Circle of Stones (2) Book review


Most of us have a number of books which have marked defining points on our life’s journey. For me they are mainly women’s books. And all non-fiction. Each is like a marker in the sand, a point when I can say that my conception of myself and my world changed forever. They marked a deeper knowing: a tangible shift.
I think of my life in terms of BB and AB (rather than AD and BC!) Before X book (BB). And after X book (AB)!

Each marked the transition into a new part of my understanding of what it means to be a woman.

Each spoke the language of my soul, and had insight into realms that the world could not tell me about.
Each was an initiation.


Such books included:
The First Sex,
Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom,
Women Who Run with the Wolves,
The Beauty Myth,
Birthing from Within,
Spiritual Midwifery,
What Mothers Do, Especially when it looks like nothing
And of course…
Circle of Stones.

“Circles of stones, haunting, healing, powerful…from the ancient circles , the Ring of Brogar in the Orkneys, the Rollright Stones, Stonehenge…to the dozens, perhaps hundreds of circles in Scandanavia and the northern isles…

Circles of smooth stones on a table top…dream images of a stone…primordial places of devotion, the sacred grotto…attending the Goddess. For modern woman, the circle of stones as the place of centred stillness…” 
Judith Duerk

For me the circle of stones is about building, and finding, community: your own circle. A community of different women, each as different as pebbles on the beach. The colour and texture of each is as different as their own story, but all are united in their essence, the bedrock of their womanity. All have had their edges rounded by storm seas of life. All have been wave-tossed, and all the while thought they were losing themselves and alone. Yet they have emerged from the ocean to find themselve more polished, ground down to a deeper core. A circle of stones provides a womb, a safe haven for sharing the wisdom which storms and sunny beach days have taught us. It is a campfire of comfort to the woman spirit. It is a conscious ordering of disparate female consciousness. A coming together of these solid, old, stone parts of ourselves, in the pattern of women: a circle.

How might your life have been different, if, through the years, there had been a place where you could go? …A place of women away from the ordinary busy-ness of life…a place of women who knew the cycles of life, the ebb and flow of nature, who knew of times of work and quiet… who understood…in the dark of winter, that your energy would return as surely as the start of spring…Women who could help you learn to light a candle and wait…How might your life be different?” 

Judith Duerk


My favourite element of Circle of Stones are these poetic “invitations”. Each opens a space, a wondering a yearning, a sense of new possibility. It asks you to look back and ask – have I received what I needed in my learning to be a woman? And then invites you to look forward and see how can I create this for myself from now on?

The book combines poetic expression, dreams, reflections, visions, history, myth and women’s personal experiences to weave a soulful web of womanity. One which values what a woman really is, and queries what the world might want her to be. Duerk reflects on the importance of a woman’s tears, depression, menstruation, self reflection and deep sharing as core parts of what it means to be female. She gives permission and value to what our world belittles and ignores.

It was this book which inspired me to start our women’s group. Our very own circle of stones. What greater accolade can there be?

Have you read it? What do you think? And what are your life changing women’s books? Share them with us, you might just change another woman’s life!

This is part of the Circle of Stones Week
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  1. Monica
    Monica02-28-2011

    I have it and did enjoy it. Most of what she writes I have read or contemplated in past years, so it wasn’t quite enlightening on my journey. Wonderful if I had found it 2 years ago.

    But I loved her questions, the questions themselves and her phrasing. A very gentle provocation.
    And I think it’s one of those necessary books for many women today. We need these reminders.

    I’m so glad it has touched you deeply, and your gathering sounds magical. Wish I could be there.
    I have discovered, late in life, the necessity, joy, and magic of women gathering.

  2. Dreamingaloudnet
    Dreamingaloudnet02-28-2011

    Thanks Mon. It has been an important book. I read it just over 3 years ago first, and it inspired me to set up our monthly women’s group which has just celebrated its third birthday. I started the group by giving out invitations with the above quotation on it.

    It then inspired me again two days ago when I was feeling uninspired about what to do for the international Women’s Day event I had committed to, and very unwilling to tidy my house to “acceptable ” standards, and kick out my hubby and kids, and find more chairs, or perhaps end up with no one, it was then that it inspired me to do a circle of stones, literally, outside…

  3. Monica
    Monica02-28-2011

    20 years ago! lol

  4. Dreamingaloudnet
    Dreamingaloudnet02-28-2011

    Twenty years, now that’s a bit different!

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous03-18-2011

    Stumbled accross this site, quite amazing and have been looking and reading for a couple of hours now, while my little ones are busy! A few years ago I read a book called “Gather the woman and save the world” I loaned it and havent seen it since… am hoping it is still getting around! A Remarkable read. Vanessa, Darwin Australia

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