See other self-portraits

Marilyn Veltrop
Soquel, California


What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?

How can I best serve those who are awakening and committed to the transformation of personal, organizational and global consciousness?

What is your personal experience of collective wisdom in groups?

My experiences of collective wisdom in groups are numerous and varied. Examples include a Shaman’s Journey, my dissertation co-researcher gathering, a Women’s Circle, and the Pathfinder Circles Bill and I co-lead. Each of these experiences has been profoundly transformative for me and others involved.

On a Shaman’s Journey in Peru, collective wisdom was accessed through shamanic ritual and practices, meditation, and the energy of sacred sites. In that powerful field, the group opened up to the archetypal realms of the collective unconscious, and many of us were catapulted into new levels of ourselves and our work.

In my dissertation on the transformational journeys of business leaders, I wrote narrative poem stories to capture the essence of each person's journey. When all eight participants gathered for a day to share these stories, a magical and transformational field was created. Laughter and tears flowed easily and naturally. As each story was told and responded to, the depth of personal and collective insights grew and new modes of creative expression spontaneously emerged.

I have participated in a Women’s Circle over the past 8 years. While supporting each other on our journeys, we have encountered periods of conflict and crisis. Collective wisdom always emerged at such times, facilitated by our commitment to work through issues, speak our truth, open to divine guidance, surrender attachment to outcomes, and trust the larger process.

Bill and I are now in our fourth season of Pathfinder Circles for leaders and change agents committed to personal, organizational and global transformation. In the safe and sacred space of these circles, participants are supported in exploring uncharted territory, becoming more authentic, accessing the magic and mystery of Spirit, gaining personal and collective insight, and making a lasting difference in their relationships, organizations, and local/global communities. A field of collective wisdom has grown not only within each circle, but building on those that preceded it.

What is it about the work in this field that excites you and connects you to your own deepest self?

I’m very excited about the personal and collective wisdom that can be accessed in groups, and I’m fascinated by the ongoing discovery of what supports that arising and the many ways it can manifest. I have experienced it in various settings, and it never ceases to surprise, awe and inspire me.

A safe and sacred container that supports deep listening, whole-body sensing, intuitive knowing, and the humanity and divinity of all has been essential to my accessing collective wisdom while connecting with my deepest self. Personal and collective wisdom show up for me in body sensations, inner images, and auditory messages. I’ve found symbols and metaphors to be potent means of communicating such wisdom.

In his group inductions, Brugh Joy uses the metaphor of a tree for individual consciousness and the forest for group consciousness. When we honor and stay connected with our own Source, our uniqueness, our “tree;” while opening ourselves to sacred community, the mystical body of the gathering, the “forest;” that is when real magic happens!

In a recent Pathfinder Circle gatherings, we each brought a drawing of a tree that represented our personal and professional commitment to making a lasting difference in the world. The roots of the tree symbolized our foundation or sources of nourishment, and the ends of branches, the outcomes or fruits of our commitments. Through these images, dialogue, and the felt-sense in our bodies, we experienced our unique “treeness” as well as the intermingling of our roots and branches in the group “forest.”

An aspect of this field that I find particularly exciting and that links to a major focus of my work is the experience of “dying” and “birthing” at personal and collective levels. It’s no surprise that those challenging transitions are also personal learning edges.

Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of what brought you to this work.

In 1987, after seventeen years in the corporate world, I followed my inner guidance to become an independent consultant to individuals and organizations in transition. Then, in 1992, I felt "called" to take my work to a deeper level and serve as a guide to others on transformational journeys. This led me cross-country to pursue graduate studies at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

In the process of earning a Masters in counseling psychology and a Ph.D. in transpersonal psychology, I underwent many descents and always emerged with deeper insight and embodied wisdom. I also experienced new spiritual heights and saw the link between heights and depths on the journey. In my dissertation, I created a model of the transformational journey that reflects both of these inner-oriented transpersonal aspects, as well as outer-oriented personal aspects, of the journey.

Now, serving as a transformational coach and guide to those in major life transitions, I support and guide clients as they descend to their depths, awaken spiritually, and rebirth themselves and their work. In my individual and group work, I draw from various counseling and spiritual guidance practices, my spiritual practice in the Kriya Yoga tradition, and Mother Nature. My group work is also influenced by Angeles Arrien, Arnold Mindell, Ellen Grace O’Brian, M. Scott Peck, Michael Sky, and Alberto Villoldo.

How would you like to be available to others in this field?

I can be contacted by phone at (831) 464-9813 or email .

Links to this site or others:

Interview with FireHawk, Pele Rouge, Bill Veltrop

[ Back to Top ]