Rituals in the Circle process encourage participation, emphasize connection and common ground, engage a sense of serving a larger purpose, and build toward a positive outcome. Together these rituals help create a space in which people are encouraged to feel safe, to share and express emotions, be honest, take risks and offer positive future focused solutions.
Examples of opening rituals include lighting a candle, taking a moment of silence, offering a reading of some kind or a prayer as appropriate. An opening ritual, depending on the circumstances, aspires to:
- Create a good feeling of community and of connection to others
- Generate respect for others and for the shared space of the Circle
- Build a safe place for the heart to speak and for understanding to flourish
- Enable participants to act on personal values and reinforce shared values
- Encourage recognition of individual and collective capacities
- Prepare participants to work as a community
- Appreciate that the concerns / challenges each individual faces are also a challenge for everyone to face and best addressed together
While just as important as opening rituals, closing rituals are often very different. The essential part of any closing ritual is the closing record of the Circle. Keepers must ensure ample time is left for everyone to participate in the closing record. This part should not be rushed. Examples of Circle Closings include offering a reading of some kind or prayer as appropriate given the circumstances, doing a Circle pass of the entire Circle for final thoughts, etc. A Closing ritual generally aspires to:
- Acknowledge the accomplishments of the Circle
- Honour the wisdom, courage and gifts of participants
- Express hope for continued good outcomes from the efforts of the Circle
- Emphasize connectedness among the participants
- Transition participants out of Circle and back into the regular pace and relationships of their normal world.
In addition to the closing round, closing rituals, while often not as elaborate as opening rituals, can involve many different activities that enable people to make a transition out of the emotional intensity of the Circle in a way that respects and honours the time and space they have shared.