http://www.hamishmorrison.com – Mikala Dwyer
It has always been my shape of choice, the circle. Below I flashback to some of the more memorable circle adventures I have attended. Through this exercise I am excited and surprised at the versatility of the circle as a ceremonial space.
THE HEALING (?) CEREMONIAL CIRCLE
At a particularly ego driven meditation group I once attended, while in circle an elderly man broke down. He had recently came to the upsetting realisation that no matter what modalities he took up, what book he read or what guru he met he still couldn’t connect to this force that others claimed to hook up with so easily- the other side for him was just out of his grasp. One by one everyone put their hands in front of them facing this lovely old fella – apparently this is healing hands and they were going to make his trip to nirvana and back a reality. Then the ring leader, a lady who claimed a lot and often, who happened to be selling copies of her book that night – suddenly broke out into a vocal almighty piercing ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, others copied. I bit the insides of my cheeks to maintain a straight face while my snorts were thankfully not heard over the shrill.
THE SWEATING CEREMONIAL CIRCLE
The sweatlodge. Many circles are involved in this ritualistic event. The stones which include grandfather and grandmother stones are placed in a circular pit in the middle of the inipi (dome structure made from willow branches and covered in animal skins). After being smudged (burning sage cleansing you via a Native American Shaman) you enter the inipi and crawl on your hands and knees around the fire pit always turning left as soon as you enter and carrying on around the circle until you claim your spot for the proceedings. Often the shaman will open the door flap to let the spiraling released energy out during the ceremony so the participants are not affected by this swirling mass of doom. Like the medicine wheel, we take turns in a circular motion to say our prayers to the four directions – earth on the west side, air on the north side, water on the south side and fire on the east.
THE CONFESSIONAL CEREMONIAL CIRCLE
A terrifying ceremonial circle on a retreat in Bali with 24 women from all over the world. During a throat charkra exercise we were to speak of 10 things that we felt utter shame and guilt about that had occurred in our lives. One by one tearful strong women recalled some of the most horrifying events into a microphone. Enough said.
THE STONED CEREMONIAL CIRCLE
Back in the day, way back when we, a group of misfits, would sit on the school field in a circle and sneakily pass around a joint at lunchtime. One needed the knack of the frenzied shaking hand hovering the earth to convince ourselves that the duty teacher would not see the smoke rising, because this action somehow magically erased all signs of the curling smoke. I look back on those circles with sweet nostalgia, all the drama of being a teenager melting away into irresponsible heaven, infectious laughter whipping around the group like a Mexican wave. Such a shame the stoned ceremonial circle has a use by date.
THE DREAM CEREMONIAL CIRCLE
I have attended a ‘dream group’ for 4 years. We are not at all disciplined now and it is more like a catch up every now and then. However for the first 3 years we met religiously every 2 weeks to discuss our dreams in a Jungian style format. Being a very avid dreamer I always came prepared to unleash my subconscious on eager ears. Talk of archetypes, perception, collective consciousness, symbolism etc excited me – these other worlds I went to nightly, usually far more exciting and exhausting than my everyday reality – gave me glimpses of the workings of my subconscious . The imagination that puts seemingly random people, objects, places and events together in a profound and muddled way often with bizarre outcomes. Listening to others dreams in this investigative way made it bearable because we all know that feeling of dread when someones starts to recall their dream – so tedious.
THE HEADS DOWN THUMBS UP CEREMONIAL CIRCLE
Primary school in NZ in the 80’s – a game often played just before the school bell went for home time. In a circular formation we would put our heads down and thumbs up while the chosen few would circle us choosing whose thumb to bend down. Heads up and the ‘who dunnit’ game began – often while the teacher had a relaxing cigarette. Summing up who had put my thumb down was a true exercise in trusting your gut feeling – if I hadn’t cheated, then it was an exercise in acting.