Sharing in Sacred Circle
“Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends someplace where we can be free.” ~Starhawk
Primitive peoples from all cultures throughout history and beyond have used the circle to define space for dwellings and for sacred ceremonies. Stonehenge in England is one such example. The medicine wheels of our North American Indians are another. The myth of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table is one more example of the sense of equality, which is generated by the circle.
Circles are symbols of the eternity of life and they are as old as life. All spherical forms have no beginning and no end. They represent one-ness and wholeness, centered-ness and focus. They also encompass all there is in thought and form, time and space, and beyond. The circle is multi-dimensional, and yet it has only two dimensions: the inside and the outside. The inside contains energy and the outside radiates energy.
There are some basic concepts and principles that are found in many Aboriginal cultures. Some of the practices and ceremonies that express these principles and values have origins which come from the Prairie cultures of Canada, but have, over time, come to be used by other Aboriginal communities, For example, talking circles, which are also now commonly used by many western communities.
The talking circle is a traditional way for Native American people to solve problems. It is a very effective way to remove barriers and to allow people to express themselves with complete freedom. For this reason, it is becoming more and more popular in mainstream society. The talking circle is making its appearance in schools, corporate board rooms and team dressing rooms around the world, for the simple reason that the technique works very well. The symbolism of the circle, with no beginning and with nobody in a position of prominence, serves to encourage people to speak freely and honestly about things that are on their minds.
Sitting in sacred circle can be both enlightening and humbling. It teaches us to Engage authentically and Build conscious community. It simply asks that we learn to speak and listen from the heart.The rewards are huge.
“If we were to learn that listening to each other was the key to opening each others hearts we would listen until there was peace on earth.” James O’ Dea
There are many types of Talking, sharing or healing circles, The most common type of circle is a simple sharing circle, where people share whatever they have to say. They can be circles of women only, men only, mixed circles of men & woman, with or without children, birthing circles, couples circles, friends, circles of family members, in organisations, in the work place, in schools and for the earth. There may or may not be any particular purpose or theme.
Another common circle, and perhaps the most powerful, is the healing circle. The healing circle is a talking circle with the intention of specifically addressing or healing an individual or individuals. Often lead by an elder or spiritual leader, the healing circle is more formal than the talking circle. This is generally guided by the host or facilitator, and will deal with specific issues that are bothering people, or the circle may be called to simply allow everyone to get any problems off their chests. Very often, a simple chance to have a voice, and to have a problem heard in a sympathetic and supportive environment, is all that a person requires for healing. In addition, sharing amongst a group allows everyone to take a piece of the burden from the person with the problem, who then leaves the circle with a lighter load. However, since the problem does not belong to the other participants, they are able to lay down the piece of the burden they accepted and walk away without having increased their own loads. Sometimes healing rituals may be used in the healing circle to address the specific needs of one person. We may do healings for ourselves and for others within the circle. Our prayers are answered, our wishes come true, and our life gets better when we acknowledge and worship our Divine heritage.
Another type of circle is used to mediate problems between people, either individuals or groups. Again, very often all that is required for a solution to such problems is the opportunity to hear and speak in complete honesty, so that both sides of the problem become aware of the impact of the problem on the other party. In these circles, the host or facilitator guides the participants toward finding their own equitable solution to their problem, since a solution that is created by the participants is the most likely to work over the long term.
How a Talking Circle Works:
Everyone sits in a circle. A token, such as a feather or a special talking stick, is either passed around the circle or is chosen by the one wanting to speak. As each person receives the token, they may speak for as long as they wish, including addressing a topic brought up by another in the circle. When they have finished, they pass the token along. If someone does not wish to speak, they simply pass the token. The token may go around several times; when everyone has had the opportunity to speak as many times as they wish, and there is completion, then the ends circle.
Simple effective Guidelines:
There are a few very simple guidelines that allow a talking circle to function.
Introduce yourself – it is polite to introduce yourself in the first round. Use your spirit name, if you have one; otherwise, use your given name.
Only one person speaks at a time – only the person holding the feather or talking stick may speak. Dialogues are not part of the circle, as they can become confrontational.
Speak from the heart – the speaker should address the circle from the heart, and may speak for as long as they need to, with respect for the time of others.
Listen with respect – all people except the speaker listen attentively and give support to the speaker. Listening with the heart allows you to hear the true intent beneath what the speaker is saying. Listen in the way you expect others to hear you.
What is said in the circle stays in the circle – never repeat anything that is said within the circle, unless you have the permission of the speaker.
Rituals that may be used in a circle:
Sage or Cedar Smudging stick
During a circle, smudging the participants with sage will help dispel any negativity they may be carrying with them. In a way, it’s like ‘wiping’ your spiritual ‘feet’ before entering the circle. As well, keeping a sage smudge burning during the circle, particularly when emotions are intense, will help keep negativity from entering.
The Talking Piece or Talking Stick
You may like to Gather a sacred found object or create an object as a talking piece. This is an object used to call forth truth from anyone who holds it. Typically it is a stick or a rock, or crystal, but it can be anything you are drawn to.
In Native American Tradition it is usually carved with specific symbols such as the eagle and/or thunderbirds, the talking stick acts as the “law” of the circle. The person who has the talking stick is the only person who can talk in the circle.
Place a candle there, perhaps some fresh flowers and your chosen ‘talking piece.’
Invite your guests into the circle and explain the principles of using a talking piece.
Only the person holding the talking piece speaks while others in the circle listen in silence.When you receive the talking piece, spend a moment in the silence. Connect with your heart. See what, if anything, comes to you to share.Speaking from the heart in circle is about being honest, sharing your feelings and your truth. It teaches you to trust your own authenticity. Doing so encourages others to do the same.If you have nothing to say, honor the silence – it can be your most authentic expression. Then, simply pass the talking piece on to the next person.As you wait for the talking piece, resist the temptation to rehearse what you are going to say.Instead, listen attentively and with an open heart to others. The quality of your listening is what helps draw forth another person’s truth. Learning to honor and receive what another is saying in silence, even if you disagree with their views, can impact every relationship in your life. Remember, the circle is a safe and sacred space in which anything shared is confidential.
Begin your circle with a simple ritual. Sound a bell or a chime. Light a candle. Invite everyone to close their eyes as you speak a few words, such as: ‘I bless this circle and set the intention that every person here be empowered to discover and share more of their heart’s truth for the good of all.’ Remind the circle of your chosen theme. Say it’s, ‘What sustains you during difficult times?’ Place the talking piece in the hands of a circle member and let the process begin.
Depending on the number of people in your circle, and how much time you have, you may want to set a limit of say one or two minutes for each person’s sharing. This helps balance the circle. Two or three rounds with the talking piece works well. Bring it all to a close with a “gratitude round” where each participant gives thanks for whatever she’s grateful for. You might like to close by asking that the insights, blessings and gratitude of the circle be shared with all life.
Meditate, pray, do ritual energy work, or merely sit in silence, as you get a feel for your circle. When you are comfortable in a certain direction it means you are comfortable with the energies and the issues pertaining to that direction. Check the Direction list to see what these are as they help you to know yourself better.
Build the energy in the circle by using rattles, drums, bells, chimes, Tibetan bowls, singing, chanting, meditation, prayer, pipe ceremony, sacred objects, and offerings. Build the fire in the center of the circle. Have a bowl of water, burn sage or incense, use feathers, crystals, and copper wands. Have many like-minded people in your circle since more positive people can generate more positive energy.
Do sacred ceremonies on the solstices, equinoxes, solar and lunar eclipses, new moons and full moons, planetary stations, birthdays, religious holidays. Use this space for healings, baptisms or weddings.
Be creative, but always be of a reverent and respectful mind.
I have had the pleasure of sharing in and facilitating many different forms of sacred circle over the years. We currently hold sacred women’s and men’s circle, Sacred circle with friends, with family, blessings way circles for women, for Birthing, healing circles and Solstice gatherings. Visit the list of Services and Satsang events on the website www.LivingAlignment.com
Take advantage of this rare opportunity and join others who are committed, all walking their path toward Self-Realization. Sit in the Circle of those who come together to give and receive support as we walk our unique Path in truth and wholeness. Know Your Self, Be your Self, Your SACRED Self!
Many Blessings Yantra