Council in Nature

by Gigi Coyle

More and more council carriers are integrating nature awareness into their pathways; more and more nature-based learning, relational education opportunities and wilderness programs, trainings, and therapies, incorporate council in their daily activities.

The oldest ways of circle in earth-cherishing traditions rest in the council of all beings wherein the human voice is but one of many. NOC encourages a greater awareness of the power of place, and catalyzes realizations of a bigger story of which we are but a part. This Nature of Council  or council in nature experience is not a new idea, as it is part of the oldest ways of learning and living, and fortunately it is being remembered in modern times. By offering council with a deepened nature focus, certain exercises and practices lead to an even wider circle awareness, connection, and experience of interdependence. All have the opportunity to realize first hand what it is we share despite or in addition to our differences. We literally share common ground, and thru time over many days in this NOC way …we have a chance to confirm our relationship to this earth as the community  to which we all belong. Participants open to the broadest definition of community and ways of listening, discovering the teachings and mirrors within all of nature. Deepening the council practice in places where more of the wild is alive assists us in bringing all such aspects of ourselves to the table. Council in nature helps to inspire and ensure an ethic of care for ourselves, each other and our home.

Council in nature can be practiced anywhere and everywhere; even in a city one can find a park and the  moon on a clear night. Once council was well-seeded as a deep listening practice in schools, organizations, and communities, it became important to bring greater attention and remembering to the roots of council in the natural world. As with council in schools or prisons, learning ways specific to engagement with the participants and all the elements is helpful. Thus special trainings began in the 90’s to embrace the largest experience of council, a practice and training that focuses on all the aspects in Council 1 and 2 while highlighting the fuller voice of the natural world. NOC continues today as a longer course (typically 8-days) serving as a complement to the many other trainings offered.

There are now 15 people on the path to becoming NOC trainers, who are working with  an elders council consisting of Gigi Coyle, Win Phelps, Marlow Hotchkiss and Leslie Roberts. Introductory and follow-up courses are offered at the School of Lost Borders and will soon be available on both the East and West coasts of the US, as well as in Europe. See “how to engage” .

Other offerings such as Council of all Beings, introduced by John Seed and Joanna Macy  along with courses such as Nature in Council, Ancient Healing Ways, are also highly recommended. We hope this web site will elicit the discovery of many more.