I stood before my altar, thinking about circles and the greater purpose of rituals…their power to heal and transform lives. I realized that there are no perfect circles, because human beings are not perfect. If we were, then there would have been no need to return to this material plane to learn more lessons. Everyone within a circle has a character flaw of some kind. It is our task as spiritual warriors to get over these barriers and to at least attempt to view others at the soul level. There will always be certain individuals who make a negative impression, get on our nerves, or stir up personal issues we thought we had resolved. That is their job, actually. They help us grow more than anyone else. We have to look at that person and think, “How does this remind me of myself? Am I reacting this way because it reminds me of something within myself that I don’t like?” Then we can bring it out into the light to be healed. The end result is more compassion toward ourselves and others.
Native Americans use the phrase Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations) when they pray, and they do not mean just their immediate family and their ancestors. They mean every living thing in this world, even the people, animals, and plants that they don’t like so much. Take some time to meditate on what it means to be interconnected in this way, to be “related” to all that exists. Think of something or someone that irritates you, and try to see how you are related. You will walk away from the meditation with a very different view of the world and your place within it.
I have been in circles in the Pagan community for a couple of decades now, and there is often some concern over having the right energy and the right people in a ritual. Fears usually surface about absorbing negative energy from others, and I have wondered why there hasn’t been greater emphasis on strengthening personal boundaries, rather than trying to create the “perfect” circle with the “right” individuals.
Fears, weak personal boundaries, and leaders without skills in conflict resolution are often the main reasons many covens and groups fall apart, and it’s regrettable to me that those who claim to be peaceful and tolerant can end up being the most exclusive. (Isn’t this why we left mainstream religion in the first place?)
I have begun to view circles more like a Medicine Woman. They are places of healing, and those who need to be there the most may not be the ones you like the most. If you have reached a higher spiritual plateau than someone else, then that’s great for you—but it also means you have the responsibility to help others who are struggling. If you are only with those of like mind and ability who resonate perfectly with you, what is that really worth? What would you expect to learn?
The greatest work you will do on any spiritual path is down in the trenches, not up on the mountain. That is the path of a healer, and it’s the path I want to be on. I don’t describe myself or others as “broken”, because the soul is always in a perfect state of existence, no matter how the outer persona is showing up. We are all down here in Earth school learning as best we can in human form, and we come to the circle to heal ourselves and each other.