The Art of Hosting

Picked from the AoH emaillist, summer 2012:

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to participate in a sharing circle as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada (a process that is a follow-up to the government's apology for forcing our First Nations youth into residential schools). It was a moving experience, and it's left me with a lot of thoughts and questions about how people, communities, and countries heal. One of the questions put forward in the circle was "what does reconciliation mean to you?" When the talking piece came around to me, the most important thing I could think to add was that "reconciliation must begin with me". If I am to participate in the healing process, than I must first seek my own healing. I have to address the shadow in myself before I can begin the work of helping others. I wrote a blog post about it that some of you may be interested in reading: (It's a very personal post that was hard to write, but important in my own healing journey.)

Before going to the sharing circle, I had the privilege of having a conversation with Mary Alice Arthur about the Art of Hosting, and part of our conversation was about how, in the four-fold way, we must begin by first hosting ourselves if we are to bring value to the circle. (Thank you, Mary Alice, for that reminder.)

I would love to hear more thoughts on this. What does reconciliation mean to you? How have you seen circle and Art of Hosting serve in reconciliation work in communities and countries? What do we need to do first before we can help in the healing of the world? Just after writing my post, I read an article about the 1100 women who are raped on a daily basis in the Congo, and my heart aches for the healing that needs to happen in that country. I wonder how I/we can serve them.

After attending the sharing circle, I feel challenged to find my place in helping my country (or whatever community I'm called to) heal. I offer you the same challenge for whatever healing your community or country needs.

Heather Plett


Dear Heather,

Art of Hosting - Art of Healing.

Thank you for your reflections. They resonate with me and reach me at a moment of wondering how to deal with racism and how to become aware of it within myself.

The blog that I read before yours was about Congo. Charles Eisenstein calls for a revolution of Love: "If force is what one object exerts upon another object external to itself, then an alternative to force would include and not externalize this other. The alternative is, in short, love. Love is the expansion of one's self to include another. It is the felt experience of non-separation. When I love someone, their happiness makes me happy, and their pain hurts. Love is the felt truth of interbeing."
I guess you will appreciate his thoughts and maybe you want to support the project of the women that is mentioned in the article.

Heartfelt greetings,

Griet Hellinckx


Dear Heather and  Griet,  

I feel deep appreciation for the beauty and sensitivity of the theme you both have weaved into our circles.  Yes, I also feel deep care about how to create healing spaces, space large enough to hold the whole ( us and the other ( within us as well  ).

Both in my AoH work, and family constellation, co-counselling, etc. in Hungary, I still come up against deep wounds of the 20th centrury caused by both WWs (splitting countries and families, lives and communities ) as well as the outcome of it when the winning countries split Europe in two and the communist terror caused deep wounds soon after...

Since 1989, there is still need and desire for reconciliation here...
Not even mentioning the Gipsy- non gipsy scasm that is so obvious in our lives as a result of the power structure we, in Europe have kept.
Yes, looking at our own shadow in many respects of what we take for well as liberating deep and aching pain - if needed trough deep catharsis.. I feel that is truly important in opening the space for light and love to grow and  thrive in our daily minutes of actions... It all requires in me a constant and aware presence and need to respond to what is around in that holding space, instead of disappearing.  i must admit it does take alertness and practice.
20 years ago I visited a First nation "reservation" in BC Canada and i must admit it really and deeply shocked me. Then a few years later I had the fortune to visit Maori communities and also felt the same pain... it actually was very similar to the pain I feel nowdays when I vist the country side--some areas of Eastern Europe.. and I do know that it feels different to the pain I experienced seeing poverty in the streets - say - of Mumbai....
love, Agota

Dear Heather (and AoH community),

I always love your insights and your life work :-)
I took time to find the space to listen to this and to respond.
This might be a long story but I am honoring its need to be shared. Thank you for starting this circle.
Because this is my first post on AoH, I want to share that I was introduced to this community through a friend of Art Park, a Korean (American?) who lived in Manila, Philippines who started an AoH trial circle. I got deeply curious.
Interestingly, I have been meeting a lot of Caucasian elders who are very close to the Native American shamanic practices. They are very beautiful friends and mentors.
I am interested in your reflections and your invitation to explore the possibility of deepening circles work further because over the last few years, I have been meeting some people who work with the Native People's of North America. A good friend of mine Karie Garnier who is from BC, a student of  Cherokee Medicine Man Rolling Thunder has been documenting stories of First People Elders. He has been doing this for the last 2 decades through UNESCO.  Currently he is documenting the story of A Schuswap Fancy Dancer named Ernie who has been a survivor of Residential schools. His documentary will tell the story of how this has shaped him.
Recently, I met Dennis Banks at a conference on indigenous knowledge, skills, and practices. Dennis an Anishinaabe is the co-founder of the Native American Movement. We had several circles of Indigenous elders (from Mongolia, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, etc.) speaking and he too spoke about his own experience with the residential school system.
It is truly saddening to hear about it. Especially that not so many people know about what happened. I am glad that your Canadian community is hosting these kinds of circles. I have 2 Canadian professors in my masters program in expressive arts for conflict transformation who did a project related to the reconciliation work with the Native Americans through their CRANE (Conflict Resolution, Arts and iNtercultural Experience). I believe that it was through them that I heard about this silent problem for the first time. 

That's only the topsoil of why I starred this email on my inbox. 

I too, like you Heather am in circle work and mandalas. I really admire how you are working on this process with AoH. I want to thank you for your authenticity and integrity. I regret not having been able to join your call while I was in Singapore that time. I would have wanted to learn more for you have gone ahead in this field and have worked with many people on this. I'm looking into deepening my study on this (as shared with you and Janell Kapoor) and how mandalas and circle work can be used for interfaith and intercultural dialogue and peacebuilding, a field that I've been working in for the last 4 years now.

Honestly, part of my reflectionis because I am on a healing journey myself - my own reconciliation journey on many levels.
I am Filipina and dealing with decolonization issues, having been colonized by Spain and sold to the United States that have left scars and remnants of wounds as new forms of political yet religiously/ethnically related conflict;  modern day cultural and economic domination from the west (heavy Multinational Mining contracts that denuded forests and displaced indigenous peoples), and a personal process of forgiving a Caucasian whom I believe is not clear about his work with some indigenous peoples in my country having channeled some money from abroad without the full amount reaching the people who need them. Maybe he is still learning.
Thank you for sharing from your heart. Like you I believe circles are powerful. I also intend how I can also apply this in the context of where I'm going in my life work practice : mandalas, ritual work, earth based art, ecovillage and permaculture pratice, sacred and indigenous wisdom.
Maybe too I am learning how to be in that role of reconciliation and restorative justice. I too have my own healing journey to deepen and practice. Why I am in this part of the world, in this ethnicity and in this practice are for sure reinforcing a life work to participate in a global healing and transformation that is taking place. I believe this is the right time for these to come out as global systems are changing and people continue to ask more and more essential questions about who they are, why things are the way they are, how can it change, and why they are here.
But this starts with my own questions and dedication to listen in and to discover the revelations. It's beautiful to come across people like you and this community who reflect on these and bring these processes out to the world :-)
If a space to explore this further will be established, I would love to listen in and learn more from all of you.
Love and Gratitude,
Sarah Queblatin

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Replies to This Conversation

I love reading you all, deep thank you. I participate in and co facilite Restorative Circles every week, in prisons, or just in communities wanting to deepen trust and community building after a hard event. I am also in a group of with some native peoples, learning even more about how to live and work with deep trauma from how we have lived as a society, all of us, and native peoples in particular. Student of aliveness beauty and spirit, Gina


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