Coming Home to the Way of the Circle
By Martha Lucier, CCSS Founder and Collective Circle Member
What if it was possible to co-create a new dream for humanity and Mother Earth, engaging the most powerful tool we have? What would it be like to give ourselves permission to experience our unlimited potential, for a greater purpose, inviting our imagination to take us where we have never gone before?
One of my earliest memories as a child, is strolling our neighborhood at the age of 4 with my best friend, Hector, a big black bouvier, hoping to be invited into one of the neighboring homes to enjoy a cup of cocoa and cookies!
Even though I lived in a beautiful home with a loving family, I yearned for ‘home’ seeking connection, love and acceptance. I wondered how the collective human family had forgotten, that ‘home’ was not just a building but a way of Being and relating to one another.
I discovered much later in my life that behind many of the walls in those homes were people suffering from fear, isolation, addiction, and disconnection. My yearning for “home”, led to dreaming of creating community in the form of a circle; the most sustainable and powerful structure in the world.
After the birth of my son in 1991, I sensed there was something missing in my life. I wondered why I was unhappy, and began a search to heal the depression I was experiencing, which led me to attend an Introduction to Shamanic Journeying session in March 1993, in Windsor, Ontario.
I was immediately taken by the experience, as my ‘spirits’ lifted, and my life force re-ignited. I was determined to continue to heal what kept me from living a life of joy, peace and fulfillment. I participated in the Foundation for Shamanic Studies Three Year Program of Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing followed by a 2 year Shamanic Teacher Training with Sandra Ingerman.
One of the first teachings I remember receiving was the dangers of potentially using shamanic tools to accumulate personal power and the importance of balancing power with service, acknowledging and illuminating our ‘shadow’ while walking the ‘razor’s edge’. Eventually, my shamanic path led me to co-create a centre dedicated to bringing people to their edges.
“Come to the edge,”
“We can’t, we’re afraid!”
“Come to the edge,”
“We can’t, We will fall!”
“Come to the edge,”
And they came.
And they were pushed them.
And they flew.”
(Quote adapted from the original by french poet Guillaume Apollinaire)
It takes great courage and commitment to stay balanced on a sharp edge, offering one’s gift to the world, while tending the inner heart flame. The fear of failure and falling off the edge is what keeps many people from unveiling and utilizing their gifts.
In September 1994, I awoke from a terrifying dream in which a car was speeding towards me,with a license plate that read 6-9-95 DEATH.
One year later, on Sept. 6, 1995, our small family experienced the death of our way of life, and the beginning of living at ‘The Edge’ (see Story of the Edge ).
2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Northern Edge Algonquin Retreat and Awareness Centre, created with the intention to ‘rediscover ourselves, empower one another and heal our connection to the Earth’, growing our edges, illuminating our shadows while nourishing our collective heart flame.
After hosting the Foundation for Shamanic Studies at ‘The Edge’ for 9 years, I began to share what I had learned in my shamanic training, facilitating Introduction to Shamanic Journeying retreats that lead to offering a 2 year Training in Advanced Shamanism, based on my own shamanic training experience, with the guidance from my Helping Spirits. I dreamed of creating a sustainable community, that I could heal and growth with.
Each year for seven years, a new Two Year Advanced Shamanism circle was birthed offering opportunities to learn more about facilitating and group dynamics, with fresh teachings that helped me to evolve and grow. When each circle completed their training, they were welcomed into a larger circle of ‘graduates’ called the Peaceful Hearts’ Circle.
I felt a responsibility in sharing what I had learned, while doing my best to support others in their shamanic learning and healing. At times I felt as though I was in over my head, especially when there was conflict amongst the circle members. The attendance of the trainings grew, and I needed some assistance.
Circle graduates joined me in facilitating the trainings, and although I now had extra support, each year felt heavier than the last. I began to gain weight and lose my enthusiasm, patience and compassion. I was burning the candle at both ends, managing a retreat centre, shamanic healing practice, teaching, being a mother, grandmother and wife, with little space left for me to grow and heal. My spirit felt encaged, and I yearned to stretch my wings, beyond the limitations of the structure I found myself in.
I once asked the question in a shamanic journey ‘When are we most vulnerable’? The answer was, we are most vulnerable when we or someone else puts us on a pedestal, which can be a very isolating place to be. Poets, musicians and artists living on the fringe of society are often misunderstood, not unlike the Shaman. When Michael Jackson died, I wondered about what it might have been like to be constantly inundated with the thoughts and beliefs of millions of people projected onto him. I wondered how people who carry such immense gifts balance the need to share their gifts while nourishing their own heart and soul.
Whether in a classroom, lecture hall, or on stage, the hierarchical structure can create a ripe environment for expectation to be projected onto the teacher, actor, musician or leader. A strongly held belief about a person, whether positive or negative, can lock us all into a holding pattern, keeping us from growing into our greatest potential, weighting us down, while eroding confidence and depleting our life force. A heavy blanket of expectation dampens our spirit, and dims our light.
What if we had the courage to step outside of the box of expectation, into the unknown, answering the calling of our own soul?
Upon completion of one of the trainings, I dreamed I was in Algonquin Park with a circle. I saw gaps between people and was doing my best to let the circle know it was important to close the gaps. Everyone was distracted and did not hear me. I repeated my concern several times, as I looked out beyond the trees and landscape.
Suddenly, a black wolf ran towards the circle. I stomped the staff that was in my hand to get the attention of everyone and while summoning my strongest voice, I said ‘Close the gaps in the circle now!’ and then I awoke.
The black wolf in the dream for me symbolizes both the individual and collective shadow. As we begin the quest for healing we call forth our shadow; the unheard, misunderstood and ignored parts of us, that when illuminated reveal the hidden gifts and gems we have been seeking.
Our efforts to co-create unity, love and peace, working collaboratively with others, can be sabotaged if we do not each take responsibility for illuminating our shadow, and gleaning it’s gifts.
Though I had put forth my best efforts at creating a strong circle with a solid foundation, the collective shadow seeped through the gaps, seeding doubt, confusion and distrust among the circle members. As the foundation crumbled a hidden gem was revealed, with a deeper understanding that a sustainable community is created ‘by’ the community it serves, and it’s long term health depends upon each member investing their gifts.
‘The beauty of the circle is that we cannot see each other’s backs and the strength of the circle is that we can only see each other’s beauty’~ Angaangaq
On February 14, 2009, I met Angaangaq, an Inuit elder from Greenland. According to Astrologer John David Van Hove, ‘at dawn on February 14, 2009, the day dedicated to St Valentine, the patron saint of Love, the Cosmos actually embodied the perfect alignment to support our collective manifestation of love and peace and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. The moon was in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligned with Mars, just like the 50 year old song ‘Aquarius’ by 5th Dimension.
“When the Moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars.
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars”.
It was synchronistic that I met Angaangaq on that particular day. Something deep within me was stirred that I could not understand, nor explain, marking the beginning of my return journey ‘Home’. Soon after I met ‘Uncle’ as he is affectionately called, I had this dream…
I am floating naked on my back down a river head first in complete darkness. I can feel myself floating into the unknown as slimy fish, reeds and grasses brush my legs. I hear a voice say to me, “Let go of your fear and allow the river to take you where you must now go.” I take in a deep breath and as I exhale release my fear, surrendering to the flow of the water. I am carried to a rocky shore where the river ends and an elder medicine man reaches for my hand, assisting me out of the water. He greets me with a kiss welcoming me to my Spirit family where I will be shown how to become one with Mother Earth and all of life again. (See link to the Story of the Fire Ceremony in Greenland: Healing the Hearts of the Ancestors~)
Over the next seven years, like the Myth of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, I descended to the underworld, to the womb of the Great Mother, releasing what I knew and who I had become, dissolving old beliefs and structures. As I surrendered to the flow of the river I was reborn into a new way of living, I call ‘The Way of the Circle’.
Even though I had enjoyed teaching Shamanic methods of healing, something more wanted to be birthed through me, outside of the prescribed course material that I was sanctioned to teach. I made a decision in 2011 not to begin another 2 Year Advanced Training in Shamanism, letting go of the familiar structure I had been teaching in for many years, to make room for the unknown.
How might we and the planet be changed if the shaman’s, dreamers and medicine people around the world brought their medicines together, to weave a new collective dream of peace, unity and love?
In the spring of 2012, I was inspired to write a story, called the Spiral Dream.
Recalling what I had learned about creating community, and that the first step is to dream:
Long ago a magical seed of a growing dream was planted in my heart. I dreamed of a spiral. This spiral grew out of my heart, as I imagined healing myself. I dreamed of being with the Earth, living in the forest close to the water, where I could come into love with nature again and where I could feel Her heart beat close to mine, feeling free and alive. I dreamed of living in joy, peace, and harmony, communing with all my relations.
The spiral dream expanded further reaching my husband, my children, my parents, and my brothers and sisters. The dream expanded further to also include my friends, neighbors and community. Eventually what had started as a seed had grown into a spiral that had expanded around the whole globe, touching all beings upon Mother Earth.
Soon after I wrote this story, a new shamanic training was birthed called the ‘Way of the Circle’ which was attended by a group of graduates of the previous 2 year training. No matter how much I attempted to prepare for this training, the Spirits repeatedly reminded me that the circle held the pieces, not me, and to ‘trust’ them, letting go of any pre-conceived ideas or expectations of what might happen. My role was to hold space for the weaving of the pieces each circle member brought with them.
We were all challenged to let go of agendas, itineraries, expectations, schedules, plans, and definitions of shamanism, inviting Spirit to work through us as a circle, fluidly and easily. Like one of the teachings I learned from ‘Angaangaq’, we made the most difficult journey a human can make, from our head to our heart. We each changed immensely, initiated by the Spirits in the Way of the Circle while being guided by the Rainbow Serpent and Whale, along with other ‘helpers’, discovering a new paradigm of learning, we call the Spiral Path of Learning.
The changes we were undergoing were in alignment with what Mayan Day Keepers refer to as the ending of the long cycle when humanity experienced a new beginning and what Meso-American civilizations refer to as the return of Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. Dec. 21, 2012 marked the ending of the 4th sun; each ‘sun’ lasting approximately 5200 years. During the previous 4 suns, humanity lived in the darkness, caught in a dream of fear and suffering. Since 2012, Mother Earth and all of life has been undergoing a time of transition, moving from the 4th to the 5th sun: from darkness to the ‘light’, from linear to spiral time, balancing the emerging feminine with the masculine. The Winter Solstice on Dec. 22, 2015, marked the end of the transitionary time, and the beginning of the 5th sun, which according to the Sacred Mayan Tzolk’in Calendar, is supported by the universal energy of Imox, relating to water and animal totems such as whales and dolphins. (see Carlos Barrios)
Since 2012, our community has undergone a transformation, beginning our journey on the spiral path, as foreseen in a dream by a circle member. In the dream, I was a pink dolphin, deep beneath the ocean holding a portal open. One at a time a new initiate would be accompanied by an assistant, down to the portal to be re-birthed. I believe this dream is about our circle assisting humanity and ourselves in birthing into the 5th sun, through the Way of the Circle. The more humans who enter this new dimension, the easier it will be for all of humanity to transition into a dream of love, unity and peace, as we make the journey from Me to We, and from our head to our heart.
Together, we have created a new foundation for our circle community, with love, unity, peace, and Spirit in the centre, for just like the ‘circle’. A newly evolved Shamanic training was launched in the fall of 2014, called Heart Foundations of Shamanism, offering seasonal gatherings, in which participants are welcome to attend as many as they are called to, for like a spiral, there is no beginning nor ending. Each gathering organically unfolds, as does each ‘training’, such as the recent Soul Pathways of Shamanism year long training. We co-create a container for us to heal exponentially, illuminating shadows of the past, making room for our light to shine more brightly, and for our dreams to be lived more fully.
I am deeply nourished by our community receiving immense gifts while sharing my own. I have grown immensely, feeling joyful, connected, and fulfilled by the experience of co-creating of a new foundation and dream of the Earth. I feel as though I have finally ‘come home’ to my heart, healing from the depression that began my journey on the path of unfolding beauty.
Twenty years later, I see the Spiral Dream that grew from a seed within my heart, manifested around me in the form of a beautiful expanding circle. I learned that the dreamer doesn’t have to do all the work of manifesting a dream, as the dreamer’s responsibility is to hold the highest potential of the dream, while also be ‘held’. Our community, planted with love, unity and peace has grown like a beautiful tree, with fragrant blossoms and fruit that is now seeding hope in the world.
~ Stained Glass Art of Lynette Brooker
I am grateful for my initial shamanic training and the evolution of our circle community, which has been instrumental in supporting the discovery of my potential and role within the greater circle. It is now time to offer my gifts more fully, in service, engaging community to co-create a new dream for humanity and Mother Earth.
The Way of the Circle is a pathway ‘Home’ and ‘Way of Living’ for those seeking love, acceptance, healing, connection, encouragement and support. Through the awakening heart, we realize our connection to the greater circle of life, guiding us to discover the immensity within. As we come ‘Home’ to ourselves we reconnect with Mother Earth, our Family, Community and the Circle to which we all belong.
These questions are intended to stir the cauldron of the heart: Is the way of the circle aligning with your soul path? Are you prepared to step into the light of the 5th sun?
- Called: Are you called to the spiral path of learning? Is there a deep interest and summoning of your will to be of service in the collective “we”, contributing to the growth and evolution of both ourselves and the greater whole?
- Committed: Are you willing to commit to embodying and seeing the light potential in yourself and others, and “showing up” where you have answered the call?
- Capable: Are you willing to recognize the innate ability, tools, and skills you have, honouring the wisdom within all of Creation?
- Clear: Are you willing to enter into the heart with humility, opening to the guidance of Spirit, stepping into the unknown, free of expectation, while accepting that our understanding is ever-evolving?
- Confident: Are you willing to value the unique contributions, gifts and skills you and others have to offer to the growth of the greater whole, as vessels for Spirit to communicate and take action through?
- Courageous: Are you willing to act fearlessly from a place of love, with confidence and bravery, focusing on the dream we desire to co-create?
- Calm: Are you willing to maintain a serene and tranquil environment, holding space from the heart center, amidst distractive energies or processing of emotions that may unfold within or around us?
- Compassionate: Are you willing to weave, with others, a web of connection through the heart, creating an intimate environment for sympathy, acceptance and care for all?
- Conscious: Are you willing to awaken your mind, body, heart and spirit, to your surroundings, choosing to respond with love and compassion to the wisdom and learnings of self and the greater circle?