Sitting in Sacred Council - Right Relation: Living in Sacred Balance

Kindling the Native Spirit: Sacred Practices for Everyday Life - Denise Linn 2015

Sitting in Sacred Council
Right Relation: Living in Sacred Balance

Being in right relation also means treating everyone we encounter with respect, no matter his or her age, religion, race, gender, or creed. In many native cultures, a tradition called the “tribal council” emerged out of that cosmology. Being in council brings people together, builds community spirit, and cultivates right relation . . . and it’s a practice that we can incorporate into our own lives.

Here’s how it works: Traditionally when a decision was to be made for the tribe, the elders or specific members would sit together in a circle. These meetings were different than most Westernized meetings in that there wasn’t a hierarchy with a boss at the top. It’s said in native traditions that the best leaders aren’t necessarily those who speak their truth for all to hear, but those rare individuals who are a safe space for the truth of others to be heard. The sacred council creates those kinds of leaders. Each person’s opinion matters equally.

Each person in the circle has a chance to speak; and when someone speaks, all listen. If there is a dispute in life with another (or with others), you take the time to understand their point of view. Remember the adage, “When you walk a mile in my moccasins, you will know my journey.” In council usually there’s a decorated “talking stick” or “talking feather” (as mentioned in Chapter 3). Whoever holds the talking stick has a commitment to speak the truth. Only the person holding the stick or feather speaks; others listen with their hearts, rather than trying to think of a good rebuttal. Participants listen with the idea of understanding the perspective of another.

When you speak your truth, you are heard . . . and when others speak their truth, they are heard. It’s a powerful process, and this is an activity that we can adopt in our own lives with our families and/or friends. Although someone may be officiating at the council, there’s the perception that all voices are heard equally and respectfully. The sacred council has the ability to be a catalyst for transformation for those who participate.



Imagine that you’re around a tribal fire in a special place in nature, or inside a long house, lodge, teepee, hut, or cave. Surrounding the circle is a council of your spirit helpers. They might be your ancestors, animal allies, or other spiritual guides. Imagine each one, in turn, holding a talking stick and giving you a message or advice. Listen with your heart to each thing shared. (As a suggestion, record in a journal the date of your meditation and the messages received.)