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Participation in Healing Circles

Updated on January 3, 2016

Small Group Dynamics

Human beings have moved in social groups since the first recording of man. Population clans roamed the earth foraging for sustenance and shelter, assimilating values to survive. Bound by these variables groups developed stable patterns of interaction over time, which created a group signature. Within this signature a core premise resides. A healing or shaman circle is often where a world view is sanctioned. Beliefs, customs, mores and taboos, as well as healing and thoughts about death are discussed, purged or penalized. Sacred circles continue to function in modern society today. Spinning within the larger circle of secular thought, orbiting ideas and solutions, a healing circle will form to assist or dissent the core premise of the larger group. Attraction to a healing circle is based on a circle’s signature. Member participation depends upon the facilitation, material and tensions within the hub.

Attraction to group participation is often based upon a member’s rapport with the leader. As a facilitator, or host of a healing circle, it is important to promote the group signature, not to lecture. Generally, a close relationship already exists between a facilitator and one other dominant, signature thinker. The friendship was probably based on same think mutual attraction and they have discussed finding others with whom to commune. One will host or facilitate while the other will canvas for members. Word of mouth, traditionally is the best marketing tool. Web posting, info flyers, small articles or advertisements placed in signature periodicals, cable TV calendar of event rolls and personal invitation are a few ways of promoting the circle. It is important to construct these mediums without lecturing or harassing the public. Simply image the event colorfully and positively. Do not charge a fee. For example, you want to plan and promote a spiritual drumming circle. Your signature is the power found in the resonance of the drum which replaces negativity with personal power and voice. Create your media pieces to promote the signature of creating voice, NOT lost power. Member attraction will be based on the facilitator’s positive out reach with out lecture. The other signature thinker must reflect this as well.

Materials to be used in circle are important. If your signature requires ceremony, it is desirable that members agree on the mode. If you open with a cleansing ritual, such as candles, incense and smudging, be sure to ask other attendees if anyone is allergic to the herbs or scents that are being used. A member may even object to the way a higher power is addressed. It is very important to have introductions before ceremony so each person can say a few words about his/her cosmology and to voice concerns about the verbiage used in circle. Everyone will not be pleased to the same degree and a good facilitator will assist with the assimilation. Often healing circles will commensurate with particular authors or authorities. A good library of materials is essential. Ask members to donate any works they think will support the venue. The facilitator should provide comfortable seating and amenities before the group arrives. A good ambience reflecting the signature is important. Refreshments are always a nice touch as they provide a social time away from circle activity. Members are able to interact without fear of breaking the “spell” while in group, and networks are created for further signature events. During break it is a good time to develop a contact list. The same members will not all appear every circle meeting. New faces will arrive as the group enlarges and a current email address list is important.

Within every social group, the dynamics with peers can be problematic. Tensions arise as competition for dominance prevails. As a facilitator or dominant partner you will see that token members will vie for leadership. Seating selected n circle, disputing concepts inappropriately, not participating or over speaking are a few ways members will try to disrupt the group flow. A seasoned facilitator will watch the drama and allow it to take it course until it lulls. Then, ask the group how they feel about what has just occurred. Allow the members to correct the offender with their comments. Some competitors with not return. Others will take their place back in circle. Those who remain should be encouraged to take a leadership role in area within circle of interest. Most who are disgruntled about position will bloom with a small leadership position such as newsletter writing or the like as maintaining a group takes a bit of time. Sometimes there is collective madness within circles and some in the membership scapegoat inadequacies. If you find yourself in one of these, it is best to seek new members and let the original circle fade away. The loyal clan will wait for this to happen then reunite once again.

A sacred circle is a magic circle that mirrors back a group signature. Members interact, developing stable patterns of interaction over time. Whether it is an auxiliary, guild, movement, spiritual community, sewing, literary, philosophical, political or gossip society it has leadership. The proper facilitation and material gathering is important. The management of conflict is primary. Circles are the things around which humans move. A good facilitator does not monopolize, they embrace participation.

Small Group Participation

Video inserts produced by MEOW Productions -  JoAnna Varney-Kondrat


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    • Makwawai profile imageAUTHOR

      JoAnne Kondrat 

      8 years ago from Northeast Michigan

      Thanks Cabinwriter. During my time as a owner of The Sweet Grass Cafe, many circles developed. Often they spun perfectly, while others wobbled a bit! I've learned much about facilitation & conflict resolution

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Good article. Great to see you creating prose too.


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