“A man who does not cry can never become chief.”
The Iroquois Indians reportedly had over two hundred years of relative peace among their different tribes at the time of the settling of America. The constitution of the United States of America is partially based on their Great Law of Peace which were the guiding principles of their League of five Nations tribal agreements.
The grandmothers of the tribes elected their male chiefs. It is said that the grandmothers would never elect a male chief who would not show his tears, would not cry openly. Their belief was that a man who would not or could not cry would never be able to understand the pain of his people and thus would not be capable of leading his people from the heart.
After the morning physical aspect of our days the stewards retreat to the woods to be held by nature as we begin to share the emotional aspect of our journey. Our councils serve to open the ears of our hearts and give a public form for our truths to be spoken. It is a risk taking experience. How fully one participate depends on the amount of courage one possess.
The councils are conducted mostly in a circular learning style. Each of us are each others teachers. The youngest / newest steward as wise as the oldest / longest steward. It is true that there is a slight hierarchy in the form of the leaders holding the container, naming boundaries and occasionally directing the flow of energy if appropriate. The intention behind the hierarchy is to show by example, to teach, to lead, show the way and then get out of the way and allow the interaction and richness to emerge out of and between each other in the group.
In order to get the most out of our council times, it is important that the more experienced stewards come prepared to be honest and forth coming right from the beginning. They model what is expected of the men in the stewarding community. It is how we share our words, our thoughts and our feelings that is the example that the new stewards will follow. For the new stewards you have had two years experience on the mountain in “this way of it.” We invite you to come ready to go deep. Your voices are needed and welcome.
Our councils are a six day practice into how men from the Hero’s Journey speak and how they listen to each other. Let everyone ask you. “Where did you learn to speak and listen from your heart like you do?” For it is the integrity that we practice in council that we will carry off the mountain into our conversations in the other world.
The Rhythm of our Councils:
All of life has three major phases; A beginning, middle and end. As we end our journey off the mountain we begin our journey on the mountain and vise versa at the end of the week. Our councils give us the opportunity to track these three phases and receive support from each other during our time together.
Initial councils: Where we have come from and our intentions for the week.
The purpose of these first two councils is to let go of where we have been and set our direction for the next week of our life. There is nothing that we can do about where we have been or what will happen in seven days. We can only try and get as present as we can for what is right in front of us. By each man sharing what is going on in their lives it allows for a releasing of that energy in the psyche. Each man’s world is now held in the container of the group. We can let it go for the next six days, most everything will be there when we return.
The second purpose and an even more important part of our initial council is to set our intention for healing and or guidance for the weeks journey. Why we have come to the mountain this year. Without an intention or several intentions you will have a tendency to drift in and out of the week as a steward. By setting your intention in council the collective consciousness of the group and the spiritual dimensions of the program get put into play. Our intentions, like sharing what is happening in our lives is then released into the great soup of the stewards week where they mix, cook, distill and emerge in ways that are part of the mystery of “this way of it.”
Come ready to share what is going on in The Hero’s Journey of your life and your intentions for healing or guidance for your week as a steward.
Mid-Week Councils: Immersed in the journey
The middle of our week councils are focused on what is happening for each man in the moment in relation to their journey on the mountain. What thoughts, feelings difficulties, joys, excitements, challenges are present right now within each man and within the group. The mid week councils teach us to stay in the moment with ourselves and with each other. The sharing is done from a place of relation to what is happening in the moment or has been experienced in the last 24 to 48 hours. These councils also allow us to challenge each others perceptions, to call each other out on our stuff, to work through our relationships with each other in the way mature, heartfelt men with integrity practice speaking from their hearts to one another.
These councils are where we hold each other accountable. These councils are where we fall in love with each other.
Ending Councils: Returning and saying goodbye
Now that we have fully arrived, set our intentions and wrestled with our individual and collective demons for the last six days it is important to begin looking at the horizon and releasing each other to their own destiny.
Just as we named in the initial council where we have come from we now name what we are returning to and how the week as a steward has informed our returning process. This is where we claim the gifts we have received from being a steward. By speaking of the insights and strengths gained our voice roots these changes deep into our being. When we speak them we claim them. There is no turning back. The other stewards hearing our claims act as acknowledgement of this new ownership of self. It is with quiet applause that we each affirm the other for the transformation they have gone through this week as a steward.
The practice of saying goodbye consciously in our ending council releases each of us to our individual paths. Saying goodbye to one another also affirms the journey we have been on together for the last seven days. It is actually a ritual of remembering. It is also a ritual of well wishing and heart felt trust that the other will be ok without us and we will be ok without them. When we say goodbye to each other on the last day in council we are turning into our life and letting the winds of change that has transpired over the last week fill our sails. Each man sailing his boat alone in a slightly different direction. We are stepping back onto our path and claiming responsibility for the next leg of our journey in life. We release the other stewards from any responsibility for ourselves.
When we say goodbye, we take responsibility for ourselves. It is consciously naming an ending and a beginning.