The Ten Constants

No two wisdom circles are alike, yet there are elements that all wisdom circles share

….Shaped by a set of guidelines called the Ten Constants…The shared values and deep purposes common to all wisdom circles, no matter what their individual aims are

…The better you grasp the constants, the more confidence you will feel in leading and participating in your own group.

Later, you may choose to modify these guidelines, depending on the needs of your circle.

We encourage you to improvise, go with the Muse.

Each person is a teacher in the circle, but it will become clear that the real teacher is the circle itself.

[Between the lines: infinite gratitude for Bredrin and sistas in solidarity spreading love, hope and positivity in abundance….

folks  I(s.i.s) and so many others love, respekt and admire so like, AfraKenya, Behind the Mask, Black Looks, Black Queer Resistance, Bredrin and sistas in solidarity, Bunge La Mwananchi, Colour Me Dragg, Colour Spill Productions, Elimu Sanifu, Engender, Fahamu, FARUg, G.A.L.C.K, Goldelox productions, Human Positive, Kufunda learning village, LAMBDA, Moyo wa Africa, None on Record, Outspoken Radio, Pan Afrikan Performing Arts Institute, Salaam, Schools Without Borders, S.M.U.G, Seven Sistas, The Peace Theatre, T.I.Ts Uganda, TRCC,  The People Project , Weapon of The Revolution, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands , (The) Yoruba House Project….en all the others we hold dear in our hearts….

bless dem en their families, and all those around them, bless our enemies too, bless our freedom fighters, healers and peacemakers, bless the poor en the elderly, bless our youth coming into their right destinies, bless the ancestors on the Afrikan shores and within the diaspora of righteousness, Ifa, I pray for health and prosperity not only for myself but for others, I pray for long life and happiness not only for myself but for others, Ifa, I pray for knowledge and wisdom not only for myself but for others, Ifa I ask forgiveness for my sins, those that I know and don’t know about, and those I am yet to commit…Ifa, I pray to be humble. Ifa, I pray to be strong. Ifa, once again I pray for wisdom, for the blessings of yesterday to carry into tomorrow…

Eshu, carry our prayers…remove obstacles from our path…..]

Please keep in mind that there is no rigid or “correct” order to the constants.

  1. Honor the circle as sacred time and space by using simple rituals to mark the opening and closing.
  2. Create a collective center by mutually agreeing upon a topic or intention.
  3. Ask to be informed by our highest human values such as compassion and truth, by the wisdom of the ancestors, and by the needs of those yet to be born.
  4. Express gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for the blessings and teachings of life.
  5. Create a safe container for full participation and deep truth telling.
  6. Listen from the heart, and serve as a compassionate witness for the other people in the circle.
  7. Speak from the heart and from direct experience.
  8. Make room for silence to enter.
  9. Empower each member to be a co-facilitator of the process.
  10. Commit to an ongoing relationship with the people in your group, and carry the intentions of the circle into daily life.

You may find that some of these guidelines are easy to relate to, while others are more challenging. Our advice is to incorporate the constants into your circle at a pace which is comfortable. Listening from the heart and speaking from the heart requires considerable empathy and trust.

What you look for in the beginning is one or more people who can model “from the heart” for the others…..part of the groups spiritual work is to help each member feel safe and valued enough to participate…..

The Second Constant: Pamoja Tunaweza

[create a collective center……read as: senta ya watoto wa Mama Afrika]

The Third Constant: Ask to Be Informed

We call upon all those who have lived on this earth, our ancestors and our friends, who dreamed the best for future generations, and upon whose lives our lives are built, and with this thanksgiving, we call upon them to teach us and show us the way.

Chinook Invocation

….Invoking certain qualities into the circle enlarges our sense of purpose and begins the process of connecting us with our higher selves. When we ask them to be informed by these qualities, we are kindling the same energies within ourselves. If someone invokes compassion, she is reminding herself to bring forth that quality when she speaks. And she is reminding the rest of us to do the same.

In a larger sense, we are calling on the others to bear witness and assist us in our efforts to manifest the qualities we invoke. The circle maker can suggest we begin by inviting various qualities such as joy, truth-telling, generosity, laughter, openness to change, into the circle.

After this “calling in”, a qualitative shift in the feeling tone of the group usually occurs. The circle is now graced with a larger awareness of the values you hold and the intentions you carry.

Summary of the Fourth Constant

Express gratitude for the blessings and teachings of life/death/life cycles.

Acknowledge and honour our interdependence with everything in the web of life.

In silence, or by taking turns, give thanks for those people and those things great and small whose gifts enrich and nourish you.


Create a safe container: The Fifth Constant

The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.

James Baldwin, as quoted in Loneliness and Love by Clark E. Moustakas

This circle is a home where we feel known, trusted and valued. It is a safe container where we can draw upon our innate capacities for wisdom, compassion, and self-healing. We humans have depended on such capacities for millennia. We have also depended on each other for a sense of sanctuary. In the circle, each of us can reveal our fears, show our vulnerabilities, and give voice to our dreams. A safe space where we can begin  a “foolish project” like learning to live together in harmony. It’s time to begin a “foolish project”.

….It is good to know five safety devices that are built into a wisdom circle:

  1. The creation of sacred space
  2. The intention to listen and speak from the heart
  3. The talking object
  4. The choice to remain silent
  5. The commitment to confidentiality

These are such powerful safety elements that we’ve seen groups of strangers walk into sterile hotel meeting rooms and willingly reveal things to each other in a circle that they have not said to loved ones in years, if ever.

When we’re in a temple, a church, a mosque or other sacred place, we don’t expect to be verbally attacked, embarrassed, or made fun of in a disrespectful way.

A wisdom circle is also a sacred place that offers us the promise that we will be treated with respect, that we are and will be “safe”.

This safety is crucial to the emergence of deep truth telling.

In a circle, we can allow ourselves to be truly seen and can stop trying to “look good” to others…..