What is a 'talking bowl' and how do we use it?

Another Yaya Sisterhood Empowerment Workshop ‘non-negotiable’ is the use of the ‘Talking bowl’; what is it? And why is it so important to the workshop?

This is Part 2 of the 3 part ‘Yaya Fundemetals’ series; you’ll find Part 1 and the discussion around ‘sitting in circle’ and would like to read it >>  [click HERE!]

Chances are, you might have heard of a ‘talking stick’ or ‘speakers staff’. An instrument of indigenous heritage and democracy used to facilitate order, patience and respect during important matters of discussion. The talking stick would be passed around a group, as multiple people speak in turn, or used only by leaders as a symbol of their authority and right to speak in public.

The ‘Talking Bowl’, in its circular shape, a soft nod towards the symbolism of the ‘womb space’ and a modern feminine adaptation of the ‘Talking Stick’.

At the Yaya Sisterhood Empowerment Workshops, the bowl used is thoughtfully filled with oils, rocks, crystals and various other textural items and as it is passed around the circle with the premise that ‘She who holds the bowl is She who speaks’.

Meaning, similar to the ancient and indigenous tradition of a ‘talking stick’ – the the bowl is passed around, and while the bowl holder and speaker speaks we are able to sink in and witness one another share. This practice allows us all to have a moment that is ours, to be heard *fully* without distraction or interruption. A wonderful way for young girls [and grown women!] to sink into the art of ‘holding space’ for one another.

The items in the bowl have been specifically chosen for each workshop and can be used as grounding tools [a rock to hold onto, an oil to smell] to help those who feel a little nervous and ice breaker prompt cards which invite the young girls to share a little more during the opening introduction circle of each workshop. 

The idea and use of the Talking Bowl was first introduced to me when I attended a womens gathering many moons ago on the Central Coast of NSW. This was the first time I felt a deep reverence for this practice, the patience required to wait for your turn, and the anticipation of knowing soon I would be holding the bowl next and have the same patience and attention awarded towards me.  I witnessed a great sense of, what I now perceive and understand to be, ‘holding space’ for one another. 

The following excerpt is from Calling the Circle an eBook written by Talulah from Making Sacred, a mother, dancer, writer, menstrual & childbirth educator and doula; she shares a passage on the significance of a talking bowl during womens circles. 

“The one who holds the bowl is the only one who speaks. The rest of us are listening with the ears of our heart, that means with love and without judgement. And that goes for ourselves too, we often judge ourselves the most harshly. Also this means being present with what the woman is saying, not thinking about what you are going to say. After one has spoken, they pass the bowl to the next in the circle, there is no discussion or counsel over what they have shared. Tears are welcome, if you cry, we will pass the tissues, and allow you to be in your feelings- we will not try to fix or console you, we will hear you.”

While the depth of our sharing during a Yaya Sisterhood Empowerment Circle may not incite tears or achingly huge heart outpourings, the premise is the same; the bowl and the manner in which it is used and passed along, signifies a sign of respect to she who is holding the bowl, and a reminder that she is not just SEEN or HEARD, but also HELD

And *this* is why the inclusion of the Talking Bowl is a ‘non-negotiable’ MUST for each and every Yaya Sisterhood circle. 

—- Next up! Part 3 of the Yaya Fundementals series will be the last instalment and I’ll be sharing about my final – ‘non-negotiable’ [and my personal favourite] – the importance of the ‘Sisterhood Thread’. 

☀️ Yaya Sisterhood Facebook [ERE!]
☀️ Yaya Sisterhood Instagram [HERE!]
☀️ Kim Darby Instagram [HERE!]


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