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Nature of Council
Offered by the New England Council Collective
Sun Hill Farm, Putney VT
Council is an ancient way and modern practice whose roots are deep within the natural world, spanning diverse cultures and spiritual traditions. Sitting in circle we remember and learn to listen to the whole: the people, the place and all living things. This practice elicits an experience of deep community, recognizing that each voice has value, every person has a gift, a story to share, a piece of the puzzle.
The eight-day arc of this training gives us time to explore the circles of our days and the seasons of our heart. We will use the universal map of the Four Directions as our compass to guide our way through the wilderness within and without. We will be asked to cross threshold after threshold into the wholeness of our lives. The questions you are living and the experiences you bring with you will shape our time together, as will the shadows following you here. Here in the Connecticut River Valley in Southern Vermont, weather and wildlife as well will influence our moods and movements.
This extended training is intended for leaders and change-agents, caregivers and caretakers, and those longing for and creating community. It is intended to support and inform those working with young people and elders, as well as guides using Council with rites-of-passage. It offers guidance for Council Carriers introducing circle work into other cultures and challenging places. We will explore different forms, formats, exercises and ways of sharing council in intimate relationships, families, schools, businesses and communities.
In the circle of our days together, we will live simply on the land in a camp we establish and care for collectively (tents, outdoor kitchen, etc.). There will be both solo-time and group-time, time with the forests, meadows and hills in order to open to the teachings offered by the natural world. We will offer group exercises, weaving in self-generated ceremonies, inviting the mystery into our personal journeys. We will explore the facilitation challenges of working solo, with a partner, and with the whole circle.
With vulnerability and a little grace, we hope to meet the moment where serving self, serving others, and serving Creation, are spoken in one voice.
“For the western mind to allow for spirit, mystery, the natural truth and order of things to unfold it often has to un-train and let go of what it thinks it knows, in order to discover what’s really there. Through the practice of deep listening, presence and heart awareness, we may all find a powerful way to collaborate, make decisions, and use our perceptions with greater wisdom and compassion”.
– Gigi Coyle, Nature of Council Guide and Founder
Cost: Sliding Scale $500 – 700, deposit $250, some scholarship available.
Prerequisites: Letter of Intention; Council training and/or experience with Council/circle practices.
Reading: The Way of Council by Virginia Coyle and Jack Zimmerman.
Information packet including logistics, directions, camping and accommodation information,
plus safety and equipment lists, will be sent to registered participants.
For questions regarding the program, prerequisites, or to register contact Bonnie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonnie Mennell has been a council carrier for 22 years, offering trainings on both East and West Coasts and in her teaching at SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT and with its students around the world. In her life and work she naturally follows the yearnings in each of us to go deeper into the core of what moves and carries us into richer and more meaningful connections with others whether in a council training, a non-profit retreat, a teacher coaching session, a classroom or a gathering around a campfire. Her work as an artist celebrates the found beauty and wisdom abundantly available all around us when we walk with openness and wonder on the land among all its life forms.
Siri Gunnarson is a global pilgrim, council trainer and wilderness rites of passage guide. Interested in both new and ancient forms of learning, she has supported, created and lead journeys and rites of passage for youth. She has coordinated and participated in diverse projects around the world, including natural building ‘peace huts’ in Kenya and Tamera’s Global Campus, a cross-cultural educational initiative to study and create models for peaceful and regenerative living. Now settling in California, in these times of climate change, she is deepening her practical permaculture skills and cultivating community.