Magic Circle: A Design for Meetings

Consider the circle.  That shape has been a universal symbol for God.  It suggests the infinite, never-ending inclusion of all.  Many years ago, I learned to deliver a curriculum, “Magic Circle”, to schools. It was designed by Dr. Valo Palomares and his ex-wife, Geraldine.  The structured circle sessions helped children feel at home in the affective domain–the world of feelings.  From that training in Magic Circle and my own doctoral dissertation (an experiment about emotions and our language of origin), I came to value the use of a circle as a place for groups to participate.  My Women’s Wisdom group always sits in a circle.  Each gets a fair share of the time, there are no “put-downs” and we listen to each other respectfully.  So, I recommend that you hold meetings in the circle, much like the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.  There is a chance we can create Camelot again.  It works in families, in churches, and in business meetings.

To illustrate the circle model, imagine a group of adults gathered together.  The subject can be any current crisis/opportunity.  Whatever the subject these two questions set the stage for discussion:   

Where have we been and where are we going?

What is the future that wants to emerge?

Background thoughts:  Our view of the world has changed.  All our opportunities are now global.  Seeing our circular Planet Earth from the moon gave us a new image of the fragile nature of our world and the enormous responsibility we have as humans who make conscious choices. We have become an Earth tribe.

We humans have a propensity to higher consciousness and greater freedom. We naturally tend to expand. We are quite possibly evolving evolution. Today, this means expansion of ideas through awareness of the connectedness of all life. Global reality and global crisis requires that we look for newness to emerge; that we learn from failure and move toward best practices and solutions.

We are serving the needs of future generations—tomorrow’s children. We can use sustainable methods. From the past, we have an example: the Iroquois nation brought peace among warring tribes through such a meeting of leaders. They sat in a circle where each was given time to talk and the others listened respectfully (Benjamin Franklin reported how remarkable was their deep listening—“not at all like the British House of Commons where everyone shouts and interrupts”). At the end of the meeting of the tribal council, they had found new solutions, which brought them to their objective—peaceful co-existence.

We are moving from an age of power and control into an expanded, advanced age of emergence and creativity. So, we are asking your answer to the question: “What is the future that wants to emerge?”

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world—indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”–Margaret Mead

Conversations in an atmosphere of acceptance and safety will inspire creativity. Creativity becomes contagious and serves the common good better than guilt or fear. The structure is circular—a round table—where all are equal and welcome.

In this circle, all are included and all are valued. The take-away will be known only after we have offered our ideas. The solutions are heretofore unknown and undefined. This is emergent phenomenon and it will by definition be creative. Our takeaways will be what we have generated together in these few hours of our time together in dialogue. Each speaker will present ideas and best practices. Each will challenge you, the listeners, with questions. These questions will stimulate our design iterations.

Perspectives: How does Nature create and emerge in ongoing evolution?

What designs do we need that will create a habitat for learning?

How can we best use the leading edge technology toward planetary connectedness ?

What changes must we make individually and internally to foster a new business culture that includes social sustainability?