Back to Practices
Circle as Sacred Container
Marilyn Veltrop formed
the first Pathfinder Circle in January of 2000. Eight participants
met initially for two days, then gathered for a full day each month,
and ended the series with a day-and-a-half session in June. The lives
of participants had shifted - some dramatically. That circle continued
into the second year. Then, in the third year (fall 2001 to spring
2002), two circles of ten each were formed. That series culminated in
a retreat - bringing the circles together for three days in the redwoods
of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
What follows is an edited transcript of a conversation that
took place on June 29, 2002 between Bill and Marilyn, and FireHawk
and Pele Rouge, who participated
in one of their Pathfinder Circles that year and co-led the retreat
with them. In this meeting, which took place a week after the retreat,
they reflected on their experience of Pathfinder Circle gatherings and
Questions are interspersed in bold type to invite inquiry and reflection
on your own experience and dialogue on what supports the emergence of
collective wisdom. (Photographic images are courtesy of FireHawk)
What I'm really interested in our talking about today is: What
would serve Life? What would serve the Mystery at this time in relationship
to the emergence of collective wisdom on the planet? And how do
we use what happened last week at the Pathfinder Retreat as a way to
see into that?
My version of those questions would be: What are the things
that we can do, especially in circles, that support the evolution of
our collective wisdom, that support evolution at various levels?
What is it that contributes to inner level movement, relational level
movement and collective level movement along a conscious evolutionary
trajectory? Our giving language to this definitely opens up the
possibility of other people more easily accessing it. It's like the
word is made flesh. The entity that contains collective wisdom
takes on form as we speak it.
In your group experience, what has supported the emergence
of collective wisdom? What has contributed to inner, relational
and collective movement?
I would also like for us to get fairly specific in describing
some of the miracles, or the consequences that excite us. What
do we see that turns us on in terms of what's shifted for circle members
or the systems they serve? Also, if we look at a circle as a morphogenic
field, what are the conscious choices that contributed to that field
being such a force in our experience during the retreat?
There's a place that I would like to start that feels obvious,
and that is with the Circle. I remember John Shibley, an internal
consultant at LL Bean, ten years ago saying, if he could just get executives
drawing circles on flip charts, he thought everything might actually
start to shift and change. We laughed and talked about creating
flip charts that were circular rather than rectangular and how that
would shift our meeting patterns.
I think one of the fundamental principles for this work is
the drawing of the circle, of us always meeting in a circle. The
circle is the oldest symbol that I know of for God, for wholeness, and
I know, from my own experience, that something happens when we draw
a circle. What we are saying, in essence, is there is nothing
outside of this. It's a way of connecting with the one-ness of
Life and having everybody who's present be a part of a field, be a part
of the One, be a part of the whole, be a part of the Mystery, be a part
What does the Circle represent to you? How important
have circles been to you?
So, in all of the Pathfinders work and certainly in the retreat,
we created the circle, drew the circle, and met as a circle of people.
A circle was present in every phase of our time together, and the act
of doing that meant that what happened every single time we were together,
was different than if we had not done that.
When we're talking about the circle, we're not just talking
about the physical manifestation of the circle. We're talking
about the circle of our collective intention, which some people call
design work. That circle was drawn way before the retreat happened and
was a significant part of what occurred.
There's also the coming into conscious, joyous relationship
with the other beings that inhabit the physical spaces where we meet.
I was thinking about what distinguishes Pathfinder Circles. Part
of it is the space here where we've met all year long, this space in
your home, Bill and Marilyn, that's imbued with your collective intention
and with the energy of the people who have come here over the years
and the work that's been done. All of that energy is still here,
and the trees and plants that you both love so much and care for - all
available to us to assist with our work. We've invoked that energy consciously,
as we did at the retreat with the redwood trees and the medicine wheel
in the meadow.
There's a mysterious aspect to creating the circle that's not
physical, that's not literal. It has something to do with intention
and commitment; it has something to do with mystery; it has something
to do with relating to the plants and the animals and the sky - all
the other beings that we share this planet with.
This brings me back to the medicine circle that we created
on our land here and that became the site for the opening ceremony of
our Pathfinder Circles this year and is now serving as a symbol, in
many respects, of the work that we're doing here.
What in particular is coming up for me around that is the fact
that the medicine circle contains two smaller circles that overlap.
In-between is an almond-shaped space called a mandorla,
or vesica piscus
in ancient Celtic traditions... the source of birthing, of the Goddess.
This is a source of tremendous creativity and wholeness... where polarities
no longer exist.
The reason I'm bringing this up now is that one of the ways
we looked at that symbol was the coming together of the two circles
we had this year. There was an area of overlap, which had not
physically manifested yet. Our two circles were distinct and separate
throughout the year, and it wasn't until the retreat that they came
together and we were able to experience what that potential birthing
in the center might be.
There was a fair amount of resistance on some people's parts
to bringing the two circles together. I'm reminded of a concept
from the book, What We Learned in the Rainforest.
In that book, the authors speak about the phenomenon of a verge that is created when two entities
come together. The verge becomes a source of competition and a certain amount of friction, but
it also opens up the possibility for something very magical to take
place, in the intersection of the two previously separate entities.
How have you experienced "verges" in your life?
Our retreat experience feels like the coming together of two
circles that had a wholeness in and of themselves. But in bringing
them together, there was a new circle created that held all of them.
One of the things we noticed was how quickly everybody was turned on
by everybody else. This dynamic was very much supported by an
appreciative introduction of the each of the people there.
To build on your verge idea, the creativity that was stirred in that retreat
resulted in people talking in terms of a Pathfinder community - an organism
that is different from the circles - one that is more like an ecosystem,
more like a rainforest, with the circle being one species in the rainforest.
If you're willing, I'd like for us to describe now a bit about
why we feel excited about the Pathfinder Circles and the emerging community.
What have we seen in our own lives? What have we seen in the lives
of others and in the systems and relationships that are touched by our
participants? What is it that says we've got something happening
here? What are examples?
Well, for me, I go back to humans being social creatures.
And that one of the great illnesses, from my perspective, of this time,
is our human isolation. The breakdown of communities, the breakdown
of families, the breakdown of the structures that used to hold us together
as a people.
At a fundamental level, Pathfinders provides a structure by
which humans can come together. It's my belief that it's not possible
for each of us to truly manifest who we are in isolation. That
can only happen in a community of people. So Pathfinders provides
not just any old community of people, but a very specific, purposeful,
intentional, sophisticated community of people and, within that structure,
there's the promise of each individual being able to be all that we
I think that only happens in community. It doesn't happen
in isolation. It doesn't happen in just oneness. There's a part
of who I am that needs you and you and lots of you's in order for me
to flower, to manifest the magnificence of who I am and who each of
us is as a human being.
How important is community to your becoming all of who
Did you see evidence of flowering?
Yeah, I did. I saw evidence in myself of flowering. One
of the things that gives me enormous pleasure and excitement and engagement
is when I really hear somebody else's story. And I hear it in
a way that's authentic and true to the moment, but there's also a commitment
to evolve the story on that person's part. That's really the ground
of the Pathfinder Circles... a commitment to evolve my own story.
And to write new stories, not just for myself, but for the worlds I
touch. That's a tremendously energy-forming and energy-giving process
for me - the telling of our stories.
And if I don't know what my story is, to have a safe, supportive
AND challenging place to discover it.
What role has storytelling played in your own journey?
What about in your experiences with groups or circles?
Exactly, right. It doesn't have to be The Story.
In fact, over the year, over the nine meetings, for me, my own story
evolved. The Pathfinder Circle gave me a ground to come and not only
see how my story was evolving in the mirrors of the other stories, but
how the other people were doing it in their lives. There's this
sense of real connection there that I can somehow move my own individual
story forward into the world because I'm a part of this circle, because
I'm getting mirroring, I'm getting challenge, I'm getting recognition,
or I'm getting appreciation from the others in this group. We're
all doing that for each other in a way that's not cumbersome and feels
organic. The practices in the Pathfinder Circle are pretty simple.
Could you describe the practices just a bit to bring them to
The practice of coming together and sitting in silent meditation
and invoking and evoking the sense of our ancestors and the sense of
the "spirits that love and care for the people" at the beginning
of each gathering, for me, is one of the practices that sets the ground.
When we recognize Spirit in ourselves and in others, there's a willingness
to step out that is created. There's a willingness to go beyond
whatever the boundaries I may be in or caught in at the moment because
I feel that invisible support of Spirit.
Another practice is "stringing the beads" or check-in.
The practice of hearing the voice of each individual as they choose
to speak. This often takes two or three hours with eight to ten
people, so it's a long period of time. People speak what's in
their heart, whatever it is that needs to be spoken. That speaking is
a way not only for others to hear their story, but as we speak it, we
discover what our story is, what our journey is. The speaking
helps to illuminate what it is that is going on that may otherwise be
What practices have been important to creating sacred
space in your experience of circles or groups?
Marilyn, I wonder if you would describe one of the practices
that we've used every year in initiating a new group - the practice
of people preparing the story of their journey. This practice
had its roots in your dissertation work. Would you describe that?
To me it seemed central to the success of the circles.
Before our first sessions, we requested that everyone complete
a lifeline. Many people have done various lifelines before, but
with this one, we asked for a particular representation of our life
journey to date. We encouraged people to focus on both literal
and metaphoric births and deaths in their life, and on various comings
together, in a sense symbolic marriages or partnerships, and also on
divorces or things breaking apart, as a way of reflecting on key incidents
or key periods on those journeys. So everyone prepared a lifeline,
and we encouraged creative expression around how each person chose to
represent that. We received a variety of different forms for those
Then, when people came to the first gathering, they used their
lifeline to share a story of their journey. That set a foundation
in the group because many people found that they learned about themselves
just through the process of doing this. But also... we've found
that really being witnessed and heard and seen by others in the circle
creates a natural and robust bond between the members of the circle.
Through the reflection and feedback that took place after each
story was told, those stories evolved even further. Both for the
person who just spoke, but also for those others who were seeing themselves
in the story of the person who just spoke and who were resonating with
various aspects of that story. The story of the "other"
was illuminating things about their own journey that they had not seen
There's another principle about how we gather together in our
"higher selves", in the most expanded manifestation of who
we can be and who we might become. The principle is one of seeking
process and interaction and engagement that provides multiple benefits.
So it's not just the story for me. Everybody gets benefit individually,
and then the interaction of everybody collectively adds another layer
What are examples of processes that provide multiple
benefits from your group experiences?
I'd like to go a bit deeper in this area, because I think it's
rich. The point I want to underscore is that the stories that are told
are intimate. They are disclosing. They go very deep, and
they're presented in a way that presents a wholeness, a very soulful
picture of who I am. It's our story. There is an experience in
telling your story that's one thing. But then to have it deeply
heard and have the other leaders reflect back on how the story touched
them is a truly transformational moment. It establishes a level
of resonance and trust and love that then provides a field - a field
we can play in that we rarely get to access.
Your words, Bill, trigger for me Barbara Waugh's concept of
listening something into being.
One of the qualities that I think is primary in Pathfinders
is the quality of spaciousness... spaciousness to hear one another,
spaciousness to hear ourselves. For me, creation only occurs, or occurs
in its beauty, within a frame of spaciousness. One of the things
that people commented on again and again and again in the circle was
that this was a place out of space and time. Of how precious our
time together was because it wasn't run by the clock; it was run by
a deeper rhythm. Whenever things started to feel crowded or pressed,
there was always a call by one of us to come back to this quality of
spaciousness... a quality which, for me, is profoundly important for
the world to create if we are going to resolve the issues that are before
I remember a teacher and friend and colleague of mine saying
that the most difficult challenge in listening to life around us and
listening to the wisdom that is contained in Mother Nature is that we're
moving so quickly, we can't hear her. We're not relaxed enough,
we're not spacious enough. There's a brittleness to our being.
It's as if our edges are impermeable. It's as if they're solid
and brittle and hard. The interaction that wants to happen and is waiting
to happen from all of life that is around us, has a very difficult time
getting through to us as humans, because we're so busy and we're moving
so fast. We're moving beyond the speed of natural wisdom and beyond
the speed of natural intelligence. We have to slow down.
For me, this is the irony... that the wisdom comes not in striving harder
or doing more or going faster, but it comes in slowing down.
What is the role of spaciousness in the emergence of
This phenomenon came to be described in the circles as vertical
time versus horizontal time. There was a real appreciation for
this among participants, whose lives are very busy and very full, and
many of them travel a lot. Before we began the circles, we wondered
whether the time commitment was going to work among the population that
we were seeking to bring together. Because their calendars are
so full, would we be able to get a commitment of one full day a month,
two full days to start, and a day and a half at the end of the series?
What we found was that not only was that not an issue among
those who chose to participate, but it actually became one of the essential
ingredients. One of the gifts that people felt they received in the
process was making a commitment to that kind of spaciousness in their
life. For some of them, it was the only experience of that kind
they had during the month and they found themselves so looking forward
to reconnecting with that spaciousness, within themselves and with this
community of others who were sharing in this sacred, intimate circle.
You know, when there's the mirroring to each other and the
listening to each other, there's always a listening for the highest
being. There's always a seeing and a calling forward of the higher
self. We don't spend time criticizing each other. We don't
spend great amounts of time pointing out what's wrong with someone.
There is the belief in the assumption that each of us is a sacred being;
each of us is choosing to manifest our highest self as much as possible.
If we speak to that and call that and see that and listen for that,
we literally will call it into being. The power of being heard
in that way and of being seen in that way, it's like in the Midwest,
they say you can hear the corn growing, and you can. In the circle,
you can hear and see the people growing. You watch them change
before your eyes. You watch our dysfunctional behavior (and we
all have some!) slowly start to fall away. Not by doing anything
specific about it, but by just ignoring it and continuing to call, to
talk to, to respond to, to listen to that higher self that's there in
everyone. I think that's a hugely important principle in Pathfinders.
And so unusual in the culture around us in which a lot of it is about
focusing on what's wrong, what doesn't work. What did you do wrong?
Who's to blame? Whose fault is it? All of those things.
How important is an appreciative mindset to the emergence
of collective wisdom?
I want to speak a little bit about the collective energy and
the role of ceremony and direct relationship with the trees and the
plants and the animals, the earth, the rocks, the stones, the fire.
At the retreat this past weekend, what we did was to create a sacred
space, a sacred circle, and invite the two circles of pathfinders to
enact something deeply on that sacred ground that in this case was beyond
words... beyond the miracle of language, but also the liability of language.
We allowed ourselves to enter this non-verbal space in which each individual
could deeply pledge their intention, see themselves in a sacred way.
This shows up in some personal breakthroughs. I remember one
of the men in our circle discovering his own artistic ability - as a
part of his emerging deeper listening process - and then pursuing that
for himself. I remember times when we would sing together or when
we would be out on the land together, here. And people writing poetry
for each other as well as for themselves.
For me, the sacred ceremony aspect helps to bring all of the
words into a wholeness. What I experienced happening at the retreat
was the larger being of the Pathfinder community came up out of that
energy. The possibility that there is a larger Pathfinder community
and that we want to find ways to communicate what that is to ourselves
and to the world.
For me, that's one of the outcomes of when we intentionally
take ourselves into ceremony and into what is a very ancient way of
being that's an energetic experience of oneness. When we do that together,
when we step into that place consciously together, my experience over
and over again is something larger gets created out of that.
What is your experience of sacred ceremony and its role
in evoking collective wisdom?
I want to underscore what happens each time we encouraged people
to go by themselves out into nature and to have a conversation with
the trees and the ground and the rocks and the sky. It's awesome what
they'd come back with. I am blown away by the poetry, by the wisdom,
by the insights, and by the intimate stories of how the process works
within them as they "wrestle" with these subtle conversations.
These sharings present such an intimate view of our yearning to cross
through that veil.
How important has nature been to your spiritual awakening,
conscious evolution, and access to collective wisdom?
Everyone who comes into our circles is working with a 10X
throughout the process. What this represents is a commitment to making
a significant improvement in the lasting difference they make
in the world. This often has both an inner, or more personal, component
to it... what we're wanting to have revealed within ourselves or to
evolve on our own journeys. And also, what is it that we're really
wanting to offer, to give as service out in the world, to make a real
Those 10X commitments change and evolve over time. What
both Firehawk and Bill were just speaking of - about the role of nature
- applied in both our first circle gatherings and the retreat. Before
the ceremonies in which we brought our commitments forward into the
universe, people spent time by themselves out on the land to receive
guidance from nature. In both of those cases, spaciousness was important
- enough time to let the magic unfold. Some folks were uncertain whether
they'd gotten what they were seeking during their exchange out in nature,
but insights were later revealed. At the retreat, one man went
back to his cabin after his time outdoors, lay down for a moment and
was flooded with all kinds of input. So, some people had magic
happen while they were out in nature, and others had it happen as a
result of their having been out, but not necessarily in the direct experience.
In our initial circle gatherings, we had a ceremony in the
medicine circle on our land. People stepped into the central space I
referred to earlier, the mandorla or vesica piscus - the space of intersection between the two inner circles - and they expressed
their commitments. It was a very powerful ceremony fueled by the gifts
that each of us had received in our earlier communion with nature.
Likewise, at the retreat, we had a beautiful ceremony that
Firehawk and Pele Rouge
led in a wonderful medicine wheel that they created out in a meadow
at the retreat center where we were meeting. They prepared us
during the course of that day to enter the sacred ceremony that we experienced
that night. We used dancing and singing during that ceremony to
ground our commitments. It wasn't until the next morning that
words were actually brought into the process in our community circle.
So the use of many different modalities, where silence is honored
as well as words, as well as various forms of creative expression.
All of these are ways for us to access the deeper wisdom, clarity and
commitments that we each have, but that need a certain environment in
order to bring them forward in a powerful way.
I'd like to say a little more about the 10X commitments. It's a very simple concept,
but it can have profound implications. "10X" refers an order
of magnitude shift in the lasting difference we make in the world.
It's not about more effort; it's not about that at all. It's about making
a commitment that goes way beyond what you can imagine accomplishing
on your own. It's designed to help us move outside of the boxes that
we create around ourselves - the limitations we place on what we think
is possible in the world - limitations on our creativity, limitations
on the help that we can access.
The focus on our 10X commitments is a theme that we want to give more
and more ongoing attention to as we move through a circle series, so
that we're drawing forth the story of the journey. When we get
this intentional, we invite the Universe to come in and move with us.
How might commitments to making a significant and
lasting difference in the world effect the emergence and evolution of
I really want to underscore that we shouldn't underestimate
the role of beauty in all of this. And the consciousness that
it evokes in us humans, when even in the most sterile board room, somebody
takes the time and the effort and the attention to bring beauty to the
center or bring beauty into the room.
I'm so glad you mentioned beauty. That was one of the
places I wanted to go - to the importance of beauty. We often
tend to think of beauty as a luxury, or we don't have time for beauty.
If you want to increase the possibility of wisdom coming from a circle
of people, if you pay attention to two things, it's more likely to happen.
One of them is beauty. And the other one is respect.
Beauty has within it a wholeness. Or it wouldn't be beautiful.
Anything that we find beautiful is some manifestation, some mirror,
some reflection of wholeness. We only notice it because it's also
within us. We can't see anything that's not within us.
So every time I experience or see beauty, it's like a gift
from the mystery saying, Pele Rouge, there's that beauty within you.
There's that beauty all around, just pay attention, just notice.
It's everywhere. And in that beauty is wholeness. As humans,
we're not used to people caring about us enough to create beauty before
us. When we go out of our way to create beauty for other humans,
it has a profound impact on them. It's really awesome what happens.
I remember the Biblical words. "I go to prepare a place before
you." I go to prepare beauty, I go to prepare the way.
Another key characteristic of Pathfinder Circles is respect.
One of the questions that I ask myself sometimes is: How can I increase
my manifestation of respect in relationship to an individual or situation?
What practice, what thought, what process? The way that we come
together in Pathfinders clearly is with a high level of intentionality
to hold each other in deep respect for the spirit beings that we each
I can't respect something if I'm not paying attention to it.
I have to notice it in ways and levels and depths that I didn't see
before. And as I do that, I see more deeply; I see beyond the
surface that I might have been looking at something before. Anytime
I start to go more deeply into something, or we as a collective start
to do that, a deeper wisdom emerges.
What do you see as the role of beauty and respect in
calling forth wisdom in groups?
I'd like to speak of respect in another aspect of our circle
experience, because I think it's really key in one of the elements that
we have used more in our past series than we were able to this year.
It has to do with having a two-hour intensive block for each participant
to have the circle's full attention and going deeply into an issue,
a topic, a project, or something that is really up for that person.
Because of the environment of safety, respect and appreciation that
we've been speaking of, people have come forward with issues that have
been very raw for them. They've felt safe enough to bring them
into the circle, and have others work with them in this way.
At the same time, when we have this lens of respect and appreciation,
truth-telling can happen in a way that can be really heard and really
healing and valuable to each person. It's how truth-telling is held
and how it's done that is key. When we've taken time for each person
to go deeply into something that they choose, it's been tremendously
helpful for the person who is choosing to use that time, but also for
everyone else who participates in that process.
How do you see the relationship between safety, respect,
appreciation and truth-telling in groups?
The two-hour blocks of time that you mentioned, Marilyn, seemed
really important, not just for the focal individual, but for all of
us. What helped make those times powerful was when the focal individual
asked for advance personal reflection from the other members. This seemed
to heighten the depth of the sharing and multiplied the insights we
each came away with. It's not just a focus on one person, but the truth-telling
is almost always truth-telling about self that is enabled by the truth-telling
of each of the others. As I experience each of the others go more
deeply, disclose more and just be fully who they are in this space,
it gives enormous permission for me to own those parts of myself.
In our initial sessions, Marilyn shared her "Figure 8"
model. Would you describe it? Then I want to refer to it.
Okay, the "Figure 8" model came out of my dissertation
work. It's a model of the transformational journey that has four
phases to it. The two phases in the upper circle of the 8 are
life structure development and life structure breakdown. This
is the more personal or out-in-the-world level: the life structures
we are building, whether through our work or through relationships.
We inevitably encounter a plateauing of any particular life structure
and then there's a breaking down of that structure.
At some point, we reach a juncture I call the gateway at the
middle point of the figure 8 - a gateway into the lower circle, which
has to do with our more transpersonal side, our more inner-focused work.
When we go through the gateway, we encounter the third phase, a descent
and awakening process. After going down into the depths of our soul
to connect with our essence, we reach the fourth phase, which I call
emergence and integration. Here, we emerge with new insights and
integrate new aspects of ourselves, so that when we move back out into
the world, we are birthing ourselves in a whole new way.
For many, there's real resistance to going into this lower
loop. So there's a tendency, when we get into life structure breakdown,
to make minor adjustments, to move right back into the go-for-it first
stage of life structure development. There's a tendency, in our
culture, to want to stay in the upper loop, to not allow for the "deaths"
that are necessary to move into the deeper and more expansive aspects
of ourselves that require us to go into this lower loop of the journey.
I see this gateway in the center as essentially a dying process
as we're moving down into the lower circle, and as a birthing process
as we move back up into the upper circle. We tend to experience
resistance before both of those processes. A question we addressed
in one of our Pathfinder Circle sessions was: What supports dying and
birthing? Recognizing that both processes are essential to our
being whole, we explored what conditions support the dying of old, outmoded
structures, and also what supports our birthing, when the time is right,
into new outer-world structures.
What has supported "dying" and "birthing"
in your own life? In groups or circles in which you have participated?
In a series of twelve full days spent together, with Marilyn
and I as leaders, Marilyn's brief description of the "Figure 8"
model was about the extent of our "formal teaching." There
was some conversation about it in the group, but just enough to provide
a framework. (Later, the model was often referred to when people shared
about their journeys.) We are not the teachers; we all are
teachers. And the real teacher is in the middle of the circle
- a product of our interactions. That collective entity is the
real teacher that we want to pay attention to.
The point that triggered me into remembering Marilyn's "Figure
8" model is that for people who are out in the world, most of their
issues tend to be in the upper circle. But as they participate in the
Pathfinder Circle and as they listen to others' stories, these stories
invariably describe descents into the lower circle as well. What
happens after a time of participation and experience and experimentation
is that we increasingly make friends with the adventures of the lower
That is a very powerful thing to have happen for people who
primarily have been masterful in the world, in the upper circle.
This kind of incredible gift can't come out of any cognitive learning
process. It requires an incubator. And I think the circle
truly serves as an incubator, permitting that part of our wholeness
to be acknowledged and increasingly accessed.
One of the vehicles to support that for us has been creative
expression, because creative expression allows us to tap into the tacit
knowing inside that may not be accessible at a more conscious, verbal
level. We invite participants to use whatever form they choose,
whether it's drawing or collage or poetry or movement.
Or a pizza that is carefully designed to represent the essence
of one of the deepest and most profound and complex of spiritual traditions.
What forms of creative expression are you drawn to? How,
if at all, has creative expression supported you in accessing personal
or collective wisdom?
Whatever form it happens to take, creative expression has been
one of the ways that supports deepening and befriending the lower circle
and what it can reveal to us, how it can renew us and reveal truths
to us that we otherwise don't have access to.
The circle, when we come together, for me is the void.
The intention to create a circle creates a boundary around it. It creates
a container into which the Mystery can speak, into which our collective
wisdom can emerge. Without the container, there's nothing to hold
The element of intention is an essential aspect of Pathfinders.
It's our intention that largely creates the ceremony. It's what's behind
our intention that determines whether or not our mirroring is healing
or hurtful. A little skill helps, but there can be a lot of clumsiness
if the intention is truly pure--
What is the role of intention in accessing personal or
I want to notice the level of energy of our speaking. I'd like
to acknowledge how each of us has different facets of the story. It
will be great fun to read whatever it is we said for the last hour and
a half and see what coherence emerges. Hopefully this will be helpful
to others wanting to embark on this journey. I see ourselves as learners
who are sharing what it is we've learned and what it is we think we
I'd like to insert another design element that we haven't touched
on yet that feels important. It has to do with the attention we've
given to selecting and inviting pathfinders into this game. A
key part of this adventure has been to explore what's possible when
you bring together people who are deeply committed to their inner journey
- their inner journey has them. That doesn't mean they're far
along on the journey, necessarily. It doesn't mean they're enlightened.
But there is that clear yearning and commitment to go to the next level,
whatever the hell that is. And a commitment to move relationally,
not just to fix something, but to discover what's possible when we're
in community, when we're in relationship, when we're exploring our edges
We sought pathfinders who also had a deep commitment to transforming
organizations. Some of them are providers; some of them are core players inside of organizations - business
leaders and the like; others are change agents -- but all are clearly, deeply concerned
about the nature of our organizing forms and are wanting to shift that.
So they share that common commitment. And they are deeply committed
to the world, to bringing wholeness into the world.
This in not a fixit group. These
are circles of adventurers - people who are wanting to push the edge
and know they want to join with other adventurers. In general,
we've brought in people with whom we've had direct relationship, or
other pathfinders have had enough experience with them so we know that
these are folks who are ready to cross the frontier together.
There's a role in gathering the people
together that I'm hearing you speak about. What it comes to is
the need for there to be a passionate relationship and interaction between
the people who are calling the circle and the people that are being
called. Any lessening of the quality of that relationship or the
quality of the calling can really be a detriment to what might emerge.
It's not about "this can only work for certain kinds of people."
It's really about the nature of the two of you calling and the people
that you're calling to.
There are some fundamental principles
under that that are useful for others who might not be in the area of
organizational transformation, or in the area of personal transformation,
but might be in other areas. They could use those same ideas to call
a circle together that would have some of the same attributes.
When Marilyn rang - or rather sounded
- the Tibetan bells this morning, what went through my mind was the
clarity of the sound that went out. I've listened to people sound
Tibetan bells probably thousands of times. And the sound that
comes out is a function of the clarity and the consciousness, the intention
with which it's being sounded. You don't get a beautiful, clear
note sounded if you're not paying attention. The two of you pay
enormous attention, and behind that attention is a huge intention.
To truly serve and to sound a very clear note to which people can then
respond with the least amount of confusion. There's an essence level
to the note that you sound.
One of you could say, well, Bill and
Marilyn are getting a group together, who wants to come? Many
groups are formed that way, but part of the power of Pathfinders comes
from the purity and the clarity of the note that is sounded... many,
many, many, many, many, many, many times.
[The bells sound -- it is pure and
May we all walk in beauty.