Asklepia Foundation
"Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams"

DISRUPTION: LIFE BEYOND THE CIRCLE

Graywolf Swinney, ©1989

Devolution:

"Devolution: Retrograde evolution.  Transference from one individual to another; delegation or conferral to a subordinate."

                                                                              Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

"Devolution is continuation of the old, uninteruption.  It is a system, species or individual folding back in on its self; a journey to what once was."

                                                                              Graywolf

The shaggy, bearded shaman stalks about the fire at the center of the large circle, his right hand stroking and thrusting at the drum clenched in his left fist.  Within the shaman's smaller inner circle, near the fire, a white furred skin has been laid out on the ground and covered with glowing crystals, feathers and various other mysterious objects that in the flickering firelight seem to have a life of their own.  Across the fire and skin, mirroring every move that he makes, and always remaining exactly opposite, moves a beautiful, slender dark haired woman.

The shaman and his counterpart stealthily circle each other, the skin and fire between them, always the same, and yet forever opposite.  Their feet move in sympathy with the throbbing beat of the drum and the sound echoes and re-echoes around them.  Their eyes are locked into each other's and energy shimmers in the space between them.

The larger outer circle is made up of their people.  Feet moving in time to the beat of the drum, the people file past each of the four guardians protecting the circle.  Each person patiently waits to receive a gift and a blessing, a symbol from each of the guardians.  It seems as if the ceremony, like the circle, stretches into eternity both past and future.

Inside, the shaman's mind is momentarily troubled.  These are times of crisis.  His life and training has been devoted to acting in times such as these, to leading the rituals and ceremonies that reunite his people with the favor of the deities, the powerful spirits of creation.

He knows that the tribe holds him in esteem and relies on him to provide leadership and guidance at special time such as these.  He was led to and given this role by the elders and those self same deities and spirit who he now represents.  This gathering will soon be over and gifts he is giving his people through the guardians will let them carry the protection of the spirits invoked by this ceremony home with them.

He gazes into the piercing, shadowed eyes of the woman he has selected for his counterpart.  The air seems to shimmer in the power created between them.  She provides the perfect balance and mirror to his male energy.  It is important to get things like this right...things such as making sure that the energies are in balance and that the appropriate power objects, certain of his crystals and feathers are set our and used properly.  Else that power could turn back on them...but that doesn't even bear talking about.  The ceremony has been well done as it has been for centuries beyond counting.  He can sense that the spirits are pleased and will give their protection to his people and guide them through these difficult times.  It is a good feeling to help his people and it fills his heart with warmth and joy that he has been selected for this purpose in life.

He soon becomes lost in the throb of his drum and the dance.

The people move on, circling eternally.  They gratefully accept the blessings and gifts from the guardians.  They sense that the tokens are good and powerful.  They will be carried away in their medicine bags to provide protection and to serve as reminders of the power of this eternal and unbroken circle, good for the troubled time ahead.  The shaman has once again given to them a fitting and powerful ceremony.

The people too become lost in the hypnotic throb of his drum.

Evolution:

"Evolution:  A process of change in a certain direction; unfolding...A process in which the whole universe is a progression of interrelated phenomena."

                                                                                  Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

"Evolution is a break with the old, the creation of something new.  It is a disruption to the status quo; an expedition into the unknown."

                                                                                 Graywolf

The shaggy, bearded shaman stalks about the fire at the center of the large circle, his right hand stroking and thrusting at the drum clenched in his left fist.  Within the shaman's smaller inner circle, near the fire, a white furred skin has been laid out on the ground and covered with glowing crystals, feathers and various other mysterious objects that in the flickering firelight seem to have a life of their own.  Across the fire and skin, mirroring every move that he makes, and always remaining exactly opposite, moves a beautiful, slender dark haired woman.

The shaman and his counterpart stealthily circle each other, the skin and fire between them, always the same, and yet forever opposite.  Their feet move in sympathy with the throbbing beat of the drum and the sound echoes and re-echoes around them.  Their eyes are locked into each other's and energy shimmers in the space between them.

The larger outer circle is made up of their people.  Feet moving in time to the beat of the drum, the people file past each of the four guardians protecting the circle.  Each person patiently waits to receive a gift and a blessing, a symbol from each of the guardians.  It seems as if the ceremony, like the circle, stretches into eternity both past and future.

Inside, the shaman's mind is momentarily troubled.  These are times of crisis.  His life and training has been devoted to acting in times such as these, to leading the rituals and ceremonies that reunite his people with the favor of the deities, the powerful spirits of creation.

Suddenly the air is shattered by a bellow from the bearded shaman.

"STOP!" he roars, thrusting his right fist to the sky.

Silence fills the air with shock and wonder.  The moments drag into infinity before he speaks again.

"The time has come," he finally whispers, " to let go of the old and embrace the new."

A gathering strength powers his voice and it gradually fills the air.

"You walk around in circles like cattle to the beat of someone else's drum and line up for token gifts, symbols that promise protection, wisdom and healing."

"But I haven't received my gifts yet!" complains a voice from the circle.

"You don't need them!" the shaman retorts.  "They're all within you, all the gifts, wisdom and powers that you could ever need are right there in your own hearts and minds.  You are held captive by the old ways and your fears and they rob your power.  It must be done this way and that way just so, or we will offend the spirits and be punished!

"The protection and guidance, all that you see from me and my ceremonies is really within you; and indeed if the truth were spoken, always have been.  The power of the creator and the universe itself is nothing more than a reflection of the creator within you, your own place of creativity.  You are one with it all.  The power is expressed in your love and courage, not your fear!"

The circle of people stands in mute shock at this disruption of their ceremony, this blasphemy of the ancient passed on ways; but within the hearts and thoughts of a few there beats an excitement, a portend of the emergence of a new path.

"Come, it is time to move on."  The shaman mutters as he turns and passes out of the circle.  In the following confusion and disruption others also quietly leave the circle, responding to a faint and mysterious call as they embrace the chaos of the unknown and enter into the mystic.

Revolution:

As an engineer, to me revolution means "something going around in a circle";  and as a sometimes student of history, I think that political and most other brands of revolution also fall within my engineering definition.

So when I first began writing this article, the scenario I had in mind for illustrating revolution was to start with the same ceremony above, except an aspiring, unrecognized shaman and her supporters break into the circle, dispose of the bearded shaman taking his place, and end up staging essentially identical ceremonies for their people who once again become hypnotized, having awakened only briefly for the momentary disruption of the change in leadership.

But rituals have, after the first or second experience, usually bored me, and after thinking more of circles and revolutions and my experiences of all the above, I came up with the following:

Life Beyond the Circle:

Moving in a straight line is analogous to one dimensional living, existing with only a linear, cause-effect experience of the world.  It is the type of experience I lived in my early years as an engineer-executive fighting my way to the top of the corporate heap.  Departure from the straight and narrow, in my case dropping out and exploring psychology, shamanism and other non western healing and spiritual paths, opened me to experience the cyclical nature of reality and added to new dimension to my awareness.  In the new territory that opened up, what had appeared to the "linear me" as an event rising out of causal factors was now seen as part of a larger pattern, endlessly reappearing in my journey around the circle, or through life.

The circle path illustrates the essential meaning of Karma.  In Karma, one is trapped in an endless repetition of life patterns until its gotten "right" or the until "books are balanced."

Reality assumes a whole different meaning for a circular being as compared to a linear being, the addition of a whole new dimension; but even to the circle being, god, the power of the mystical and of creation itself is still found in "the heavens above," beyond the circle, beyond reach, even beyond comprehension.  And going around in a circle is hypnotic and one gets trapped in the reverie.

But what exists beyond the circle?

Most shamans, aspiring shamans and indeed many other "new age" gurus I observed during my own explorations of the circle dimension held firm injunctions against breaking the circle, whether it was leaving a prayer or sweat lodge circle; not replicating exactly the traditional or "correct" performance of a ritual or meditation; or not beating the drum just the "right" way.  To break these "sacred circles" of tradition was a cause for fear that somehow the powers might recoil and result in hurt, or some other unforeseeable disaster...or at the very least the ritual might be impotent.  In a phrase it was a process of devolution through fear rationalized as respect.

Always an adventurer, and seldom if ever bowing too deeply to "authority," it was just a matter of time and self expression until I broke a circle to to see what would happen.  Thus the second scenario above is essentially a true report of what happened at the closing ceremonies of our '87 Gathering of Healers, a yearly conference that we organized.  It was actually a spontaneous action on my part, a sense of boredom as the ceremony dragged on, leading to a sense of confusion and disorientation and then I was just watching and listening along with the rest, somewhat shocked at what I was doing and saying.  Words won't serve, but some concepts from physics might provide an analogy to describe my experience since then beyond the broken circle.

In physics it is known that if you break a circle, or more correctly disrupt the motion of something going in a circle, the force of the disruption in all but two specific instances throws the object into a new motion which takes the form of a helix.  This essentially throws the object into another dimension; from two dimensional into three dimensional motion and opens up infinitely more space and possibility for movement, another whole n new infinite universe of possibilities, indeed a higher order structure and universe.

A circle being's experience of life is only of going around and around in his or her circle, perhaps being able to speed up, slow down or stop, but limited to two dimensional motion.  A helical being adds vertical motion, a third dimensions.  Springs, which are helices, can hold stored or potential energy and in their energy and flexibility can leap from place to place, or like a slinky toy, bend and walk around from place to place on the circle being's two dimensional plane.  This makes for its inexplicable and magic appearances into the reality of the circle being.

Perhaps it spontaneously disappears and reappears in some new location; or appears in multiple forms in random and inexplicable ways.  To some circle beings, the helical being might appear miraculous and seem to move into the realm of the deities and in doing so directly represent them.  It might, to other circle beings, be described as magical, synchronistic, or even be written off as coincidence.  But to the helical being who directly experiences this mystical extra dimensional realm, it is only awesome to the part of him that was once a circle being; otherwise it just is the experience or "knowing" of a higher order structure.

Of course to stray from the straight and narrow, or break a circle risks censure both mortal and divine and so it usually takes a major impetus or disruptive force to do so.

Disruption, or the disruptive forces that push (or draw) us beyond the circle are essentially doorways into chaos.  To leave the familiar safety of the circle is to leap through fear into an unstructured and undefined "chaotic" new dimension.  It is a fearful leap, yet disruption or chaos is the state out of which all is created and in which all things are possible.

To the religionist chaos is the state from which God created all.  In Taoism it is held that our of the basic chaos, that existed before all else, arose the one which became the two, the yin and yang from which all else is created.  In Christianity chaos is represented by the darkness from which God created light and then all else.  In Hindu it is Kali who destroys to create the chaos that brings about new creation.  But it is always God who creates reality from the chaos.

To the scientist, chaos is the state from which our perceptions create reality.  In brain research, recent experimental evidence suggests that the most creative thinking and ideas occur when the brain's background neural system is firing in a chaotic and unpredictable mode.  In astrophysics, the big bang theory puts chaos as the birth condition at the instant of our universe's creation.  In quantum physics, chaos is the base state out of which all reality is realized according to the predictions set by the Schroedinger equations.  It is also the basis of a whole new system of mathematics, fractal math, and a new physics theory, Chaos theory, which many proponents feel may help provide answers to many of sciences still unanswered questions about the nature of reality.

Chaos theory holds that chaos eventually reveals a new and higher order of structure.  For example when fractal derived programs are displayed on a computer screen they show shapes that depict emerging cloud formations, weather patterns, the formation of coastal contours, or even dividing cells.  Although science has been able to describe some of the mechanics of these processes, the chaos based math and physics is able to depict these natural phenomena more wholly than any other theory to date.

But fear of chaos keeps us confined to the firm ground of what we already know.  The birth pains of the new creation or structure arising from chaos are most usually experienced and defined as disaster, or the powers turning back and hurting us and so in our fear we turn back too.  And keep going around and around.  And stay hypnotized.  It is almost an axiom that history repeats itself again and again.

But if you do break the circle and throw yourself beyond it into chaos, as science predicts the chaos does, eventually a higher order structure is revealed and a new reality takes shape beyond the circle.  For me the sense of this new structure has revealed a reality of mystic flow and infinitely flowing-forming-destroying-reforming creation.  It is a new dimension outside of space and time in which truly anything is possible; a reality in which fear is merely another manifestation of love, and an opportunity for evolution; and the I, and the not I, and the center are all really just one and the same.  It is the awakening of a higher order and awareness of self in all its manifestations.

It is here that words seem to fail because they are linear and at their very best can hint at the cyclical, circular nature of the world.  They fail miserably, however, at describing the truly mystical dimensions.

Since words and intellect are unable to directly make order of underlying chaos we create mythologies both personal and collective and these are based on deep inner sensory rememberings and images of our experience with this chaos.  Jung described it as our experience of the collective consciousness.  Some of these mythologies we call science, others we call religion.  Some are very personal.  They guide us in creating the illusions and substances of the reality in which we live.

Up to now, most mythologies have had one thing in common, they have described a model in which power, the power of creation or the deity, is external to one's self, and therefore something to be sought externally, through trial and struggle, and held onto.  We thus seek power out there: at the very base levels we seek it through knowledge, a new car, the right crystal, some one's approval; or we hope that someone else who has found it can give it to us, or we may even try to steal or west it away from those who we think have it.

In our altruism, we might seek it through the giving of our power objects to others, or in our devotion to a life of serving others or a greater power.  Since the power over ourselves and our destinies is experienced as external however, we remain uncentered, insecure and more and more desperately try to know this power out there.  It is this myth that supports the fear that this awesome power can turn back on us and hurt us, so it must be handled just so.  It is the linear or circular being experiencing the appearance of the slinky in his or her limited world.

What about a new model or Myth?

As the old bearded shaman says, "The power of the creator and the universe itself is nothing more than a reflection of the creator within you, your own place of creativity.  You are one with it all.  The power is expressed in your love and courage, not your fear!  Come, it's time to move on!"  The step beyond the circle just might be the next step in (y)our evolution.  You might even notice that you too are god-like creating order out of chaos.

c, Asklepia Publications

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Created 4/9/01    Last Updated 4/9/01
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