instead of feeding them.

The structure of Circle is similar, as the new entrants are required to feed the elders of the scheme, with material gifts flowing effectively from the youth to the elder. This aspect of Circle Culture would need some drastic revisioning to truly qualify as Gift Culture.

HOW DO PYRAMIDS FIT INTO SACRED GEOMETRY?–The work of Physicist Nassim Haramein

As I mentioned above, pyramids do indeed occur in nature. A congregation of pyramids alternating directions comprises the sacred geometric figure the Star Tetrahedron. star_tetrahedron_manifestation_largeIn fact, the Star Tetrahedron has played a central role in the work of physicist Nassim Haramein in furthering Unified Field Theory.

It is quite significant to this discussion that Haramein arrived at some of his most important contributions to Einstein’s work by including movement (spin, or torque) to equations modelling the space-time continuum, instead of Einstein’s more static conception of space-time.

The addition of this audacious and curvy, “feminine” element to the (“masculine”) field of mathematics proved to be a key insight in resolving some of the previous roadblocks in Unified Field Theory.

Haramein’s amazing work shows that the underlying structures of all magnetic and gravitational fields— including the Earth’s—occur in star (double) tetrahedron shapes. These pyramids are clustered together so that they are pointing both upwards AND downwards, in a balance of gravitational and electro-magnetic forces that creates overall stability and ultimate sustainability.

This balance is represented in a more basic form by the ancient symbols of the Star of David, comprised of a triangle pointing up, and a triangle pointing down, and the Yin-Yang, indicating the continual flow between expansion and contraction.

Star of David Yin-Yang

We can see the Star of David and Yin Yang in action in another important figure in Sacred Geometry, the Double Torus, which is essentially a Star Tetrahedron set in motion. According to Haramein’s Unified Field Theory, the Double Torus illustrates the underlying structure and movement of everything in the Universe, from the smallest subatomic structures to the largest black holes (renamed “Black Wholes”) and everything in-between, including human energy fields and social/economic structures. Please have a look at the 3D (or is it 4D?) illustration at the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exc7TW8pSNM

Here is another view of the double torus, the result of two opposing forces reaching equilibrium, thereby forming a recursive feedback loop. In contrast, pyramid schemes are an example of a vicious circle (positive feedback loop), which moves towards collapse if unchecked.

http://vacuumsingularity.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/u4bubble.gif

SACRED GEOMETRY AND WOMEN’S GIFTING CIRCLES
There is something strikingly out-of-sync with sacred geometry & cosmometry about the current structure of the Women’s “Circle”: the constant funneling of money from the appetizers to dessert, with no equalizing flow back outwards of this money. Remember that the toroidal flow of the Yin-Yang does not merely travel inwards. It necessarily and holistically moves outwards as well.

Case in point: Even if every single woman in “dessert” reinvested 100%—all $40,000—of their “gift” money back into “appetizer,” it fails to offset the exponentially-widening base of the pyramid. For one woman to get to dessert, 32 women must be recruited. Which means even a $40,000 reinvestment offsets only 8 (of 32) women.

The result is a continual cash flow from the many to the few, which is impossible to maintain over time. For this structure to be sustainable, the concentration of funds into the “dessert” position must be stabilized by an appropriate “pay it forward” style-redistribution.

Because they are not balanced by an opposing downward or outward flow, ALL pyramid schemes as we know them ultimately fail, as their base of support is drained and the whole structure implodes upon itself.

Importantly, the Sacred Geometries the Double Torus and Star Tetrahedron reach equilibrium by balancing the opposing forces of implosion and expansion, of gravity and electromagnetism. “Women’s Gifting Circle” structures exhibit no such stability. If we are going to compare the dynamics of “Circle” to sacred structures, it is crucial to understand this discrepancy.

To put it simply, the financial structure of “Circle” is an upward pointing triangle, which needs a corresponding downward pointing triangle to complete the Star of David, to ground the gifts which have been flowing to the top, and bring it into alignment with Sacred Geometry. To survive long enough to truly empower women, and to develop a real Gift Culture, These Women’s “Circles” must evolve into biomimicry and cosmomimicry.

GIFT CULTURE AND SACRED ECONOMICS
If Circle is truly aiming to create a gift culture, it seems that it would be wise to understand the way that Nature—inlcuding indigeneous human cultures—accomplish gifting. In his visionary book Sacred Economics (which expressly warns against pyramid schemes, by the way), author Charles Eisenstein outlines four essential qualities of gift culture. The following excerpts come from Chapter 18: “Relearning Gift Culture“:

1. Over time, giving and receiving must be in balance.

2. The source of a gift is to be acknowledged.

3. Gifts circulate rather than accumulate.

4. Gifts flow toward the greatest need.

Eisenstein notes that indigenous gifting cultures comprise a thick weave of social bonds that result from giving, with status and esteem accruing to those who the most generous, not those who possess the most material goods or money. Those who are considered “wealthy elders” are citizens with the deepest understanding of their ability and cultural responsibility to support those in need.

In Circle Culture, women enter for the first time seeking empowerment, mentorship, abundance training–all of which the Circle offers them. However, they are asked to pay the “senior sisters” for the opportunity to learn these skills. This “pay upfront” model is merely one more example of our tired-ole standard economics, and is in opposition to the way that True Gift Culture functions. Instead, how about a total paradigm shift, where the more established “desserts” pay the “appetizers” to enter? If we could figure out a sustainable arrangement for this to happen, then we would truly be in the realm of Sacred Economics.

Circle women often claim that “appetizers” can liken their participation to paying for an education, similar to a school program, workshop or apprenticeship. However comparing to our current educational system in the USA is certainly not does not gain Circle any Gift Culture clout. Quite the opposite , it only strengthens the analogy to a pyramid, as the high cost of education ensures that that all but the wealthiest students are effectively required to become indentured servants to the system. Most of our students are obligated to a lifetime of student loan payments. Is this a sacred gifting system? Sadly, the answer is no–our current educational model is also shaped like a pyramid.

A truly empowering Women’s Gifting Circle is entirely possible. However it is clear that It would NOT be based on exponential growth–where 32 recruits are required for each woman to receive their “gift”–but rather on a natural flowing from those who have gifts to give–of financial support, of mentorship, of leadership, to those who need these gifts.

Although some the above mentioned gifts are flowing both ways within Circle Culture, the flow of material gifts is always one-way. Ultimately, all of the flows in pyramid schemes such as these will cease–the “Circle” will fail–unless the basic flaws mentioned in this post are properly addressed.

Supportive organizations that mentor women can and are being created as we speak. Circle women would be wise to lend their support towards the evolution of these endeavors. Writing this article has inspired me to meeting with a group of people in my own town who are playing with these ideas, dreaming up structures that are based on Sacred Geometry, Cosmometry, and Economics.

I hope to write another post in the future to report the results of these experiments with designing a Gifting cirlce that truly mirrors the gifting of nature and living systems.

CIRCLE AND LIVING SYSTEMS THEORY
Recently I attended a workshop with Buddhist scholar and Living Systems theorist Joanna Macy. Macy emphasizes that the perils of positive feedback loops–also called vicious circles, or “runaway” systems–result when the system closes itself off from input that something is awry.

She notes that this “apatheia” poses the greatest danger to our current culture, as we simply shut out information that indicate a need for change or course correction. Whether from overwhelm, from stubborness, or fear of change, or whatever, any positive feedback loop eventually results in systemic collapse.

Unification and harmonization… this is the threshold of evolution we find ourselves at now at a new level of global dynamics and complexity. We have built systems of technologies, economies, governance, education, etc, that do not properly account for the features of healthy living systems. As such, they are reaching the end of their viability and are either going to collapse or become balanced and whole at a higher level or organization and coherence. The choice we have now — perhaps the only viable option — is to align these systems with what we now understand is the way the cosmos creates healthy and sustainable systems… cosmomimicry. (From the Cosmometry Website)

As the quote above reminds us, all of our structures, personal, social, cultural–must come into alignment with the Natural principles.

FEEDBACK ESSENTIAL TO LIVING SYSTEMS: A Plea to Circle Women

Since I have many dear friends involved in Circle, this writing is a plea to remain open to the feedback coming your way. Communication among all parts of our system is essential.  So is a thorough and honest evaluation of what works well and what doesn’t.

Sisters: Please open your ears to the testimony of women and men about the divisive effects this is having on our communities, creating in-group/out-group distress and allowing suspicions to fester behind closed-doors and secrect society.

Please understand that many women who try and leave the groups or speak out against them are often targeted for shame and rage by their circle sisters.

Please hear that the risks of never reaching dessert are NOT being fully disclosed to new recruits. Neither is the basic illegality of the Circle structure according to current State and Federal Law (irregardless of whether you agree personally with those laws!)

Invitees are generally NOT being told that Circle Women are being prosecuted, paying fines and even doing jail time.

Are you willing to understand that many of us (even those of us you may consider your “opposition”) actually share the nobler intentions of your involvement in circle: to empower and mentor women, to support women’s entrepreneurism, to create and facilitate a sacred economy?

You are experimenting with something new. Great! You are taking steps to develop alternatives to our current economic models. Wonderful! But please get past the machisto (machista?!) concept that you have gotten the model 100% right on your first try.

Please recognize your participation in an unbalanced, growth-based economic structure, which closely mimics the larger (masculine!) economy in which you are embedded, rather than challenging it. Please see the contradiction inherent in discrediting your critics by accusing them of “linear thinking” when your very system funnels wealth unilaterally upwards.

Do you not believe it is significant that so many people—including people you respect—are trying to share with you deep misgivings about Circle? Do not simply write our criticisms off because you claim we are “stuck in fear and scarcity” mentality. Lets work together to develop a Gift Culture that is truly sustainable and truly Sacred.

If you are still with me, perhaps you will be willing to read more about the principles of Healthy Living Systems, and use them to assess the functioning of Circle Culture? I have included below some useful links, quotes and excerpts on Living Systems, Sacred Geometry and Cosmometry to get you started.

Come out of your closed door discussions and engage in conversations with your concerned community members. Let’s collaborate on a model which incorporates a reciprocating flow from the few to the many, a giving-back of the gifts which have enriched those who come first. Let’s create a flow of gifts from the elders to the youth, from those enriched, to those in need, from those who blaze the trail, to those who follow. From the ancestors to the children.

Please Remember: We are all working together towards the same goal—a shift towards Sustainable and Sacred Cultures.

Yours, in friendship and respect—>>>>Nala Walla | 28 July 2013

———————————————————————

LINKS and RESOURCES (updated 1 Aug 2016)

•Resources on Circle by Amber Bieg
Slideshow on Circle Basics by Amber Bieg
Creating Alternatives to Gifting Circles by Amber Bieg
How to transform the “Gifting Circle” into a true Giving Circle

•Gifting Circles and the Monetization of Everything — Charles Eisenstein’s perspective on “Circle”
http://www.shareable.net/blog/gifting-circles-and-the-monetization-of-everything

•”Extracting Yourself from a Gifting Circle with Integrity and Grace”– Post by Sondra Rose
http://www.sondrarose.com/extracting-yourself-from-a-womens-gifting-circle-with-integrity-and-grace

•”Addressing the Womens Wisdom Circle Pyramid”–whistleblower post by former “Circler” Lindsey Vona
http://www.realitysandwich.com/womens_circle_pyramid

Sacred Economics online and in-print book by Charles Eisenstein

•The Regenerative Enterprise Institute — The 8 Forms of Capital
8 Forms of Capital–Summary
8 Forms of Capital– Video

“But, My Circle is Special”–Comment 29July2016–I am including the link directly to my response to this comment from Marian Venini because it addresses a common defense  of Circle.  Namely, “I’m sorry some women have bad experiences, but my circle is respectful and honorable.  My Circle is special!”  If you are interested in the problem with this defense, please read this thread.

The Biomimicry Institute

•Nassim Haramein, The Hawaii Institute for Unified Physics, and The Resonance Project

• Cosmometry WebPage. Please note especially the characteristics of balanced living systems.

1. Self-creation (autopoiesis)
2. Complexity (diversity of parts)
3. Embeddedness in larger holons and dependence on them (holarchy)
4. Self-reflexivity (autognosis/self-knowledge)
5. Self-regulation/maintenance (autonomics)
6. Response-ability to internal and external stress or other change
7. Input/output exchange of matter/energy/information with other holons
8. Transformation of matter/energy/information
9. Empowerment/employment of all component parts
10. Communications among all parts
11. Coordination of parts and functions
12. Balance of Interests negotiated among parts, whole, and embedding holarchy
13. Reciprocity of parts in mutual contribution and assistance
14. Efficiency balanced by Resilience
15. Conservation of what works well
16. Creative change of what does not work well

The “Fractal-Holographic Universe” WordPress Blog

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168 thoughts on “Seeking the Sacred in Women’s Gifting Circles

  1. Hola Marian—>>>

    Muchas gracias for your articulate comment. I will do my best to address the various points you made. And before I do, I suggest you watch Amber Bieg’s slideshow on “Circle” basics. This slideshow will help you better understand my response. The Problem With Gifting Circles – It isn’t a Gift or a Circle

    Regarding the legal issues: I really have no idea what the laws are in Argentina, but unless Circle women are registering their “desserts” and paying taxes on them, they can be brought up on charges of tax evasion at the very least. Codes that govern Fraud are are very likely to apply to Circle in any nation (in the US, this type of Fraud is a felony), as women are generally NOT told upfront that 88% of women who join will lose their money. Rather, it is asserted over and over again that if women strive wholeheartedly to remove their “blockages” or “resistance” to financial abundance and support, they will be rewarded with a payoff of financial abundance. When women lose their money, it is blamed upon their inability to “step into their feminine power” and “claim their seat” at the financial banquet.

    This is simply fraudulent. Only 12% of women can ever achieve a payout because of how “Circle” is structured. No amount of “striving towards pure abundance consciousness” can ever burst through this structural limitation. The 12% is usually comprised of those women who get in early, while there are still plenty of women left in town to recruit. The women who lose their money are those who do not have a lot of time to devote to invitations (for example, the busy single mothers who this scheme preys upon by the dozens), or they may not be as popular or connected via social or online networks, or they may simply be more shy and quiet than their more extroverted sisters. Just because this scheme favors extroverts does NOT mean that introverts are not “tapped in” to their true “feminine power” ! Were the women in your Circle upfront with you about all these these basic structural limitations? Or did they assert that if you work hard enough, and surrender, that you will succeed?

    Next: The idea that a woman’s experience depends on the particular Circle is one I have addressed before in my comments. Generally speaking, women’s experiences will be good when the scheme first arrives to a particular area. “Circle” moves steadily as recruits are widely available, women are getting paid, and goodwill is abundant. These “early adopters” are the women who testify on this blog (and others) that they can’t imagine anyone else having a bad experience since their experience was so positive, and THEIR circle is so special.

    However, as the “Circles” multiply, which they do by design, more women begin to lose, and forward motion stalls out as the supply of recruitable women dwindles. There are no more better-off women with $5000 of disposable income to recruit. With most of the “low-hanging fruit” already picked, recruiting has to reach farther into the thorns. The temptation to conceal the risks rises sharply, and women are less and less informed about Circle’s underlying limitations and illegalities in attempt to get them to join. They are told that trust and surrender are the keys to success, rather than joining early or having large social networks and freetime to focus on recruiting. This is dishonest. This is fraudulent. This is abusive.

    The basic pyramidical structure of “Circle” ensures a constantly rising pressure to downplay and conceal the risks to new recruits to keep the “Circle” moving. Even if you work very hard as a “dessert” to insist women in your circle are absolutely honest with any invitees, there is no way to guarantee that they will do so. And please remember that by the time you are sitting in the dessert position, the Circle has already divided four times (once each time you move up through the 4 levels: appetizer, soup/salad, entree, dessert). This means that 31 other women have joined in order for you to reach dessert. You may believe that your 8 appetizers are fully aware of the risks, but how do you know what has transpired with the 23 women in the other 3 “Circles” whose formation your participation has spawned?

    In short: The pyramidical structure of Circle makes “quality control” impossible.

    Thus, any argument that your involvement in Circle is ethical because your Circle is honest and forthright, is invalid because you are ignoring the downstream effects of your involvement on women in other Circles you have no control over. That very few Circle women understand this “downstream concept” is testament to the fact that the underlying structure was never adequately disclosed to them, either. This lack of disclosure is part and parcel of Circle dynamics.

    Modern people are thankfully beginning to acknowledge the effects of our extractive, exploitative cultures upon the larger web of life. Circle women can do their part by opening their eyes to the extractive and exploitative effects their participation has on the whole “Circle” ecosystem, as well as the larger ecosystem of the women’s community, in which Circle sows mistrust, shattered relationships and financial ruin–quite far from the stated goal of women’s empowerment and financial liberation.

    Here, I would like to put a word in to protect the boundaries of the fledgling Gift Culture, which has only recently been birthed. Just because this “Women’s Empowerment” scheme calls its investments “gifts” does not make it so. Women are denied entrance unless they can fork over their $5000. This is NOT a gift. It is a required entrance fee, paid by the juniors to the elders. To call this a gift actually sullies the word “Gift“, diluting its meaning and actually draining the real Gifting movement of its momentum.

    This disempowering usage of the word gift is reminiscent of the way that the word “Organic” has gradually been diluted of its power. Current Organic standards now allow use of some chemical herbicides and huge monocrop style plantations which exploit workers and degrade soils. This modern “Organic” is a far cry from the original intentions of Organic agriculture. To participate in a pyramid scheme and call it a “gifting circle” serves only to disempower our emerging Gift Economy. We cannot allow this to happen.

    Gifts, by definition, flow towards those in greatest need. Are the senior sisters those in greatest need? Are you aware that Charles Eisenstein, leading contemporary visionary on Gifting Culture and author of the well-respected book Sacred Economics has spoken out in condemnation of these “Circles”? Have a look for yourself Charles Eisenstein’s Post on “Circle”

    You are absolutely correct that our larger economic system needs to change. But do you believe that participating in a group that appropriates the name of the legitimate Gifting Movement in order to sell a pyramid scheme will accomplish this? On the contrary, these so called “Gifting Circles” actually damage real Gifting Culture, by funneling much needed energy away from it at a time when it needs as much nurturance as possible.

    So if you really want to do “SOMETHING” to help, you can start by understanding these distinctions, by educating yourself and your “Circle Sisters” about the results of their actions. You really want to invest in women’s empowerment? Why not pool your $5000 together with other women and truly gift it to a women-run business or coop? Why not create a legitimate lending circle? Why not create a weekly coaching group where women’s entrance is gifted to them? Read Amber Bieg’s wonderful post “How to transform the “Gifting Circle” into a true Giving Circle” for more information.

    I truly believe that you and many women who join these “Circles” have the best intentions at heart, but we cannot settle for the same old scheme in a shiny new wrapper. More is being asked of you than to simply “surrender” and “trust” that a pyramid scheme will get us where we want to go. Unfortunately, what you are actually surrendering by participating in Circle is your ethics and your critical thinking skills. This is too high a price to pay (and so is $5000). Instead, please join together with a larger sisterhood to really BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE.

    I spent close to five hours doing web research, formulating, linking, and editing this response to you. I take a deep breath and trust that “investing” this time in the evolving Gift Economy will offer “returns on my investment” in the form of strengthened social and spiritual capital–things that are of incalculable value, well beyond the traditional measures of financial capital. Thus, in the Spirit of the Gift, I freely offer this time, as well as the countless other hours I have spent writing on this blog post.

    Yours, in respect and solidarity—>>>Nala Walla

  2. Hi Nala. First of all, I loved your article. I am currently in a Circle myself, and when I joined I posed many of these questions and generated a debate.

    I must clarify, I’m from Argentina: Circles here are different. There is nothing illegal in what we do here, so there’s that important difference. The names of the positions are different too (the meal course analogy is simply ridiculous in my opinion).

    I’ve met positive and negative experiences, but I think that depends solely on the dynamic of the group you find yourself in. I was met with respect, admiration (as I asked really tough questions, basically everything you said in your article, and they called me brave and smart for doing so), and trust. One of the girls actually left yesterday and no one was mean to her: they said they respected that she listened to her heart and wished her well. The risks and responsabilities where explained to me, no one hid anything.

    (I’m just saying all this to illustrate how different experiences can be, as with basically all human interactions. Also, I’m not even half-way into the experience, who knows what will happen tomorrow. But I sympathise with everyone who’s had a bad experience, like some of the people on the comments.)

    Now, why did I join even if I’m aware of all the things you explain in your article? Well, apart from the very personal reasons I don’t want to bore you with, I thought there was SOMETHING there. The system is not perfect, but neither is the one we live in currently, so I thought maybe there was a way to make them coexist (balance between masculine and femenine, as you say). I thought about fractals, chaos theory, finances, inflation, etc. and decided to give it a go.

    It is evident the system needs to evolve. But how to change something you’re not a part of? How to make it better from the outside? Both systems desperately need to change, and maybe they can do it together. It sounds naive and ideallistic, I know. But at least it’s something; I’m tired of the economy as it is (Argentina is a third world country and we don’t do so well here). And I’m really tired of doing nothing.

    I would love some feedback and ideas as to HOW to change it and make it better. Thank you for your insight and your investigation! (And sorry for my english!)

    • Hola Miriam,

      I think you are misunderstanding which is the real problem with pyramidal schemes. You can’t think about it just as separate groups, some of which would have a healthy dynamic and some of which would not. When you join a circle you are affecting not just the few people who are in it, but a lot of unknown women than maybe you don’t know and will belong to other future circles.

      Even when these schemes are not illegal in Argentina or in Mexico, it doesn’t mean they are legitimate. In fact, there’s no difference between the way in which money circulates in capitalism or in these “giving circles”: in both cases, the money runs from de hands of a great majority to the hands of a very small minority. And I think capitalist economy is illegitime.

      Please tell us why you joined, I think we won’t get bored with your personal reasons and, on the contrary, they will speak much more about the relevant issues around the cyrcles. What is that SOMETHING that you perceive?

      Believe us, the issue here has nothing to do with the the amount of care and ethics with which the women of a very beautiful circle act. By the contrary, its structural and it has to do with the unsustainability of whole pyramid.

      The circles that are emerging now in Argentina were derived from the Mexican circles, and in Mexico they led me to lose very dear friends.

      Every time these schemes re-emerge, they claim to be different from the ones from which they come from…

      Cheers,

      Javi

      • Thanks for this comment, Javi. I agree with you 100% that these pyramid schemes are illegitimate and unethical, no matter what their legality. Especially because they intentionally misrepresent a pyramid as “gift circle.” Buyer Beware: this nothing less than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

        But I also question the idea that these are legal in Mexico and Argentina. Tax Evasion is considered a crime in all countries, and I highly doubt that these women are claiming their “desserts” on their tax statements, or setting up legitimate, above-boards legal structures such as proprietorships, LLCs, etc.

        Fraud and Theft are also crimes in all countries. If women are not fully informed of the 88% chance they will lose their money, they are committing fraud and theft. Period.

        Again, I’m not a lawyer. But I am willing to bet that an Argentine lawyer would have little problem finding several laws that these schemes are in violation of. Problem is: the losers of the scheme wouldn’t likely have funds leftover to hire a lawyer, now would they? As I said, Buyer Beware.

        Nala

      • Hi Javi!

        Sorry for taking so long to respond: I wanted to have a little more experience with the subject. And I’ve seen some very interesting things.

        And I wanted to share some of them. I’ve seen circles who didn’t want to continue anymore. The solution was to have a lot of the “elder sisters” (those who have already finished the cycle) give a little money (a $100, more or less) to each of the women who wanted out, so no one would lose money (they were A LOT of elder sisters). I’ve met a woman who left the circle (she was in the “entreé” position, as you call it) and an arrangement was made so an “appetizer” (I really hate the english names!) gave HER her gift so she wouldn’t lose her money (instead of giving it to the “dessert”). No one really wants anyone to lose, so they come up with this kind of things.

        I agree with you: capitalist economy is illegitimate. Being that as it is, this type of economy is not necessarily worse.

        I’d also like to point out that you enter in full knowledge of the risks. And if you don’t, then the unhealthy dynamic of some circles is to blame. I’ve also seen some of those, and won’t deny their existence. But it is not my case, and it is not the case of any of the women I’ve met as of yet. And I’ve met MANY women in this few weeks.

        (There is acually a text written by a lawyer and ex-member of a circle going around. It explains why it is NOT fraud, from a legal point of view. It’s in spanish, but I wouldn’t mind translating it.)

        Also, one of the most important things about the circles is that they make you rethink the relationship you have with money. In this capitalist system, we often have an unhealthy, toxic one. The objective, among other things, is to have a healthier relationship with money. It’s also about having healtier relationships with other women (I’ve met some who didn’t join so much for the money, but for this). All reasons for joining are valid.

        Thank you for asking why I joined: I said yes to joining for the reasons I gave myself for saying no. My first thought was “What? No. Nononono. You can’t trust anyone. You promised yourself to never trust anyone again, remember? And, besides, you don’t DESERVE anyone’s trust. You are toxic and negative and would only bring trouble to this group of women”.
        I actually found myself thinking that. It was so sad. So I joined to prove myself that it wasn’t true.

        Later, I though a lot about the inestability and inevitable doom of this system, and talked a lot about it with the women in my circle. And that’s another reason I joined: as the writer of the article suggests, the idea is great, but FAR from perfect. So I’d like to change it, from the inside, for the best. I’d like there to be a balance between “femenine” and “masculine” economy. I’d like men to be able to join, eventually. I’d like to get together with a bunch of women and think about HOW ON EARTH can we make it so the risks of losing are minimum or non-existent; how can we make it better. I think the intentions and the energy are positive, and that’s already a great start. It needs time and effort and change.

        I can’t change capitalist economy; it is too big a monster. But maybe I (together with many others) can start changing this little system, when it’s still very young, and then it might reach more and more people, and maybe it will be for the best. Those are a lot of maybes, I know, and I sound impossibly idealistic, but it’s still better than doing nothing.

        So… that is the “something” I percieve. I may be completely off, I won’t deny it, but I’m halfway through the experience and learning a lot. It’s been quite a ride.

        I hope I answered everything you wanted me to, and please, ask more if you have more doubts. I do love different opinions about this subject.

        Cheers to you too!

        Marian.

        • Hola Marian—>>>

          Thanks for your continued willingness to comment here, and offer a public view into your process.

          What I’m hearing in this comment is that Circle women do understand that the structure is far from perfect, and, because they care about other women, they are trying to come up with solutions and changes to address the “imperfections.” In another comment, you admitted that the structure is “frighteningly similar” to a pyramid scheme. But you noted that there are other factors which still encourage you to participate, including the idea that you feel empowered that you may able to effect some change in this small corner of the economy.

          However, the solutions such as the ones you mentioned (i.e. some desserts pool their money or new entrants give their money to pay out a woman who wants to exit) are quite inadequate. Many women in many Circles before you have recognized flaws in the structure and similarly tried various solutions such as these. However, despite the positive intentions, these solutions always fail, because it is impossible to compensate for a rapidly expanding pyramid with a piecemeal approach. The reason has to do with the exponential nature of the expansion, which cause downstream effects far beyond any individual Circle. The fact that these effects usually occur outside the Circle that you’re in makes it exceedingly difficult to see them, and all too often leads Circle women to insist that downstream effects do not exist. I have addressed this topic in another reply to you. The fact that most Circle women seem totally ignorant of these DOWNSTREAM EFFECTS is one of the deepest, most fundamental criticisms of Circle. Interestingly, you have not responded to this criticism.

          For example, even if a woman who has received her “dessert” gave every dollar back (not just the $100 in your example, but all $40,000) this can only repay 8 women. Yet, by the time a woman has arrived at “dessert,” 31 women have joined, in Circles all over the globe, Circles which are impossible to track. There is no way of knowing who these women are, or when their Circles stall, leaving dozens of women who have all lost their $5,000 gift. Eventually, all Circles collapse because their membership has exceeded the population of the Earth. This is the basic design flaw of a pyramid masquerading as a gift.

          The fact that a $40,000 gift can never compensate the $155,000 (31 women x $5,000 = $155,000) it took to get a woman to dessert is what as known as an economy of extraction. It is based on infinite expansion and endless growth, which is impossible on a finite planet (as industrial human culture is rapidly discovering.) Thus, the scheme you are involved in can be likened to a mining or logging operation which extracts materials that have taken thousands, or millions of years to grow or deposit. Once the precious materials have been extracted from the ground, forest, etc. they are impossible to return. Even if you replant the entire forest, taking care to meticulously replace each tree, the damage has already been done. It will take thousands or millions of years for the land to heal–if ever. Similarly, even if you repay all your gift money, the damage downstream is impossible to redress, as economically vulnerable “appetizer” women will lose money they didn’t even had, and will blame their sister or family member who invited her, destroying relationships that have taken years, or even lifetimes, to build.

          Thus, your argument that “the system is not perfect, but I’ll participate in it anyways, so I can change it from the inside” is invalid– frighteningly invalid. If you really want to change something, you would refuse to participate in a scheme that fosters catastrophic exploitation and mistrust as “by products” of the extraction. You would refuse to participate in a scheme that further empoverishes single women and other vulnerable groups. Please read (on this blog and others) the testimonies of dozens of women who have been victimized by this scheme—all the result of well-meaning women such as yourself, thinking “well, this isn’t perfect, but I’ll give it a go!” And, “I don’t know any of these women, so they must not exist.”

          Lastly, if you do choose to participate in this scheme, the LEAST you can do is STOP CLAIMING THAT THIS IS A GIFT ECONOMY. It is precisely the opposite. Despite all your good intentions, this is a pyramid scheme based on extraction and endless growth–your attempts to bandage the festering wounds is futile. Despite the (undoubtedly sincere) beliefs in women’s empowerment and healing, further abuse of women and a bloodsucking of our true gift culture is the ultimate result.

          I write all this, yet I fear your willfull blindness will render you unable to see these words. (Willfull blindness is, after all a requisite part of being involved in any such scheme.) I feel saddened to know it is likely that you, Marian, just like so many of our sisters who have been snatched-up by this cult, will come up with yet another rationalization for continuing your involvement in the cycle of exploitation. Instead of putting your energies towards nurturing a REAL GIFTING CULTURE, I am heartbroken to know that you will probably continue to mine the goodwill of our collective sisterhood, until no one trusts anyone anymore.

          There is a chance, however, that you will prove my fears to be wrong. This is why I am bothering to write this.

          You really want to empower alternative economy? Get out now, and help your sisters to get out as well. To minimize the damage you have caused, leave Circle right away, and definitely BEFORE you reach dessert.

          This may be hard for you to hear, Marian, but I urge you to heed the red flags that are waving. It seems to me that there is a reason that you are reading this blog, and continuing to come back and share comments. Many of your Circle companions will never explore this subject on the internet, because they have been told that their abundance consciousness will be polluted by negativity and naysayers.

          But you have decided to listen to an inner voice that tells you to look deeper. I urge you to listen to that voice, and to join the ranks of many courageous women who woke up to the reality of what they were involved in, left Circle, and have been striving ever since to make amends and help educate their fellow sisters. If you are interested in their stories, many of these brave women have commented on this blog.

          Listen to yourself! Look deeper!

          In respect and solidarity—>>Nala Walla

    • Hola Marian—>>> (I already posted the following comment on August 1st, but for some reason it appeared separately, rather than in response to this post, so I’m including it again here in this thread.)

      Muchas gracias for your articulate comment. I will do my best to address the various points you made. And before I do, I suggest you watch Amber Bieg’s slideshow on “Circle” basics. This slideshow will help you better understand my response. The Problem With Gifting Circles – It isn’t a Gift or a Circle

      Regarding the legal issues: I really have no idea what the laws are in Argentina, but unless Circle women are registering their “desserts” and paying taxes on them, they can be brought up on charges of tax evasion at the very least. Codes that govern Fraud are are very likely to apply to Circle in any nation (in the US, this type of Fraud is a felony), as women are generally NOT told upfront that 88% of women who join will lose their money. Rather, it is asserted over and over again that if women strive wholeheartedly to remove their “blockages” or “resistance” to financial abundance and support, they will be rewarded with a payoff of financial abundance. When women lose their money, it is blamed upon their inability to “step into their feminine power” and “claim their seat” at the financial banquet.

      This is simply fraudulent. Only 12% of women can ever achieve a payout because of how “Circle” is structured. No amount of “striving towards pure abundance consciousness” can ever burst through this structural limitation. The 12% is usually comprised of those women who get in early, while there are still plenty of women left in town to recruit. The women who lose their money are those who do not have a lot of time to devote to invitations (for example, the busy single mothers who this scheme preys upon by the dozens), or they may not be as popular or connected via social or online networks, or they may simply be more shy and quiet than their more extroverted sisters. Just because this scheme favors extroverts does NOT mean that introverts are not “tapped in” to their true “feminine power” ! Were the women in your Circle upfront with you about all these these basic structural limitations? Or did they assert that if you work hard enough, and surrender, that you will succeed?

      Next: The idea that a woman’s experience depends on the particular Circle is one I have addressed before in my comments. Generally speaking, women’s experiences will be good when the scheme first arrives to a particular area. “Circle” moves steadily as recruits are widely available, women are getting paid, and goodwill is abundant. These “early adopters” are the women who testify on this blog (and others) that they can’t imagine anyone else having a bad experience since their experience was so positive, and THEIR circle is so special.

      However, as the “Circles” multiply, which they do by design, more women begin to lose, and forward motion stalls out as the supply of recruitable women dwindles. There are no more better-off women with $5000 of disposable income to recruit. With most of the “low-hanging fruit” already picked, recruiting has to reach farther into the thorns. The temptation to conceal the risks rises sharply, and women are less and less informed about Circle’s underlying limitations and illegalities in attempt to get them to join. They are told that trust and surrender are the keys to success, rather than joining early or having large social networks and freetime to focus on recruiting. This is dishonest. This is fraudulent. This is abusive.

      The basic pyramidical structure of “Circle” ensures a constantly rising pressure to downplay and conceal the risks to new recruits to keep the “Circle” moving. Even if you work very hard as a “dessert” to insist women in your circle are absolutely honest with any invitees, there is no way to guarantee that they will do so. And please remember that by the time you are sitting in the dessert position, the Circle has already divided four times (once each time you move up through the 4 levels: appetizer, soup/salad, entree, dessert). This means that 31 other women have joined in order for you to reach dessert. You may believe that your 8 appetizers are fully aware of the risks, but how do you know what has transpired with the 23 women in the other 3 “Circles” whose formation your participation has spawned?

      In short: The pyramidical structure of Circle makes “quality control” impossible.

      Thus, any argument that your involvement in Circle is ethical because your Circle is honest and forthright, is invalid because you are ignoring the downstream effects of your involvement on women in other Circles you have no control over. That very few Circle women understand this “downstream concept” is testament to the fact that the underlying structure was never adequately disclosed to them, either. This lack of disclosure is part and parcel of Circle dynamics.

      Modern people are thankfully beginning to acknowledge the effects of our extractive, exploitative cultures upon the larger web of life. Circle women can do their part by opening their eyes to the extractive and exploitative effects their participation has on the whole “Circle” ecosystem, as well as the larger ecosystem of the women’s community, in which Circle sows mistrust, shattered relationships and financial ruin–quite far from the stated goal of women’s empowerment and financial liberation.

      Here, I would like to put a word in to protect the boundaries of the fledgling Gift Culture, which has only recently been birthed. Just because this “Women’s Empowerment” scheme calls its investments “gifts” does not make it so. Women are denied entrance unless they can fork over their $5000. This is NOT a gift. It is a required entrance fee, paid by the juniors to the elders. To call this a gift actually sullies the word “Gift“, diluting its meaning and actually draining the real Gifting movement of its momentum.

      This disempowering usage of the word gift is reminiscent of the way that the word “Organic” has gradually been diluted of its power. Current Organic standards now allow use of some chemical herbicides and huge monocrop style plantations which exploit workers and degrade soils. This modern “Organic” is a far cry from the original intentions of Organic agriculture. To participate in a pyramid scheme and call it a “gifting circle” serves only to disempower our emerging Gift Economy. We cannot allow this to happen.

      Gifts, by definition, flow towards those in greatest need. Are the senior sisters those in greatest need? Are you aware that Charles Eisenstein, leading contemporary visionary on Gifting Culture and author of the well-respected book Sacred Economics has spoken out in condemnation of these “Circles”? Have a look for yourself Charles Eisenstein’s Post on “Circle”

      You are absolutely correct that our larger economic system needs to change. But do you believe that participating in a group that appropriates the name of the legitimate Gifting Movement in order to sell a pyramid scheme will accomplish this? On the contrary, these so called “Gifting Circles” actually damage real Gifting Culture, by funneling much needed energy away from it at a time when it needs as much nurturance as possible.

      So if you really want to do “SOMETHING” to help, you can start by understanding these distinctions, by educating yourself and your “Circle Sisters” about the results of their actions. You really want to invest in women’s empowerment? Why not pool your $5000 together with other women and truly gift it to a women-run business or coop? Why not create a legitimate lending circle? Why not create a weekly coaching group where women’s entrance is gifted to them? Read Amber Bieg’s wonderful post “How to transform the “Gifting Circle” into a true Giving Circle” for more information.

      I truly believe that you and many women who join these “Circles” have the best intentions at heart, but we cannot settle for the same old scheme in a shiny new wrapper. More is being asked of you than to simply “surrender” and “trust” that a pyramid scheme will get us where we want to go. Unfortunately, what you are actually surrendering by participating in Circle is your ethics and your critical thinking skills. This is too high a price to pay (and so is $5000). Instead, please join together with a larger sisterhood to really BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE.

      I spent close to five hours doing web research, formulating, linking, and editing this response to you. I take a deep breath and trust that “investing” this time in the evolving Gift Economy will offer “returns on my investment” in the form of strengthened social and spiritual capital–things that are of incalculable value, well beyond the traditional measures of financial capital. Thus, in the Spirit of the Gift, I freely offer this time, as well as the countless other hours I have spent writing on this blog post.

      Yours, in respect and solidarity—>>>Nala Walla

  3. My friend in New Zealand just joined a group and attempted to recruit me in the U.S. She was on cloud nine describing it. When I indicated I would need to research a bit and would not be a participating this year, she told me to delete the emails as it would remove the energy from the circle and the ritual they were about to perform. This was so odd. I started looking things up and sent her some links and she attempted to use the toroidal argument which this article is helping in showing is not true. I feel so sad for her and even with attempts to show the possible legal issues she informed me I had done a search with a directed conclusion. Meaning I was looking to make things look bad. I finally let it go, and told her to contact me after her experience in Circle be it months or years but I was unwilling to believe something that has hurt other women is ethical and worth involvement. I am sad and angry but this site helped to process. I will hold her in all possibility to make it out of this group without causing loss to others.

    • Hi Jenna. I hear ya. Unfortunately this experience of “willful ignorance” is quite common, and especially painful when it comes from close friends and sisters who we normally consider to be intelligent, compassionate comrades in the progressive and even radical community. Their behavior challenges our ability to make sense of it, and compromises our work together on other fronts. The shockwaves of the “circle” experience reveals the fractures and fault lines underlying the surface of our progressive communities that we didn’t know were there previously. I suppose getting a preview of these fractures is something to be thankful for, lest they surprise us later when a real catastrophe erupts–like a real earthquake or war or economic crash. A good time to do a stock-take of who you can really count on in times of stress.

      Please feel free to connect with me on Facebook, as there are resources there I can connect you with.

      Stay strong, be kind to yourself.

      • This is so sad to me. There are other spiritual circles that don’t require money to participate. It is a total scam that feeds off the popularity of a few “chosen” women who see others failures as a gift to their egos. It is cruel and illegal. Period

  4. Hello everybody, I’m a man from Mexico CIty and I’ve been worried for some friends, women who had joined a circle and behave just like Nala’s text and some of the other posts describe. I can see this conversation stopped two years ago and I would like to ask: what has happened since then at the place(es) where you live (regarding these circles)? For me it was a respite to find Nala’s text and all this dialogue, in Spanish I couldnt find any information with a holistic perspective, just the obvious mathematical arguments. Thank you for sharing, in Mexico CIty some circles are spreading quickly right now and I think your experience and its outcome would be very helpfull for knowing what to expect and how to try to talk to the women in these movement… Would you like to talk about what happenned in 2015 and 2016?

    • Hello Javi

      I’m sorry to hear that these pyramid schemes have spread to Mexico City. In our community these schemes have resulted in deep and painful divisions among women who were longtime friends and allies. Though the schemes are no longer currently active in our area (at least, to my knowledge) rifts have remained. I had thought that once the scheme was ended, that women would naturally congregate to heal the divisions it created. Unfortunately, no such healing circles have been convened as of this writing in May 2016. I suppose it will be up to those of us who were disturbed most by it to take action, once again, to initiate the healing process. This feels difficult for me to accept, because I already took a huge risk in taking a stand in opposition to “circle”. I wish the “circle” women would make the effort to finish what they started, but this looks unlikely at this point. Now, I suppose I will need to “stick my neck out” once again if we are to ever sit down and process this with one another. This feels unfair, and I have avoided doing it so far. However, I hope I can eventually muster the courage to do it.

    • They’re currently working on a new system for it, actually. They’re trying it first on the outside of the circles, it’s still experimental and frail, but it’s evolving.

      • It is mathematically impossible in a pyramid scheme based on getting more and more participants… In Mexico the “elders” claimed they were developing a special software and “closed models”, but in any case this would have nothing to do with the dynamics of the giving cyrcles as they work…

        • Exactly! They’re working on a system where it’s not necessary to get more and more participants indefinitely. The dynamic would change, as it should.

  5. Wisdom Circles are poison flowing through the blood of our spirituality and the USA’s economy. Yes there are women that are receiving positive results from circle. They are making money. Just like the Wolf’s of Wall street selling penny stocks or just like our modern day American Hustle. Convicted felon Bernie Madoff at this moment wishes he could see his family. What Bernie Madoff did was make wealthier people wealthier but left those whom did not receive a payoff robbed of their dignity, money and self worth.

    Women’s Wisdom circles are the same thing. Ponzi schemes. I am absolutely appalled by some of the remarks defending these circles. Passive aggressiveness at its finest. The more you resist the circle culture the more you need the circle culture. Or as one “experienced” circle member would have said, you need me, you need circle. It will not only save you time but also there is a lot of money involved.

    Daily she would hound me about who I was inviting to get the circle flowing. She backed more than 15-20 women. She pushed through circles in 2 months time. When this was not happening to our circles or the circles that she left, she said she did not know why it was not working the way it worked for her. The women must be experiencing “blocks.” Then a year went by… the circle still not “manifesting” like the tornado in which the women whom invited us were experiencing. Then the egos came out, the anger.. the pointing fingers… You are welcome in the first part of the circle when they are entrees and desserts, but they will not join your circle when they pass through. They wont talk to you again about circle. You are already on the blacklist. You are not bringing in the money. You are not inviting the “type” of people that they want to circle with. You are not the “elite.”

    This stuff is running like a virus in California and Hawaii. I am disgusted with the women who claim they are the “enlightened” and lifted by these circles. Their bank accounts are filling is why. They are not seeing the consequences for their illegal actions. The arrogance is disgusting.

    Thank you for posting this. There are other blogs too where women are addressing the things that go wrong with circle. I hear women are creating circles out of the air and scamming money that way too. Just wrong and sad.

    • I hear you, E. You are a woman of great courage to sweep the shroud off what you’ve witnessed. We thank you!!!!

      And I agree with everything you’ve pointed out in your refreshingly honest comment–everything except one grammatical bone to pick:

      You’ve referred to these Ponzi schemes as Women’s Wisdom Circles: That a handful of shysters are trying to appropriate the word “wisdom” and even the word “circle” is one of the most appalling aspects of the scams.

      To use their language is to sign on the dotted line. This is simply unacceptable.

      I refuse to be transfixed by any hocus pocus whereby a pyramid is transformed into a circle (or spiral or flower) right before our very eyes! Where the concepts of wisdom and empowerment and sacredness are degraded to mere scams. Where a sleight-of-hand trick twists a gift into a leech, bloodletting the sisterhood “for its own good.”

      Some of us take the concepts of Sisterhood, of Sacred Economy and Gifting quite seriously, as its clear that humans will not survive on this beautiful planet unless we truly understand and embody them.

      So, I repeat here again: we will not allow these words to be stripped of their dignity. Please either make sure to use quotes around these emperiled words (like you did with “enlightenment”) to denote their inappropriate use, or simply use one of the terms listed below.

      From now on the multiple-heads and outrageous behaviors of this monster calling itself “Circle” will be called publicly by their rightful names, such as:

      •addiction
      •cannibalism
      •sociopathy
      •cult mentality
      •mysogyny
      •vampirism
      •narcissism
      •two-faced
      •bullying
      •strong-arming
      •Mafiosi
      •abusers
      •crazymakers
      •blacklisters
      •privilege & elitism
      •poison
      •victimzers
      •hustlers
      •shysters
      •shooting yourself in the foot
      •internalized oppression
      •brainwashing
      •same-ole bullshit in a shiny wrapper
      ……(feel free to add more here)

      Laying this ugly dragon to rest is going to take some strategy and some solidarity. It starts with calling things by their true names.

      Thank you, sister, for your fierce post. I’m with ya!

      Signing off with the rallying cry of justice “NOT IN OUR NAME!”

      Nala Walla

  6. Friends: I am in the process of crafting a piece that expresses my experience of living daily with the damaging effects that “Circle” has created here in our community. It is entitled “What Blacklist?” and is written in the voice of a character I call “The Brainwasher.”

    Your brave, revealing and tender testimonies on this blog post have been integral to my development of this character, and for that I express my hearty appreciation.

    Please check back from time to time as I develop, edit and release evolving versions of this piece. I am making it into its own post, and you can read it on this blog or at the following link:

    https://ecosomatica.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/what-blacklist/

    • I just want to say that we all have choices and it is best to do research on anything you want to buy or join….you can not always believe everything you hear or read. It is best for all living things to be truly connected to their spirit and find guidance from their spirit. If you listen to your spirit it will never steer you wrong…..the ego does that !!!! I am sure there are those of you who disspell this concept also. To each his own. I believe ( spiritually ) that womens gifting circles are much more than financial prosperity. That is the secret !

      • You are absolutely correct, S.B., that you cannot believe everything you hear about women’s circles. This is particularly so with those who have a conflict of interest between disclosing key issues such as legal/illegality, and getting you to join.

        The problem lies not in the fact that women’s circles exist, but that the temptation towards obscurantism so often leads to the gallows for any woman who dares seek or shed light on the protected subject. The shaming of women who try to leave “Circle” to by their former “sisters” is a primary evidence in recognizing a cult.

        I agree: do your research. Thoroughly. Don’t forget to examine the motives behind the words you read. And do listen to your gut at all costs. So many many women I have heard mention that there were red flags even from the beginning that they chose to ignore, eventually to their regret.

        Let your wild, lobawoman ears and nose Sniff out the truth. She is in every one of us!

        Seeking deep, soul-tugging truth–>>>>nalawalla

  7. Hallo Nala and all those lovely commentors who have been adding their heartfelt thoughts to this discussion,

    I was so happy to find your original and subsequent posts; your language is so gentle, beautiful and non-judgemental. This made it easier for me to open my eyes to the indoctrination, to what is really happening on these ‘circles’. I am assuming that the experience of stepping off is similar for most: the shame, the embarassment, the sense of responsibility. Your post is lovely because there is no shaming to it, just a desire to gently educate and build real solidarity. Thank you.
    I just stepped off from entree because I couldn’t in good conscience continue and was so happy to be able to forward your link to the other members of my ‘circle’. Like many who have posted before me, even with your beautiful comparisons with sacred geometry and sacred economy, I have been met with intense resistance and, if our circle crumbles, I know there will be some enmity coming my way. However, your post did resonate with at least one of the women and she too has decided to step off and may likely bring two other women with her. Yay! So I wanted to let you know that your heartfelt words have had an impact.
    Much love,
    Cat
    P.S. I too am very upset that the language of sacredness and sisterhood, and women’s good intentions are being used, ultimately, to disempower, divide and impoverish women. Thank you again for your loving work here.

    • And thank you as well, for your kind words, a warm hat and mittens to buffer the storm of “enmity” that has come my way. It continues to amaze me how care and concern can be interpreted by fearful minds as “meddling” or even “Circle Bashing.”

      I continue to hold this conversation with great compassion, and maintain the confidence that all of this is preparing our community, and our sisterhood for the great shifts ahead (and already underway.) I know that this experience has strengthened my friendships in unexpected ways, and shown me where true stability lies. And I am grateful for that.

      Congratulations on your “stepping off” and thank you for your solidarity.

      Nala Walla

  8. Hi Nala and everyone,

    I just wanted to write, I’ve been following all of these posts since I was approached two separate times within a week of each other by two separate friends about the middle of July of 2013. I live in the Bay Area, am progressive, am in the Healing Arts (and also keep the books for an office as my “paycheck” job), my degree is in Theater Arts, am a single mother with a very low income, and am part of a spiritual community that is all about empowering EVERYONE to wake up to their own power and ability to work for the collective well-being of the Whole, rather than in the self-interested hoarding and scarcity mentalities that are helping to destroy ourselves and our planet.

    But, I was approached by two separate friends that I respect VERY highly to join their “women’s circles”, and they both gave me almost the same speech about why they were “inviting” me. I had never heard of these “circles” before. They both told me the story of the Canadian women helping the other women get out of domestic violence situations… I still feel bad for these surely fictional women in Canada, the 88% that didn’t get their “dream” and had to keep getting beat by their spouses cuz they didn’t “believe” enough, didn’t try hard enough….

    I was told to keep everything “confidential” for all the reasons that everyone has already written about. They both sent me separate email packages that I was told to read and destroy. The funny thing is that I had just read a random fictional book centered around pyramid schemes, and that is where I think the universe was really doing it’s magic… I never, ever would have read that book, but for some reason, I swiped it up as I was leaving the library one day, and actually read it, even though I had little interest in it. Not only that, but I ended up rehashing the whole story several times for several family members, so it was very fresh in my mind. The thing that really got me to investigate the “circles” was that both of my friends said that the circles didn’t invite Actors or Accountants, and I am both. I couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t want people as creative as actors typically are in their women’s groups? Why would I be excluded from this amazing sounding women’s circle where we all help each other achieve dreams, just because I was in the theater?

    Besides the fact that I’ve never even HAD $5000 in my bank account at one time, let alone to give away… am I suppose to just not pay rent, food, and tuition for me and my kid for 6 months so that I can be on a phone call every week with people I probably didn’t even know?

    Then, I felt so stressed because I was suppose to be “thinking about it” and they’d get back to me for my answer, but I wasn’t “allowed” to talk to anybody about it. Well, sorry, but I always have conversations about important things in my life with important people in my life… I just do. I believe in the power of conversation to creatively solve problems, to get things in perspective, etc. So, even though I left out their names, I spoke to some people about it, after I read some on the internet. My mom and my therapist both told me that these circles have been recirculating for decades. They didn’t know of all the legal stuff I was able to find on the internet, but they both had personal stories to share on how they dealt with it within their own respective women’s groups/friends.

    It was easy enough to tell both friends “no” after all this evidence. But it was a major heartbreak to realize the true motivations for my friends calling me and seeming to be all of a sudden interested in my life like they hadn’t been for years before this. To realize that maybe I really am an “amazing woman” that they’d like in their group, but the reason they were asking was cuz they need to recruit, not because they truly and unconditionally wanted me to know how they felt about me. Also, they both were a little chastised when I told them I was an accountant AND an actor, and I’m the one that pointed out to them that I was not a good candidate for their group based on their OWN literature. To me, that seemed likely that the area was getting saturated and they were having to “invite” people that weren’t so good a fit at all. And why not allow actors and accountants? I asked them both this, but they didn’t really answer. But I see it’s because accountants don’t usually let numbers lie, or when they do, they are doing it deliberately, and two, no actors I guess because maybe I would be in the public eye, and couldn’t keep it private?

    This on so many levels is upsetting and heartbreaking. To realize that this could run rampant through my communities because the women in the circles are really awesome members of the community who most of us trust because they do really GOOD things. But, this isn’t one of them
    😦 That a few would get their money on the backs of so many more others who would lose it all, just is the OPPOSITE of what we all are working for. To disguise itself in the pretty costume of Spirituality and Empowerment is absolutely disgusting to me. To prey on those in the society that really do need the support of a whole community, but instead get robbed AND then told to shut up about it? To keep a secret of abuse is not confidentiality, it’s enabling the abuse to continue and to grow. And maybe this is the biggest point that hits home the hardest for me. I am an abuse survivor from childhood, and I repressed and kept secret for almost 30 years what happened to me. It really almost destroyed me. After 14 years of therapy and deep spiritual and emotional healing, I have learned not to keep the abuser’s secrets. Even when the abuser’s are someone I love, am suppose to love, or want to love. Abuse is abuse and it continues when no one tells. And it keeps happening when no one listens. So no, NO NO NO NO NO. I say NO to this disgusting disgusting scheme.

    Thank you for having this forum. Please don’t stop now.

    Yours in true community,
    Dreamer (you may say I am one)

    • I hear you, Dreamer. And I thank you for your detailed “accounting” of your experience. I fully resonate with your point about stopping the abuse cycle. Ending the silence is a MUST in a society whose fundamental mechanisms are organized around enabling the Abuser, on every scale. Thank you for saying NO, over and over again. This is what many of us have been doing, even amidst the batterings of sabotage and slander.

      And I thank you doubly for the encouragement in your closing “Don’t stop now.” I need to hear this right now because I am in the midst of some polarizing gossip storms among these same women who claim to support women’s empowerment. It has been quite painful to see scapegoating and blaming where instead there could be opportunity for growth and empowerment. We COULD use our disagreement to get together and really LISTEN to eachother’s needs, correcting what’s dysfunctional and working TOGETHER to develop refine a cutting edge system of Sacred Economics—with WOMEN in leadership roles!!

      So far, I’ve seen mostly lashing-out, and heads burying deeper into the sand.

      Despite the “he say-she say” I will not relinquish my hope that this obstacle will become an opportunity to strengthen our community in the end. And, Sister–I KNOW we will need this strength to face the grand planetary challenges that make “Circle Debacle” look like a walk in the park.

      Indeed, today there are thousands/millions suffering due to infighting and political stymying of aid (sound familiar?) after the typhoon in the Philippines. Also today, they begin attempts to move the fuel rods at Unit 4 in Fukushima. Both of these situations can and are presenting the most serious of concerns at our own shores, now and later.

      Can we afford the divisions and injuries in our communities Circle is causing at a time like this? I think not! Let’s harness this Circle’s acclaimed striving for women’s solidarity and use it to take action on these important planetary exhortations!

      • I just do not understand why the Circle’s can’t be all that they are, without the aspect of the money getting in the way of an otherwise wonderful idea. It just doesn’t make sense to me why otherwise very smart and wise people would resort to telling people to take out new credit cards in order to become somebody’s appetizer! If it’s “not about the money”, then why don’t they give each other homemade gifts from the heart that actually represent something AND continue to meet weekly to discuss their dreams and aspirations? I just don’t see how it can simultaneously not be about the money, but it says right there in their literature that the focus of the calls is on getting everyone motivated and trained on how to get new recruits so the “circle keeps moving”.

        Nala, of course there are crazy projections getting shot all over you (and others that are speaking out to protect their beloved communities). This whole system is being built on foundations that are pure fantasy and being perpetrated by wolves in sheep’s clothing (nothing against real wolves!). And when one of our own gets out of alignment like this with the REAL universal laws of abundance and manifestation, we can gently nudge them back into consciousness. I think most of the people involved really are conscious folks that want to see real good done for themselves AND others, but this twinkly, shiny, gem that is really made out of toxic plastic is blinding them to reality. When things seem too good to be true, a lot of times they are just that!! But in this case, it’s not only too good to be true, it’s too bad to be right!

        I’m gonna light my candle for you tonight and for all the others that are being harmed by these circles right now, and the ones that were burned before and are too filled with shame to call out the truth of the matter to their sisters and brothers. You are absolutely right that we have real, serious, life-threatening issues to tackle together as a planetary community if we are to survive into the next few generations. Why are we hurting each other, when there is so much more potential to help?

        with you,
        Dreamer

        • Thanks for lighting that candle, Dreamer.

          I know you are speaking of those harmed by Circle, but, interestingly, when you mention “those who have been burned,” I am immediately reminded of the witch-hunts–a dangerous time where anyone who worked to resist the injustices were automatically assumed to be in demonic collusion, and were therefore used to stoke the fires. Same thing in Nazi Germany–those who risked speaking out were rounded-up, shoved into to the already packed train cars headed for the camps. Same type of paranoid, controlling, totalitarian behavior anytime a mob with false power feels threatened.

          History shows over and over again that, when any group gains power based on fundamentally nonconsensual, abusive systems (industrial capitalism, nationalism, racism, sexism, militarism, etc,) this terrorism of honest people, who simply desire to call attention to flaws of philosophy and policy, and to call out for humaneness and decency, will result in attempt to silence the dissent.

          A good friend of mine recently spoke of the phenomenon of the “good German” as an example of how abuse is perpetuated on a large scale–those who see the injustice, but are too afraid to take action for (legitimate!) fear of retribution. Thus it happens that otherwise decent people go about their daily lives as best they can, while the fires rage on. It happens on smaller scales well: the mother of a sexually abused child is too afraid of her batterer to call for help. Yet, we all know that this undefended child is now likely to become a perpetrator as an adult. Thus the abuse cycles rage on; they are only dissolved when we speak up, and speak out.

          We who speak out against the abuses of “Circle” are a minority, but may our voices be heard! May our words help put an end to this deceitful machine which sucks in victims and pumps out perpetrators. May we refuse the appropriation of the terms “Women’s Empowerment” & “Sacred Economy” and even “Circle” by these misguided, if well-meaning, groups.

          I am well aware that most women enter this scheme with the best of intentions and a simultaneous lack of information about how they truly work. May transparency help to alleviate this trend.

          In solidarity with marginalized people everywhere, I, we, speak out.

  9. Thank you Sarah and Nala!

    It was great to get your replies. It helps to give me the strength to make that phone call and talk with the women that I need to have an uncomfortable conversation with. I will keep you posted on how it goes. It seems like I/We could really easily slip into a polarizing energy when navigating this…that is what I have been coming up against as I prepare to take action. I am striving to come to a place within myself that is energetically in right relationship with balance and spirit before I take any steps towards extracting myself. The piece I am struggling with is what do I do if the Dessert that received my money (whom I barely know or had much contact with as I was the last person to step on as an appetizer before the circle “birthed”), won’t give it back. Or dismisses my concerns because of the one dimensional positivism that is culture of the circle. Do I, as was suggested in Sondra Rose’s blog: http://www.sondrarose.com/extracting-yourself-from-a-womens-gifting-circle-with-integrity-and-grace, just simply ask for the money back and then take legal action if she refuses? This is where I feel I am uncertain, and it could turn into an ugly energy. Or do I just ask, and if she says no, just let it go? Still processing this for myself, trying to understand what my responsibility is because I didn’t do my research – how much was I misled, and how much did I just fool myself into believing that spiritualism and the laws of attraction can be applied in such a manner responsibly, because at the end, I could possibly support myself in my goal of going back to school? That is my dream. A very expensive lesson indeed, but in the grand scheme of things, all will balance out as to what people put out and what comes back. The unfolding universe has a way of checks and balances that way.

    In the meantime, I ask for forgiveness, patience, keen discernment, balance, and the ability to see things as clearly as possible in the highest good of all beings.

    Peace

    • Yes! to everything Maggie said…It’s is amazing to keep hearing your story unfold Maggie!

      You certainly are on the right path Daya, your purity of spirit really shines thru in your post. To second Maggie, asking for your ‘gift’ back will almost certainly be a journey into fire but it is likely well worth the effort. I have seen some women write about how they let the money go because it was their own fault for getting involved. To me that seems like self-punishment and is actually not serving the greater good. Some women feel that the money truly was coming from a place of gifting and they have no attachment…that’s nice. Though, I think many women do not exit circle feeling so content. I think many women leave and have to decide whether to slink away or stand up for themselves against intense scrutiny.

      My friend left and reclaimed $10,000 from two different women. She views it as an empowering journey that tested her true strength as she is normally the shy and subservient type who would take the “good girl” route to appease everybody.

      At first she somewhat cordially worked a deal with the most recent dessert (who had stepped down from circle after just 1 gift because of all the stress that I had caused by leaving. She was still totally indoctrinated). This woman had just put all her money into a new home and agreed to make payments…my friend was made to feel extremely guilty for her request but stuck with it.

      She then had to track down the first dessert she had gifted and things got worse quickly. This woman proved herself to be the spokeswoman for the twisted spiritualism that intentionally masks the black hole of greed and deceit. It was a sickly frustrating few days of communication but my friend was angry enough to invoke her legal rights and claim that she would do what it takes to reclaim her money. The 2nd woman, who appears to be a world traveling dope dealer with cash to burn, ended up paying for both herself and her “dear sister” who she couldn’t let suffer in this way.

      It all ended with yelling and nastiness but it’s over and feels complete for my friend who is very grateful for not having to lose her family’s inheritance money in such a deeply painful way.

      Hope these stories are helpful to you Daya. Thanks again for reaching out. It is healing for all of us to keep talking about it. I look forward to hearing more about your experience.

      Love Sarah

  10. I have been involved with a Women’s Wisdom circle for about a few months now. I gave my gift of $5000, and began participating in the weekly phone meetings. And like many of the supporters of Circle that have spoken here, I have received great support, expansion and lessons on positive feminine community and gratitude. My confidence has grown, I have seen positive changes in my love life and career, and overall I feel lifted and happier after calls. I consider myself to be an intelligent woman, as well as deeply spiritual and a big believer in non linear, spherical thinking, but I will admit that I didn’t do my research before I gifted into the circle. I was told about legal troubles some women had experienced with circle, but that it was a long time ago, and that it was women that were advertising it publicly and trying to move so quickly with it had lost it’s focus on empowering women and the true nature of gifting. So they were clear about that aspect, but also recommended that I didn’t look it up online because it was negative, fear driven misunderstanding of the purpose of the Circles that operated with true integrity. As someone that has intentionally created a life that operates outside of the traditional monied economy, I know that there are some people that are stuck in old school mentalities about money and I believed I shouldn’t let the negative thinking in. I do believe in the power of intention and of thought energy manifesting into physical reality, and when in concert with others that are focused on the same intention, that can be very powerful. The circle felt so good, like a rush of expansion. And honestly, it still does…however, what made me more and more uncomfortable was the process of inviting my first friend. I still genuinely believed that what I was doing was offering her a gift, and in some ways, it truly would be, as the woman I have been talking to about it really needs a positive female community, and she has the kind of honest, loving spirit that would be perfect for this kind of “work”. But when it came close to her committing her money, it kept nagging at me that I needed to know what was out there about this, that I didn’t want it to ever interfere with our friendship, that I was really “leading” her into something that I was somewhat blindly trusting based on the kinds of women I was encountering in the circle.

    I am so glad that I did. The numbers don’t lie – this isn’t a sustainable model for true support. Although I believe in and practice all kinds of non traditional philosophies, it’s impossible to argue with mathematics. It is the language of reality, and underlies many sacred principles. And the mathematics of this structure are not ethical to truly supporting our sisters. And even if receiving gifts of these amounts under the current laws isn’t illegal, doing it in the structure that is presented by these circles IS. I am in the first phases of processing this emotionally, but I feel sure that I don’t want to bring other women, my close friends, into the financial, legal, and emotional risks that this presents. I wish I hadn’t been so open and trusting at first, but I have already accepted that I may lose this money. And actually, that part wasn’t that hard for me, so I was glad that I learned that upon my giving, I really was in a spirit of gifting. I plan to simply ask for it back based on the realization that I believe I was misled. If I can’t get it back, I truly hope that the woman that received it accomplishes the goals that she shared with me that she is trying to attain. Thanks for your frank discussion, and I especially am glad that women who are currently in Circle and support it are sharing, as well as those of you who have joined and have gotten out of it. I hope that all involved can come out of the other side more refined in our consciousness and understanding of this ever evolving reality.

    Peace

    • Daya: What you wrote here is one of the most honest and grounded testimonies I have seen yet from a Circle participant. It really helps expand my compassion for the many women who got involved in Circle with the best of intentions–to nurture the Sacred in their lives, and others. It is for these women indeed that I, too, am writing, with the idea that we can channel these powerful intentions towards that which is a truly sustainable expression of the goal so many hold in common: a sacred, humane society.

      Thank you for being willing to share yourself here, even at such an eay stage of realization. It is clear that you are indeed living the Spirit of the Gift, and any community is fortunate to have you.

      I wish you a smooth path to sociocracy and abundance—>>>>nala

    • Hi Daya,

      Wow, thank you so much for this comment. You have very much described my experience in circle and you also give me hope that more women who have experienced the blessing of circle can also discern it’s unavoidable dark side.

      I would like to share the blog post I wrote at http://www.sarahorzalli.com/waking-up-from-wisdom-circles/

      My intention is to open a healing dialogue for women who are waking up from the illusion and need a place to cry or vent or stand strong in solidarity with one another.

      With love,
      Sarah

    • Dear Daya,

      I totally understand and respect your conviction to find the graceful path with positive energy in this situation. What I found as I left circle, however, was that there was no way to avoid the resistance of some sisters. This resistance manifested as yelling at me (only once), shunning me, trying to convince me that I was in ‘fear consciousness’, and diminishing the strength of whatever friendship/relationship we had had (eg: “I guess we don’t know each other that well after all…” – coming from a woman who attended my birth and I hers.)

      While I think you are surely doing the right thing by finding the greatest clarity in your own energy, I am not sure that attempting to avoid bad energy will be fruitful. The clearer you are in your position and what you think is right, the better. This way, when you come up against the resistance, you’ll have a toolkit of strength that will guide you in difficult moments.

      As for getting your money back. Chances are very, very high that the woman you gave the money to is not going to be eager to return it to you. (This was the time in my journey that I was yelled at). In my situation, it became clear that this woman was quite attached to that money and she was holding steadfast to the idea that the ‘circle’ is sustainable, a viable enterprise. A huge contradiction in the ‘senior sister’ mentality came to light for me when I approached this ‘senior sister’ I had gifted. Instead of offering her help, she yelled at me. Wow, I thought. I guess we weren’t creating a sisterhood of empowerment after all.

      Anyhoot – I’m letting bygones be bygones. The cult of this ‘sisterhood’ has lost power in my world. If I could give you any advice, it would be to release the power that the circle has in your heart. The rules that they are abiding by do not apply to you. You have found your truth and you are providing a great service to the women in circle by sharing it. They are engaging in willful ignorance. You can be a part of their awakening. They may perceive you as ‘evil’. Or, they may not. Maybe they’re ready to wake up. You never know.

      Furthermore, with regard to your question about involving the law, I am fully certain that the reason my money was returned to me within one week was because I made it clear that my husband was going to talk with a lawyer if the money was not quickly returned. As it so happens, my mom is a lawyer, so we had that going for us. But, my guess is even just saying that you are going to consult a lawyer is enough to make action happen faster. And, what’s more, it may reveal to the woman in circle that she is the one who is afraid. This may then lead her to realize that she is involved in a legally questionable activity. Which may, with any luck, lead her to question the circle in a different way.

      Whatever you do and whatever happens, may you be surrounded by the love that is ever present in your own heart.

      I wish you the best of luck.

      Love,
      Maggie

  11. Absolutely brilliant and enlightening read. Much gratitude for posting. This is the first fundamental groundwork of a true abundance economy that i have stumbled upon.

    Spirits lifted, thoughts turning 🙂

    • Thanks Lance. Your thumbs-up is much appreciated and lifts my spirits, too. Have you read thru the comments section? Lots of juicy and enlightening conversation happening….

      Smiles…

  12. On a personal note – I have been effected negatively emotionally by the circle, by the deciept it promotes and i really appreciate the space for womens voices who have been effected negatively to be heard in a space for evolution and love of all of us and the future.

    To be silenced mirrors the disempowerment of women that we have suffered historically, but ironically it is my sisters now who are asking me to be disempowered so they can be empowered. My process is to feel empowered, without having to disrespect others or project my beliefs onto them. And of course i realise that i am in control of how i feel. How do i feel empowered without hurting the trust of others…

    Reading again Kays words that she has been involved for so long and hasn’t seen the negatives, but many more positives. I would love to know more of her experience and indeed, how did her circle close positively and the tens or hundreds of circles under hers close positively? Or how does she know that they are still running positively now? How does she indeed remain in contact with knowing the tens of thousands of women that may be involved all over the world and the people that are around them.

    You see, How many people like us have just never had a voice before? How would you know about us Kay?

    I really would love to hear more accurate statistical information from those that run these circles and how they know that the circles are worth running – the positives outweighing the negatives. Are their lots of presumptions? Please fill us in on your methods of knowing actually how you effect the communities you spread in.

    I’m all for positive stuff to happen. I have been involved in non-financial supportive women’s circles for 5 years. Women need women.

    Thanks for connecting us Nala. Thanks for everyone is making a web presence to open the dialogue on this secret society.

    D x

    • Great point, Dominique!

      I would love to see accurate statistical information from women who claim universal positive benefits. I would like nothing better than to see thousands of women all lifting each other out of poverty. Please do show us the evidence!

      However, the evidence I’ve seen is just the opposite: the few stepping on the backs of the many, usually refusing to acknowledge the soft flesh upon which their feet trod.

      And I echo your sentiments about silencing and secrecy. It’s totally perplexing how Circle women can convince themselves they are entitled to the silence not only of the women who have agreed to their scheme, but also the silence of everyone else who declines their invitations (or, more accurately, fends off their advances.)

      I’ve already spoken on this blog about the “Circle paradox,” but perhaps it bears repeating here. The needs of Circle to keep their doings a secret from from those who might disapprove (ahem! I mean, from “profane” people who aren’t evolved enough to recognize how wonderfully evolutionary Circle is) are in direct and constant opposition to their structural needs to recruit an ever-expanding number of “appetizers.”

      Picture someone holding up a ripe melon, insisting on keeping the skin intact to protect the innards, while constantly and rhythmically poking holes in it. Then, as people begin to point out the juices running down their arm (as Circles begin to fall apart), they refuse to see the knife in their own hands, and ask instead that everyone simply join them in the charade that there is no puddle collecting at their feet. Those disgruntled refuseniks who won’t join the charade are labeled simpletons, party-poopers, or witch hunters. (For those of you who don’t know: activists who have been willing to speak out and warn others about this deceptive scheme are being blamed when they fall apart!)

      I repeat: the demise of Circle is pre-determined by their very design. The demise is never a result of any particular “disgruntled” character–the numbers of disgruntled people will always reach a critical mass eventually, and some will eventually take action to stop Circle, many times legal action. As one friend put it, “if you want to keep Circle a secret, then stop trying to invite the entire town into it!” Only problem is, it will fall apart the minute they stop recruiting.

      Nala

  13. Indeed my thoughts are with you Dave and others who have close friends or family whose choices seem unwise in our minds and hearts. This is a perplexing situation, with divided opinions and feelings, all wrapped into the same process. Individuals and communities are really triggered by this phenomenon and hence there are tensions. I have certainly gone through anger, sadness and confusion.

    There are those that see the value that goes beyond the financial as sound and beneficial to all women as the principles of empowering dreams and the power of positive thought ripples out to the community. There are those that see the ‘karma’ and ‘spiritual lessons’ that is unique to each of us that the circles bring as positive (both within and without the circle and in a functioning circle and a collapsing circle). There are those that see the value of some women benefiting financially from an investment whilst many others invest with no return as unjust. There are those that are concerned or dismayed about how the structure, by its nature, means that women who will put in energy and money to participate in a personal development group will not get to participate in a group process, but find themselves in a collapsing system. Certainly there are many different angles.

    I too like others on this blog have felt very stirred up by the coming of the circles to my community, and I have chosen not to participate. The hardest thing I struggle with is to accept my friends for perpetuating mistruths and straight out lies by circulating circle documents which have statements like: “no-one loses if I win”, “if you think it is illegal then it is illegal” and ” the circles are a group of finite women”. (Not to mention the discomfort of asking me to join a group an invest thousands without talking to anyone but my partner and keeping it all silent). Now regardless of the info that is distributed from circle, I have had to accept that women are choosing from a largely informed place, as there is so much info on the internet, that it surely balances the bias out. I definitely can’t generalize and call this gifting process stealing – I feel that there is too much information to pretend that women can’t find it and know what they are getting into. Heck we surf our iPhones for movie reviews and movies only cost $15! Of course it is deceptive though, probably with the intent to protect those that participate. (I have to mention there is evidence to show that some women who run the very top of these circles have been deceptive to the point of stealing, making large sums of money from it, others seem more innocent. )

    The deception in the documents distributed is of course potentially harmful with some new women not researching it, or understanding how it works or women could simply be more vulnerable (it doesn’t help that the documents actually instruct those inviting new friends: “don’t say anything about how the circle works”, but appeal to your friends emotions and connect it to a need in her life). I certainly feel it is completely out of integrity with my spiritual and ethical beliefs. But others do have different beliefs and sometimes we find out we have differences with very intimate or close people in our lives. This can be difficult to accept and difficult to ‘be’ with and harder to love. (Further to this, when we are told to keep their secret for them, we may experience a loss of our own power to express our own feelings, presenting another set of complex issues for those around circles not just those in them).

    Does it make someone less awesome, or less smart, or less loving, or less of a friend to participate in a gifting circle- I don’t think so. Not in my experience. Not at this point in time. It does however mean i question how i can be friends with someone who does not share such fundamental values that are important to me – ethics, transparency, dialogue, sustainability, honesty, full self-expression in my community (I was asked repeatedly to take down posts about the circle from Facebook which made me feel pressured into silencing my voice). For the friend on the other side they may be experiencing a difference in the values that they share with me. What I am trying to do is to stay present to the other values that I feel are still there that we share together like – love, empowerment, personal growth, sisterhood, care for the environment, growing food, alternative healing… It may feel like they have grown a second head but essentially they are still the person I love!

    For me I don’t want to be righteous about my point of view. I do want women (or anybody I care about) to be involved in something with full knowledge of what they are getting into; the real risks as well as the benefits, that they are honest about it to others and they are willing to comprehend that a system that operates in secrecy is double-edged and can be cohesive but at the same time corrosive.

    I’m all for exactly what this whole Ecosomatica post is about in the first place. I want us to work on systems that reflect our hearts and the sacred that we value in life. I believe we want life-affirming actions and possibilities to expand, we want to create alternatives to the global culture we have that sees the gap between rich and poor grow wider and our planet being disrespected, our women and children treated so poorly. We want to make a difference. We want to feel connected to others. We want to evolve. We want to feel expressed and empowered and supported. These circles seem to be an offering of something that some feel they really need in their lives. They offer something different, but it would seem still in need of reshaping.

    Money holds a lot of energy in our culture and I feel it helps bind the growth process together for these groups, creating a powerful vortex of energy to work in, creating the syncronicity and ‘magic’ that seems to permeate Circles. A by-product is the powerful forces found in the tension outside its belief system. Can we perhaps foster the energy for positive growth too? It is unfortunate that in ten years of these Women’s Empowerment Circles the unsustainability and other negative aspects of the process have not yet been addressed sufficiently to reflect a fully harmonious force in our communities. And so we still have the tensions found in the opposing force against the secrecy, against the hierarchical up-flow, against the deceptions and misguidance of the flawed mathematical structure it is based on.

    I feel we must be careful though in labelling people thieves or addicts, or witch-hunters. Each does have their own journey with this empowerment process called ‘Gifting Circles’ and I am truly grateful that this blog has given space to voice our experiences and process this work. I keep stepping into the notion that I really don’t have all the answers. Even whilst I can calculate the maths. I still don’t have the answers.

    I think Nala’s initial post which looks at natural processes and how we mimic them (biomimicry) is a great place to start questioning as it is more objective of the structure and has created conversation about the system. However morals, leadership and decision making I feel don’t necessarily follow from natural/physical science as they are a human science. What do you think Nala, others? Matters of the heart often don’t follow logic – why we do things is such a mix of emotion and logic. And how miracles occur when mothers can become physically so strong they can push cars to save their children or how emotionally strong Martin Luther King could have been to be shot at in his own home, yet go forth and keep leading and inspiring a revolution of fairness… The person who is pioneering these circles in our community is driven by a force that she believes is good and she risks knowingly that she could get sentenced for this. Human behavior and the spirit that drives it is indeed mysterious. Don’t you agree?

    This stuff is illusive I believe because it is individual spiritual work and we also live in a world of getting along and making moral and ethical choices that consider our inter-connectedness.

    I have a friend who wrote a great song about getting along. It has one of my favorite lines in it –
    “I believe in a world of peace. But don’t get me wrong. I don’t want no conflict.
    Peace is not about no conflict. It’s about conflict resolution.
    Peace is not about no conflict. It’s about conflict resolution…”

    This blog is truly a gift to explore how we can make peace with contradictory feelings as experienced with others and within ourselves, as well as examining what peaceful systems look like.

    Some of the comments on this site have made me cry in their depth of self-knowledge and courage. Let’s keep holding this blog space as an open, safe, self-responsible, caring and inspiring environment. Anything that declares itself as Sacred and has friends and family of ours in it deserves to be held in a caring environment that allows for growth, diversity and honesty of the soul for all of us so we can thrive in our lives.

    I love that this page supports discussing with our heads and hearts working together and it is a place for us to come together. Thanks for everyones comments. It starts to paint a bigger picture.

    Blessings to all – May we all get the support we need! May we all shine!
    Dominique x

  14. Hello all. My wife is in “Vision Sisters”, another form of a Gifting Circle here in California.

    I’m thankful to find a place where I can unload…being unable to discuss this with anyone has become a bit of a monkey on my back.

    My wife’s participation has done NOTHING to improve our life or our marriage. What it HAS done is create a division of doubt and mistrust that did not exist before. Oh, and by the way, for anyone who is quick to play the “masculine” card on me, stop. It wasn’t that long ago that she forwarded me a contact who was creating a circle for MEN, they’re calling it “Dream Team”. It was then that I started my own investigation into these deceptive practices.

    When I confronted her on my findings…I was dismissed for many of the reasons posted above. AND she asked me to please STOP reading the “negative” writings available online…she said she didn’t want me to bring that “bad energy” into our home. Pfft.

    It pains me to think of this woman, my soulmate(?), perpetuating such a large scale deception on other women ALL IN THE NAME OF PERSONAL ENRICHMENT.

    Sadly, I now question ALL of her judgements and am losing trust in her…I’m losing sleep wondering if she is just another duped victim being taken advantage of…or, does she know damn well what this is and…sigh.

    Thank you for providing me this space to vent. I’ll leave you with a few thoughts:

    1. There are ways of personal enrichment/enlightenment that do NOT require a $5,000 “gift”.
    2. Beware of ANYTHING that transpires behind a dark cloak of secrecy.
    3. You will put yourself AND your family at risk of potential fines/jail…IT IS ILLEGAL!

    All the best,
    D

    • Dear Dave,
      I extend my deepest, most heartfelt empathy to you. What you’re describing is exactly the situation I find myself in with my friends and I can’t imagine what it would be like if it hit even closer to home.
      I do believe the saddest and most harmful part of all this is the toll it’s taking on relationships. It is much like a cult in the way it divides participants from the sound judgement of their most loving and trusted sources of support. I also believe that most women will eventually come to their senses with very heavy hearts for the damage they’ve caused. Currently I’m in the process of writing an article that addresses the need for healing and reconciliation among women within the sisterhood and I thank you for bringing up this crucial point that it is not just the women who are suffering.
      I pray for your wife to return to her senses and make amends to your fractured partnership.

      Standing with you,
      Sarah

    • Hi Dave—>>>

      You are not alone. I personally know of several partners of Circle women who went through a very disillusioning time when they figured out the truth before their loved-ones did.

      But I think it’s worth noting that plenty of Circle women have been able to shake off the spell, and many times the support of their partner was the critical factor in their turnaround. (Maybe some of you would be willing to chime in this conversation here?) And by support, of course I do not mean what your wife is suggesting, namely that you avoid criticizing her. Instead I encourage you to persist in voicing your dissent, firmly but without judgement and anger. Perhaps you can find an outlet for your anger and rage before you talk with her again, so you can approach her with a calm demeanor. Ground yourself in the knowledge that your actions are absolutely supportive of her, even though she may not see it that way right now. Maybe you can think Circle as an addiction, and get support from those who have successfully dealt with addicts.

      Bravo to you for taking steps to “unload a bit” here–it’s as important for you to find support as it is for your wife!! I recommend you explore some of the sites listed on this blog as resources and research. Another good one is the Pyramid Schemes and Gifting Scams 411 Facebook Site at the following link. https://www.facebook.com/pyranidschemes.4.1.1.

      I wish you and your family luck and great courage in navigating this tricky subject. Keep us posted–>>>nala

    • Dave,

      My husband knew that the scheme was unsustainable, but until I opened the door to more open-minded research, neither of us had fully considered the ethical implications of participating. In this way, you are in a much different position than what I experienced as I woke up with the support and nudging of my husband. It is not completely clear to me at what stage your abhorrence for your wife’s participation is at. Are you prepared to offer an ultimatum?

      I know personally of two cases where the male partner said, in one way or another, “You can choose the ‘circle’ or me.” In both situations, the woman chose her partner and left the circle. In my situation, it did not come to this because I ‘cracked my own shell’ and my husband continued the process by pointing out that some of my actions made it appear that I was in a cult, and that if I did not leave the circle, he would seek legal advice.

      The physical responses I experienced to these possibilities, were crucial to my full awakening. I was forced to ask myself “why do I feel defensive now?” and “why am I afraid of my husband seeking legal advice?” These questions helped me realize that I had been intentionally ignoring available information concerning the circle and that I was involved in a ‘legally questionable’ activity. The realization of these two points was alarming, to say the least, and it took quite a bit of internal processing to return my physical chemistry to a state of peacefulness.

      It sounds like your wife is not in a position to crack her own shell. But you never know. All it takes is following through on one little feeling to start searching on the internet and finding loads of information that refute the otherwise unquestioned claims of circle sisters. There is much more information that refutes circle now than when I left.

      My advice to you is to see if there are respected women in your community that understand the legal (and emotional) risks of participating in circle that can talk to your wife. This worked very well in a community I am aware of. A couple of committed women and men worked together to raise awareness concerning the legal risks of participation and, secondarily, the ethical implications of participating. In my experience, it has been the legal risks that have been most convincing to women to step off the circle. Once away from the circle, it is easier to openly assess the financial structure and the pitfalls of the scheme.

      It is of the utmost importance that women understand the legal risks they are taking by participating – because they were told that there are little or no legal risks. It is not as if they are growing marijuana in their backyard and know they are taking a risk. They are, for the most part, unaware that women across the country have been jailed and fined for participation in gifting schemes like this and that the one they are involved in is no different in its financial structure.

      I tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to leave circle gracefully, but we did have our money returned so as to feel somewhat absolved from an ethical responsibility for perpetuating this deceptive scheme. I wish you the best of luck as you navigate this tricky terrain. Remember, your wife is abiding by many rules in circle culture that do not pertain to you. You are free to talk about this with whomever you wish and doing so is in the best interest of you, your wife, and your community.

      Please do post again if you need further support.

      Best,
      Maggie

      • Thanks so much for responding here, Maggie. I bet this information will be invaluable to Dave and other concerned partners out there.

        And I would like to underline your experience that the legal aspects were the most effective at starting the “crack in the shell.” Usually it begins there, and often leads to a successive peeling away of layers of realization of what this scheme is: a very complex system of deception and brainwashing that can sometimes take months or years to fully integrate.

        In fact, I still don’t really understand what this thing means on a meta-level because has so many sly and slippery characteristics. Maybe it’s the Universal Trickster daring us to get clear on what we hold dear, and take action on its behalf?!

        Big love,
        Nala

  15. Hannah,

    That’s what I call true intuition and inner knowing. I noticed you didn’t make any of your decisions about the circle based on the pyramidal logic of the structure, but purely on the sense that there was an internal contradiction.

  16. So great to see your posts Maggie and Sarah. I can relate so much to your feelings and thoughts. I too was wondering if I was missing something…I am trying so hard not to present a righteousness about the evil of participating with the women who are still involved, but I feel that there is a gauze over their eyes that makes them refuse to see.

    • Hey Cat, I also tried to stay cool with my sisters about their decision…I tried to let it go…but my feelings just kept building and rolling. I decided to send a few of them Sondra Rose’s article and that stirring things up a bit, although there’s only one woman who will even engage with me about it. I felt my aggravation growing as the Dessert sent out a group email that announced that I had decided to leave for personal reasons and requested that everybody release me with love and gratitude…I wrote back stating that my reasons were collective not personal and I would be happy to talk to anyone…she didn’t like that…

      The last straw was when my friend wrote me about all the many women she knows personally who have benefited greatly from the experience. This has been her main justification the entire time…she has seen this blog and others I have shared…something unleashed in me and I wrote this email:

      Yeah P…I’m hesitant to engage this debate with you again…on the one hand I do so want to maintain the positive connection we’ve had, and on the other hand it’s getting harder to contain the intensity of my opposition and remain respectful to your decision.

      I, too, care for you deeply, but I sincerely and passionately wish to dispose of this sham of a gifting culture for the sake of my sisters and their families, for the sake of all that is good and right and just and true.

      I feel the fierce energy of the Goddess Kali running thru my blood…to roar a roar that shakes you to your core and finally, finally allows you to WAAAKE UUUP!!!

      The willful blindness I see before me is ENRAGING!!! but like any good activist I will harness this energy into inspired action and go forth with a powerful gleam in my eye in service to Source…for you, for me, for every one of us who stands for beauty and abundance.

      Should I tell you how and why these women’s success is meaningless and shameful in the face of what comes behind them? Do you understand the reality of exponential math? My sense is that you have had plenty of exposure to the truth of it all and have chosen not to understand…or not to care…I’m not sure which is worse.

      The solace I have is that each of us who dances on this path will eventually receive that which we are in most need of receiving…and it’s rarely what we expect.

      As a friend I am loyal to the end, but I am here to stand my ground as a leader and create a path for true prosperity…here I cannot compromise.

      …So to wrap up this long post, I received a phone call the next day…and it ended with her requesting me to send her all the information i had that Circle was actually hurting women, so I did. My fingers are crossed that I may actually be getting my friends back. I feel so wonderfully self-expressed, it doesn’t even matter what happens, my truth was spoken and i feel release.

      • Go ‘head n Roar, Miz Kali, Calleagh, Callie. Stand your ground. Illuminate the dark of night, and waken the sleepyheads. Your own self-respect is at stake.

        And your sisters will thank you one day, even if their sleepy eyes cannot discern it yet.

        And do keep us posted as to your friends’ response. You might be encouraged to know that in my town, at least four women friends have left Circle since we committed to our roaring.

        Yes. It is possible. I am even hopeful that our sisterhood will be strengthened in the long run.

        Thank you for your courage and diligence—>>>>nalawalla

          • Nala, thank you for asking. I’ve been planning to post an update. Astoundingly, the woman I directed that email to continues to support and justify circle, I know she is weary of the whole thing and wants to be done but feels she needs to uphold it and keep it moving for the sake of others involved (sigh). The good news is my dear friend who invited and backed me finally realized the truth of it all and left, so we have reconnected in a deep and wonderful way…the heavier part of this is that she is attempting to reclaim her “gifts” from two different women and that is not going so well. She is needing a lot of emotional support to stand her ground and I am happy to give it but it does take a toll and I am ready to move forward with my life.

            It’s truly disheartening how we are being viewed and treated as fear mongering antagonists. I don’t know if they will ever see the error in their ways even as the whole thing crumbles before their eyes. I would love to keep hearing stories of how other women have traveled this path. There is so much good information out there now for those who are ready and willing to open their minds to what’s real. It’s time for healing and sharing so that we can pick up the pieces of our shattered illusions and face our ordeals as a collected sisterhood once again.

            Much love to all,
            Sarah

            • Sarah—>>> Thanks for the update. I know many of the people in this community who have been willing to speak up on this issue have been praying that we did so in time to avert the legal prosecution that other communities have experienced, hoping the huge fines & jail sentences can be avoided, and the damage to friendships and reputations be minimized.

              Many women here have recently left Circle, and I feel a measure of success in that we are taking care of this issue in a grassroots fashion, without having to rely upon upon external “authority” to do it for us. Though the FBI has reportedly been sniffing around a bit (presumably looking for the “big fish”), there hasn’t been any action taken thus far, so it seems we may have acted just in time to help most of the women keep out of trouble with the “Law.”

              Yet, I echo your sadness, because even after all of our efforts, there remain many Circle women who do not see the basic unsustainability of Circle and blame the breakdown of Circle upon activists–totally clueless that they might well be in jail right now if we hadn’t intervened on their behalf, if we had taken the advice of so many to “just sit back and let them fall.”

              Strange how intent some women can be upon biting the hand that feeds them, isn’t it?

              • Yes, I believe it is all starting to unravel here too. I found out a number of women have left the circle I was in, including the dessert. There are a few left scrambling to hold it together but I doubt it’s possible at this point. My friend was able to reclaim her $10,000 without legal measures, though the transaction lacked by way of good graces. She feels she has seen the true colors of several women and has lost respect for their character and judgement. I am hoping that friendships can be repaired as the entrenched women start to collect themselves, but I also believe there are some ‘big fish’ out there and I would like them to see some accountability.

  17. Wow, Thank you Nala. Wow. Wow. Wow. Circle has been a huge part of my life this year. It started last November when a long time sister mentioned it to me casually. A community of Woman and $40 grand. Wow. I kind of wanted in, yet I was really really apprehensive.

    Pretty soon it became clear that MANY woman in my community were in the middle of circle. It was Everywhere. When I first listened it on the calls I did find them beautiful and profound and then eventually I found everything to feel really really fake. All my friends were “doing it” and I envisioned experiencing that same financial abundance and freedom. I believed I could manifest the money
    although I NEVER wanted to invite anyone. Not because I didnt think some people could use it, but because it didn’t allow me to interact with the world the way I loved too.

    I felt like a trickster or a door to door salesman. I felt Everywoman looked to me like potential investor rather then a beloved whom I cared about. I did not like this aspect. I did bring a woman, who i believe is still in circle and loves it, and will never hold it against me, My responsibility for bringing her is null and void.

    I joined early in the year and by early summer began to realize that I couldn’t be in the circle. Intuitively i just did not believe it could thrive, and therefore it couldn’t. This was around the time the lightening circles were in full force, and part of me wished my circle moved that fast, and the other half just felt it was going against the ENTIRE premise of the circle institution.

    My friends felt my stagnancy and really beautifully allowed me to leave without consequence, I received my gift back. I think it came from the original woman, and yet, it was someone elses gift, so I wonder if I will always have this woman’s Karma on my hands.

    Now that I realize, having other peoples karma on my hands was apart of my leaving. If I were still in circle I could not complete when I receive my gifts, but only when everywoman I have ever circled with, received hers.

    The moment I stepped out, I was literally invited to 10 other circles. I considered backing a few woman, and realized no matter how I tried to think otherwise I’d always being holding pressure about “will you return my money.” I’d rather buy someone groceries for 2 months. (and maybe get one or two good meals) 😉

    I recently was asked to join another circle with less money involved. I was even helped to get a backer. But after one phone call i realized. This is not for me. I dont want to be apart of this, i dont envision using my time and enery to get more woman. because for me that is all it was. Finding more woman, with more money.

    My community is sacred, we pray, we meditate, I dont need a circle for that.

    In honesty, i prefer to manifest a job that makes me happy, or a situation where I dont need to spend as much. I would love to travel, and it will happen in divine timing.

    I wish, I wish that we could use all the money that was pooled by all the “senior” sisters to buy a really big sweet piece of land that is open to those seeking to live in intention. seeking to build a more stable environment for when the system begins to dismantle.

    Fast money seems only to help the individual in an insignifigant microcosm. What if we could turn around circle so we are merely helping pool money for the greater whole. (just an idea)

    Thank you so much Forum. I am so glad I am not the only sister who believes this. I begin to see our communities are splitting into Sisters In and Sisters out.

    Blessed Be.

    • Wow, Hannah. Thank you for that story! I know how it feels to be invited by close friends who I respect very much and feel the pull and want to believe and then look around and see just how many women I know who are in it so it must be okay and then get this sick feeling like the emperor has no clothes and I can’t be a part of it no matter how much I wanna believe.

      I also relate to the desire to pool our money for the greater good and really develop a sisterhood at the forefront of a Sacred Economy. I think this is the impulse behind these Circles for many women, and it can hopefully spur some real change if we can heal from the turmoil caused by the addiction and the deceit. I think we can indeed learn from our mistakes and direct the Circle energy into something ultimately positive and empowering.

      Bless you for sharing–>>>nala walla

      • Hannah! Such a beautiful revealing. I know exactly the feeling of trying to ‘sell’ the circles and how gut wrenchingly wrong it felt to do that. That in itself says a lot.

    • Thank you for your post Hannah. It feels healing to me every time I read another woman’s story. Looking back I can point out all the intuitive nudges that I didn’t listen to or wrote off as fear and something to overcome. It’s been a sobering lesson in humility for me in that sense. It took the clear reasoning of another woman’s voice, in the form of an article, to break the spell for me and I am grateful the clarity came almost instantaneously, though I did try to fend it off for a short while. I see that my friends are less able to take in information that opposes their beliefs, which are based purely on circle documents near as I can tell. I studied psychology and anthropology in college and it’s really interesting to look at Circle from those points of view. Ultimately, I feel grateful to have had my passion ignited and my inner activist unleashed.
      Your sister,
      Sarah

  18. it is a somewhat funny but sad reflection that the terms of women, femininity and circles are being used on top of the old pyramid scene. the sisters who are part of this do seem to believe genuinely that the circles can go on forever without collapsing, but this is a sadly feminine way of using too much right brain spiritual bypass and refusing to read the facts in front of your face. there is no free cash or energy exchange and energy does reciprocate- which means karma is unavoidable. looking for the easy way out is nor empowering to women. i laugh a little at how the language makes women seem very simple in grasping math: “dessert, soup and salad, appetizer” as if naming it after food makes women able to grasp the concepts. let’s take responsibility for ourselves and working board to create true financial stability as women’s empowerment. you cannot avoid the masculine part of yourself, which in this case would be a left brained activity of sitting down and being willing to look at the truth of the meh on a piece of peer. sometimes it is balck and white instead of choosing to live in the grey areas.

  19. Pingback: Extracting yourself from a Women's Gifting "Circle" with integrity and grace. - Sondra Rose: Happy Mind • Healthy Body • Wise Heart

    • I got an email recently from a distraught woman, who, after reading this post, knew she couldn’t stay in Circle,and yet she didn’t know how to leave such a complicated situation either. She told me that if I was going to strip people of their illusions about Circle, then it was my responsibility to offer some insight into “What next?” for women who want to leave.

      And she may be right.

      I am happy to share here the suggestions of my friend Sondra Rose, who has been coaching women to transition out of Circle. She has just published a wonderful post entitled, “Extracting Yourself from a Women’s Gifting ‘Circle’ with Integrity and Grace.”

      http://www.sondrarose.com/extracting-yourself-from-a-womens-gifting-circle-with-integrity-and-grace

      It is certainly not a simple matter to just get up one day and walk away from “Circle”, so I really do feel a lot of compassion and respect for women who are willing to take this road. I have many personal friends who have done so, and though they all report that it was a difficult (and ongoing) process, not one has ever regretted her decision once she made it.

      I feel proud of all you ladies who are willing to awaken and heal the wounds that you and your community have suffered.

  20. I just want to give such a deep and heartfelt thanks to all the women and men who are speaking out and diligently rebutting the ever cycling jargon that continues to blindside good-hearted, well meaning women.

    I am one who was taken in by it all these past few months but then found my way out by the grace of Lindsey Vona’s well timed post in Reality Sandwich and all that I have encountered since. It was a painful and alienating experience but I am so grateful to be on the other side.

    I have chosen to stay neutral and non-confrontational with my ‘sisters’ because it is just too frustrating to try and denounce what “their hearts have said to them”, as if my heart is a fool…I’m still dealing with a little bitterness, sadness, and confusion…I want to maintain relationships but I also have an undeniable aversion to supporting this model of sisterhood. It’s hard to comprehend the amount of self-delusion it takes to continuously defend a system based on a few sheets of rhetoric in the face of mounting evidence that speaks to both intellect and intuition.

    Ultimately, I can feel the desperation in some to just make their money back and get out. Despite it being a gift, it really isn’t, it’s really their livelihood, their security, and the loss of it will cause deep disharmony. I was fortunate to not have put my own money in but it was heartbreaking to let down the friend who backed me. I’m caught between praying she sees a return and praying she gets the ‘f’ out with her dignity intact.

    I keep returning to this blog and others because I need the reinforcement. I still find myself in doubt…how could I be the only one who sees thru this? I wonder if perhaps I am missing the point…maybe I am buying into fear mentality and hopping on the conventional bandwagon…but no, I trust all of you, your wisdom is sound. I trust that, even though I was guided astray, I still have a level of discernment that allows me to atone for my mistake, and the journey of standing alone against my own circle has been empowering above all else.

    I may not crusade against circle at this time but I will crusade for the financial and spiritual empowerment of women in my own way and I will speak my mind if the opportunity arises to dissuade someone from making an uninformed decision. You all have my word on that.

    In gratitude,
    Sarah

    • Dear Sarah—>>>

      Wow! What a powerful story. I’m not sure if you realize this, but in addition to helping you nurse the wounds you suffered personally, your courage to get out, and then speak out actually helps a lot to treat the larger dis-ease caused by Circle. As a former insider, your words carry a good deal more “clout” than do ours who have never joined.

      Telling your story to people who will hear it with compassion is a crucial part of the healing process for any survivor. Allow me to affirm for you that how you were treated is NOT OKAY.

      Let me repeat that.

      HOW YOU WERE TREATED IS NOT OKAY! In the truly sane, humane, and sacred culture we seek to create, luring and predatory behavior involving deceit and exploitation such as you experienced in “Circle” has no place.

      No place at all.

      I have a friend who left Circle six months ago, and she recently shared with me that she is still, to this day, processing her feelings about it. Like an onion, layers of rage, guilt and shame are still peeling back, along with a good measure of comedy and laughter at the silliness of human fallibility.

      I hope that you will treat yourself with a lot of kindness during the recovery process you have clearly begun, and continue to tell your story to women who will help you to transition by listening and cheering you on.

      Go go Sarah!—>>>>nala walla

    • Yes, Sarah, yes. I so deeply relate to the story you have shared. I was also lured and led astray into this circle of secrecy. It was such a shock to realize the ever-darkening shadow sides. I particularly appreciate and respect this statement from you, “I trust that, even though I was guided astray, I still have a level of discernment that allows me to atone for my mistake, and the journey of standing alone against my own circle has been empowering above all else.”

      Yes, I am with you. I have made an error and I have learned.

      I have learned to look for more sources of information. I have learned to more thoroughly and lovingly question the claims of others, even dear friends. I have learned how people with pure intentions can indeed start on a path that taints their motives and actions. I have learned that awakening can be hard, but it is so much better than ignorant sleep.

      I have learned to speak of the wrongs without needing to convince others of harm. I have learned. I have learned. I have learned.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Love,
      Maggie

      • Thank you Maggie! I am so inspired by your story, and your dedication to learning more all the time is super impressive. It surely takes a lot of bravery to keep uncovering stone after stone, especially when it can sometimes be so painful and scary.

        After all is said and done, going through this adversity has certainly deepened friendships–it’s just that they may be different friendships than we thought! Despite the current wreckage strewn about in some of my friendships with Circle women, I remain confident that a firm yet compassionate ethical stance will ultimately repair the damage. Even “better than imagined”: perhaps our relationships will even become more resilient and more truly respectful in the end.

        I am honored to be on this journey with you

        Big love and respect—>>>nala

        • Thank you Nala and Maggie so much. Your voices have both been such an inspiration to me as I obsessively read every single comment on every single thread I could find. It simply fascinates me and I’m actually really glad that I’ve been able to experience it from both sides instead of just dismissing it right away. It really has allowed me to explore myself and what I stand for in a deeper way. Like you said Maggie, I have learned so much and am definitely a stronger, wiser person for it.
          At this point my hunger to understand it all is sated and I feel in my heart it is time to step back and let the system continue to crumble as it is clearly in the process of doing. I will use my voice where I can to influence the uninitiated. I feel my story gestating and it will soon be ready for birth. I am open to suggestions for where and how I might publish it in a way that would really support the innocent instead of just dragging on debate with the entrenched. I have compassion for them, their time will come, and I want to be a safety net for those who are finally ready to comprehend the ugliness they’ve succumbed to. It will be such a painful and shaky time for many. They will need our love and our leadership.

          It is an honor to stand with women of such courage and integrity. I feel the blessing of it all.

          ❤ Sarah

  21. This has been an enriching conversation to follow. I particularly appreciate the comments from within the circle, as i realise that many women do not want to discuss it and want to keep it private. Having both comments from within and without brings balance and understanding for all involved. It is the scarcity of open communication that i feel brings bad vibes, also i guess the willingness to be changed by the ‘other’- importantly from both directions. To let go of righteousness is the learning that i am practicing, whilst still having my head and heart both in conversation about this interesting and challenging group process. Whilst i recognise the downfalls and choose not to participate. I somehow must recognise the worth and choice of those involved, and that indeed whilst it will collapse along the way, it does keep resurfacing time and time again, and clearly it circles for longer than anyone is giving accurate mathematical descriptions for, because it has been being shut down (in my research) since about 2002.

    I have friends in a new circle starting and it is very little known. I have a strong ethical position, but also can understand the more universal ‘you get what you need to learn’ approach. Thank goodness that there is discussion here. My family calls my attention but i would love to express my feelings further in another post. Another one of the reasons why there are bad vibes i believe is because of the “privacy’ demands women who do not choose to be in it do not have support to discuss it and it festers…. Blessings and love to all women.

    • Thanks for sharing your comments.

      Just a quick explanation as to why the circles “persist” after a collapse – Once upon a time, there was the mother circle – the first circle ever (in which, as an aside, the first dessert, entrees, and soups and salads, received and did not give). Then this circle reproduced until the number of recruits needed outstripped the supply. Then this system of circles “collapsed”, at which point most of the circles stopped functioning. What percent? Who knows. In one of the articles about the Sacramento circle collapse a few years ago, the writer interviewed a woman who said that some of the women were going to stay low for a while and restart the circle when things quieted down, or something to that effect. So for example if there are 1000 circles, and there’s a big collapse, it’s possible that a few of those will chose to restart their activities months or years later and restart the whole process. This does not mean it’s sustainable. To the contrary, it means that they have been infected with an addiction to this easy money and are willing to start it up again in spite of knowing that by starting it up, 1000s of women will end up losing money yet again. It’s a horribly selfish thing to do– to restart a circle after knowing full well of its implications. Another reason the circles may reappear is because someone may just start once from scratch. Doing so can be extremely profitable because the first 7 people to participate don’t have to put anything in. Moreover, it is possible that the one person can pose to be all seven people and walk away with $280K in their pocket.

      • Thanks Derek for rephrasing how it works in many different ways— the structural aspects can be so confusing! The addictive aspects of this scheme are particularly insidious. It important to keep emphasizing that addictions really are an “illness,” and should be treated as such.

  22. Some very good news, one of the women from the smaller ‘lightening’ circle I was involved in (where I left just as I was in the receiving position) sent me back my ‘gift’ today. She was happy to do it, and also said she is working with a number of friends to revise the system so it is ethical and sustainable and legal. There are women in the circles who this information is reaching and speaking to. Again, so proud of you Lindsey and Amber and so grateful for your recent posts. This is a wonderful stepping stone to change.

  23. After hearing a story from someone I invited to join two of my circles, about how circles had come through her town in Pennsylvania a number of years ago and essentially destroyed everything it touched in it’s wake, including the happiness of the women who gained the most, I left the circles. Actually, it wasn’t immediate. It took a few days and in that time, divine timing, this article, Lindsey’s article, and Amber’s slideshow all happened to make their debut on the internet right then and there. I couldn’t have asked for a better time to dive in to research. I wish these articles had been online last May before giving away $8000, and yet, I still am in gratitude about the lessons learned, am still learning. When I left the smaller ‘lightening’ circle, I was in the receiving position and was waking up at 2am in a cold sweat knowing that I really could NOT take any money, that it was theft. I knew this at the base of my soul, and so I ended my little branch of that circle, informed everyone of the illegality. Many under me were grateful, and some considered my reaction to be a ‘block’ and ‘extreme negativity’. I went ahead and sent the links to all of these articles, plus the truth about the laws, to the sisters in my circle. Two other ladies, both backed in, decided to leave also. The circle continues but they have a lot of ground to cover to makeup for the three who left. The circle wasn’t moving even before we left. What is sad to me is how much these women will believe what they want to believe more than they are willing to look at truth and reality. That is even more of a driving point to me of the immorality of what is happening in this little world. I really want to drive the point home to them that it is thievery because of the deception regarding the illegality and the financial structure, but these women absolutely believe in the righteousness of what they are doing. Scary, actually. I’m so glad I got out. If I can help in any way to help other women not get involved in the first place I will do that. Talking women who believe in it so strongly is really like talking to a wall. 😦 I’m very disheartened and not sure what to do about it.

    • Cat, thank you for sharing so openly about your experience. Do you mind if I quote you? I think your story needs to be shared with other women. It could have a HUGE impact.
      -Amber

      • Hi Amber! Of course, please do. For some strange reason I checked back for several days and only so my post as the last. I’m glad to see that many people have posted since then and that my computer is seeing it now.

  24. Khaliqa,

    That’s a great story, thanks for sharing it. So far I have only had luck with people who are not in the circle (but who I believe will likely be targeted). It’s really hard for my comments to have any weight with circle supporters on this particular topic because as a guy who is known for being “analytical” about things and who thinks it is important to discuss the bad things in the world (how else can you learn not to repeat other people’s mistakes if you don’t take the time to understand them?), I am regarded as someone who lacks the inner knowing to understand the complexity of angels, intuition, and spirit guides. But yeah, my opinion right now is that testimonials from former circlers is the most effective way to open their minds.

  25. This is a GREAT article. I will read it again….and I personally have found a level of personal inquiry/embodiment/nourishment by being in such a circle to be an integral part of my practice. What to say?! The gift is beyond that which may be perceived by the eye. When one actually gifts freely, there is a level of connection to the divine feminine that goes beyond…I love that this writer connects the “vortex” field with Nassim Haramein and his work. All of our chakras as we know are portals as well as our central channel. I have found being in circle can be an exploration of this that actually becomes yoga. We are all accountable for our own decisions and when we truly come from a place of gifting and really setting that free, something else comes into play. To play. As Benthino Massaro (a highly recommended young Advaita teacher) says, “Money is not apart from me, literally.” Thank you for bringing this to the surface.

    All of these are arguments are true AND if a women comes into it as a practice – actually using it to free herself, giving an actual gift to someone you don’t know and then working with all that comes up around that around the victim/perpetrator mentality, can get very rich in so many ways far beyond financial compensation. That can become a secondary side effect….or not at which point it becomes inconsequential. free choice

    • Thanks for your reply, Therese.

      It sounds indeed that you have benefitted from Circle. That some women gain greatly, both financially and spiritually is NOT under debate here.

      What you seem to miss is that your “free choice” to join is at the expense of many other women who will not have the wonderful experience you are having–because of the enormous numbers of women who must continually enter Circle for it to survive, some women will eventually lose, or become disgruntled for various reasons. 32 women were required for you to complete “dessert”.

      Can you guarantee that all of these women will have a beneficial experience? Or those in future circles that you spawned by cycling through? (Please see my reply to Adam Apollo about the inappropriateness of evaluating at any one woman’s or any one Circles’ experience without considering the big picture.)

      In contrast to your uplifting experience, Circle is also causing destruction of friendships, financial ruin, and jail sentences. Are you aware of this?

      Your ethical question remains: do the ends (your personal spiritual and financial enrichment) justify the means?

      Why not lend your creativity and spiritual power to design a women’s enrichment program that doesn’t involve exponentially expanding recruitment, and the eventual exploitation and unavoidable collapse that result.

  26. Maggie,

    Thank you so much for pointing out that women in circle can learn and change their thinking about circle. I guess when I said “they are a lost cause”, I really meant that, personally, my energy towards trying to stop circle culture feels more usefully directed at trying to educate women and younger generations not to join in the first place. The rejection of logic, as Derek describes, can be so frustrating, I feel ineffective.

    I have never been in circle, so without that perspective, I do not feel as qualified to reach circle women as you are. You are such a great resource!! Your experience allows you to know on a much deeper level the complexity of this dynamic. I say three cheers to you for moving through that painful cracking open and staying with this, following blogs, adding your perspective, and having faith in the potential for change within circle culture. Your hard work obviously helped other women in your circle to move into their own difficult openings. Keep on speaking up because, Derek is right, testimonials like yours and Lindsey’s are really, really, valuable right now.

    Currently, my direction is: one woman at a time. Every woman I meet, every friend I have, I ask them if they have been asked, I tell them about the math and what this is really doing to other women and community, the faceless, nameless women who lose and remain anonymous to the winners. I had a personal success recently when I stumbled on a friend from Portland who was already on phone calls and really on the fence, but I laid it out for her and she realized she couldn’t do it. A week after I spoke with her she called me again for a pep-talk because her group had offered to back her, so it wasn’t going to cost her any investment. She wanted to hear again why this was wrong and luckily logic prevailed and she declined again. Also, I speak openly in public places about it. In fact the other day, I was in a yoga studio, and an acquaintance asked about a mutual friend (who has circled between 4-5 times!) saying he sees on FB that she is doing all kinds of world travels and wondering how she moved from being constantly broke to traveling the world. So I just announced it to the whole room how she made her money. And then publicly broke it down with the percentages of winners and losers. There was a woman next to me – who appeared almost visibly afraid for me – and she said quietly to me, thank you so much for saying that I have never heard anybody speak it out loud. It turns out that she was invited, went on a couple phone calls, and decided it was not her thing but felt the fear of telling anyone. The pressure must be intense to keep the secrecy. A friend who mentioned circle on FB was privately messaged and told that it was wrong to bring something that is private for women out into the public. I want to link her to Nala’s comments on this issue – because it IS a public matter!

    Thanks to all who keep pushing this into the open!

    • Khaliqa—>>>

      Thank you for sharing the intricacies if your experience. I’m sad to report that I’ve had very similar experiences around being pressured to keep silent. I’ve since come to recognize that silence is a major mechanism by which Circle proliferates.

      Once I realized that I was actually colluding with the scheme by “honoring” the demands for secrecy, I began to speak out. Luckily, a number of blog and facebook discussions were finally beginning to surface to en-courage this opening up. (Reddit, Android Jones, Alli Gallixsee…Thank you!)

      When I posted my first link on Facebook, a Circle friend called me up immediately to insist that FB was an inappropriate forum for conversation. Not only that, she said I had no right to comment upon something that I “knew nothing about” and that I was violating their right to “social hygiene.”

      She assured me that she would be happy to talk with me one-on-one about my “feelings,” then subsequently set about disregarding and disproving each and every point that I made using the customary circular logic that characterizes the justifications of addicts and cult devotees.

      It had taken me a long time to get up the nerve to take a public stand on this, because I wondered if I was breaching some assumed coda of confidentiality–but eventually I realized that codas based or imposition or coercion are very different from mutual agreements.

      I also greatly feared retaliation of a very organized group of women in my small town social scene ( Meeting weekly with a concealed membership roster, no less!) It remains to this day hard to tell what I am risking and with whom.

      Yet, I think it is revealing to add here that fear of “consequences” is the main reason that women stay silent in abusive relationships and even defend their batterers. So, speaking out loudly and firmly for what we believe in becomes a crucial step (perhaps THE crucial step) in healing the traumas of injustice.

      Even though I really didn’t want to lose treasured friends, I also could no longer accept the damage to my self-respect that comes from fence-sitting on this issue. So I jumped off. Now, with my feet in the wet, muddy ground, I can see that the landscapes of my friendships have been scoured by this storm, but I have at least that peace of terra firma to ground me.

      When I did begin to ask my sisters around town: have you been invited? I immediately found that there were many others who were similarly concerned, similarly outraged, and similarly relieved to have the silence broken. An outpouring of grief, rage and confusion followed in the wake of community meetings, late night phone calls and chat room conversations.

      It felt and feels incredibly affirming to hear others (you, Khaliqa and you, Derek, you Amber and Lindsey) describe the feelings I thought I had been holding in isolation.

      As a final note, I want to mention that pyramid schemes are impossible to keep secret because they depend upon recruitment for their most basic function. This makes their demand for “silence” totally unreasonable, and quite baffling, really. (Please see my upcoming post on Invisibility and Transparency: How Circle has puts itself in a double-bind.)

      For now, Khaliqa, I want to honor you again for ending the silence and speaking out, for all of our sakes.

      Nala Walla

  27. I think that there is something really important missing from the conversation. These things are extremely dangerous and risky. All it takes is one person who is feeling burned to bring down an entire community of circles. It is already happening in the west coast alternative community. Names are being unveiled to the FBI and there are massive implications for everyone involved. The time for justification is over. People need to understand the risks and make the right decision. Give the money back or risk being in huge legal trouble.

  28. Pingback: Pyramid scheme circles sisters – Echonetdaily

  29. Nala and Derek – Thank you both for responding.

    First of all, I completely understand that circle is un-defendable. There is NO ‘right’ reason for joining circle. They are pyramid schemes that hurt people. I get that. But regardless, women are still joining. So, how do we help them come to the conclusion that there is no ‘right’ reason to join, knowing that they are in the midst of enormous pressure from friends or family whom they trust?

    Second, I can see that I am blinded by my assumption that any woman doing the math and seeing the unsustainability of the structure would of course realize that she should not join a circle. It is also incredibly hard for me to believe that a woman with even a modicum of self awareness would be able to lie to herself that joining circle was NOT about the money. I know we have an amazing capability to lie to ourselves, but I still had more faith that woman could see this truth, if, this was a direct question they had to ask themselves as a consideration for joining. I am sure I am disconnected from reality too! So, when I read that article, I thought – who could possibly come to the conclusion, if they are honest with themselves, that circle is right for them? I thought, if anybody at all, it would be a VERY small percentage.

    Where I saw potential value in the article, was in the possibility that if Circle women could accept this “balanced view” and give this article as reading material for women thinking of joining a circle, it would at least be a start to breaking the brainwashing and mis-information of circle documents. Because right now, those circle documents are stunningly offensive, even if Neely’s article is also stunningly offensive as you say and dangerous, as Derek says and gives woman a flawed reason to continue, at LEAST the math would be presented, and other information that should be brought to light as well, and therefore I don’t think as many people would continue into circle as do right now, who don’t see the article. It would be a start, because right now there is no math happening – the shape of the structure is even lied about! If circle women are not willing to share Neely’s article with new recruits as a reference for making the choice if circle is right for them, then yes, it will have to reside in the stunningly offensive, circle apologist column of writings. I thought maybe if enough circle women could accept the article, it could be used as a stepping stone to balance circle documents – because those circle documents are going out anyway! Or perhaps it could be used by women who don’t have the courage to tell their trusted friends, directly, that they are a bunch of criminals and stealing money from other women, they could just say to their friend, “I went through the steps, I realize that I really just want the 40K, so it isn’t the right group for me.” I know this is the wimpy way out, and these women will not be part of the force that tries to deconstruct this whole thing, but really, they weren’t going to take that role anyway! At least with an article that circle culture accepted, the women who don’t have the strength to call a spade a spade, could have a check list and a reason to say “No” and stop the peer pressure. I am guessing that you, Nala, and Derek, both feel that this article would do nothing to stop a woman from joining, but only fuel her desire to join because it gives her an opening?

    In my opinion, women who have already joined, are a lost cause, they have bought into the lies already, so my question is – how do we educate women who have not yet joined? And more importantly – how do we educate young women who are currently in their teens? Because this community destroyer went through here 13 years ago, but all the women in their 20’s now were too young to be aware of it then, and now they are appetizer victims. In 10-12 years it will be back again and it is for those young victims that I want to do as much as possible now.

    • Khaliqa,

      I only want to comment on your belief that women who have already joined are incapable of seeing the truth and leaving. Luckily, we have mounting evidence to the contrary! I, for one, was involved for 7 months (without reaching dessert) and, after 7 months, FINALLY did some online research about the scheme. I cracked open. It was hard at first, but in a few days I understood the nature of what I was involved in and left.

      Two of my friends also left after receiving more information about the circle.

      And, three more women to my knowledge have just left also – women who have been involved in a very deep way. I think more women are going to start to fear jail time as a result of their continued participation. If this is what stops them, great. Then they might be more able to rationally assess the ‘outside’ information about the circle.

      Anyhoot – posts like Nala’s, Amber Bieg’s, and Lindsey Vona’s are SURE to have great effects on women both in and out of the circle. If nothing more, the growing number of voices in opposition to this activity is a good thing. This thread is great. The threads that are growing beneath other related articles are great.

      Women are opening to this information. Because their intelligence demands it! (And there is just more information available now…there is even a lot more available than when I first started doing research several months ago.)

      Love
      Maggie

    • Khaliqa, you might be right. I have a hard time predicting how people will react to things.

      I have warned and prevented a number of people from joining the circle. Maggie’s comment below gives me hope that people in the circle will, under the right conditions open themselves up to information. Though my experience to circle apologists is very similar to the exchanges we’ve had with circle supporters in this thread, e.g. “i trust my intuition and inner knowing”; suggestions that prayer, spiritual power, or some other supernatural force will somehow nullify the mathematical reality, or Sunshine’s comment, which in my opinion seemed to think that if you just focus on the positive aspects of the circle that the negative aspects will just go away or can safely be ignored. In all these cases, the approach was a categorical rejection of logic, which is typical of the extreme reductionism that people sometimes embrace after discovering a new truth.

      Our community, for good reason, is critical of our materialist society, a paradigm of science that is deeply flawed by its biases, and an ideological structure infested with anti-human values that are proudly paraded by the mascots of masculinity. Unfortunately, the reaction much of our community has is to flock to the extreme opposite — reject all forms of materialist thinking (e.g., Marxist-like analysis, or anything else that is just too “grounded”), reject all arguments premised on logic, and instead rely solely on intuition and inner guidance. This brings us full circle to the medieval era where praying to the statue of a christian saint was the solution to everything and where the world was flat. Moreover, when you abandon all logic, 90% of what is left is bias, not intuition or inner knowing. Logic should be utilized as something to be used alongside intuition, whereas the extreme versions of New Age thinking seems to view logic as its enemy.

      Personally, I think the best course of action is to spread testimonials from women who were in it and then left — who can both speak to the positive experiences of the circle as well as the negative.

  30. I really appreciate these posts and a big thanks to Roslin and Lisa Love for being willing to represent circle culture and engage in some conversation. Thanks also to Nala for such a great article and such a compassionate approach to this issue which frankly, enrages me. I know that my anger is extremely ineffective in dialog. I want to use some of the discussion above as talking points to keep me level-headed and compassionate when in conversation about this and to keep expanding my perspective so that I can see it from all sides (which is why Roslin’s description of the unquantifiable gifts of circle were important to hear). At the core, we all really want the same thing and have more in common then less.

    However, I would love to know if Roslin, Lisa and Sunshine (who only chimed in once), and who defend circle culture as a beneficial and just system to all involved, are part of the 12% that have received that incredible financial empowerment, or if they are speaking from the experience of truly gifting $5000 to another woman and then never getting to dessert (financial reward) themselves. I feel this is important to reveal because if you have received the $40,000 then you can’t actually speak to the value of the learning, training and transformation being gifted to the women who never get to the receiving position financially as well. I know that there was a time you were involved in circle, before getting to dessert, that you did have a lot of incredible growth and transformation, but once you “win” (and it is referred to as “winning” in the Circle invitation documents under the question “Does someone have to lose in order for me to win?”), you can no longer speak from the perspective of what that growth and transformation feels like when it comes without the financial reward as well. When you win you can’t speak to the experience of the one’s that lose, you just can’t. You aren’t wearing those shoes. Those that have lost need to tell the rest of us, outside of circle culture, about their positive experiences. Ask those women to speak up. Because usually I don’t hear from them (except when Lindsey Vona courageously revealed) and recently on FB someone posted concern about the circles, and I did see a few comments from women who lost money the last time the circle wave came through our community, and from my reading – the common experience of those women is shame, which, I am guessing is why we rarely hear from them.

    I would also love to hear Roslin and Lisa’s perspective on the off-shoot “fire” and “lightening” circles. I just got asked to join one of those, both 3 weeks ago and then again 2 days ago. When I told the first inviter that I didn’t want to do a Woman’s Wisdom Circle (the current circle name in my area for the $40K group) because of the math and that money doesn’t come out of no where, that her gain is someone else’s loss. She emailed this response:
    “Oh yes, I totally respect and honor your feelings about it. I’ve gotten the same response from a couple people. I’m actually not in a Women’s Wisdom Circle but a small off -shoot group that has a much smaller gift and it cycle’s through in one week and then you’re done. I’ve already done it once and made $11000 in one week. So I’m doing another one now.”
    How do I respond to that? What do I say or do to explain to this woman how she is effecting our community? Should I turn her email over to the police? Being arrested doesn’t even seem to work, as those that are, STILL claim that they have done nothing wrong. Roslin, would you join a “lightening group” if not, why?

    I do take issue with the claim that there is no deception in these circles. When I was invited and received the inviting documents to the Women’s Wisdom Circle, which I have right here because I never returned them, the answer to the question I mentioned above in the document “Does someone have to “lose” in order for me to “win?” is very deceptive – the answer stated is: ” No, this is an area of misunderstanding. Our circle is NOT a hierarchy; it is a Circle. There is no one at the ‘top’ or at the ‘bottom.’ Unlike a ‘pyramid’ women are constantly cycling through ALL the positions on the Circle. We have a small, finite number of women, and everyone has exactly the same opportunity.”
    Using the word “finite” is not only deceptive, it is a lie. The circle can NOT continue to cycle if there is a defined limit in the amount of people – it MUST expand infinitely to keep moving. How would someone in circle culture defend this statement?

    Finally, here is a link to a very interesting article that actually presents reasoning of why the Circle is bad for some women and why the Circle might be a good idea for some women. I would love to hear Nala’s and/or Derek’s comments (and anybody else’s) on this perspective. Roslin – do you think you would be willing to share this link with women joining circle? It does say that circle is right for some women. If not, why not?

    I am grateful for any responses, and hoping especially for Roslin to stay in conversation and help expand further my understanding of the circle culture perspective.

    Here is the link:

    http://eyeswideopenlife.com/blog/alexis-neely/womens-gifting-circles-secret-scam-or-saving-grace/

    Sorry – I am on an iPad and I am not sure how to make that into a hyperlink – or maybe it will just turn into one, once I post! Otherwise – please copy and paste!

    • Hi Khaliqa, I came across that article a week or two ago. In it, Alexis acknowledges that the circle has an unsustainable structure, that its collapse is a mathematical certainty, and that 87.5% of the people will lose their money — she knows full well that it’s a pyramid and that like all pyramids, it enriches a small portion of the people at the expense of later entrants. Then she goes on to say, “If it’s right for you to join a gifting circle, it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done” That makes no sense to me. When is it ever the right thing to steal from your sisters? She also makes the factually wrong statement that it is only sustainable when the circles cycle quickly but that if you take your time the math somehow changes. That is false. 2 + 2 = 4, no matter how long it takes to calculate.

      I think the article is dangerous because it gives circle participants a flawed rationale to continue. They will just adopt its logic as a new story/narrative and adopt the claim that sure, it’s a pyramid scheme, but it’s right for me, because my “entrepreneurial path includes the Star/Connector Archetype” or because I participate in traditional circles, not fire circles.

      It was a horrible article and the author should make corrections to her article and reassess her ethical conclusion that even though it harms other people, it may be right for some.

    • Khaliqa—->>>

      I’ve seen the Alexis Neely post referred to many times by Circle apologists as a “more balanced view.”

      I find her post to be stunningly offensive and disconnected from reality. The most obvious problem is her focus on “helping” individual women to assess whether joining these circles is a good “business move.” The nature of pyramid schemes is that it takes an enormous, and exponentially growing population to maintain them. For example, for each woman to get to the top, 32 women must be recruited. Play this out for a few rounds and it exceeds the female population of the planet.

      Therefore it is totally inappropriate to merely consider “whether Circle is right for you.” As I mentioned in my reply to “Roslyn”, the fact that “Circle” has chosen a pyramid scheme as its modus operandi makes it PUBLIC BY DESIGN. More and more people are finding out and speaking out about it because Circle Women are sharing it with more and more people. This is a public matter by default.

      Even if the likelihood of one particular woman making it to dessert is high (maybe she’s the first woman to bring it to her town, and there are lots of recruits available), does it make it the “right” decision to go for it? Do the ends justify the means? I think not.

      This is not a private decision. All the effects on the larger community must be taken into consideration. If someone wants to make a “private” decision, then they ought not join a group that has such immense societal repercussions.

  31. Nala, I feel exactly the same way. I’m also having the same experience. I have my hands in multiple projects and am always short on time. My passion is centered on the creation of systems (social, political, economic, etc) that are self-perpetuating, sustainable, that would result in community empowerment and a more even distribution of real wealth, and that would complement the shift in consciousness that everyone seems to be so eagerly pursuing. And the financial structure of the Circle is a threat to a lot of the good things that our community is working on, which really is distressing. I really hope the fallout from this ultimately results in something positive, as painful as it will likely be immediately after the collapse.

    • Derek–>>>>

      I share this hope that we can use this experience to keep evolving in the right direction. In my life, there have definitely been some unintended positive side effects to all this activist work. I have been pleasantly surprised by how my relationships with fellow “concerned community” members have greatly deepened as a result of uniting around this issue. And, though it has been quite disillusioning to see my friends sucked into this, it is real.

      It helps me to understand where my support structure actually lies in this community, and it’s not where I thought it did. Though painful, this is very useful knowledge from an “emergency preparedness perspective.” I know this Circle debacle likely pales in comparison to other potential crises like earthquakes, food shortages, civil war… I hope that we never have to deal with any of these, but I must be honest that I am vitally aware of who in my community, when under pressure, keeps a good head on their shoulders and doesn’t attempt to seal themselves off from feedback and sabotage real communication. It’s useful to know who is not fooled when the Monster called Growth Based Capitalism rears its head in the middle of our community, no matter how decked-out in the baubles of new age language, and the bangles of magical thinking.

      Know what I mean?

      • Nala, I’m on the exact same page. I’ve experience the same unintended side effects, and like you have thought about how my friends would respond to a truly difficult situation — like for example, a complete collapse of our economic and political system, which as we all know will happen sooner or later if we don’t change course, drastically. I’ve imagined a scenario, where half the community is arguing that we prepare for winter, and the other half insisting that we pray to the gods. It sounds silly, but it’s something I now view as a realistic scenario. Then another side of me kicks in and thinks that the same people who believe in magic are often also the most creative and fun, and a community needs both. I don’t know. I waiver between no patience and patience. Under pressure, people do need to respond materially to material problems, and not retreat to fanciful beliefs that a messianic shift in spiritual consciousness will somehow eliminate all the problems in the world. Hopefully this will be a learning experience for people, and they will find a healthy balance between intuition and logic.

  32. Roslin,

    It’s awesome that you are engaging in this dialog. So far it has been really difficult to have an open discussion on this very heated topic with people who are in the circle. I read you recent comment in full. Please consider what I wrote about the integrity of the circle fabric and why all the beautiful elements of the circle will be undermined by the financial structure of the circle because of the Circle’s inherent contradiction.

    You wrote, “what about the power of prayer? The power of love? intention? the power of the mind ? faith ? trust ? belief? and all the energy that flows from these places to effect the physical and all dimensions…It is after all a time where science meets spirituality , yet the great mystery of how it all works prevails as we again come into the immeasurable nature of our universe and life’s intricate activities!”

    These powers have a place in our universe, but prayer cannot make 2 + 2 = 5. It just can’t. And that is why the Circle collapsed elsewhere, in Sacramento and Hartford. It’s great that you have provided a full response to the arguments in this article, however some of the statements in your reply include some statements that are unfortunately demonstrably false. For example, you asserted that when conducted in private, they are legal. That unfortunately is not true. While it may be one of the Circle documents latest talking points, it is flat-out false. Two women from Gullford, CT just got slapped with 14-year sentences for their participation in the Women’s Wisdom circle. The law makes no distinction between a pyramid scheme being executed in private or public. All the women in the circle are at risk of being prosecuted for tax evasion, federal wire fraud (conducting fraud by phone over state lines), securities fraud (judges do not by gifting argument and consider the “purchased” expectation 5K to be a dessert with a security), misrepresentation of the IRS gifting rules (having appetizers sign a form indicating they expect nothing in return), and violation of the endless chain law. Judges and prosecutors will truly not give a rat’s ass how the women in the circle interpreted the law. They have and will continue to prosecute without mercy.

    Nala and Amber are advocating an alternative structure to the circle that couples all the positive elements of the circle with a financial structure that is sustainable. The circle as it is now WILL collapse. There is not question about that. Reinvestment has no impact on the exponential growth of money required to sustain the circle and only a negligible impact on the exponential growth of the recruits needed to sustain it. As a result, all these good vibes will end when the financial structure collapses, taking with it everything else. But if you instead work with your sisters to separate the system of mutual empowerment from the pyramid structure and instead pair it up with a complimentary financial structure that is sustainable and which is mutually empowering, then these good vibes can go on forever.

    Why do I care? Because I love our community and I hate watching helplessly as this viral worm eats away at our fabric. The women in our community are the most beautiful and powerful sisters I have ever known, however they are making a terrible terrible mistake and really need to open up to criticisms of the circle. Otherwise, this runaway positive feedback loop will continue and our community fabric will soon be in tatters.

    • Derek—>>

      I cannot express how grateful I feel that you have joined the conversation. Your articulation of the issues here really helps cut through the constant derailing of this conversation by those who emphasize the spiritual and energetic benefits of Circle: No one here is denying that these benefits exist! It is in fact BECAUSE they exist, BECAUSE we so dearly believe in women’s economic and spiritual empowerment that many of us critics are bothering to write these words. We don’t like to see these goals endangered by a false foundation. The spiritual benefits of Circle simply cannot compensate for the unsustainable structure. Period.

      Many of the women involved in these Circles are some of my oldest and most treasured friends. I love them dearly. I truly believe that they have the best of intentions for getting involved. I want to see them succeed at building a sustainable sisterhood. Such is the labor of love that has spurred this already-busy Mama to spend such an enormous amount of energy researching, interviewing, writing, posting, following threads, calling friends, organizing meetings in our community, and taking a public stand on this matter. Indeed, I cannot afford much more time input into this matter (I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to respond to every post), and thus my gratitude for your help in keeping this conversation on-track.

      I well realize that my speaking out puts many of these same friendships at risk in the short term. However, when I take the long view, I retain the hope that these sisters will one day recognize that I am acting on behalf of our long-term friendship, and radical trust in it. When the Circles as we know them eventually collapse–ideally replaced by a version that preserves the work they are dedicating to Gifting Culture–I would not be able to live with myself had I not made my very best attempt to communicate my misgivings, to warn them about potential dangers. I would like to look back on this one day, satisfied that I did not succumb to the pressures and temptations to remain silent.

      Sadly, I realize that the words of those who advise, “”Just let them fall. It’s the only way they will learn their lesson” may prove to be true, in the end. But, as a friend, I feel I must at least TRY to describe the steep cliff Circle women are approaching. That a fall may well involve terrible damage to friendships, to reputations, to local businesses, and even long jail sentences and huge fines.

      I thank you for sharing your perspective, as your solidarity helps me to bear the suffering.

    • Hmmm. I don’t know of a way to edit, except to preview your posts before publishing? Anybody out there know? If all else fails (and you feel really strongly about needing to edit) you could publish the new post and I can delete the old one…

  33. Hi Nala, Thank you for the article and this post I appreciate your concern and your perspectives in saying so, your focus has only really been on the financial gift that is given and received in the circle journey, the financial gift is just a small portion of gifts available to all women in the circle activity. There are many gifts constantly circulating within, as well as into and out of the circle journey, these gifts have greater value and they are gifts of heart, wisdom, time, energy, skills, support, guidance, commitment to ones empowerment as well as the empowerment of all sisters participating in the circle journey. Its interesting how much emphasis is on the energy of money…and how all other inflow and outflow of all gifts are not considered, I understand that this is the material element that can be “seen or quantified” but what about that which cannot be quantified?

    In considering whether “ Circle structure would function in alignment with natural and universal energy systems, where the male and female principles are in balance. “ we must consider all inputs of energy & all outputs of energy not only “energy in the form of money “ …we must consider the nonlinear and linear, the tangible & intangible inputs and outputs. You have placed great weight to the financial gifts that are the potential of the circle journey, but I pray that the great gifts of circle are also the potential great empowerment and deep levels of realization available to all who enter into the circle journey. In speaking of the circles as a feminine / masculine approach, the structure though seemingly linear, is effected by nonlinear variables!

    The danger of analysis..of tearing down to only the nitty gritty workings of the circle, is the same danger of all analytical thinking that is imposed on the workings of life, nature & the great mystery. There is too much that lives in the experience of the circle journey, the effects that the circle journey has on an individual when the circle is approached with sacredness & integrity, that would be very challenging to be translated into the world of statistics, quantifiable byproducts, but yet has the potential to effect great change to an individual which will then ripple out to the greater community beyond circle. As many in our personal developmental journeys , transformation begins within.

    Speaking to “ Flower UNFURLS” part of your article. Here you state
    “flowers unfurl. The flow of this Circle flower is inward, as the “appetizers” give their cash “gifts” into the center. There is no flower in the world that has a continuous inward flow. Even flowers that close up at night furl and unfurl in a diurnal rhythm that is balanced. And they all end up feeding the larger ecosystem by design, as petals drop. Quite unlike Circle dynamics, where the core “dessert” position is the one that drops out.”
    Yes here it is layed out in a flower, but ..Perhaps the more appropriate imagery could be that of a tree, and “dessert” as ripened fruit.
    It is true that the “financial gifts” are proceeding to the centre of this particular “fruit/dessert” in the branch of a greater tree with many branches, and timing for ripening. Here you speak of the circles as a closed circuit…seeing only the energy flow into one particular circle but not taking into consideration the energy flow in to the circle culture as a whole, and then out again … of the circle culture into the greater whole ( this can also link into your living systems view). These “fruits/dessert” when ripened go into the greater ecosystem at large..whether they go the feed the soil, or whether they are ingested by a bird, a human ..etc…the same can be seen as women as ripened fruits giving their abundant gifts that have been received , strengthened & ripened in this empowering journey out to the greater community beyond circle. That includes the financial input as well as all other inputs that they have learned about leadership, sisterhood, support, empowering ourselves & each other..the flow into their heart dreams and “bonus” if reached of financial empowerment to feed those heart dreams & bring them into manifestation.

    Again I would like to highlight that you are mainly considering the energy flow of money in your analysis/ exploration of the circle culture. Like nature we must consider all forms of energy quantifiable and also that which is very hard/impossible to quantify! …for example if we were only to consider the energy from the sun we would have a very incomplete picture of the structure of nature.

    Here you quote “ The current generation gives the “gifts” of its own body to the next generation.” This does take place in circle! Each woman entering as a “appetizer” gives a financial gift…they also give gifts of time, energy, wisdom etc into the circle, however their time commitments and responsibility grow as they travel towards the “dessert” position, the amount of “other gifts” that are given grow as a woman grown in her circle journey, by the time she is in “dessert position” though the dessert is receiving financial gifts she is giving much much more to circle of all other gifts, time, energy, leadership, support, love, commitment, wisdom, guidance, giving of her appropriate skills & newly learnt skills, to every sisters growth & empowerment. If women are truly journeying in alignment with the circles intentions and its essence the demands of “dessert” are massive ! Yet in your analysis, this giving of the woman in “dessert” to all other sisters in only touched upon! So the women regardless of what stage of the journey they are on are receiving an abundance of gifts and energy flow that is not of $$ and is not towards the woman in dessert only …how much value can you place on a woman in “dessert” giving her love & devotion and all those perhaps unquantifiable gifts to the sisters of the circle… so much so that a great part of her life when in dessert is circle and service to those sisters within her circle ! Speaking to your point “The structure of Circle is similar, as the new entrants are required to feed the elders of the scheme, with material gifts flowing effectively from the youth to the elder. “ What about the gifts of the elder to the circle that are not $$???

    So I pray Nala you place weight on theses true gifts! So hence there is Balance of Giving & Receiving in circles as the woman in dessert and that generation of “dessert women Gifts of her own body & her own being to the next generation/s within her circle and empowers the woman who will step into the position of dessert to also be of great service to the sisters when she leaves the circle” . Her service while in dessert position does ripple out of the circle experience also as those women are a part of the greater whole beyond circle culture.

    In reference to Naseem Harrameins work and I feel you are only considering the quantifiable upward pyramid of the energy flow of money $$ but have not yet fully comprehended the dimension of the unseen yet ( deeply felt by women in integral circles of the energy flow downwards & outwards that ripple out beyond the circles linear structure you perceive ). After all, Nassems work is largely also theories about the unseen, vast immeasurable world not available to us in the “material , Newtonian understanding of physical laws”…what about the power of prayer? The power of love? intention? the power of the mind ? faith ? trust ? belief? and all the energy that flows from these places to effect the physical and all dimensions…It is after all a time where science meets spirituality , yet the great mystery of how it all works prevails as we again come into the immeasurable nature of our universe and life’s intricate activities! So within integral and aligned gifting circles- the linear & nonlinear I believe can be balanced. The Star tetrahedron amongst many things symbolizes also the unseen and seen forces, the inflow & outflow of life energy, the feminine & masculine forces. It is also the symbol of alchemy and alchemical transformation, that is available to us, to expand , realize beyond matter! These symbols, place equal weight to the unseen forces as well as the seen, “two opposing forces reaching equilibrium:”! Women in circles can draw their faith from both the unseen ( but felt experienced forces ) as well as the seen, material forces. Here I quote you “In contrast, pyramid schemes are an example of a vicious circle (positive feedback loop), which moves towards collapse if unchecked.” Here the feedback of “money loop” is considered not the feedback of “energy” loop …if all is energy is money the energy you are singling out here ? After all money is only one form of energy that can be gifted & received.

    Integral empowering gifting circles take time and the time that it takes for a circle to complete is not set, the great mystery and in my opinion divine orchestration have a huge part to play in this, we are living in a world where the global population is growing, not only is it growing, but as it grows rapidly the majority of people are not empowered in living their life dream, caught in the financial struggle of meeting the day to day demands of basic survival. How hard is it to believe that one may choose to truly gift of many gifts not just $, to take the risk of loosing out themselves , even to see a few women fully live their hearts purpose and effect greater change by embodying their dreams? Is it so hard to believe that in turn these women gifted by the circles will bring even more abundance and empowered gifts of self to the greater community at large?
    It is not a scheme it is an opportunity to truly gift, that is the difference, to give with no expectations of receiving, expectations & hopes are two different things! So it is up to a woman entering the circles to truly explore her intentions…and if she is are not aligned with this basic foundation of gifting then she must not enter if she cannot truly give ! Women in these circles and entering these circles should know the full structure and to make an informed choice, deception is not part of these circles, and if it is the woman/women has fallen out of alighnement with this circles gifting culture.

    I now speak to GIFT CULTURE & SACRED ECONOMICS….
    Outlined are Charles Eisenstein outlines four essential qualities of gift culture.

    First of all basis of any gifting culture regardless of structure is the nature of giving of the gift! And gifting in integral circles is seen as a sacred and private activity..it actually doesn’t matter what the structure is ultimately what matters is one truly giving a gift ? If this is aligned why place so much importance on the linear structure (which again is a matter of perspective, since in analyzing these gifting circles & its structure only the energy manifested in matter “money is the only thing really considered by your article “ the unseen forces/value/ gifts that are not of “physical matter” seem again to be greatly forgotten ) .
    Listed below are the points four essential qualities of gift culture as outlined by Charles Eisenstein and how these are fulfilled in integral and aligned gifting circles.
    1. Over time, giving and receiving must be in balance.

    Again if one is to shift the perspective and see the whole of the gifts given and received during the circle journey and not discriminate money from all other forms of giving and receiving of gifts then once may see balance There is an abundance of greater gifts available to a woman journeying in circle, regardless of whether one reaches the dessert position.

    2. The source of a gift is to be acknowledged.

    The source of the gift is acknowledged the source of the gift is the woman giving unconditionally of the financial gift. And her giving of this gift is acknowledged. Beyond that each woman is acknowledged and recognized for the gift of herself, her commitment, her focus and holding the vision for not only her empowerment but the empowerment of all sisters, and there are gifts of wisdom, her presence, the gift of her hearts participation. Integral gifting circles are filled with honoring and gratitude for each other and the gift of being !

    3. Gifts circulate rather than accumulate.

    Again if one is to shift the perspective and see the whole of the gifts given and received during the circle journey and not discriminate money from all other forms of giving and receiving of gifts, then the eye will open to see gifts an abundance of gifts and gratitude circulating within circle and out of circle into the greater community. Gifts of all sorts flow into the circles and back out of the circle and that is $ is again only a small part. If the circle journey is approached in alignment with the essence of this circle culture , a woman’s own inherent gifts are more often than not empowered during the circle journey, with the strengthened realization of herself as a gift to the world. Often women leave the circle feeling, more fulfilled, more aligned with her life work, more empowered and better equipped to be a greater force at work within the community at large and more confident in sharing her true essence gifts, less bogged down also by the demands of survival and meeting the financial demands of life, she can fuel her dreams and her dreams for the collective with both her personal empowerment and financial empowerment…both of which inevitable will circulate out of the circle activity/community in to other life activities and the greater community. She too has gained the deep gift of sisterhood of being held in a community of women cheering her on to fully embody her hearts dreams and its realization!!
    When a woman completes the circle journey she leaves, and to enter again she must begin all the way from the beginning, so circulation takes place here also. Another circulation women do sponsor other women also so there is many forms of circulation within the circle culture as well as clearly out of the circle culture, after all these gifts $ as well as other gifts of are not just bottled up and buried in the garden! Rather they have greater foundation to be shared through an empowered woman to the community at large!

    4. Gifts flow toward the greatest need.

    Gifts of all forms support, love, encouragement, wisdom, guidance, gratitude, sisterhood, friendship, meeting, connecting with other women in resonance, time, energy … not only $ !!! is potentially available to fill the greater need/s within a woman to realize her dreams, to live what she believes, or have the freedom to discover what she has come here to this earth to do. To give space, take space for what is really important to her heart ! Women enter the circles for wholistic empowerment of self & each other so many needs are filled in integral circle activity!!

    The secrecy that has been criticized and condemned is actually what keeps these circles legal! Privacy has been interpreted as secrecy!

    Gifting circles are a private activity and because they are a private activity they stay within the laws. As gifts to an individual without expectation or return fall within the domain of private activity and gifting in this nature is not illegal. Hence we do not go public ! Then it would be a public and there for illegal activity!

    In regards to circle and the The Living Systems Theory, ..a part cannot be singled out from the whole, though the circles are a culture, the women of these circle are part of the greater whole. What they have received from their circle journey will effect the greater ecosystem, and the greater ecosystem will no doubt benefit from women who are further empowered to live their dreams and to share their gifts !

    • Roslyn: Thanks for your willingness to read and respond so extensively. It feels good to know some women in Circle are willing to review critical material. It is also informative for me to get your perspective.

      The point you are making about the importance of recognizing the non-material and unquantifiable gifts in Circle is well-taken. I wholeheartedly agree with this view, as do many other outspoken critics of Circle, including Derek (on this thread) Amber Bieg, Lindsey Vona, Andrew (Android) Jones and many, many more.

      As I have mentioned before, it is precisely BECAUSE I want to honor these important gifts—women’s empowerment, mentorship, spiritual sisterhood, cultivating the spirit of abundance, etc.—that I am raising some red flags about basic flaws in the structure of Circle. My post was written specifically to address these structural flaws, not to deny or downplay Circle women’s spiritual gifts.

      Can you consider a “both-and” scenario, where gifts can be both acknowledged and critiques can be valid at the same time? Could you open to the possibility that my writing is actually supportive of the unquantifiable gifts you mention, that I am acting to preserve the longterm viability of these same gifts?

      If Circle could be willing to really integrate our comments and adjust the structure (maybe to something that actually functions like a circle, or spiral, or flower, etc.) then perhaps these gifts could be be sustainably brought to the world?

      There is nothing I would like better than to see the good intentions that women bring to Circle truly develop an empowering, respectful gifting culture: this can happen when we listen to eachother and make corrections where necessary. Can you be open to the fact that your model is not perfect and needs some adjustment?

      Other writers have mentioned the clause in your own Circle documents which places a high value on moving and responding and adjusting to a changing world. Can you make good on your promise to honor this clause?

      A good place to start would be to understand what is being critiqued and what is not. Your “blanket” rebuttal that I do not consider the nonmaterial, spiritual gifts is untrue, as I recognize them repeatedly in my post. I am, however, saying that these gifts are insufficient to compensate for the weak foundation you are standing upon, a foundation which is crumbling as we speak, and which puts at risk all the gifts you took such great pains to describe in your reply.

      From my vantage point outside your structure, I am seeing some major cracks in your foundation. I realize you may not be able to see them, because you are standing inside the building. So I call out a warning to you. So many people who love and care about you are calling out a warning to you!!!! If you truly want to preserve the spiritual gifts that reside in Circle, you would be wise to step outside it for a moment and take a look.

    • PS: Roslyn, I understand that the nonmaterial flows of gifts can and do happen just as they do in natural systems. Again, my criticisms refer precisely to Circle’s own “flower” diagram, your own representation of how the monetary gifts are structured. Do spiritual gifts flow up and down the “tree” that you offered as an alternative analogy, like sugars from leaves to roots, and minerals from roots to leaves? Sure! I can buy that! But this analogy does not hold financially speaking. A tree’s growth splits off from its trunk, spreading out to the canopy’s many, many leaves, flowers, and fruits, distributing the flow from the few to the many desserts which then drop down to nurture the community. A tree does not move from multiple trunks to a single branch, nor concentrate all its physical nutrients into a single fruit. Nor could such an unsustainable physical pattern be offset by virtue of the spiritual gifts it might provide.

      It all comes down to a simple premise: The ends, no matter how glorious or spiritually uplifting, do not justify the means if they are unsustainable and out of alignment with natural principles.

    • Roslyn: I don’t have much time left on the computer this morning, but I wanted to quickly respond to your assertion that secrecy keeps the Circles legal.

      Firstly, these Circles are clearly illegal in the US, whether private or not. Circle Women can and are being convicted on multiple charges of fraud, tax evasion, etc. They are doing jailtime, and paying enormous fines. See yesterday’s news from Connecticut. http://www.boston.com/news/local/connecticut/2013/08/13/women-face-sentencing-conn-pyramid-scheme/ps792QA93OcYcjn3XCjwEI/story.html

      BUT, even more importantly, I need to point out the IMMENSE contradiction whereby you are demanding secrecy on one hand, while recruiting an exponentially expanding number of women on the other. The requirement for a strict maintenance of privacy, coupled with a dependence upon sharing activities with increasing amounts of outsiders is an obvious recipe for disaster.

      The basic structure of Circle makes it PUBLIC BY DESIGN. More and more people are finding out about it because Circle Women are sharing it with more and more people. Invariably, there will be people who do not understand it, or get angered by it, suspicious of it, etc. Even if the reasons for their suspicions are totally invalid (which they aren’t) you cannot control other people’s reactions to Circle. So if you want to keep it private, then simply find another structure which doesn’t need to bring others in.

      We are not banging on your doors trying to join your Circle. You are coming to us, sending us your Circle documents, trying to convince us how great it is, trying to explain to us how it’s NOT a pyramid. So just stop.

      Only problem is, when you do, your Circle will collapse.

    • It’s interesting that you mention Charles Eisenstein. If you actually read through all his books, you’ll find that he against gifting circles!! He talks about gifting cultures. Please don’t not confuse one for the other.

    • Roslin,

      Yes, but what happens to the other gifts — the gifts of mutual support and empowerment — when the pyramid collapses? Do the non-financial gifts continue to flow, even after a circle is unable to find new recruits? I have never heard of a case where upon the vast pyramid of circles ran out of potential recruits and then continued to operate without the financial incentive. On the contrary, when there are no longer any available recruits, the circles disband, the financial and spiritual gifts both stop flowing, and the affected communities end up roiling in the wake of incredible bad vibes, vibes created by the exclusionary, secretive, and socially-dividing politics of the circle. In the Circle, it’s the financial incentive that brings everyone together, and it is the loss of the incentive that leads to its collapse. I’m NOT saying that the gifting of mutual empowerment is not real or that it is a charade for the financial aspect of the circle, what I am saying is that the financial relationships in the circle are intricately woven into the ideological and spiritual fabric, such that when the financial threads inevitably disintegrate, the entire fabric falls apart.

      If you read what both Nala and Amber have written — here and elsewhere — on the Circle, you will understand that both of them are strong advocates of creating a new system of empowerment that will attempt to weave a new fabric — one made from the beautiful threads of mutual empowerment that have been created by the circle that are woven into the threads of a financial model that is sustainable and which will not disintegrate. The circle fabric lacks structural integrity. When it collapses, everything falls apart. It’s like building a structure with strong cinder blocks and crappy mortar. It doesn’t matter how strong the cinder blocks are, if the mortar is week, the whole structure will crumble. We need to construct a new building, where the blocks of mutual empowerment are as strong as they are in the circle (actually stronger because it will not be based on secrecy and exclusion) and are binded with the mortar of a sustainable financial model.

  34. ok.. best of luck everyone.. i dont care to engage anymore… i trust my intuition and inner knowing.. and honour yours also…

  35. why do you think people lose ? perhaps if you focus on the $ , and if you wan tot do maths , then ofcourse it looks like people loose… but the way i understand it is the main focus is really on the journey and the empowerment…. there is so much wounding around money i our society… i dont feel like we need to focus on that… but there is a huge process involved…
    if you are implying that women are stealing from eachother then i disagree… i dont believe anyone is strealing from anyone…
    And, really.. why can we not allow all our own indiviual journey and decisions…. ???
    why is it so passionate for so many to slam this ??? gosh there is so much going on around the tantra world where i know people get hurt… there is so mcuh going on in India around baba spiritual mentality….. but in the end people choose wht they need to , for the journey they need….
    and we could look at the dark in everything, the shadow, and choose to focus on that… but there is always light… and we can choose to focus on that too… our choice really !

    • Lisa Love,

      I am passionate about seeing a transformation in these circles because: 1) There are a LOT of people getting hurt by this system (a number of women have emailed me in the past week to tell me how they lost money – the women who profit never see how unfair it is and how many get hurt) and 2) This is a non-sustainable system that represents one of the worst of extractive wealth systems.

      The focus on money is because that is the design of the “Gifting Circle” structure:

      If the “Gifting Circles” weren’t about the money, then why is there a financial “gift” requirement in order to be involved? Women who don’t “give” aren’t allowed in the circle. Why can’t the circle focus on the women, spirituality and manifesting abundance without the money? If the circle had no money involved, this would be the most healing situation for women with “money wounds.” Without money involved, you can arrive at the root of the issue rather than being clouded by money. I have been part of an amazing abundance group that had no financial obligation and I received more than I could have ever imagined.

      The wounding around money isn’t about money. The wounding has to do with power, equity and safety. Money is a only a quantitative or numeric representation for the flow of energy. Money is the math of energy. Nothing more. The math or “money” just shows you how the energy flows. When the energy flow is sick, stagnant or forceful, wounding happens. Unfortunately many people say “money” caused it. When in-fact it isn’t money, it is the energy dynamic in a relationship with a person, situation or organization.

      Why it is stealing (even if the women doing the stealing are aware of it or not):

      In the Gifting Circle money system, the physical energy (represented by a numerical amount of money) flows in one direction and it isn’t reciprocal. It requires eight people to feed one. While the sister in the receiving position may put in a lot of time and spiritual energy, the physical exchange isn’t reciprocal or fair. Money or math is one of the only ways to quantify this. Giving only $5,000 and receiving $40,000 in return isn’t a reciprocal relationship. This is called “taking.”

      “Taking” becomes “stealing” when deception is involved. Deception doesn’t necessarily require the person perpetuating the deception to be aware of its untruth. Here are two deceptions within the Gifting Circles: 1) The risk of non-reciprocity – Not one woman is made aware that only 12% all women participating in a particular lineage will ever receive “gifts” and that 88% must lose in order for that 12% to receive a gift. Since money is the math to represent the flow of physical energy, it is critical to do the math on these systems – after all it is a math system. 2). The second deception is that the money “gifted” is a gift – The money “gifted” isn’t a gift. A true gift is given without any structure that enables a return on that gift. Any hope, expectation or aim for receiving a gift greater than one given makes it an investment, not a gift. Most women join the circles with the goal of ending up in “Dessert” or receiving position. This aim inherent in the structure makes it an investment, not a gift. Thus it is a deception to call it a “gift.” The major problem with this particular deception is that it places all women involved at risk of prosecution. This type of investment structure is called “an endless chain scheme.” Participation is a felony crime – much worse than tax evasion. Two women were sentenced to prison for 14 years last week for participation in a Gifting Circle. They didn’t know that their involvement was illegal.

      Yes you have the right to your own journey, until you hurt someone on that journey.

      You have the right to stick out your fist, but the person next to you has the right to not be hit by your fist. As soon as your actions cause harm to another, your right to continue those actions are no longer valid. In this situation, the deception that causes women to give their money into this system is harmful and hurtful. The women who participate do so with the hopes of receiving $40,000 in return. When that doesn’t happen, it causes harm.

      I am passionate about the TRUE economic empowerment of women. Empowerment requires knowledge. Women need this knowledge and information. They need good information to make financial choices. If women are making financial choices (gift or investment) they need full disclosure not deception (no matter how well intentioned it is). The women who perpetuate this are both wittingly and unwittingly deceiving themselves as much as other women involved. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the intention is behind the participation in the circles, the outcome sucks.

      Good decisions are made when the body, spirit and mind are integrated and aligned. Making a decision from only an emotional or spiritual perspective ignores an important aspect of who we are: intelligent beings. Yes, we are also intellectually wise. Use your mind, look at the math and make a decision from an integrated body, spirit and mind.

      • I believe the appropriate response to Amber is, “Thank you, kind goddess. May the world return the blessings you have bestowed on this debate with the manifestation of your deepest desires.”

    • Lisa, the problem is that the financial structure of Circle funnels the wealth of the many into the hands of the few. The Circle WILL collapse — this is a mathematical certainty, not an opinion resulting from negativity, a fear of abundance, or a missing connection to the divine feminine. And when it does collapse, the last 88% that joined will never become a dessert. The wealth of 88% of the participants will be in the pockets of the top 12%. This uneven distribution of wealth is more unjust that our modern economic system–which while systematically transferring wealth to the top 1% and raping the earth, does manage leave some money in everyone else’s pockets.

      In your comments you repeatedly call attention to the empowering benefits of Circle. No one here has criticized that aspect of the Circle. Our comments are directed specifically at its financial structure which is undeniably a classic “8-ball” pyramid scheme. It is important to note that if those in the Circle abandoned or modified the financial structure of the circle, that its participants could *technically* continue the system of mutual support that is provided by this circle. Tellingly, however, if this system of mutual empowerment was abandoned, the Circle would immediately collapse. Why? Because that system of support and the story it tells obscures the true face of the pyramidal structure. Without this mask, everyone would immediately identify it as a pyramid scheme, and would be extremely hesitant to join. You see, that is the nature “affinity pyramids” such as this one. In order for a pyramid scheme to work, it needs a story to cloud and obfuscate the mechanical workings of its structure, a story that will resonate with the target population and which will reiterate the values, beliefs, and symbols that make up the fabric of the people’s social consciousness.

      You insist that money is only secondary to all this. That’s easy to say before the collapse. But past collapses of these circles paint a different picture. When it collapses everything stops. Not only do the new appetizers fail to ever receive $40,000, but they also never get to experience the spiritual and emotional empowerment that the 12% did. So just as the top 12% reaps a financial windfall at the expense of the bottom 88% percent, the sense of empowerment and community that can be manifested through the circle is only something that will be experienced in full by the first 12%. For the bottom 88%, their experience will be much different. They will feel cheated and betrayed. They will also have to deal with the emotional stress that will result from the failure of their expectations of abundance to materialize. For those who were in a truly bad financial situation and who were hoping to to use the $40,000 to leave an abusive relationship or support a single-head household, their situation will now be that much worse. This is what happens when these circles collapse. The knowledge you have of the circle is only based on a pre-collapse experience. You cannot speak to the pain and suffering that is experienced after the inevitable collapse of this thing.

      Having acknowledged some of the positive experiences that people have while in the circle, I have to point out that in addition to these positive aspects being temporary and unsustainable, they come at a steep cost. Because of the exclusiveness and secrecy of the circle, it creates a lot of division within the communities that it passes through — People who are excluded feel left out, people who reject the circle often see their relationships with people in the circle severed by unilateral or mutual distrust and anger, people in the circle who are not good at “holding space” are blamed for a circle losing momentum (even though the real reason a circle loses momentum is because the supply of candidate recruits gets smaller and smaller), etc. In a word, the circle creates division, distrust, and rips apart the social fabric of our communities. I don’t know where you are or what circles you are in, but in many areas here on the West Coast from LA to Washington State, these circles ARE collapsing and it is creating lots of tension and conflict. I have heard of long term partner relationships ending because of this, and best friends screaming and crying over this. This is what happens with pyramid schemes, and these experiences have been documented by other victims of past circles (Like the one that went bust in Sacramento a few years ago, and more recently in Connecticut). There are other potentially negative consequences to this.It doesn’t take too much creativity to imagine Fox News hosts ridiculing us for being critical of Capitalism and then creating a system that is even worse. It will make us look stupid. They will mock feminism, women empowerment, environmentalists, “hippies”, whatever.

      I have not read a single case where it has ended well. Those of us who post these critiques asking and begging our sisters to put an end to this madness do so because we hope that the electronic threads between us that social media tools have allowed us to build will empower us to avoid the ugly collapses that have happened before. We hope that with this open discussion on this deeply dividing subject, we can heal the divisions and work together to create an alternative model that continues to empower, but does so utilizing a structure that is not a pyramid, but rather a structure that will enable everyone to empower everyone else and not just the top 11.5%.

  36. And how would you approach it if the friend who was stealing didn’t realize that what she was doing was hurting anyone . . . kind of like the way big factories didn’t realize that the people downstream were receiving their toxic waste. Also, how would you communicate it if the women supporting it were twisting powerful spiritual concepts into ways to get more money?

    I think that a structure in which everyone benefits is what we should aim for: Ones in which nobody loses out. A Circle sisterhood where everyone contributes and wins equally. This is what I would like to see these circles evolve into.

    This isn’t a Witch Hunt – there are no accusations. None of us presenting information is seeking anyone out to punish them. This is an invitation to awaken. We are asking women involved to open their eyes to the consequences of their actions. To look downstream at the results of taking more than they give. We are asking for voluntary transformation of a sick system into a healthy one.

    The fundamental problem is that when you take more than you give, systems lose balance and collapse. This is what is happening with these circles.

    -Amber

    • A friend of mine said that the money she put in to the circle was the best investment she ever made. The support and regular connection with an amazing group of women was so empowering she didn’t even mind if she never saw a penny again…which of course she did receive abundantly!! We all put our money into lots of things: membership at the gym; psychotherapy; tithing at church……investment in an IRA….hmmmmm

  37. Thank u Adam Apollo – that was the most balanced piece of writing I’ve read in response to the heated discussions underway….
    Rather than adding to the energy of fear & condemnation, I appreciate that you’re providing some tangible suggestions for change.
    Nalla Walla – thank you for your article – it would get through to more women involved if it was perhaps not as ‘mocking’ of the women involved as totally ignorant/blind/uncritical/unresponsive….

    I, for one hear u

  38. Wow !!… goodness me .. it is amazing the passion one can have to put down other peoples views choices and ideas… it seems to me the way in which this womens work is unfolding is actually quite empowering … for women to come into a place of leadership… to learn in a very supportive way how it is to hold space for personal transformation for themselves and for many other sisters around them seems like an amazing gift… i understand u have the opportunity to explore meditations, visualisation and different teachers readings, prompting deep internal reflection and introspection…. it feels to me like a beautiful opportunity to step into finding your voice and to embrace your strengths… i dont understand why there needs to be a focus on the money around it… i know many people who may many more times that amount of money to do a yoga teacher training… or a tantra intensive… this just seems to be a workshop that shifts adn changes depending on each womens unique gifts… i say bless that !!!….
    i would much prefer to support the women that are doing that… and if it feels like it is not my thing well i dont see the necessity to slam them all about it… when i have read a lot of the negative posts about it it feels like the witch hunt from the dark ages…. i trust in the inner knowing of each women, and in that of mine.. and if this particular ‘work’ speaks to me i hope i could be supported to do it by my friends as i would hope i can do for them !
    love to you all 🙂

    • Lisa, no one is putting anyone down. Everyone here is revealing the truth….something you seem opposed to. Nala has clearly outlined the positive elements of a gifting culture, and has shown how these gifting circles are not the way to positive and sustainable empowerment. Anyone who joins these circles is obviously doing it for the money, otherwise, you could just get together with your girlfriends once a week and do all those meditations and visualizations without stealing from each other and without secrecy. If you truly believe in empowerment, then you would not support pyramid schemes that deceive and manipulate people.

    • Well said!! That’s about it in a nutshell!! If it isn’t your thing, don’t do it….funny how all those stockbrokers make so much money…..seems to me a lot of judgement going around.

  39. I love what you wrote! Your depth of exploration and analysis is great. You beautifully describe what sacred geometry is and why the “Gifting Circle” structure doesn’t fit. We definitely need to integrate bio-mimetic principles into the design of any system or structure. This is key to sustainability; alignment with nature. I would be really excited to see and perhaps create an economic model that reflects sacred structures. I wonder what a truly regenerative economy would look like . . . Very exciting to ponder.

  40. Hey Miss Sunshine, I don’t know who you are, however, by the amount of BS in one single message, I strongly suspect that your name starts with a “W” and ends with “ren”. Since you feel so strong and true about your own brand of pyramid scheme, why so much secrecy then? Tell us who you are!

    – “Womens Circles are the foundation and pioneers of creating a strong gifting culture.”

    Wrong! The pioneer was a guy named Charles Ponzi, in 1920.

    – “Lets not tear down what has come before, just keep moving forward with trust and surrender as we allow what works to continually unfold for the betterment of mankind!!”

    Looks like somebody here is a little bit attached to her mountain of tax-free cash…

  41. Hi Nala,

    I’ve been exploring all sides of this phenomena, and also writing about it. I deeply appreciate your beautiful exploration of this idea from a biomimicry and cosmomimicry standpoint (one of my business partners is Marshall Lefferts who created the Cosmometry site you quoted, and I have had several awesome discussions with Elisabet Sahtouris). For the sake of understanding, I would point out that the downward flow in the structure is often intensive relationship building, leadership training, guided meditations, and of course the inherent “initiations” involved in taking a huge leap and giving someone a lot of money without expecting return.

    It is true that not all circles embody these principles and practices, and I have had lengthy conversations with many women on both sides of the experience. It seems that when that “balancing force” of empowerment is strong enough to bring equilibrium to the large amounts of financial energy flowing, women have powerful positive experiences at all levels in the Circles.

    However, this can also be achieved by exploring ways to adjust the pattern in the Circles, and empower women leaders who are working in them to help transition them to a more fundamentally sustainable structure. I think some potent adjustments would be: requiring substantial community pool contributions, requiring “sponsorships” of new people that do not require hefty payback, and developing a more open architecture for the growing community to make empowered decisions on how each woman can give, receive, and give back to the community.

    Much of my writing has been structured with the intention of reducing the level of conflict and providing more holistic insights to those who have been avidly attacking women participating in these Circles. Our community can’t work together to improve the system if all we’re doing is destroying relationships and throwing tomatoes.

    Thank you for your wonderful contributions!

    Highest Regards,
    Adam Apollo

    PS: Your description of the distinction between Einstein’s view of spacetime and Nassim’s is a little inaccurate. Einstein actually described gravity as spacetime curvature, and it was his models that produced the original idea that spacetime was a smooth fabric of energy that warped and waved with the massive objects inside it. Nassim first added spin to Einstein’s field equations (which was absent), and then in his most recent paper, he’s actually quantized that smooth fabric of energy (successfully, by the way, using intersecting Planck spheres in a flower of life pattern; ie: dual tetrahedral lattice). Because of his equations, Gravity can now be calculated on small scale objects all the way down to Protons. Perhaps even more excitingly, he has also successfully shown that each proton is connected through energy sharing wormhole networks to 10^40 other protons all over the universe, effectively creating an instantaneous information transfer between all points in the Universe at all times. Just thought you would enjoy this minor correction. 😉

    I’m currently building the Resonance Academy to help teach this new branch of Unified Physics and all it’s interconnected relationships with other Physics fields.

    • Adam.  I’m feeling huge gratitude for your compassionate and enlightened response. I couldn’t agree with you more that the ideal situation would be for Circle and NonCircle Women (and men too!) to work respectfully together to create gifting culture that is fundamentally sustainable rather than get bogged down in mudslinging. To do this, we really need a clearheaded assessment of the positives and negatives of Circle Culture, and Circle Structures. This is the reason why I have chosen to focus so much research and writing on Sacred Geometry/Cosmometry–in an effort to describe accurately what is going on, so we can move forward.

      But a huge obstacle is presented when so many Circle women have thus far demonstrated an inability to make such an accurate assessment. They seem duly entranced by the positive, empowering experiences they are having. But at the same time, they seem to somehow have been blinded to the negatives, and generally do not recognize their ability–and responsibility–to make the fundamental changes necessary for sustainability. Most are still in complete denial that their structures are based on infinite growth, and therefore destined for collapse.

      Instead they cling to the magical thinking that the exponential increase problem will somehow disappear simply because their spiritual investment allows them unique access to some cosmic abundance portal. (This reminds me of the way our larger society is also generally in denial that our global systems are near collapse, and choose to believe that some technological fix will magically save the day and allow us to proceed with business as usual. Fractal pyramidical denial?)

      I wholeheartedly agree that there are positive aspects of the Circle Culture, and that these can and often do qualify as an offsetting downward or outward flow (I hope that comes across in my post.) The mentoring, the training in abundance thinking, manifestation and leading groups. The nurturing and celebration of women’s entrepreneurial spirit. One Circle friend has well described to me the power of the group container to give women what you describe as “positive experiences at all levels of the Circle.”

      However, if I may paraphrase her, she also explained that “the Circle is exactly as powerful as the women who comprise it.” She mentioned that she has been disappointed at the choice of Appetizers lately, wondering about their ultimate ability to “hold space.” It is significant that women do not enter the leadership position of “Dessert” once they have been deemed properly trained and deserving of the responsibility, but rather whenever the last $5,000 “gift” arrives.

      Several insiders have told me of women recruited who were simply not very good at assuming a leadership position, and greatly regretted their involvement once these women got to Dessert. One friend shared her doubts about whether her spiritual growth could really be found in “biting her lip” while she had to suffer through a ton of ungrounded and empty visualizations.

      Besides, even if one particular Circle is very strong because the women recruited are top-notch, there is no guarantee that the “sibling Circles” will be so strong. Remember, that for one woman to make it to Dessert, the Circle must split four times, and 32 appetizers must be recruited. If I were to join, right now, it would be impossible by design to control what happens (or doesn’t happen) in the other Circles spawned by my movement around the Dinner Table.

      Even when, as you describe, “empowerment is strong enough to bring equilibrium to the large amounts of financial energy flowing” it is not possible to maintain this situation in all related Circles at all times. Equilibrium in one Circle cannot guarantee equilibrium in another. Thus, when the “Sibling Circles” required for growth are brought into the equation, the “empowerment flow” does not and cannot offset the constant inward/upward flow of resources.

      In short, one Circle cannot be evaluated for balance in isolation any more than one woman can get to Dessert in isolation. This, by the way, is the most glaring flaw with Alexis Neely’s lopsided assessment, where she attempts to help women decide whether “Circle is right for you.” Considerations based only on one’s personal benefit and risk is quite inappropriate for a structure that is dependent on the exponential involvement of others.

      Positive Circle experiences surely exist. Granted. It’s just not realistic to expect that this ideal will be reached in every Circle, especially when multiplying at such a huge rate. Neither is it realistic to believe that every single woman who joins will truly have no expectation of return, and therefore, remain unattached to the inevitable loss of her “gift.” In fact, because the inevitability of Circle stalling and collapse is not made transparent to recruits upon entry, it is guaranteed that some women will enter with an expectation to cash out. Eventually, your unattached rise to Dessert will be dependent on someone who is attached to the money, making it unethical to participate in this scheme as long as it is dependent upon recruiting, and non-disclosure/secrecy at the same time.

      Eventually, someone will become angry at their loss, or their deception, friendships will be damaged, and someone might even call in the police. Please understand that all these things happen because of the flawed design of these “Gifting Circles.” Using a pyramid scheme as a basis for a gifting structure will necessarily end in disaster. The fault lies in the design, rather than any particular disgruntled individual. And besides the obvious financial drain, bringing in the State would be a most embarrassing situation for a community that likes to believe we can handle justice from within. Why risk our self-reliance with respect to community justice on a pyramid scheme? I think we can do much better.

      I have pleaded in my post for Circle women to be open to tweaking their model, to making changes based on rational consideration of the qualities of living and sacred systems.  This is a major objective in my writing. I can see that you, Adam, are open to seeing the changes that need to be made. You have even suggested some. Unfortunately most Circle women are not there yet, choosing instead to simply seal themselves off from critique.

      The positive flows happening in Circle will never and can never “reach equilibrium” with their current structure. So if we want to maintain a positive focus, we will need to adjust the foundations of Circle until real balance is achieved. I greatly appreciate your compassion to advocate for the genuinely empowering flows that are indeed happening for these women. And I am so pleased to be in dialogue with someone such as yourself who, in addition to compassion, also has such a depth of understanding of Sacred Geometry. Let’s combine these conceptual tools with a compassionate heart to help illuminate what is being obscured from Circle Women, because only if this happens can we direct the positive energies in these groups toward creating meaningful and sustainable Gift Culture.

      PS: Thank you, thank you for your clarification around the field equation! I will write another post soon to address those, and make some corrections to my original post. Cheers.

    • FYI: when a person is sponsored in joining a circle; although guidelines suggest a payback amount, ultimately it is up to the sponsor and the new woman joining to decide on the amount. I know several women who make it a practice to sponsor one woman for each circle they participate in without ANY payback….pay it forward

  42. Well done, Nala. The depth and precision of your observations are sure to ripple throughout our communities in much-needed ways. Thank you, ever so kindly, for gifting us with this piece. We can, and must, work together to create the paradigm shift to heal our troubled minds, and our polluted lands and waters. Keep rockin’, momma!

  43. A very interesting article and yes, well written. However, you are looking at Womens Circle through a very narrow lens and there are many false accusations in your article. First and foremost, The Circle system is far from a new thing. This experience of supporting and growing together has been around for over 30 years. Yes it is true that there are newer circles that are being created that take on new names, but it all stems from the system that was created in Canada over 30 years ago. Also incorrect is stating that circles do not grow or change in the way they function. The truth is that the circle guidelines are always open to being revised and updated as needed to accommodate the continual growth that we share and experience as woman in society.Next, it is important to know that in the guidelines, there is a section that very specifically describes that there are absolutlty no guarantees what so ever and that entering into circle is done so in an act of personal trust and surrender to the process. Being in Circle is so much more than the exchange of gifts.It is about supporting each other in our individual spiritual growth, sharing gratitude and breakthroughs, celebrating each women as they come into abundance and are able to realize their dreams and desires in life. Yes it is true that there are woman who have negative experiences, as would happen in any system. However, the majority of women have AMAZING life changing growth that is empowering and a blessing to experience. I respect that you are wanting to bring some of the negative aspects to light and suggest that there could be a better gifting system that could work for men and woman. I think that is a great idea and I do believe that it is our future to live in that reality together. Womens Circles are the foundation and pioneers of creating a strong gifting culture. So instead of pointing out the things that are “wrong” with circles (which most of what you wrote is incorrect) wouldn’t it be more useful to share what is beautiful and empowering about circle and then build upon that. We are all shifting and growing, doing our best to to manifest our dreams and support each other in exciting and empowering ways! That is the only way we can grow together. I am sad for you and for all those who have had a negative view or experience with Womens Circle. I know much more women whos lives have only improved and who have grown in beautiful ways as a result of traveling through the Circle journey. If we are to continue growing towards a true gifting culture, I pray that it be done by honoring and appreciating that which has been flowing for many years now and then building upon it together to evolve and grow. Lets not tear down what has come before, just keep moving forward with trust and surrender as we allow what works to continually unfold for the betterment of mankind!!

    • I do not agree with the assertion that this strain of circles started 30 years ago in Canada. Where did that information come from? I believe it came from the Circle Documents. The same place that the rest of circle history lives. Has anyone ever met, talked with, or heard from these Canadian women who worked tirelessly to lift women out of abusive relationships?

      I would like to urge women of the circle to look for information OUTSIDE OF THE CIRCLE DOCUMENTS and OUTSIDE OF THEIR CIRCLE SISTERS to assess the circle. Whether it be researching the beginnings of circle, or looking at how this model has been tried before, or trying to figure out how many women have completed their circle journey and how many have stagnated…just think outside the box (or circle, as it were).

      To assess the idea that more women are benefiting than suffering from this scheme, it is FUNDAMENTAL to know how many woman have benefited over time. Unfortunately, because of the secrecy, information like this does not exist. Instead, the public documentation that does exist recounts all the times that women have been taken to court for participating in dinner themed pyramid schemes – which is quite a few. I agree that the intentions of the women involved is to support other women and there is a power in participating, but the fact that it is a closed group, demands secrecy, and denies and/or ignores information regarding the failures of the economic structure makes the whole thing in need of serious reconsideration and significant changes. What is worrying to people outside the circle is that many women will face the time when they cannot find more ‘women of integrity’ to invite – and the subsequent collapse will damage the community. I don’t think that all of the women involved truly know the legal risks they are taking or the other subtler risks of joining a group that requires your secrecy, loyalty, time and money.

      Anyhoot, I agree that moving forward with trust and surrender is great. Furthermore, I think we can move forward by listening to each other, working TOGETHER, and creating open, honest, transparent and thriving communities.

      Love,
      Maggie

    • Sunshine: I couldn’t agree more with the desire to keep what’s working well, and grow “towards true gifting culture” as you said. Thanks for listing many beautiful and valuable aspects of Circle Culture above. I have indeed heard many women talk about the empowering effects Circle has had on them and their Sisters. I have acknowledged these positive effects repeatedly in my posts, and absolutely regard these things as core values and relationships to cherish as we move forward. However, positive growth always and necessarily involves an accurate assessment of what’s NOT working, and subsequent effort to change over to something that does work.

      Please note especially the following principles of Living Systems, which I listed in my original post:

      • Response-ability to internal and external stress or other change
      • Conservation of what works well
      • Creative change of what does not work well

      For any system to evolve, these principles must be followed, otherwise collapse is inevitable. There have been so, so many unfortunate examples of close friends of Circle women–people who greatly care and respect eachother–
      offering well-founded criticism of the Circle structures, and yet being disregarded simply with the excuse that their words are “too negative,” “too linear,” or “too narrowminded.” I’m wondering how you can justify calling Sacred Geometries–the underlying structures of everything great and small in the entire Universe–a “narrow lens”? Can you explain this, because it looks to me that you are having a knee-jerk reaction to any criticism whatsoever.

      Please pay attention: your friends and comrades in the movement towards gifting culture are warning you that your basic structures are endangering the noble principles you espouse, principles which we ALL want to see manifest. Please engage your powers of critical thinking, and seek out a diversity of perspectives beyond the Circle. The reply you made above sounds like you are simply paraphrasing Circle documents, and therefore amounts to a Circular Argument. (Ok, I get it now! So that’s the reason why you call your activities a Circle!)

      The stresses you are experiencing–both internal and external–are real. By ignoring them you are risking the demise of Circle, as well as the demise of countless friendships, and your reputations in the community you claim to care so much about. And importantly, by ignoring them you are going against your own circle guidelines, which you in your own words described as “always open to being revised and updated as needed to accommodate the continual growth that we share and experience as woman in society.”

      If you are truly working for the betterment of mankind (and womankind!), then please open up to feedback. Nuf said.

      PS: I would highly recommend that you attempt to verify the purported 30-year age of Circle. Find out who these Canadian Sisters are, and talk to them about their experiences. Because I and many others believe these Sisters are a Story–and a powerfully motivating one at that. We believe this claim is merely another part of Circle propaganda. Please do some digging and prove us wrong.

    • If any woman has benefited from circles, it has been at the expense of others. by supporting these circles, you are indeed supporting theft and deceit. if you want to have a positive experience of sisterhood and gifting, you can do all that without the pyramid scheme. anyone who gets involved in these is obviously doing it for the money, and saying otherwise is lying to yourselves and others. if you have no intentions for a return, then please prove that by sending me $5,000, that I will not return, and I can also call you every week for ’empowering’ conversations.

      • Many humans are still approaching financial abundance in a dualistic way. Right/Wrong to have, desire, give money….hmmmm…..What exactly is wrong about financial abundance. I know many who have started amazing organizations with financial abundance: animal rescue operations; healing centers; child education programs. The old paradigm that one must work their fingers to the bone and “prove themselves” is outdated…..good luck humans

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly!! Bravo! Lets embody what the Circle experience stresses: to change old paradigms of negativity and scarcity; to live in infinite abundance; aligned with spirit and ones inner truth. If the circle experience is not for you no need to bash it! I too have heard of many more women having an amazing positive experience!!

  44. Thank you so much NalaWalla. Your article is incredibly well written. I am learning a lot through exploring it, and am hoping to share it with others as well as on my original blog comment thread. There is quite a heated debate happening. Many are asking if any of us are looking towards possible solutions beyond our critiques and insisting on the circles just stopping / collapsing. I feel that your article addresses enough of that for the moment where it may satisfy at least the beginnings of that collective hunger for shared visioning / ideas, and healing. I’ve had some conversations with others ( outside the circles) regarding potential solutions in the past few weeks, however many of the women I know who are still in circle ( I sense b/c they haven’t returned communications yet ) are hesitating to begin an action-oriented dialogue. I’ve spoken to some who are clearly still in complete denial regarding it’s actual structure or the nature of what is happening. Perhaps your article can serve as a much needed bridge across the divide that many are experiencing in our communities.

    My original blog : http://wakingembersfalling.wordpress.com/

    Andrew Jones blog : http://www.androidjones.com/new-work/2013/6/21/the-gift.html

    Again, thank you sincerely~ Lindsey Vona

    • And thank you, as well, Lindsey, for your courage to get out, and then speak out–and especially for signing your name. (I have long wondered about the ultimate usefulness of anonymous conversation). You have given me–and many many others–fuel for thought, for dialogue, and for action in our respective communities. Here in the Port Townsend area, we have begun to meet locally to share our shock, our confusion, our outrage around this “Circle” issue. To support eachother to end our silence with our loved ones. To weave new connections where the “Circle” has punched holes. We have also begun to experiment with planning and organizing Gifting Groups locally. All these steps are meaningful actions indeed!! Perhaps our sluggishness and complacency around changing our economy was what allowed this co-opted and perverted Circle version to pass for the real deal! Well, now we have been jolted awake, haven’t we? After all, I DO believe that many of my dear friends in Circle genuinely want to engender a paradigm shift towards gift culture–it just that they are still under some kind of spell which doesn’t allow them to see the destructive aspects of their current structure. In time, these will be revealed, and we will hopefully have instituted a viable gift culture by then. In the meantime, may our words here help mitigate the damage caused and illuminate what has been obscured. If these Circles can be the impetus for us to create sustainable gifting culture, then we can regard this healthy re-action as a true “gift” they are offering us.

      Viva la revolucion & la conversacion tambien!!!—->>>>>nala

      • These circles are not new; they have been flourishing since the 1980’s. I have not met a single person who has had a negative experience nor have I. It has been positive; abundant and community forming. It is too bad so many of you have had a bad experience. Guess there are always two sides to things….Einstein; Columbus; Buddha; Jesus Christ; etc etc

        • Kay–>>>

          You haven’t met a single person who has had a negative experience?!

          Have you not noticed all the women–on this blog and many others–who are reporting everything from social alienation, to financial ruin (including jail time and fines!!!), to predatory “invitations,” to silencing, shaming and destruction of sisterhood–made all the worse for its scandalous renaming as “empowerment”.

          We will be here to support you once you realize the biggest travesty of this scam is that it turns victims into perpetrators, who then champion the exploitative game they are caught in, colluding in the whitewashing of this toxic mimic of a sacred economy so that it slips past the defenses of otherwise intelligent women.

          Open your eyes, Kay.

          • Thank you Nala! Your tenacious brilliance will likely be ignored by the one you’re addressing it to, but the rest of us are cheering as our heart’s throb and quiver in anticipation of truth and justice.
            xo- Sarah

  45. This is the most lucid, compassionate and grounded commentary on the Circles that I have read anywhere. Brilliant; thank you.

  46. Brilliant analysis Nala, looking at this thru the lens of sacred geometry and systems theory! It’s so ironic that the circle, of all things, and the flower (or at any rate a misconstrued notion of what a flower actually is and the kind of geometry it embodies) are being misused and abused in the *name* of sacred economics while actually being a Trojan Horse of outmoded heirarchy and very un-sacred economics! This piece should be read widely as a corrective to any and all pyramid-type schemes and appeals, and very useful also for a deeper understanding of what *real* abundance, empowerment, and gifting is about.

    • Thanks for reading, Daniel. I am hoping I have done my part to illuminate the false beliefs about circle, especially the notion that it has harmed no one. I can testify firsthand to the mistrust that our local Circles are sowing in my community–and the many hearts that are breaking over this issue.

      • But is it truly the circles that are doing this? To put the blame somewhere else is just playing the victim card. Most of it has to do with money, not with circles being round or not, or pyramids being pointy enough, or wether a flower that was drown up is real or not. If there was no money involved no one would get as worked up about this as much as we all have. On both sides of the circle dialogue the one of the most devastating effects I see is that we might buy into the false concept of the worth of money even more. I do believe many sisters step into circle motivated by financial gain. But I also understand why one would do so, because the odds in the “real” world are stacked against our creation of our individual success. Desperate times cause for desperate actions.
        Hear me out here, and please understand that I am not convinced on either side.
        But the practice in circle is that you give a gift, the eventual return on investment should not be even be involved here. Otherwise it is not a gift. If I give you a nice birthday present for your birthday and I don’t get one back from you later in the year I will probably be upset, but this would be unjust?
        This gift is a great spiritual practice of letting go. Whether sisters in circle even fully get this is a great question.
        But let me continue. Letting go is something we have all needed to do at times in certain situations. We might not have always done the best job at it, but that was the task at hand non the less. The spiritual law says that if you do this successfully you will be rewarded greatly. But if we reflect back on some of those times with unbiased eyes we might come to the conclusion it does not always work that way. Sometimes we are able to fully let go and get rewarded for it, other times we were able to fully let go yet never received anything in return for it. Yes, the practice also says there must be something deeper that needed to be let go of but who is to say what your destiny is in the first place. Certain challenges are placed in front of us not to concur but to be dealt with with as much grace as we can master.

        Now if I was to try to fully see gifting circles in its best light, and if in that I would not let it be broken down or compromised by our human shortcomings. What would it look like?
        We have already established that the “gift” is not to be expected back, if that is not the case you are fooling yourself. So if you can not let go of whatever the amount is to enter in your circle do not participate.
        Now if you have entered and you have gifted the given amount, you are now asked to step up. From what my understanding is their is quite a bit of learning and empowerment that goes on in these circles. I have seen the results first hand where women have made significant changes in their lives from being in circle.
        Now we come back to the fact that you invested a certain amount, hopefully in a way you can afford to. But still at the same time you will feel the motivation of making it happen successfully because you know it will make a great difference in your life if it does. This will make it a real life situation, something not many empowerment workshops can claim. Hence “a living workshop” as they claim to be is not a far fetched claim. You basically have a group of women who come together weekly to empower themselves as much as possible. Everyone has their unique contributions and they all try to do their best for the group.
        Being able to do this work and spend the amount of time on it to do it successfully requires time. We have moved away from an economy where it is product based to where we are now where it is service based. I can see that gifting circles would be in line with this evolution, these days i see us more an more focussed on experiences and we value them greatly. My guess is 90%
        of our learning is experience based.
        Also I believe that gifting circles are not telling any lies. It is called a “gifting circle”! It is not called “a shortcut to money making”. Anyone who sees it that way is fooling themselves.
        Am I saying that I believe that circles are a good thing? Not at all. If anything I might believe gifting circles are too good for us. Meaning too powerful. Many of the women (men would do the same) are not able to hold the clean intention required for this type of work. Some of the offshoot circles that are happening are a clear refection of that.
        As for you personally Nala I sense a certain sadness about how some personal relationships have changed because of the divide between those that are in and those that are out. I feel your sadness and hope you can recreate as many of these relationships as possible. The truth be told it is most likely just a phase. In the meantime just focus on what you want to bring to the world, no one can stop you.

        • Hi Arno–>>>

          Yes, I can see that you are surely “not convinced on either side” as you’ve described.

          I agree with your notion that perhaps desperate measures are appropriate in desperate times such as the ones we are living in, where “the odds…are stacked against our individual success.” When I was invited to Circle (multiple times, I might add), I myself initially considered joining according to this rationale. For a moment, I thought, “well, it’s unsustainable, but since the whole economy is unsustainable anyways, at least this is a way that some money will arrive in the hands of my Sisters, and they will do good things with it!”

          However, I must tell you, that this rationale was NEVER offered up-front by ANY of the women inviting me. I had to arrive at it completely on my own after investigating and uncovering the true nature of the financial structure. In contrast, I was expressly told (as women in the Circle are expressly trained to do) that if I did research on the internet, I would likely find information telling me it was a pyramid scheme and was illegal. But that I should ignore that information as simply “bad press” by a closed-minded system that cannot understand the “paradigm shifting economy” being pioneered by Circle. I was told that it wasn’t a pyramid scheme at all. And it wasn’t illegal. It was a form of Sacred Gifting where money flowed in a Circle. And I do think that these women actually believed this.

          But, as you know, this information turns out to be untrue. These “Gifting Circles” are indeed illegal. They are indeed pyramid schemes. They do not function in a Circle. They do not function like a flower. These are lies. That the women doing the recruiting believe these lies does not change that fact. Thus I strongly disagree with your statement “gifting circles are not telling any lies.” Arno, these Circles involve lies on every level. Their very design necessitates lies and concealing, brainwashing, and secrecy for their most basic functions. And if you talk to women who have gotten out of Circle, they will describe the lies they were told, and then told themselves. Please do some more research, because evidence for the deceit is everywhere around you (read the comments on this blog for starters.)

          There are many structures that could sustainably support women to meet in groups for empowerment, mentoring, coaching, etc. But a pyramid scheme is not a good choice, because the need for constant “fresh blood” makes it simply too tempting to conceal the truth. And indeed this is what happens.

          But, for arguments sake, lets imagine a different scenario. For example, women recruiting (ooops! I mean “inviting”) could speak transparently, and frankly:

          “These are desperate times, ladies. The economic odds are stacked against us, and it’s time we took some desperate measures to get some money flowing into the Sisterhood. We know this is illegal group and carries risk of prosecution. We know this pyramid scheme, and you may not ever make it to the dessert position. But if you can truly regard this money as a gift, at least we can funnel some money to our friends (who will, of course, do great things with it, like start small local businesses, homeschool their children, create programs for battered women, etc.) instead of simply cycling it back into the 1 percent! This system isn’t perfect. It isn’t yet the ideal Sacred Economy we want to create. But we think it’s a step in the right direction. Will you join us?”

          If women were always approached with a pitch like the above, you could potentially argue that these schemes aren’t exploiting anyone, because women know what they’re getting into. You might even be able to call it a renegade gifting economy if the truth was really disclosed in this way. The problem is that this transparency cannot consistently happen in a pyramid scheme, simply because too many women will choose not to join if they know up-front that it is illegal, and that they may likely lose their $5,000–as you rightly pointed out, “many women (men do the same) are not able to hold the clean intention required” to truly gift. Yet, the scheme NEEDS AN EXPONENTIALLY EXPANDING POOL OF PEOPLE TO JOIN or it immediately collapses. Thus the motivation to distort and whitewash the truth.

          Can you see the inherent conflict of interest here? Can you see how the temptation to conceal the truth is built-in? Can you see the contradiction of calling a pyramid scheme a “sacred economy”? Can you see the terrible damage to trust that is inflicted upon the Sisterhood of any community by recruiters who are concealing the truth in order to hasten their arrival at the dessert position? Do you see the cycles of abuse turning as women who are victimized (often unknowingly) by entering without full disclosure then become perpetrators (often unknowingly) by committing the same manipulations with their own Sisters?

          The “desperate measures for desperate times” argument falls apart in the face of concealment and secrecy, two hallmarks of any pyramid scheme. Once I realized that I would need to lie, to victimize my own friends, and to demand secrecy all the while in order to find other women to join, I knew I could not participate. Breaking this cycle of abuse is also the reason why it is so important to speak out. I am trying to do this, here on this blog, and in my own community, for my own sake, and all of our sakes.

          I do agree with you that there are positive effects happening in these groups. If you have noticed, I have mentioned these benefits repeatedly in my posts. But, mixing goals for women’s empowerment and sacred economy up with a pyramid scheme is a recipe for disaster, as it toxifies these otherwise noble intentions, and scrambles economies and communities. We need to find a better way.

          • Well what I see Nala is anger. If its illegal stuff you are against? Write posts as well about the marihuana industry that happens all around you. If its misleading stuff you are against? Write posts about advertising as well. But you are not? Why has this got you so triggered?
            I know about the injustice you see that is going on and all the suffering that circle causes in your mind, but what is the feeling inside you. Has someone betrayed?
            I see how smart you are and how well you are able to hide your anger under good reasoning. But the truth is you also hide your feelings from yourself in this same way. So bring it out?
            You say you want the other side to be open to your input yet you come out charged. And really the feeling I get from you is that deep down you want to take everything connected to circle down.
            Everything runs its course right? Circle will as well. You believe that more then me because it is one of your main points. If you are really concerned with all the issues you have mentioned why fight it. Circle has already decided to go in its direction and it is something so big and so far advanced on its course, you are not going to change it.
            Here is my suggestion. Learn from the mistakes of these gifting circles, apply them and come up with something better. Stop fighting gifting circles in the mean time(I understand you’d still want to inform people, that’s fine). But the fighting only makes the gap bigger between the two sides. And when you find out what really triggered you, this will naturally happen.
            More importantly, when these gifting circles have run its due course and everyone is ready for something new, something better, there you are with a solution. But if you keep hammering like this not many women will feel the trust in you to join or be open to what you have to offer.

            • Dear arno, It seems important for you to understand how deeply grateful, I, a former circle member, feel toward Nala and other people who are speaking out against this collective insanity with such diligence. It’s true that it will run its course. This is true about many things and yet sacred activism is a calling of the soul and need not be ignored because someone else purports to know what is good for you.
              Frankly, I find your analysis of Nala’s intentions to be arrogant and annoying. Why do you feel it’s necessary to call her out for following a chosen path? What good does that do you? If you don’t care for the conversation then leave. But know that the wisdom that is being shared on this blog is life changing for some and continues to inspire the hearts of many of us who have been deeply affected by this and are seeking support and collaboration in order to move forward and use our experience to create a better, safer, more prosperous world for all.
              Anger can be a transformative energy and sometimes you have to walk thru that fire in order to effect the changes that NEED to be effected. If you do not burn with passion to champion an end to injustice, fine, that is not your path, but thank God there are people on this Earth who do, ya know what I mean?

            • Arno,

              Nala, Sarah, Amber, and others are trying to create an open, welcoming, and loving space to heal the wounds that have been created by Circle and create an alternative that is truly empowering for everyone. We are doing this because we believe our community is doing beautiful things and we do not want this virus to destroy us.

              There are plenty of reasons to fight it. If we stop it ourselves, we can potentially turn this into something that is productive, empowering, sacred, and legal. If you just “let it run its course”, it will collapse and rip apart friendships, partnerships, and communities. People will get arrested and go to jail, as they did in Connecticut. (People on the West Coast have reported being contacted by the FBI. According to new articles, when the circle swept through Sacramento, undercover investigators infiltrated it. There is no doubt that the authorities are already very aware of this. They have plenty of experience dealing with this thing — just do some Googling.) Another reason is that the mainstream media, the far-right media (i.e., FOX News), misogynists, and people brainwashed by mainstream culture will use this as “evidence” that women are not rationale, that “hippies” are just too lazy to work, that the 99% are just as greedy as the 1%. Right-wing pundits will have a field day with this. Finally, an uncontrolled collapse will create a massive amount of disillusionment within our community. It will be the most DISEMPOWERING thing we will have every experienced, and it will affect all of us — men and women, Circlers and non-Circlers alike. It doesn’t take too much of an imagination to see that letting this “run its course” will cause far more damage than stopping it. If you are driving off a cliff, and someone tells you (angrily or not) to let off the pedal and stop the car, is there really a rational argument for not doing so? Does really matter if the person giving you good advice is upset or not?

              • As someone casually learning about all this for the first time, I must respectfully say: Nala doesn’t sound angry, you sound scared that women are waking up to the true nature of these circles. It sounds a little threatening too (stop speaking up or we’re not going to talk to you anymore).

            • Dear Arno,

              Three cheers for anger, three cheers for hammering and three cheers for this blog for being here and trying to provide information and support to women who are starting to wake up from the abuse of circle. By talking about it, which I am, by sharing this blog (so lovingly and intelligently well reasoned and written) which I do, I am having individual successes in alerting women before they are recruited. Recently, I told a 26 year old new acquaintance about circle; she had never heard of it. I shared this blog with her. She came to me 2 weeks later and said she had just been asked to join. She was SO grateful for my warning and this blog. So, I say keep hammering!

              Aero, the suffering that circles cause is not in Nala’s mind or anyone else’s, it is in the real, manifested lives of actual women. There are women on this blog and elsewhere who can tell you all about it. Please do not be so arrogant as to tell other women who have been hurt from circle that they are making it up in their mind.

              I would highly encourage you to own all your projections you made onto Nala, then you can feel into all your own juicy anger (owning your projections is an insightful way to look into your own answers to the questions you asked of Nala.) Sure, Nala like all of us, has expressed anger (but I was angry too when you tried to proclaim neutrality on the issue, you’re not) . But, Nala has also shared her grief, her inspiration, her hope, her longing for a better way, her perseverance, her wisdom. She has shared her humanity, which includes anger, and I say thank the heavens for anger – it would be scary to live in a world where no one was moved by injustice, suffering, and persecution. So, if anger is what is needed to wake up and move – then more anger please!

            • Dear Arno,
              How serendipitous that you should ask why Nala is so triggered by this particular situation. Nala and I were asking this very same question today as we continued our conversation about the best remedies for this complex situation. I have no interest in answering your questions for Nala, but I do feel comfortable in pointing out that just because one does not speak out about every issue, one is not discredited or disallowed from delving into one particular injustice and working at it. In fact, it is this focus and dedication that is the surest way to make a difference.

              Furthermore, although I find it quite brazen of you to assess the motivation and character of someone you’ve presumably never met, this is mostly irrelevant. As an outsider, you have indeed touched upon a question that I have heard repeated throughout the the collective movement of men and women who wish to peacefully end circle activity. Why am I so involved in this? Why am I doing this? These questions are asked by people who are self-aware, critical, and uninterested in promoting their own agenda for the sake of egoic gain.

              The answers to these questions are varied, but tend to revolve around the love and dedication felt toward other humans and entire communities. Nala nor I want to see our single-mom friends taken to court for participating in this scheme. We do not want to see some of our community leaders jailed, fined, embarrassed publicly. We would much prefer to exercise our own voice, our own logic and reasoning to reach these women before uglier scenarios play out. Is this so hard to understand?

              Sure, sometimes you must let your friends make their own mistakes and there is nothing you can do or say to change their course. But, sometimes, when you believe the stakes of your friend’s risk is too high, you must do everything in your humanly power to show her another way. It’s what loving families do for alcoholics. It’s why parents demand that children wear helmets at the skate park. And it’s why Nala, Amber, Lindsey, Sarah, Derek, Khaliqa, myself and countless others are standing firm and warning our friends to get out of this mess before they are forced to spend the next two years in and out of courtrooms, making deals for their futures with people they’ve never met.

              This situation is vastly different than a friend growing marijuana, Arno. Your friend growing marijuana knows he is doing something illegal, whereas most of the women participating in circle were explicitly told that circle is legal and that anyone who says otherwise is in fear consciousness. It is our passion to expose this lie and others associated with circle so that our friends and sisters can make a more informed decision about the risks they are taking – before an outsider legal system must do that work for us.

              We’d rather keep our justice system local because we’d rather true justice be served – a justice that looks like understanding, maturation, healing, and the weaving of an ever-stronger community fabric.

              I agree wholeheartedly with the others who have commented on your most recent post. Yes, I have seen anger from Nala, but I have also seen her using the power of this energy to protect her community from the inevitable destruction of simply ‘letting this thing run its course.’ She has earned my deepest respect and I thank her for using her she-bear force for the sake of her community.

              Kindly,
              Maggie

              • Hi maggie,
                I compliment you on your responds, well thought out and kind hearted. That is why I choose to respond to yours and not the others. Not to be harsh, you all brought those elements forward.
                We all look at this situation with different eyes and we tend to think that we ourselves have the highest vision. I do it and everyone as well. I am just glad to know that I am the one who actually has it all figured out. (Just kidding)
                I don’t feel up for responding to every little thing mentioned to me. Some I feel in line with, some I find being a stretch.
                If you all feel like focussing on what you focussed on that is fine with me. But I still feel comfortable with all that i’ve said. I might be the other voice here and you are right brazen at that.
                Part of what my point was and this seems to have not been understood. For example khalika “Aero, the suffering that circles cause is not in Nala’s mind or anyone else’s, it is in the real, manifested lives of actual women.” You seemed to miss the point I made about suffering, if I did not explain myself well enough I apologize. My point was to remind people that suffering is not caused ‘by’ something. It is caused by our attachments to whatever it is that we are attached to. I bring about this point because when it comes down to setting up human systems that bring us to a higher plain of co-existing we need people who are ready for it. No human structure will continue to thrive if the people are not doing their inner work as well. This goes for gifting circles but it will also go for what you try to put in its place.
                Yes I might sound unreal or not of the real world to you, but you are who creates it. Reality can be very subjective.
                Yes I am brazen for asking Nala what is it she is angry about, and I really don’t care for your protection of her and encouraging her to be angry. Those words will bite you if you apply it in different situations. What I have seen to happen is if you look into the pain, the anger and are able to get to the root of it you will get a lot more accomplished. Some of that anger though it might seem like a nice fuel of the fire to move you forward also prevents you from really co-creating with the universe. Showing your vulnerable side opens the world up to you, instead of you forcing yourself into it with anger.
                I don’t expect her to share her inner workings with us all here, though it would be real powerful, I do encourage her to do it in private where she feels safe. Just like I do for myself and those i care about.(as well as those I have not yet had the chance to care for)

                Therefor I laugh at your suffering, not because I don’t take you serious, trust me I live life to and I understand. I laugh at it because it is an illusion. Is that real enough for you? We are all still kids and we don’t know how to play together. We are all still playing pretend games but we forget. What? We believe that a simple piece of paper that costs 2 cents to make can have the value of a hundred dollars just because you write 100 on it. Boy we still have a lot to learn from kids, it is all just pretend.

                I wish you all the best and apologize if I at times was too brazen. I command you all for caring and for caring enough to wanna protect others. It has been a pleasure and I must say I have learned quite a bit here. Just to mention one, I believe it was you Maggie where you were hinting on self-governing where you’d be able to get things under control within the community and not waiting for “the law” to take care of it later in its punishment based ways. I feel the value there and I can’t wait to see what you all come up with there.

                Many blessings to everyone!
                arno

                • Arno,

                  I mostly agree with your assessment of anger and the role it can play in obstructing a free-flow of co-creation. What anger can be, however, is a spark, the ignition to the creation of something magnificent. My physical make-up and life experiences have not made me too susceptible to the lure of anger, but in some situations, it has manifested perfectly, in exactly the right amount to co-create something of incredible beauty.

                  The best example of this is when my son was born. Labor was progressing slowly, and then finally, 24 hours later, anger, shouting, cussing, brought my body and mind in alignment and I was finally truly ready to give birth.

                  Perhaps this is what is happening here. Anger is passing, collaboration and joy are emerging. More women in Nala’s community are waking up, her sisters are returning. In my opinion, Nala’s anger here is an example of the spark that leads to something more beautiful. This is why I commend her for allowing the power of this energy to guide her, if for only a moment, in this situation. Anger is like a drug, if you abuse it, it will abuse you. However, if you honor it, use it with care and awareness, you have great potential to make great change.

                  That’s how I am seeing it.

                  Kindly,
                  Maggie

                  • It seems we are either too much in fear or too much in anger when it comes to expressing our truth about circles…I’ve contemplated the role of both in my inner world quite substantially. And while I, unlike Maggie, have always had a fiery temperament (and yes, I can be snappish in a way that is not useful, which is why I generally refrain from responding to any comments) I have come to learn, quite earnestly, the importance of holding reverence for that inner passion for justice. The one that cannot be faked or even understood by most. The one that makes you look crazy and pits you against a backlash of opposition…It’s true the truth-tellers must be careful of how they reveal the truth, and they must pick their battles with great precision lest they only fuel the fire or take themselves out.
                    When I look back at Arno’s initial comment, I’m reminded that he (presumably male?) questioned whether it was reasonable to speak against gifting circles, and Nala gave him the many reasons she believed it was. It seemed that Arno then used his spiritually literate rhetoric to invalidate her work…and the warriors gnashed their teeth at the offense…we have chosen this stance because it is sacred to us. As with any journey, there is much inner work all along the way. I give gratitude to the flames that continue to light this path. Blessed be ❤

                • Arno—>>> I realize it’s taken me awhile to respond to you again, mostly because there is so much to say, and I have so little time to say it during these busy harvest days. But I will give it one last try here, in the interests of closure.

                  Firstly, I am truly grateful for the solidarity demonstrated in the responses of Khaliqa, Sarah, Derek and Maggie: your thorough and well-spoken comments expressed most of what I wanted to say, plus they elucidated issues that I would never have thought of myself, but indeed agree with heartily! Thank you, comrades.

                  Arno, your comments are very confusing to me, both because I can’t quite figure out your intention and also because your writing style employs quite a few dizzying loop-de-loops. At times you seem to want to defend Circle and point out it’s benefits. To this, my concise response is to repeat my contention that the shortcomings of Circle have been soundly, and fairly delineated here on this blog, and elsewhere (see links offered on this post by Amber Bieg, Lindsey Vona, and Sondra Rose.) I feel my initial response to you regarding the deceitful nature of the “Circle” scheme was adequate in this regard.

                  At other times, you seem to want to expound upon spiritual principles such as “attachment,” “illusion,” and the nature of “suffering.” Conversation of this nature is outside the scope of this particular blog post. Please feel free to find scores of other places on the web which welcome unlimited philosophical rambling on these esteemable subject matters. But please recognize that the place for that is not here.

                  Still other times, you seem bent on putting my personal motivations and character under a microscope. What exactly is it that you are trying to achieve here? You offer your “suggestion” that I examine my anger in private and even more “powerfully”, to expose my “vulnerability” in public on this blog (assuming, of course, that I am not doing this already.) Here, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and choose to regard this unsolicited advice as evidence of your deep caring for me.

                  In light of the compassion you clearly have for my psychological well-being, I am a bit mystified that you haven’t been able to relate to what is “triggering” my outrage–and the outrage many others, I might add. Are you saying you can’t understand:

                  •how having some of our closest friends (including treasured community leaders, artists, musicians, activists and single mothers) fall prey to an abusive scam might concern us greatly?
                  •that the risk of jailtime might spur us to speak out in warning?
                  •the disgust at witnessing an exponentially-expanding deceit masquerading around our communities as a “Sacred-Gifting Sisterhood”?

                  When I see these things happening, I want to ask you, why wouldn’t I be outraged? Why wouldn’t I take action?

                  You seem to insist that anger has no value other than as one more opportunity to practice non-attachment. Others (thanks Sarah! Derek!) have already mentioned the great importance of using anger to empassion positive community and social goals, instead of just one’s personal psycho-spiritual growth.

                  The desire to avoid my community getting tangled-up with the state attorney general and FBI is good example of why I was never comfortable with the oft-spouted advice ” No need to get involved. Since the Circles are unsustainable, all you need to do is just stand back and let ’em fall. ” Arno, there are lots of things that are unsustainable–and their severity needs to be evaluated before making decisions on whether or not to take action. For example: my toddler is running around in circles, and it is getting on my nerves. I know that he will soon tire, and stop. He is not in danger, and since his activity is unsustainable, I decide there is no need for me to do anything other than to take a deep breath and wait.

                  Another, more weighty example: dams are unsustainable. So are nuclear cooling tanks. It is obvious that we will at some point fail to keep up enormous energy inputs required to maintain them, and thus, they will eventually crumble. Yet, in these cases, the decision to “just sit back and wait,” is completely inappropriate, as this nonaction essentially invites toxification of our environment, and extinction of salmon. It is indeed a very good thing that some people are duly outraged by dams and nuclear power plants. They rightfully recommision their anger to fuel their pursuit of justice. They take important issues on, and “hammer away” at them until our planet, our salmon, our communities are no longer in danger.

                  This is how some of us feel about pyramid schemes disguising themselves as “Sacred Gifting Circles”: That they pose a significant danger to our communities, to the fabric of our sisterhood, and that they derail the real achievement of Sacredness and Gifting, toxifying their fledgling play as we stand by and watch. These are not risks we are willing to run, hence we take action.

                  Lastly Arno, you may have observed that I spend a great deal of energy on my writing. My intention is to phrase things in a way that people can hear, in a way that people will actually receive the message I want to communicate–that is, in a way that will be effective at benefiting the greater good. But please understand that this intention in no way translates to a blanket desire to mask my anger, or hide it behind words. Though I strive to source my life and work in all the compassion befitting a human creature on this beautiful planet, I can also recognize that compassion and anger are not mutually exclusive. For me, this is not a paradox, as each is quite necessary in their proper time and place. And in this repressive society, where the ideal of the quiet, passive, “good girl” is regularly forced upon women, I am equally interested in allowing my authenticity to be seen and felt, specifically resisting this all-too-familiar pressure to “behave myself.” So if you detected anger from me (wow! your sleuthing talents must be top notch!!)……….so be it.

                  PS: I am writing this response only partially to you, Arno, since I don’t think you’ll hear me no matter what I say. Really, I am writing for the sake of others who may be reading this conversation—I believe it’s beneficial for people to publicly witness that I am at least attempting to stand up to your psychological posturing and bullying.

                  • Brava, Nala. It’s astonishing how often pseudo psycho/spiritual verbiage will wind up in these kinds of discussions and attempt to shame or shut down the courageous source of light in the conversation.

    • A good start! However, there are some omissions, and difficulties. How would this survey be distributed? How likely are women who leave the “Circle” to fill one out, compared to women within the “Circle?” And at what point in time? As people have argued that a “saturation point” is inevitable, the experiences are likely to be entirely different once that point is reached.

      Also, there would need also to be a survey to gather the actual lived experiences of people who have chosen not to participate, but who experience the social effects that these “Circles” cause in communities. Non-participants have claimed injury by these “Circles” in addition to participants.

      • This survey seems completely pointless. How can empirical data be acquired through this? They are mostly open questions from which statistics cannot be gathered. It was a good idea, but poorly executed.

    • Hi Lauren,

      I think a survey is a great idea. I was actually thinking about this today. I do a lot of surveys for my work and I can offer a few suggestions to help make this survey as unbiased and easy to analyze as possible. If you didn’t create this survey, could you please pass these suggestions to the woman who did? Also, if my suggestions are taken, I will widely distribute this survey. I have a huge network of women in and out of the circles. Also now 10,000 people have seen my presentation and I’m sure many of them haven’t had the opportunity to voice their perspective. Also, once the survey reaches a critical mass (100+ responses), I would love to have the excel file download. I can put together some beautiful info-graphics to represent the findings and share them widely.

      Here is what I suggest for changes to the survey:

      1. The first question should be to identify your respondent groups. For the most accurate assessment, I would delineate by the following categories: 1. Women who have been fully gifted (made it to dessert and have received the financial gift they expected, $40k, $12k, etc.), 2. Women who are waiting to be gifted, but only for a little while (1-12 months), 3. Women who are waiting to be gifted for a longer time (12 months – 3 years) and 4. Women who will never receive their gift (they have been waiting for a long time or their circle has collapsed). Knowing this information will help you know how the responses are skewed. If 100% of the women responding have received gifts, then of course your responses are going to be favorable and on the flip side, if most of the women who respond have never been gifted, then you will have a negatively skewed survey.

      2. The second question should be to assess their overall satisfaction with the experience on a 1-5 or a 1-10 scale.

      3. I like question #4. “Would you recommend joining a Gifting Circle?” This would be a good follow up after the overall satisfaction question.

      5. I like question #7 to connect the narrative to the data

      6. I would avoid the detailed questions in 2 & 3, as too many questions often make it less likely for someone to fully respond. Information like “when did you first join” isn’t relevant to knowing whether or not someone was positively or negatively effected by the Gifting Circle experience. The good questions out of these groups are: a) How many circles have you been part of? b) How many circles have you successfully completed? b) Are you currently in a circle? c) if so, how many? d) How much was the initial gift of your current or most recent circle? c) Have you left a circle without completing it? d) was there an option to have your gift returned if you left the circle? e) Was your initial gift backed by someone else?

      7. I would ask: Rank the top three reasons you joined the circle. Options: 1. Financial abundance, 2. Sisterhood. 3. Spiritual transformation, 4. Friendship, 5. Trust in a friend 6. Personal development, 7. To help someone else, 8. Other (please describe)

      8. I would move the first question to the end. This question immediately puts women on the defensive if they feel the need to defend or criticize their particular lineage.

      9. I would avoid all of the gift or investment questions (question #2). Most people don’t remember what they first heard, perceived or thought. These questions will be greatly skewed by perception and foggy memory. This information would be better served in a general paragraph text box asking what they were generally promised or perceived to be promised when they joined the circle. This is better answered as a paragraph.

      Some general issues that might be critiques of the data from the survey:

      You will never know the true sample size: You can only know the sample size by comparing the number of responses to the total number of women who have ever participated in a circle. If you can accurately count the total number of women who have ever participated in a circle, then you can gauge your sample size.

      Your data will be skewed by who receives and answers your survey: Unless you are collaborating with a large marketing firm that has a good advertising budget and a wide PR distribution, you will probably only get responses from women in your network. In order to get a non-bias survey, it requires a wide distribution. Often this data is skewed by those who are involved in a particular issue or those who care more or have the extra time. I always have to add extra questions to identify those people and account for a certain bias within my analysis.

      Please feel free to contact me about this. I also have a survey monkey pro account and would be happy to reconstruct the survey.

    • I haven’t heard from you about updates to the survey. It would be really great to have an un-biased, statistically relevant survey – for a REAL assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of the Gifting Circles. It looks like the survey remains unchanged. If you don’t change the survey, then your data isn’t viable or accurate – and unfortunately provides no relevant information, except for a few personal stories which you can get from women just by asking.

      It would be nice if the data were actually useful. 🙂

  47. You know, the “masculine, linear” way of thinking has a purpose. Eschewing it for some quasi-feminine alternative without critical thought really does one a disservice. In fact, it makes one even more likely to unknowingly perpetuate the cycle of fear and aggression which one is trying to transcend. Integrating masculine, linear thinking into a new model might have better success. These “circles” are simply another manifestation of spiritual materialism.

    I promote the Hawaiian concept of Ho’oponopono for healing the wounds this blindness has caused. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho'oponopono

    • Well put, Timmy. I totally agree that eschewing a linear perspective simply because it carries the label “masculine” only perpetuates that which these Women’s Circles purport to transcend. My aim in this post was to point out that these particular fields of sacred mathematics and living systems theory indeed have integrated and balanced the masculine and feminine aspects, and as such, the “too masculine” critique ought not be used to disqualify valuable lessons contained within.

      On the contrary, I am trying to encourage Circle Women who denigrate all-things-masculine to engage more deeply in critical thinking, as you have mentioned. Does that make sense?

      Thanks for the comment!

      • Hi Nala, well, sigh, thank you for the enlightenment. I was just invited into a circle and have yet to give my gift. this morning i made my first obligatory invitation to a friend and she told me of how she had a friend in the area of which i live, who was sent to jail when discovered she was a part of circle, she hadn’t made it to desert yet either. So to have my first invitation bring me this news and for your article to be the first i have read when googling the circle- i give a sigh to see that indeed, this gift is not what it claims to be. There were a couple of red flags that came up for me along the way; the first being told that if an appetizer asks for a sponsor within the circle, she needs to return four times the amount that was sponsored to her. This made me question, why would women who believe in the circle ask $20 000 back when lending $5000 since the whole idea claims to be about supporting women- yet they are clearly taking advantage of the appetizers who don’t have the means to enter. The second flag was the feeling of those i got from the desert and entrees than from the rest of the circle. The desert and entrees had an air of detachment, while the rest of us were so enthusiastic, showing me that perhaps those at the top had grown detached knowing something we didn’t (that this indeed is not a safe place to be).
        I do believe in the power of groups to support and inspire one another, but secret, illegal groups who do not tell others of the risk of jail time is not honest, and not the path for me…….but oh how i loved the fantasy idea of paying off loans and passing on these gifts to every women i meet… so i work smarter and will still accomplish those goals, it just may take a lil longer 😉 Aloha and Thank You for sharing.

      • And thank YOU as well, Sarah, for your honest sharing, and for your courage in being willing to investigate your “red flags.” How many of us ignore our intuitive “knowing,” and end up endangering ourselves and our communities as a result, in this and countless other situations? I imagine that an enormous part of women’s empowerment revolves around relearning to trust our intuition.

        And yes! Thank you for pointing out the contradiction in women quadrupling their money from 5,000 to 20,000 in the name of “sponsoring” or “backing” a newer sister into the Circle. When I learned about this aspect of the scheme, it was absolutely the clincher in my deciding NOT to join.

        Bravo to you!

    • Just to pick a nit — not “spiritual materialism” but “spiritualIZED materialism.” The former does not exist — period. The latter describes what you’re looking at in this rhymes-with-sewage newage garbage.

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