As varying as faerie space can be, heart circles are a central, important tradition that the radical faeries practice in almost every manifestation. For many, a heart circle is also the first point of contact with the radical faeries, as they happen outside of gatherings as well.
What is a heart circle?
Heart circle is one of the central traditions of radical faerie community. Faeries come together in a circle to speak from the heart, and to listen to one another through our heartshttp://www.radfae.org/faerielist/#9a
A heart circle is when faeries gather to share and listen from & with their heart. It is an invitation for faeries to sit back, take a few breaths to find the moment and check in with themselves how they are truly feeling and to share this with everyone else.
There is no conversation happening in a heart circle. Faeries agree to not comment on each others sharing, or to add to it or to give advice. Instead they agree to listen with the heart and to become aware of their emotional reaction to whatever is being shared.
This way, heart circles serve the important function of connecting faeries. For many faeries this can have a healing effect, others love to join a heart circle in order to feel connected to other faeries. Sometimes, faeries enter a heart circle not knowing another and feeling like family when the circle closes.
I would like to attend a heart circle!
You can check our local activities for heart circles, or you connect with us via any of our channels from our contact page. Of course the surest way to attend a heart circle is to host one yourself. If you feel like something needs doing, feel empowered to do it yourself!
This is our next heart circle:
I would like to facilitate a heart circle!
Many faeries believe that the power of the heart circle is a gift for everyone. If you feel inspired or curious about a heart circle but can’t wait for our next one, feel invited to host your own heart circle!
If you would like to host a heart circle and if you would like to let the radical faeries know about, please contact us! We’ll happily add it to our list of local activities and let faeries know about it from our communications channel.
How does a heart circle work?
A heart circle operates on some very simple basic principles:
- An object, usually called “Talisman” goes from person to person that grants the right of the holder to share.
- They start their sharing by stating a name, which the group will repeat. After that the sharing can commence.
- The faerie with the talisman is invited to share with the group. Once they have decided to stop their sharing, the talisman will wander to the person next to them.
- A sharing can take on any form, verbal or nonverbal and in any language. Faeries are invited to be vulnerable, honest and share whatever it is they are feeling. Some faeries maybe find that singing or just making a sound is the most authentic way of expressing their truth.
- A sharing should not comment on what other faeries have shared. They should not build on what other faeries have said, and should instead try to reach beyond platitudes or things that sound wholesome or spiritual.
- A sharing should not be about another person. Instead faeries are invited to form sentences like “I feel, I am, I have, in my heart…”.
- A sharing can go on for as long as the talisman is held. As long as the faerie holds the talisman they have the right to share. It might take faeries a few sentences to truly hear what their heart is saying.
- A sharing is confidential. Nothing of what was shared during the heart circle should leave the circle.
- A sharing is voluntary. Faeries do not have to share. They can also remain silent or choose to just pass on the talisman as soon as they get it.
- Listening Faeries do not speak unless they are holding the talisman. They are instead invited to hiss, making a “sssss”-Sound in agreement or support. Some faeries also like to snip their fingers.
Some Details are up to the individual Facilitation of the heart circle and might differ.
The facilitator of a heart circle guides faeries from beginning to end. Outside of gatherings, when faeries gather in private homes, the host is sometimes also the facilitator. This role can also be split up into multiple faeries.
The responsibilities of the facilitator of a heart circle are it to explain how it works to the participants, to optionally define some rules regarding the structure and to initiate and close it.
To constrain or not to constrain
Facilitators may choose to introduce some constraints to the heart circle for varying reasons, for example to make it more inclusive, safer, to ensure it is not too long or to ensure that it can go on for as long as it needs to.
This can take many forms, for example they might invite faeries to limit their sharing in the first round to a paragraph or to keep it short or to make a sound. They might invite faeries to also add their preferred pronouns to their names.
Many facilitators also invite faeries to leave or join the circle at any point in time but to do so only in between sharings not when a faerie is sharing. Another common rule in many heart circles is a no-food role, as facilitators feel like eating grounds the energy instead of elevating it to the heart.
Some prefer a format that is called “popcorning”, in which the talisman is picked from the middle of the circle and returned to it when the sharing is finished. Instead of going from person to person, any person who feels the need to share can decide to take the talisman. Popcorning often happens after the talisman has already passed the circle a few times.
There is also a word to say about limiting or not limiting the number of sharing rounds: Some faeries have difficulties remaining in heart circles that go on very long, some faeries enjoy the open endedness of it. Facilitators may choose to let the participants decide about these things.
A good way to decide on those structural details is to ask the group to agree on them together. Facilitators often choose not to interrupt the flow of the circle but instead wait for the talisman to get to them to speak.
This is a great opportunity to ask if people want to maybe continue another round or if they prefer popcorning, or if they need a “bio break” so that participants can empty their bladder. The facilitator could also ask the group to close the circle or for another facilitator to take over.
Because preferences for certain constraints of heart circles are so varying, facilitators may choose to specifically ask certain people to join their heart circle and to limit it to those. This is also entirely legitimate. Anyone can choose to facilitate a heart circle at any time.
The size of the group has severe impact on the heart circle. A big group can result in very powerful, connecting heart circles. But if they are facilitated without much constraint they might go on for many hours, which is maybe not always possible or advantageous. Some faeries avoid heart circles altogether if they exceed a certain number. So facilitators might choose to constrain heart circles to a specific number of people .
Some Tips from experienced Facilitators
Here is some friendly advice that you might find useful when facilitating a heart circle:
Always explain the principles of a heart circle, even if only experienced heart circlers are attending. Ask them if they want to add something!
It is wise for the facilitator to share first. That way, when the talisman reaches the facilitator again a full round will have completed. A great time to ask faeries if they want to circle another full round or if they need a break, etc.
Drinking is fine and important but don’t bring food into the heart circle / ask faeries not to eat. If they are hungry they can eat outside and join once they have finished. Eating can severely disturb the mood / energy of a heart circle.
Keep the heart circle sacred – treat it as a ritual. Always have a small exercise to get into the mood of the heart circle, like holding hands and sharing some deep breaths, or a sound cloud, or a small, 5 minute guided meditation. Even if its just holding hands and breathing in together. Do the same for closing the circle!