Chamblee54

Heart Circle

Posted in Georgia History, History, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on April 8, 2017


PG is planning to attend a heart circle. This is an event where people listen to each other. A talisman is used. The person holding the talisman is allowed to speak, and the other people listen. That is it. No assembly required, batteries not included. The event is on the same side of downtown as PG, so he was looking forward to it. Driving to I20 land, treacherous in the best of times, has gotten outlandish with the collapse of I85.

The event is connected to a community, the atlanta radical faeries. The concept of the heart circle is not exclusive to such communities, but it does seem to be prevalent there. One of the best quotes about heart circles is from Philadelphia’s Lady Bartlett. In slightly reconstructed fashion: ” a heart circle is a faerie technology. It is a cross between a Quaker meeting, a room temperature sweat lodge, and the collective experience of cruising Christopher Street in 1972.”

The host sent PG a message: “A while back I believe you posted information about heart circles. As part of the opening ritual would you share some of that history and information with those of us who are gathered.” PG went to work. Hearing the digital battle cry, google it, PG tried to see what he could. One source was a vintage website, Faerie Email List. Their contribution was the use of a day glo bubble wand as a talisman.

There does not seem to be a clear history of heart circles. There are references to Native American traditions. It is not known which Native Nation the heart circle was appropriated from. Maybe the heart circle just happened organically, like faeries dancing on the lawn.

PG started to go to faerie events (the word “radical” was seldom heard) in 1981. There were circles. The talisman was called a talking stick. Often, the men in the circle would do a check in, where everyone would say what they wanted to say.

In 1984, PG started to go to out of town gatherings. Here, there would be a morning circle. It was a community meeting, with announcements. A rune would be drawn, and the check in would go around the circle. Often, these circles went on for a long, long time. When PG returned to these gatherings in 2008, after a long absence, the morning circle did not happen. There were, however, smaller heart circles. The hc phrase was used by this point.

When google fails, you talk to people that you know. PG knew some of the *younguns,* who were at early gatherings. A couple of them graciously added to the conversation. These men had attended a gathering in North Carolina in 1978. This was before the 1979 event organized by Harry Hay.

“interesting. yes we had something like a heart circle. whether we called it that I’m not sure. ____ ____ might remember. There were 30 of us and we had not met before so the circle was an opportunity for folks to open up and reveal things about themselves. There was a crocheted talisman (the pan shawl) that was used like a talking stick. The borrowing of native american ways of working was prevalent thanks to Raven Wolfdancer.”

“hi there, circles were part of the original gatherings to create a non-hierarchical structure for us to talk in. all points are equal in the circle. we had chore circles and process circles. we probably borrowed the circle from lesbians many of whom were interested in goddess religion and from hippies who had their rainbow family gatherings. the heart circle emerged as a place to took about feelings. the talking stick was borrowed from Native American ritual. Raven was a big proponent of that and practically it both encouraged everyone to speak and to be succinct. So the heart circle was probably called that to keep the focus on feelings both to keep the housekeeping circles functional and to make a space where feelings could be primary. Hope the circle spins sweetly.”

One way to treat the history question is to deny it. Every heart circle is a unique creation. Begins when it begins, ends when it ends. Part of a tradition, a new vessel all by itself. Blessed be.

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