We each contain an enduring spark of that Wisdom that is at the heart of all creation. Isolated and unsupported, it is but a small spark. United with others, those sparks grow into a flame of illumination and strength for every participant.
That strength which sustains and renews each one of us also sustains and renews our communities, our society, our environment, the Earth. Gathering in wisdom circles enables us to move more deeply into ourselves, into that core that continues to survive, hope, dream and carry on.
Welcome to Wisdom Circles. A wisdom circle is a way for small groups of people to create a safe space within which to be trusting, authentic, caring and open to change. The wisdom circle format encourages participants to reflect more deeply when they know they will not be interrupted or given advice. A wisdom circle is based on ten “constants” or guidelines. It’s designed to encourage people to gather in small groups, listen and speak from the heart, in a spirit of inquiry. By opening and closing the circle with a simple ritual of the group’s choosing, using a talking object, and inviting silence to enter the circle, we create a space together that qualitatively different from an ordinary discussion or support group. This process provides a way to deepen the values that sustain our lives while in the company of kindred spirits. In a wisdom circle, we come to realize how many of us there are who share the life-affirming values of compassion, equality, respect for diversity, and concern for the whole. We encounter people who are committed to these values as their basis for service in the world. Here we can develop greater self-awareness as well as the strength of mutual support.
The circle is a universal symbol for unity and wholeness, and the form of meeting in circle is ancient. Each of us has ancestors, no matter what your ethnic or racial background, who sat around a fire together, drumming, singing, playing, dancing, telling stories, praying, grieving together, solving the problems of everyday life. The memory of this connection to the circle is in our bodies, in our psyches.
The political foundations of North America were shaped by two strong circle traditions: the British and the Native American. One of Britain’s most enduring stories, originating in Celtic mythology, is that of King Arthur and his Round Table. The knights took an oath to serve not only the other table members, but the kingdom as a whole. Their covenant promised a humane safety net for even the most vulnerable members of the society.
When we read the history of the U.S. Constitution, we learn that this document was based on the model of the Iroquois Confederacy, a system of separate tribal councils that met as a Grand Council every five years with the responsibility for the welfare of the whole. Members of the tribal councils were chosen by the Council of Matrons, the oldest women of the tribe, who met in circle.
Since the times when people sat around the tribal fires, we have developed many variations of the circle: support groups, dialogue groups, group psychotherapy, Bible study groups, twelve-step groups, consciousness-raising circles, men’s and women’s groups, to name a few. These are people actively exploring what has meaning in their lives by pursuing personal and social transformation.
We invite you to join with us and the thousands of people around the world who have discovered this process. We yearn for a safe space within which to be authentic, trusting, caring, and open to change. We are searching for a way of life that embraces wisdom and compassion as its core principles. By wisdom we mean deep insight into the ways we are connected and how the strength of each one of us is vital to the whole. By compassion we mean the deep feeling that comes when we recognize our soul’s reflection in another person, when that other person’s pain or joy becomes our own.
We know that the place to begin is within our own hearts and minds. That is what led us to establish Wisdom Circles. We want to share our efforts in self-discovery, social activism and spiritual inquiry in the company of kindred spirits. We recognize the advantages inherent in the way the entire ecosystem organizes itself: with an emphasis on interdependence, diversity, and the wellbing of future generations. To integrate these values into our daily lives, we need the strength and support of a larger community.
So we invite you to come sit with us in circle, meeting heart to heart, learning from each other’s life esperiences and honoring the values that sustain our lives. This is a place for deep truth-telling, for practicing a way of relating to each other that can become the norm for all our relationships. This is also a place for recognizing our own unique talents and abilities. We will pass the talking stick and take turns speaking to our basic inquiry: How can we continue to survive, hope, dream and carry on during this time of global tumult?