The Art of Hosting

This is a story that started with an email, with a request for financial support:

"Dear Mates,

I email you all with a heart request to help financially keep the movement going and help bring this work to Indigenous youth in Membertou, Cape Breton Island NS.  I know that financially at this time the world is in chaos. It is easier to give up which is precisely why I want to move this work forward. It is these practices (art of hosting and warrior of the heart) that help us lead in complex times with courage. It’s what is needed most. If the only thing the Emerging Leadership team does this year is finish this PILOT to be inclusive of art of hosting and warrior of the heart, it sets this work up to happen again in the future.


It is crucial that the art of hosting and warrior of the heart be included in the Emerging Leadership Program for reasons that you all know, it works when changing systems. The government cut NCFNG’s funding drastically days before the scheduled training was to take place. Training that I have been waiting years to happen. Either the art of hosting gets cut from the program or we find alternative resources to make it happen. This is where you come in. Eagles, with vision. We honour you by asking for help. ..."

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Kathy Jourdain, as part of the hosting team, expanded on the initial request by Pawa:

"Dear friends,

A little touch in while I can about what is transpiring in our work here.  Things have shifted rapidly.  Two weeks of the Nation Rebuilding program are being pulled into one week.  The three day offering we had originally imagined we would be making is really more like one, although there may be more woven into the other two days of Traditional Territories Tour and the naming ceremonies with community celebration.  We may also be working for a half day with the Membertou Governance Committee on Tuesday when we arrive because they are very interested in understanding Art of Hosting and what it has to offer – and this is different work than the work with the 50 youth who are also supported by the elders.


We are no longer seeing this as what we would typically think of as an Art of Hosting/Warrior of the Heart training but we are seeing it as hosting these groups with full invitation to any and all to be part of our hosting and design field.  We will fall back to the simplest things we can do in the most powerful way.  We are imagining starting on Tuesday with the Governance Committee and on Wednesday with the youth with Warrior of the Heart and seeing where we go from there.


These 4 days feel like they will be evoking much from us in the hosting field, requiring our full presence, full attention to what’s showing and what is wanting and needing to emerge.  And, everything we imagine in this moment may also shift and change by the time we arrive.  I feel my own vibration expanding as I sink into the energy and possibility of this work."

and she closed her email with:

"Signing off with this from Pawa’s status update on Facebook earlier today: 

activate blood memories from sea to sea, life is harmony. fist in the air cause we care, take a stand for our land that we share, we ain't going no where! Respect."

A response from Monica:

"Dear friends

It sounds like truly emergent work with a call to be present and seeing what wants to happen.

This (your) circle is strong - and to borrow Finn Voldtoftes words - it sounds like it is time to be "over-prepared and under-structured".


Have a beautiful time together



Another response from Greece:

"Dear Pawa, Kathy, Bob and Sarah,

I am seeing again and again how form is dissolving as we have known it - and new form is taking shape.  This I read in your email.  Be in your time with the Nation Rebuilding Programme as sculptors looking at a rock for the first time and wait for the rock to speak to you and show you the form it wants to take.  This is the time when we must listen deeply to the form that wants to present itself - and serve.
Holding you from Greece.
Much love

In the meantime folks had promised some money and flights could be covered. A first report of how things were going:

"Hi friends,

We have begun our work in Membertou with a little of coyote trickster medicine finding it's way to us - due to some unexpected circumstances we are back to the original plan of a 3 day Art of Hosting\Warrior of the Heart with the youth and also with members of the Governance Committee beginning tomorrow. It is amusing and delightful. 

The hosting team began today at the beach for a check-in, prayer\tobacco offering and WoH practice. The presence of the ancestors came in strong and is growing. 

Then we went to meet some of the local callers to understand the story here and what is being asked. We shared much story about here and about AoH. Then we lunched together. 

Finally around 4 this afternoon we sat down to crack our overall flow and design for tomorrow. It is a simple, spacious design that people have stepped into in a beautiful way. We are looking forward to meeting the youth, committee members and elders tomorrow and to seeing what more emerges here. 

The generous response to the call for support is having many ripple effects and we will share more story later. 

Glad to know you are at our backs. A deep bow, Kathy, Bob, Pawa, Sarah, Ryan, Cheryl, Robin, Shawna

Then Helen chimed in with some advice:

"Simple and spacious! Those attributes are like guiding stars for good design in these complex, frenetic times. My 'sources' wish you to know that the ancestors are very invested in what is happening in your circle. They will help you and support you in every way they can. It might be interested to count how many times your collective hair stands on end during this process - that is a sure sign that they are with you. Good to be sure to invoke them explicitly at the opening of your gathering, together with all the other non-physical beings you wish to invite in.

Go for it!

More report from Kathy, how the first day unfolded:

"End of day 1. Opened with amazing, powerful ceremony guided by the elders. A multiplicity of things going on. Deep in the groan zone. Good conversations informing tomorrow. Design starting in an hour or so. Grateful to have you at our backs helping to hold the power and integrity of this circle and strongly aware of the ancestors that continue to congregate in the energetic field.

Much love,

the hosting team"

A crucial observation and question from Chris:

"What is happening here?  An interesting weaving of energy, intention, ideas, friends, economy, language and ceremony.  It feels like we are talking to one another in the hushed tones of ceremony and ritual, a real mindfulness has descended over this conversation.  It's really interesting!  

Totally emergent, and yet somehow, only possible with the voices of all who are in this circle together.
So something to bear in mind, no matter if you are on a beach in Membertou, or California, or Bowen Island, or a Danish lake... we are wickedly connected and bound to one another.  I can see this as an eagle... something is activated.  see where it goes!


and immediately a flury of answers -

from Juanita:

" Yes, this can happen when "friends in the work" call out to each other in the night—and in the day—for sustenance, for ideas, for prayers, and for being in each other's hearts.

Viva la Causa!

from Jerry:
"As the Amazon people say – we don’t dream for the individual, we dream for the collective. Peace to all dreaming together for our mates in Membertou.



from Tatiana:

"Thank you for this - and al the beauty emanating from the field holding this. It is special to tap into this energy from afar and know this is happening... as the Laika in the high Andes say, it is time for dreaming the world into being. Thank you to this circle tin Membertou for taking the time and courage to do this.

with love and light to all of you in this work,

An update from the hosting team:

"Janie, an elder from Membertou, joined the hosting team for dinner last night. Today we will light a sacred healing fire and sit in circle around it until we are complete. There is much alive and bubbling here. Pawa, Bob and I sat in our own little circle late into the night last night. We are completely in service of the community and what wants to happen and feel supported and well held by all of you. You feed our inner fire. In deep gratitude as we walk the chaordic path here.


Another report of how it was going:

"Things are very well in this land of letting the flow take us moment by moment; as people and timing keep changing to accommodate a lot of ceremonials: pipe, fire, circle. And how all that powerful prayers and intentions, by spiritually powerful people, influences what is next with the work, let alone the influence of the profound changes in ourselves. Glad that you all are along with us in this.

A harvest - report after the days were over, by Kathy:


Dear friends,

Pawa flew home Friday night, Bob is on his way this morning. It is difficult to know exactly what to share here as we are still trying to understand our
experience in Membertou. The hosting team - myself, Sarah, Ryan, Pawa and Bob - were aware of and appreciative of this wider circle the whole time we
were there.

We went to do a training in Art of Hosting and Warrior of the Heart. In the end, we did very little "training" as we tend to know it in a 3 day
training. We offered very little to nothing in the way of methodologies. We did practice Warrior of the Heart each day and we were hosted in ceremony
every day. We created a design for our first day together. Elders began our day with pipe ceremony. It started and ended in its own timing. For the
rest of the day, we used a few things from our design and let the rest go.

A few little disturbances showed up in the field in that first day. We had dinner with an elder and agreed we should go into ceremony with a ceremonial
fire the next day intended for healing and teaching. As a hosting team we were no longer under any illusions that we had any control over what was
happening in this space. We did no more design work for the rest of our time there. We checked in with each other, deeply and often. Sometimes the
whole team including Pawa's team there, sometimes the hosting team and sometimes Bob, Pawa and I since we were staying together. Sarah and Ryan
were staying with an elder and they also did their own checking in and conversation.

On day 2, we built a fire pit on the grounds of the school where we were gathered, removing the sods and setting them aside, removing dirt and
setting it aside, ringing the pit with stones, smudging the pit, building the fire with ceremony, tobacco offerings, pipe ceremony for which Pawa was
invited to sing (all 3 days) and her voice and songs were beautiful and moving. Ancestors, spirit and vision were all invited into our circle.
Elders, governance committee members, youth and us as invited guests. When the pipe ceremony was completed, an elder offered a teaching and then the
eagle feather fan was passed around the circle. Many voices and much gratitude was heard. In the afternoon, some WoH with a focus on the warrior
and mid-wife and then a close with participants sharing with each other the gifts they see in each other with some time for individual reflection. The
sacred fire was tended all day and at the end of the day the ground was put back the way we had found it.

On our last day together, again ceremony. All morning. Again, powerful and beautiful with full attention of everyone present.

We were honoured to be part of this circle. In Sarah's words, we were lucky humans.

With Pawa's team members who were really looking forward to learning in the Art of Hosting practices we shared that the core essence we are usually
wanting to get across in training is that it is not about the methodology but it is about what else we are hosting in our space, about paying
attention to what wants and needs to happen and surrender into that emergence. It was really clear that what was not so much needed from us was
teachings and process design. On the surface, it may be hard to really know what it was we did there although WoH was a big part of it. We are pretty
sure that something happened there that would not have happened without us.
In reflection, Bob and I feel like maybe we were hosting the elders to host the youth in ceremony and we got to be the beneficiaries of that as well.

One of the main goals of our work was to activate blood memories. Pawa says when we feel shivers or those little energy shimmers in us, blood memories
are being activated. That happened often in our time together. Even on our own, we were drawn to ceremony, smudging and meditation. For "doing" very
little, we were holding a lot - evidenced by how tired we were at various points in our time together and for me in the decompression that happened
once I was home.

We know we hosted growth. Pawa saw increased youth participation and engagement. We witnessed it in the reflections, questions and curiousity of
Pawa's team and we feel it in ourselves. We feel this story isn't over yet and not sure how it will continue to emerge - but it will.

With your financial contributions it seems that our expenses may have been covered, including gifting bokkens to both youth and elders who asked. Once
things have settled down and we have a chance to do the reckoning, we will let you know how your contributions have been distributed in this work.

I have been deeply moved by this work. I have a whole new depth of understanding of what it means to host and hold space and be completely
unattached to form. It is the least amount of design work I've ever done and the most demanding work around presence and tuning in that I may have
been called to do so far. I am different as a host and as a person. In our conversations yesterday, Bob and I both feel there is some learning here for
the stewards of our community and reflecting on that as well.

As the little poem on conversation suggests (Thomas Hillman?), not just any talk is conversation. Conversation is that which continues to reverberate
long after the conversation has ended. Yup. Reverberations for sure.

Deep gratitude and yet another bow to this circle of people I am honoured and privileged to call friends."

Reply from Tim:


Thanks Kathy. Sounds like good learning (the point of all of this ...) took place. I love how ceremony is finding itself deeper and deeper into the work, especially when it is lead by those who have lineages to hold them.

Looking forward to checking in with you and Sarah in person when I get home.



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