Green World Trust
- groups -
wisdom circles
 
 

The Wisdom Circle
comes from the Native American tradition, but its use is universal.
It is very simple in outline, using the "Ten Constants", yet it holds great wisdom,
and has worked well in widely differing contemporary situations.
It sets up a space in which all participants feel comfortable, valued and honoured.
It is a good way to start a small local group for "Planetary Awakening".

You may be willing to just get started, or you might first like to check out stories and read
Calling the Circle by Christina Baldwin;
Wisdom Circles
by Charles Garfield, Cindy Spring, and Sedonia Cahill.

The Ten Constants (short version)

Honour the circle
by using simple procedures to mark the opening and closing.
Create a collective centre
by mutually agreeing upon a topic or intention.
Ask to be informed by our highest human values
such as compassion and truth, by the wisdom of the ancestors, and by the needs of those yet to be born.
Express gratitude
and heartfelt appreciation for the blessings and teachings of life.
Create a safe space
for full participation and deep truth-telling.
Listen from the heart
and be a compassionate witness for the others in the circle.
Speak from the heart
and from direct experience.
Make room for silence to enter.
Empower each member
to be a co-facilitator of the process.
Commit to an ongoing relationship
with the people in your group,
and carry the intentions of the circle into daily life.

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The Ten Constants (longer version)

1. Honour the circle. Use simple, appropriate procedures to mark the opening and closing. Ask everyone to give their name. Take time to breathe deeply. Say a prayer. Light a candle. Have a cup of tea. Listen to music. Be creative.

2. Create a collective centre. Make a physical centre. Mutually agree upon a topic or question that will serve as the central focus of the meeting. Choose a specific issue or allow for topics to surface determined by individual members' needs.

3. Ask to be informed by our highest values such as compassion and truth, by the wisdom of the ancestors, and by the needs of those yet to be born. You can also invoke mythical or historica figures or ancestors who symbolize desired values. One person can speak for the group, or each member can do a personal invocation.

4. Express gratitude for the blessings and teachings of life. Acknowledge and honour our interdependence with everything in the Web of Life. In silence, or by taking turns, give thanks for those people and those things great and small whose gifts enrich and nourish you.

5. Create a safe space for full participation and deep truth-telling. Allow each person to speak without interruption or cross-talk. Pass the "talking stick" around the circle, until everyone has the opportunity ot participate. Respect the right to silence. Keep everything confidential (unless specifically agreed otherwise).

6. Listen from the heart, and serve as a compassionate witness for the other people in the circle. To be an effective witness, pay attention to what is being said without interrupting, judging, or trying to "fix" or rescue the person speaking. Be willing to discover something about yourself in the stories of other people.

7. Speak from the heart and from direct experience. When you are moved to speak, do so thoughtfully and with care. Avoid abstract, conceptual language, and stay in touch with your feelings as deeply as possible. As this capacity develops, you may be moved to share those feelings and to say difficult things without self-judgement and without blaming others.

8. Make room for silence to enter. During the circle, allow for reflection, meditation, for deep feelings to surface. Silence enhances temenos as the group proceeds.

9. Empower each member to be a co-facilitator of the process. If possible, designate a different person to be the circle maker each time. This person readies the physical setting, initiates the opening and closing rituals, and facilitates consensus on a topic. Encourage each other to give voice to feelings of satisfaction or discomfort about the group's process.

10. Commit to an ongoing relationship with the people in your circle so as to engender trust and caring to other people, to the Earth and all her creatures, by practising the capacities developed within the wisdom circle in daily life.

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