|Taking Counsel in a Circle|
by Madisyn Taylor
The use of a talking stick during counsel assures every voice is heard fully without interruption.
When we sit in a circle together and share our thoughts and feelings, we participate in a powerful, unifying practice whose origins stem from the very beginning of human time. All early cultures practiced some form of this ritual, which gives each individual in the group a voice, and at the same time reveals the one voice, and the ultimate unity, of the group. This profound and simple way of talking and listening has experienced a modern rebirth in counseling, social work, and spirituality.
Most circles benefit from the presence of a leader who opens the circle by calling in angels, spirit guides, and ancestors – beings of light who will be present with those taking counsel. The leader may announce a theme for the circle, or one may simply evolve from the unstructured expressions of each participant. The circle continues for as long as feels right, at which point the leader may summarize what has been said, perhaps leading everyone in a moment of silence before the circle disbands. One of the most powerful components of this work is the talking stick, which can be any object – a crystal, a flower, or a candle – that is passed around the circle from person to person. The person holding the object speaks until he has fully expressed his feelings, and no one else interjects, interrupts, or even responds until they are holding the stick. This enables people who have a hard time speaking out to express long-buried feelings and points of view. This is powerful because in a community it is often what is not said or acknowledged that causes the most pain and suffering.
The circle, which contains no hard edges or angles, is the ideal container for these difficult truths. As we hear the many perspectives the subject at hand inspires, we begin to see that our individual truth is just one of many. Our own hard edges begin to soften as the circle flows from one person to the next, and each wave of words cleanses us of one more layer of mental and emotional armor, freeing us to be closer to the people around us. Try using counsel during your next family meeting, school class, or any setting where you feel a centering communication method is needed.