Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

Are you part of the millionth circle?

“When a critical number of people change how they think and behave, a new era will begin.”

Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Millionth Circle

Two SoulCollage cards in the Council Suit: the Sacred spiral

I would like to reaffirm and reclaim the true, symbolic power of the circle. The phrase “going in circles” implies that someone is lost, has no clarity, has not found a focus on a linear path. Yet, as we know, life is not a linear process at all: like a circle, it is a continuum of beginnings and endings and new beginnings.


The circle, one of our oldest symbols on the planet, represents wholeness and integration. Within a circle, there is no hierarchy; we are all equal. A woman I know in Vancouver, who facilitates workshops with executives, says that some CEOs she’s worked with have a hard time sitting in a circle. To them, it’s a scary concept; they no longer stand out or appear to have authority over others when they’re in a circle. Her comment shocked me; after all, kids in kindergarten sit in a circle almost every day. Do we need to relearn how to find our power within a circle?

Jean Houston at the 2012 Women of Wisdom conference in Seattle

At a recent Women of Wisdom conference in Seattle, author and Jungian analyst Jean Shinoda Bolen shared her concept of the millionth circle. Drawn from the concept of “the hundredth monkey,” it refers to a circle of people whose awareness, activism, and group collaboration shift global consciousness. Bolen and Jean Houston, another conference presenter and a leader in today’s human potential movement, see women as playing a deciding role in this evolution. In their view, grassroots circles of self-aware women are spreading the power of the sacred feminine around the world.


Yahoo! We need that kind of resounding inspiration right now, especially while U.S. Republican candidate Rick Santorum and others of his ilk are trying to drag women back to Neanderthal days of control and submission.

Tsawaysia Spukwus (Alice Guss) at the drum-making workshop at the Sunshine Coast Museum

Yesterday, while at a drum-making workshop in Gibsons, BC with Squamish nation educator Tsawaysia Spukwus (Alice Guss), I had to give my full attention to a 14-inch wooden circle in front of me. Ten of us (eight women and two men) were lacing deer hide around a circular wooden frame, trying to weave it over and under another double-looped circle of twine that we had knotted and placed inside the frame.

Each time I pulled on the long, thick cord that I was using as thread, the loose inner circle of twine within the frame got pulled out of shape and I had to keep repositioning it. At first, this was very frustrating, until enough woven loops were in place around it that the inner circle kept its form.

What a metaphor for life, I thought. We can each choose to find our own circle, inner and outer, and give it shape in a way that provides form and meaning for us. Then, we can use this circle (drum) to share our voice and vision with others. This circle reaches within and out to others across communities and nations and the planet in one ongoing, holographic sphere of interconnectedness.

Two of my SoulCollage Council Suit Cards: The Mandala (top) includes an aerial view of the Roberts Creek mandala and a photo of the Sam Mandala salmon fish design that I created several years ago. The bottom image is The Sacred Circle.

For most of my life, I have felt drawn to circles. In recent years, labyrinths and mandalas and spiral forms have held a strong attraction for me. I love the mandala at the pier in my home community of Roberts Creek, which gets created anew and repainted as a community project every year.

My SoulCollage card The Labyrinth shows the labyrinth where my husband and I were married, and our wedding cake. 

I was married in an 11-circuit labyrinth and continue to seek out labyrinths wherever I travel. I use circles and spirals as repeat motifs on the SoulCollage cards that I create, and group people in a circle during my SoulCollage workshops. I look forward to many more years of meeting with others in circles of all kinds, using my drum as an outward symbol of my own creative voice.

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March 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm Comments (0)

Labyrinth provides solace during winter solstice

— iPhone photos by Heather Conn

The candle glow in circles fell, arcing row upon row, in lines of light, stillness in the dark.

This week,  I walked the indoor labyrinth, created temporarily to mark the winter solstice, at the Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver, BC. It was one of five such labyrinths installed at community centres across the city by the Secret Lantern Society.

I was the first one to walk the labyrinth, after sitting in the dark room for a half-hour, listening to a recorded chant of Om that filled the room. (I had sneaked in early, watching a photography class set up their tripod shots.) I walked in my stocking feet to gain a greater sense of connectedness to the floor and earth. Several young children behind me, clutching handmade paper lanterns with candles inside, whispered in the darkness. I beckoned them to pass me along the circular route.

A man in a wheelchair moved parallel to me in a different row. Some people walked slowly, as if contemplating every step.

A woman sat on the floor, eliciting melodic tones from large white crystal bowls by running her hand repeatedly around their top surface. These higher sounds joined the low drones of the recorded Om, which continued to waft throughout the room.

It was wonderful to join in such a meditative flow within an urban place, surrounded by dozens of others. We all respected each other’s space and distance, each managing to find solo walking time within a group event. One of the organizers ensured that only a small number of people entered the labyrinth at a time, to prevent crowding.

As I walked, I focused on what I wanted to draw to me within the coming year, feeling open and centred, ready to let go of the darkness of the year and make way for light. What a great way to celebrate the shortest day of the year, the ebb and flow of light and life.

Drawn to mandalas and spirals as ancient symbols, I seek out labyrinths wherever I go and walk them in gratitude. I was married in an outdoor labyrinth and have co-facilitated workshops on labyrinths and SoulCollage. For more information, see my website Sunshine Coast SoulCollage.


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December 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm Comment (1)