Introducing the TreeSisters practice of Sistering into your Groves


TSGrovesBrandThe Groves Inbreath Series Blog Three

Introducing the TreeSisters practice of Sistering into your Groves

Sistering is the core circle listening practice of TreeSisters and is an invitation for women to drop deeply into a fully embodied listening and honouring of each other.

If you have not watched the introductory video to Sistering by Clare, please do so before continuing with the blog.

How does Sistering work?

Sistering can be done as a whole group, in pairs, threes or small groups. It can be done in silence, or with an invitation to share on a specific topic or a through a general sharing circle where women bring what is alive in them in the present moment.

roberto-nickson-430885-unsplashFor the woman/women offering Sistering

eye-for-ebony-341531-unsplashFor the woman being Sistered

Through this practice it is possible to fully bear witness to what any of our sisters are experiencing as their current reality, whist at the same time staying deeply honouring of the truth and miracle of their glorious self.


Sistering might feel alien for some women in your circle

Many women will never have had the experience of being listened to through the full presence of other women. More typical are the experiences of being given advice, being directed into action, having emotions and feelings dismissed or ' fixed', having painful experiences overly identified with (wound-bonding), or being interrupted by someone else's similar story. As a result of this, it can feel hard for some women to fully take their space in a sharing circle and fear that they will lose connection with what is true for themselves.

gradikaa-702283-unsplashIf you have women that are new to circle in your Grove, bring Sistering in very gently. Break the group into pairs and offer the practice for a couple of minutes the first few times that you try it.
Ask for feedback and find ways of normalising feelings of awkwardness and shame that is experienced by anyone.

Over time you can build up to larger groups so that the energy field can be stronger and eventually you can practice as a whole circle where each woman takes a turn to be sistered by the rest.


'I love Sistering and I feel the incredible potential it has for healing and building our beautiful sisterhood'.
~ Jo Powell, Grove Tender UK


Being creative with the ways in which you incorporate Sistering in your Groves

Jenny with Stargazer groveThere are many ways that sistering can be used as the format for sharing. Below are some suggestions designed to move sharings toward a particular direction. Invite the creativity of your Grove to come through and explore different ways of working with this potent practice:

Simple sistering greeting: Each sister holds the talking stick and takes a turn to connect first to herself and greet herself aloud 'Hello Jenny'; then move around the circle making eye contact with each woman in turn, receiving them and saying their names 'Hello Kenya; Hello Clare; Hello Amrita; Hello Terra; Hello Sophie. Once done, she passes the stick to the woman on her right.

Paired sistering: Break into pairs and sister each other for five minutes each and then pair up with a different woman to repeat practice.

Sistering around the TreeSisters map: Make the TreeSisters map the centre of the sharing by inviting each woman to reflect on the area that she is most drawn to, most stretched by, would like help with, could offer help with and so on.

Silently sistering: The woman holding the stick remains silent while the other women gaze on her, witnessing her without any words or explanations, simply meeting in the space.

Themed sistering: Choose a question or a topic to share about during sistering - for example, 'how it feels for me to be in this group', 'my relationship with women', 'what I love about myself', 'gifts I can offer to this circle', 'what action or service can I/we take in the community to further the vision of TreeSisters?'

Body sistering: Each woman takes in turn to drop into her body,feel and share what wants to be communicated. This can be supported with an open sentence such as 'what my heart longs for you to know...' Please note that the deeper we drop into ourselves, the more time we will benefit from having to process what we connect with.

Appreciation sistering: A sharing with appreciation or gratitude as the theme - appreciation of ourselves, each other, our circle, our tree, etc.


Do’s and don’ts when offering TreeSisters Sisterng circles and calls:

If you are new to offering Sistering please follow these guidelines to ensure safety and ethical practice:

The Do's:

  • Spend a little bit of time at the  beginning of each session talking through the technology of muting, choice around having video on, chat messaging.
  • Have a clear way of contextualising the invitation of Sistering in a nutshell at the beginning of any session for treesisters who are new to the practice.
    • Sistering is a potent process for both transformation and deep connection to another human being. At the heart of Sistering is the choice to love - because we can.  It is the choice to look through your heart to the depths of another woman. To look past her stories, insecurities, objections and everything else. To look for the beauty of her, the truth of her, the highest of her, the soul of her. We are not here to fix, judge or rescue each other.
  • Have a clear way of inviting our connection to Nature to support our remembering of ourselves as Nature.
    • Dropping roots down into the soil.
    • Bring a tree that you have a connection with to sit behind you.
    • Placing the forest around us.
    • The moon at the centre of our circle.
  • Normalise that it can feel alien to receive this quality of listening / attention, that our longing for it can match our resistance to it, that all of our response to the experience is welcome.
  • Invite women to keep their eyes open, but give permission for the woman being sistered to open / close eyes if that enables her to stay present. 
  • Encourage the woman being sistered to stay gentle with herself, be aware of the feelings in her body and to either receive in silence or to share her internal process if that feels helpful. 
  • Encourage everyone to breathe and to keep 80% of their attention on their own experience.
  • Hold a clear time frame around each woman receiving sistering ~ as short as three minutes can still be powerful.
  • Have a limit on the numbers of women in your circle ~ for every 6 women, have another Circle Tender alongside you to support you in holding the space.
  • Offer each circle for a fixed amount of time and stick to this boundary.
  • Offer the perspective that it can be as powerful to give sistering as to receive.

The Don’ts

  • Give the impression that there is only one way to experience sistering, instead offer it as an exploration that we are all part of.
  • Don’t interrupt women during their sistering (other than to invite them to open their eyes when ready, and keep breathing).
  • Don’t analyse, fix or directly respond to the content that gets shared ~ remember that this is ultimately only the temporary weather.
  • Underestimate how potent this is, and that just a minute or two can feel very powerful for each woman.


"Being deeply seen and unconditionally received by another woman (through Sistering) is one of the most powerfully catalytic activating, revealing and comfortingly intimacy building experiences that I have ever had. I long for it within every relationship I have."
~ Clare Dubois, Founder of TreeSisters


By Jenny Smith

Most photos courtesy Unsplash
Bottom photo courtest Stargazer Grove with Jenny visiting

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