What is a Circle? What is the mystery hidden behind it? How can you benefit from participating in a Circle? What impact can it have on your values and your community´s values?
Symbolism of the Circle
William Shakespeare once said that the eyes are the window to your soul. A circular window, through which we view the world and connect with others.
Ancient traditions, like the North American Native Tribes’, viewed the circle as the main symbol for unravelling life’s mysteries. For many of them, as well as for other ancient cultures, the circle was a symbol of unity, transcendence and connection with the sun and the moon for thousands of years.
In the Chinese tradition, we find the Yin and Yang, the perfect balance between the masculine and feminine energies contained in a circle.
Aristotle professed that all aspects of our universe move in circles.
We find circles in Celtic cultures too, symbolising their democratic culture and the cosmos in many cases.
Stone Circles have been built all around the world throughout history for many different reasons, such as burial or ceremonial places, and include well-known places we can find in England, such as Avebury or Stonehenge.
The Circle is also a natural phenomenon that can be observed everywhere. Internally, in our beautiful and perfect bodies – our eyeballs, the cells, the eggs in which we are born, the womb – and externally, in the objects we have created, such as coins, gears or wedding rings, and in nature, from fruits like a cherry or an orange, water ripples, and our circular planet Earth.
In the Sanskrit tradition, the chrakras, or energy centers in our body in which energy spins through, are translated as “wheel”. These centers were called as such because of the circular shape to the whirling energy centers which exist in our subtle etheric body.
Carl Jung studied the Circle and its symbolism in depth, and defined it as the geometric archetype of the psyche. He even introduced the Mandalas into the Western World, as he understood the psychological and mythological implications of their meaning, expressing the intuitive movement towards wholeness. Here’s a video that explains this.
The four seasons, the four directions, the four elements and nature itself function in a circular and collaborative way. We live on a circular planet, which receives light from a circular star, and it is part of an infinite galaxy of circular planets. Or, at least, that’s how our circular eyeballs “let” us see them.
There is so much that could be said about the Circle symbolism, as it is a profound and transcendent symbol, which generally represents wholeness, unity and inclusivity. The circle is also a representation of eternity, as a place of no end and no beginning. A place which can rarely be comprehended by our logical minds, but where our souls can warmly and softly navigate through meditation and other “body” practices, such as open heart conversation, signing, prayers and dancing.
The Circle is a sacred space, and in order to touch its real essence, we need to learn to shift from our – so often – restricted and limited thoughts, to be willing to get immersed into the unknown mysteries of the inner world, the universe and the limitless cosmos. So, the Circle is not that much a place for rational understanding, but mainly a place for practising aliveness, human connection and body-heart experiences.
The Ancient Circle: a place for everyone to be
Humans have been sitting in Circles for thousands of years, as a way to create dialogue around subjects of interest for the community, to support, acknowledge and heal each other, and to celebrate all sorts of rituals and festivities, usually related to nature phenomena. A Human Circle honours and nurtures the sacredness in us, the sacredness in one another and the sacredness in all creation. One example of this is the Circle around the “Children Fire” that Native Americans light up to celebrate and honour all young beings in Earth, whether they are humans or not.
The Circle is also a great space for dialogue. Its circular shape warmly embraces people within a safe and confidential space where mindful conversation flows, and open-hearted and non-judgemental listening and speaking take place. These are the main features, which transform the circle into a sacred space: the willingness of the people to shift from “opinionated chatting” into a more receptive attitude, where listening is the core skill to be practised. Often, in many traditions, there’s even an object – normally a talking stick – which represents the power of the holder to speak from his or her heart-felt truth, feeling that he or she is not being judged, and also disposed to avoid blaming or any kind of criticism in their communication, but instead, sharing from his or her own experience.
The first time I saw this during a Wake up London gathering, I felt astonished by the power of mindful listening and the transformation that it brings to all the members of the circle community.
Another important thing about the Circle is that there’s usually a focus point or a “theme” to work on, which is represented by a centrepiece object. For instance, in the case of the “Fire of the Children Circle” people create a contoured border or circle around the fire, which is somehow the “container” of the love and appreciation for the young generation to come. They come together to celebrate life, and the fire is a structure they use as a “focus point” when they find their minds “wandering around” and maybe engaging with unhealthy thoughts. If you want to listen to the Fire of the Children´s story, check this out.
In a Circle there are also moments to pause, where participants spend time in silence, regathering thoughts, and reconnecting heart-fully with the essence of the circle – and the mission of the gathering.
It is not a place to do anything, but rather a place to be, ask for what we need, and also offer what we can. Everyone is equal within a circle, we are all both teachers and students.
Cultivating the Masculine and Feminine energies within the Circle
Let’s say that you like to travel from point A to point B, there are normally two ways of getting there. You can take the most straightforward route, or you can wander around, trying new streets, going back to the initial point if you find yourself “lost” and eventually, after some more “extra work” and maybe also more time to experience the process, you get there.
This is an example I love in order to explain how the masculine and feminine energies work differently but complementarily, and how they are both contained in every human being. The masculine part of ourselves would normally choose to stick to goals and results, and find the way to “solve” the situation in the quickest, most logically and simplest possible way. So, it is normally represented by a line in sacred geometry. The feminine would normally choose to consider the available options, probably try them out and get a bit “lost” in the process, in order to really feel them, and consult with others before she takes the final route. So, it is represented by circular curves. We could also appreciate these differences – and complementarities – on the physical level, by observing the masculine and the feminine bodies.
A Circle is a place for everyone to balance their masculine and feminine energies, by recognising the “lines” and the “curves” in themselves, and what use they give to these energies in real life. Qualities like assertiveness, straightforwardness, focus and competition are masculine qualities, and qualities like openness, vulnerability, tenderness and cooperation are feminine qualities. We react differently to different stimuli, so the more access we have to all range of “qualities” we can choose to be, the more balanced our lives become, and the better the results we get.
In a circle we are constantly mirroring each other, so it is easy to develop and “awake” both our masculine and feminine qualities just by observing and listening to each other.
It’s time – Let’s Circle up!
The Hundredth monkey is the story that sustained anti-nuclear activists in the 1970-80s to go on, when conventional wisdom said that nothing and no one could deter the nuclear arms race between the superpowers.
This theory proved that when a small amount of people adopted a certain behaviour and attitude, the rest of the population would follow. It proved that ordinary people, like you and me, could get extraordinary things by coming together for a greater purpose. And that is what the Circle is about. Circles can certainly unleash the power of collective thought and behaviour and radically transform societies’ values and behaviours.
I believe it is time to Circle up, and create new ways of thinking, doing and behaving, for the children and for all the young beings on Earth. And if we are going to do so, we need to be willing to step out from the conventional ways to interact with each other, and start being more, feeling more, listening more, meditating more, and loving more. We need to understand that we are powerful beyond measure, but in order to do that, paradoxically, we need to stop wanting to “understand” and “control” everything. And trust in what is possible and necessary. Our minds are extremely powerful and are the door to God, but conscious intelligence is everywhere, as science has already proven. So it is time for a New Way Forward, where we develop the intelligence of the body and use it as a valuable source, as much as our brain can be.
The New Way forward to Co-Creation.
Hey… this is good stuff! Let’s Circle up!
All significant social changes arise from people sitting down to talk about what matters to them.
– Margaret J. Wheatley
10th December 2014
Chief Joy Officer of Circles for Dialogue, Laura Martínez has a B.A. in Marketing from ESIC Business and Marketing School (Spain). She is an ethical marketer graduated on the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing programme, a member of the School of all Relations team, and a intuitive leadership coach. She is passionate about hosting educational spaces about mindful and compassionate ways to be in business and life.Contact her on Twitter.