Yesterday I wrote a little about the practice of council. The barest bones of a description of council is humans sitting in a circle together, passing around the chance to speak, the chance to be heard. I'd like to say a bit more about it today, to explain what I meant when I said it could change your life. I'll do that by offering a little wrap for it, one way to to see it, as if you were sitting with me and a few others, and we're about to drop in.
Council is a sacred practice, old as time. A circle of humans sharing one at a time, all the others listening. But the simplicity of the form belies the profundity of its possibility. Something happens. Or it can. That depends on how we sit here, how we speak, how we listen. If we hold this practice as sacred, we create a field together, enflesh an organism.
Each share is a bone that joints together, is covered in the tissue of song, the hair of gesture. This being moves among us, as us, in the way that creature moves — it slithers or gallops or flits. It has a life and a heart and a purpose of its own, that wants to live through us.
Its as if through our authentic sharing and authentic listening, our circle becomes a portal to Earth's dreaming, and a creature is let loose from the depths of the planet's ever-evolving creative dance, which we get to play with for a time, in the span of the dream we hold with our attention.
Each voice is a cell, an organ of this being we incarnate together. In our listening, the heartbeat of the group picks up to a trot, the mouth waters. Suddenly the next cell is drumming a beat she's never sung before, fueled by a knowing fed by the share before. And the creature shapeshifts, evolves.
You long for your life to be touched by this creature, trust me. But to breathe life into a being we birth together, we need to pay attention, closely, as if our lives depended on it, because they do. This requires a special sort of listening. As if you have zeroed in on your prey and can detect every minuscule movement. As if this prey is your very last chance to eat. This is an intent and important listening.
It requires also a softness, a permeability. You are not just hearing the words, but absorbing them. Let them wash over you and fill you up. Let them sink into you like rain to roots. Let them nourish you, like freshly foraged food. Do not be defended against them. Let them happen to you. As if they are the meal that permits you to go on living.
It is not easy to listen like this. And possible only if we are also speaking with such commitment. You must share as if you only have these few words, the last before you are eaten by your listener. Every one must be precious, indispensable.
I do not mean to invoke calculation. No no. Your words will come from the emergent meaningful depths of you, from the wild place we visit in the moments before death, or from the morning materializing from fog, or from dew gathering on the tongue tips of grass. In this place, it does not matter if all the facts are in order. We do not need to understand you. The creature we birth together is not made of logical sentences, but the swirl of feeling, tone, depth and Mystery.
Speak so as to walk yourself down an unfamiliar path a little further. Enter the landscape of your experience, and speak as you wander it, from inside of it, not from the outside looking in. Speak as if your life is a grand drama, and really matters. This type of sharing falls into the pool of our dreams, our deepest longings, invokes unseen, unspeakable things.
Let the creature we have created together, the field of the council, draw forth from you. Tremble as it paws close. Recoil under its sandpaper tongue licking your foot. This creature brings something out of you that you’ve never met, some facet of your being that has been waiting hungrily.
The magical thing about council is its emergence. It cannot be planned. Every council is a different and unique creature, enlivening different and unique parts of each of us. But we must allow it, foster it. We cannot listen if we are planning what to say. We cannot be allured by the nectar of what is shared if we are planning what to say. So we trust that when our turn comes, some deep visceral arising will flower from our mouths. That the blood of this organism we have enfleshed together, will pulse through us.
You might take a moment when it is your turn. Close your eyes. Drop into the swirl, the thirst, that has been stirred. Or come into your own creature body, and move, and join words with that movement when they emerge. I really encourage this. Get on your feet. Speak from the bowl of your hips. Be food, flesh, for this being, this never-before beheld creature that we make together. Can’t you feel it already? Its longing for life that only we can give?