Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Circle of Trees: A Multigenerational Program about Nourishing Deep Connections with Nature

Activity 1: Introduction to the Council Among the Trees

Part of Circle of Trees

Activity time: 5 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Drum or rattle
  • Optional: Quiet music, such as a chant, or nature sounds, and appropriate music player

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide if Workshops 6 and 7 will be done as one longer workshop and adjust the schedule accordingly.
  • Read through the activity several times so you will be comfortable leading the ritual.
  • Select a large open space that is accessible to all-preferably outdoors, in proximity to trees.

Description of Activity

This activity (indeed, the entire Council) is best done outside or at least in a place with trees nearby. Have participants form a circle, sitting on the ground if they are able. Say, in these words or your own:

What we are about to do today is adapted from the Council of All Beings, a ritual created by Joanna Macy and John Sneed, which enables humans to connect deeply with the earth. Many people do this ritual over the course of a weekend. We'll be taking two hours [or two workshops, depending on how you structure your workshops] for our own ritual, which we are calling the Council Among the Trees. Many people are saddened about the plight of the earth, her trees, her creatures, and other living forms. Our Council Among the Trees will help us express our gratitude for trees, acknowledge our sadness about what is happening to them, take stock of what is happening, and, finally, feel empowered to take action.

Briefly explain what you'll be doing as part of the Council so that everyone knows what will take place that day. Say, in these words or your own:

We will start by creating a ritual space, then we'll do some connecting activities, and take a few moments to each call our creature to us. We will make masks to embody our creatures. At the end of this workshop [or, the next time we meet] we will create and experience the actual Council Among the Trees, and then close with our thoughts and ideas for taking future action.

Emphasize the importance of silence, which is called for during much of the Council. Say that silence invites a deep and powerful connection to take place.

Ask for a volunteer to open the ritual by drumming or shaking a rattle around the circle, perhaps asking them to weave in and out among the participants. If you chose to include music, play it now as part of opening the ritual.