A letter from Jack & Gigi…

Virginia “Gigi” Coyle & Jack Zimmerman

We welcome you to this site, whether as a first-time explorer or a longtime friend, whether you’re wearing a suit, a sarong, or a kaftan. It is an open circle, as council can be a home for any and all. We invite you to enter into this maze of information in the spirit of council, listening for what might serve. Our intention is to support heartful communication, truth-based connection, and an emerging community. We developed this site to highlight both the healing nature and resilient strength of the council practice. We offer it as a map that we can each step back from to celebrate the survival of circle ways, to remember the ever-adapting nature of council and to suggest the farthest reach of council into the future. And like a map, this site is not the territory, but rather a gateway into experiencing a small part of the growing global village.

Your intention may be to learn of programs that have to do with families, schools, communities and organizations who have come to realize that there are other ways to function than what was originally taught or modeled. Your interest in council may have to do with the inmates and guards in prisons, couples seeking communion or peace workers working with those on different sides of a long time conflict. Whatever the call, we hope you find “Ways of Council” a  resource for expanding and deepening your practice and experience of council.

Council is an ancient way and modern practice whose roots are within the natural world, spanning diverse cultures and religions. This practice elicits an experience of true community, recognizing that each voice needs to be heard, that every person has a gift, a story to share, a piece of the whole. How do we remember all our relations, embrace differences, and find our own voices, while opening to others? It seems more than ever an essential time in our nation and around the world, to awaken this deep relational heart-mind.

Council offers a way of communicating that encourages attentive listening, as well as honest and compassionate expression. It makes room for new insights and understandings, wisdom in decision making, and healing. As a personal practice, a group process and a life-pathway, council is an intrinsic ingredient of our education at any age and especially important for families, guides, teachers, therapists,
caregivers or any anyone whose work involves groups.

Holyhead Mt. hut

Gratitude /Acknowledgement:
We begin in gratitude and respect for “those who came before.” We honor the indigenous cultures, earth-cherishing traditions, those first nation peoples that, despite cultural repression and genocide, kept their stories alive, demonstrating time and again the beauty, power and necessity of a circle way. We include in our gratitude, as we do in our practice, the plants and animals, all of Nature—the  seen and unseen—and most of all our ancestors, who dreamed the sacred circle ways so long ago.

Who are “We” :
We are carriers of this way— educators and students , moms and dad’s, therapists and service peoples, activists and artists, wilderness and rites of passage guides, hospice workers  and  caregivers, mediators and bridge people, community builders, innovators in creating business organizations and explorers of intimate relationship—representing many generations from early childhood to elder. Partnership and collaboration with “all our relations” lies at the root and heart of council, so in that way, we are allies and an extended  family. Our connections with significant loved ones are part of this, as are our mentors and colleagues, as are the lands and waters from which we come. Our circle of influences vary widely, from the elders in many traditions to the youngest of children who light the candle in the center of their council in schools.

Everything offered on this site has been reviewed by several devoted council practitioners working as a team. We are here to place the practice of council in the broad  context of the past and the future. Born into a circle of life, each of us must discover their “council” roots and with that an authentic voice. In this way the circle widens and includes many from different backgrounds, professions  and countries. This practice of council has grown us and grown through us now for many years now. Throughout the years,  we have joined with other communities and cultures offering and remembering the circle ways. We are grateful for our partners, allies , and others with their own practices. (You will find many of them listed herein under Heart-lines/Circle Ways.) We share what we have learned  in the spirit of  living and thinking like a circle….

We hold this site as a living, growing collection of programs, trainings, stories, resources and experiences relating to the history-the  peoples, places, and ways of council. We invite all those who have come to this portal to find what you need, and add your own inspiration to the body of council lore you discover. This site will be of value in proportion to how each of our contributions brings it to life, as well as what we learn from what is already embedded here. As in any council, it is a place to find and share your voice by letting us know of your work so others may be informed as well. Even Using the technology of a world-wide web, we look to provide more opportunities for each of us to be seen and heard in an intimate way. We feel that such relationships  are at the root of a peaceful culture, we hopefully, are a part of co -creating.

Aegina Greece , School of All Relations

Where we are going:
We call on all who come, to guide us as council  practices deepen and grow through different lands and peoples, in ways  beyond past experience and even the imagination.  We hold this site as an ongoing, timeless spiral, with roots in what was seeded long ago, and potentially stretching far into the future.

So once again, welcome. We mark this moment with gratitude to all those known and unknown who are connected to the ways of council. May this practice serve as a step along the path, bringing greater awareness and care for the circle of life. May the open heart-mind of deep listening, guide us all into loving connection. From that place all seems possible…

With love,
Jack Zimmerman & Gigi Coyle