Recently there has been much debate about the groups calling themselves “Women’s Wisdom Circles,” “Women’s Gifting Circles,” and “Vision Sisters” (among other titles), which claim to be examples of an emerging Sacred Economy.
The criticisms of “Circle” are wide-ranging, including social, ethical and personal levels. In this post, however, I am focusing specifically on a deeper look at the underlying structure of Circle: does it actually represent a sacred economy? Is it fundamentally sustainable?
I am a woman attempting here to communicate a balanced feminine/masculine view based on my research into sacred and living systems. I write these words in hopes of shedding some light on a goal that many of us hold dear: the creation of a sustainable and truly sacred economic model that embodies the concept of “The Gift.” I hope it will be received by Circle** Women.
**(I use the word Circle here as a matter of convenience in this post, even though I do not agree that the structure resembles a circle.)
MATHEMATICS and THE SACRED
When confronted with the basic mathematics that seem to prove that Circles** are destined to collapse, defenders of Circle often accuse their critics of being stuck in a “masculine” way of thinking that is far too linear to understand the “feminine” dynamics of Circle, which purportedly go deeper than surface math might predict.
Supporters claim that the Circle is an exciting and promising evolution beyond our larger growth-based economy where the deck is stacked against women’s success, generally speaking. They claim that it contrasts the larger economy by operating on spiritual principles, supporting life and empowerment of its members.
If this were true, it is reasonable to expect that Circle structure would function in alignment with natural and universal energy systems, where the male and female principles are in balance. An inquiry into Circle dynamics would ostensibly reveal fundamental harmony with fields such as Sacred Geometry, Unified Field Theory, and Living Systems Theory, which are examples not of “masculine” or “linear” thinking, but rather the basic principles by which all systems—living, energetic, cosmic, social—function.
By comparing Circle to these most Sacred of disciplines, I am hoping we can steer clear of knee-jerk dismissals (“too masculine!”) and arrive at an accurate assessment of Circle structures.
Let’s look at one chart commonly used by Circle participants to envision the structure. It is pictured as a flower. Simply beautiful! Who wouldn’t want to join?
But a closer look reveals a strangeness. I know of no flower that actually looks like this, with a rather squarish format, and two petals beside the core. Flowers in the real world generally follow a Sacred geometry called the “Golden Mean” or “Fibonnaci Sequence,” which is a complex spiralling pattern, not a simple doubling: one, then two, then four, then eight.
And even more importantly, flowers unfurl. The flow of this Circle flower is inward, as the “appetizers” give their cash “gifts” into the center. There is no flower in the world that has a continuous inward flow. Even flowers that close up at night furl and unfurl in a diurnal rhythm that is balanced. And they all end up feeding the larger ecosystem by design, as petals drop. Quite unlike Circle dynamics, where the core “dessert” position is the one that drops out.
This concept of an imploding bloom is not only innaccurate (more like a black hole than a flower), it is inappropriate at best, and at worst, deliberately misleading. The only structure that is even remotely comparable to this “eight-four-two-one” sequence is a pyramid. There ARE INDEED pyramids present in sacred geometry, but they have balancing features associated with them, as I will discuss later in this post.
For now, let’s follow this flower analogy even further. Say you have a field of annual flowers, in which the plant grows, flowers, all the while shedding leaves, petals and seeds to the earth. Eventually the whole plant, stem and all, decomposes, adding nutrients to the soil in which the next generation of seeds can now sprout.
In previous posts, I have used the example of a forest, in which mature trees drops leaves, branches, etc. to nurture the growing saplings. This is the way of nature: The current generation gives the “gifts” of its own body to feed the next.
Our growth-based economy does the opposite, cannibalizing the ecological inheritance of future generations to feed an increasingly voracious present. In effect, our paedophageous society has got it backwards: eating its children, instead of feeding them.
The structure of Circle is similar, as the new entrants are required to feed the elders of the scheme, with material gifts flowing effectively from the youth to the elder. This aspect of Circle Culture would need some drastic revisioning to truly qualify as Gift Culture.
HOW DO PYRAMIDS FIT INTO SACRED GEOMETRY?–The work of Physicist Nassim Haramein
As I mentioned above, pyramids do indeed occur in nature. A congregation of pyramids alternating directions comprises the sacred geometric figure the Star Tetrahedron. In fact, the Star Tetrahedron has played a central role in the work of physicist Nassim Haramein in furthering Unified Field Theory.
It is quite significant to this discussion that Haramein arrived at some of his most important contributions to Einstein’s work by including movement
(spin, or torque) to equations modelling the space-time continuum, instead of Einstein’s more static conception of space-time.
The addition of this audacious and curvy, “feminine” element to the (“masculine”) field of mathematics proved to be a key insight in resolving some of the previous roadblocks in Unified Field Theory.
Haramein’s amazing work shows that the underlying structures of all magnetic and gravitational fields— including the Earth’s—occur in star (double) tetrahedron shapes. These pyramids are clustered together so that they are pointing both upwards AND downwards, in a balance of gravitational and electro-magnetic forces that creates overall stability and ultimate sustainability.
This balance is represented in a more basic form by the ancient symbols of the Star of David, comprised of a triangle pointing up, and a triangle pointing down, and the Yin-Yang, indicating the continual flow between expansion and contraction.
We can see the Star of David and Yin Yang in action in another important figure in Sacred Geometry, the Double Torus, which is essentially a Star Tetrahedron set in motion. According to Haramein’s Unified Field Theory, the Double Torus illustrates the underlying structure and movement of everything in the Universe, from the smallest subatomic structures to the largest black holes (renamed “Black Wholes”) and everything in-between, including human energy fields and social/economic structures. Please have a look at the 3D (or is it 4D?) illustration at the following link:
Here is another view of the double torus, the result of two opposing forces reaching equilibrium, thereby forming a recursive feedback loop. In contrast, pyramid schemes are an example of a vicious circle (positive feedback loop), which moves towards collapse if unchecked.
SACRED GEOMETRY AND WOMEN’S GIFTING CIRCLES
There is something strikingly out-of-sync with sacred geometry & cosmometry about the current structure of the Women’s “Circle”: the constant funneling of money from the appetizers to dessert, with no equalizing flow back outwards of this money. Remember that the toroidal flow of the Yin-Yang does not merely travel inwards. It necessarily and holistically moves outwards as well.
Case in point: Even if every single woman in “dessert” reinvested 100%—all $40,000—of their “gift” money back into “appetizer,” it fails to offset the exponentially-widening base of the pyramid. For one woman to get to dessert, 32 women must be recruited. Which means even a $40,000 reinvestment offsets only 8 (of 32) women.
The result is a continual cash flow from the many to the few, which is impossible to maintain over time. For this structure to be sustainable, the concentration of funds into the “dessert” position must be stabilized by an appropriate “pay it forward” style-redistribution.
Because they are not balanced by an opposing downward or outward flow, ALL pyramid schemes as we know them ultimately fail, as their base of support is drained and the whole structure implodes upon itself.
Importantly, the Sacred Geometries the Double Torus and Star Tetrahedron reach equilibrium by balancing the opposing forces of implosion and expansion, of gravity and electromagnetism. “Women’s Gifting Circle” structures exhibit no such stability. If we are going to compare the dynamics of “Circle” to sacred structures, it is crucial to understand this discrepancy.
To put it simply, the financial structure of “Circle” is an upward pointing triangle, which needs a corresponding downward pointing triangle to complete the Star of David, to ground the gifts which have been flowing to the top, and bring it into alignment with Sacred Geometry. To survive long enough to truly empower women, and to develop a real Gift Culture, These Women’s “Circles” must evolve into biomimicry and cosmomimicry.
GIFT CULTURE AND SACRED ECONOMICS
If Circle is truly aiming to create a gift culture, it seems that it would be wise to understand the way that Nature—inlcuding indigeneous human cultures—accomplish gifting. In his visionary book Sacred Economics (which expressly warns against pyramid schemes, by the way), author Charles Eisenstein outlines four essential qualities of gift culture. The following excerpts come from Chapter 18: “Relearning Gift Culture“:
1. Over time, giving and receiving must be in balance.
2. The source of a gift is to be acknowledged.
3. Gifts circulate rather than accumulate.
4. Gifts flow toward the greatest need.
Eisenstein notes that indigenous gifting cultures comprise a thick weave of social bonds that result from giving, with status and esteem accruing to those who the most generous, not those who possess the most material goods or money. Those who are considered “wealthy elders” are citizens with the deepest understanding of their ability and cultural responsibility to support those in need.
In Circle Culture, women enter for the first time seeking empowerment, mentorship, abundance training–all of which the Circle offers them. However, they are asked to pay the “senior sisters” for the opportunity to learn these skills. This “pay upfront” model is merely one more example of our tired-ole standard economics, and is in opposition to the way that True Gift Culture functions. Instead, how about a total paradigm shift, where the more established “desserts” pay the “appetizers” to enter? If we could figure out a sustainable arrangement for this to happen, then we would truly be in the realm of Sacred Economics.
Circle women often claim that “appetizers” can liken their participation to paying for an education, similar to a school program, workshop or apprenticeship. However comparing to our current educational system in the USA is certainly not does not gain Circle any Gift Culture clout. Quite the opposite , it only strengthens the analogy to a pyramid, as the high cost of education ensures that that all but the wealthiest students are effectively required to become indentured servants to the system. Most of our students are obligated to a lifetime of student loan payments. Is this a sacred gifting system? Sadly, the answer is no–our current educational model is also shaped like a pyramid.
A truly empowering Women’s Gifting Circle is entirely possible. However it is clear that It would NOT be based on exponential growth–where 32 recruits are required for each woman to receive their “gift”–but rather on a natural flowing from those who have gifts to give–of financial support, of mentorship, of leadership, to those who need these gifts.
Although some the above mentioned gifts are flowing both ways within Circle Culture, the flow of material gifts is always one-way. Ultimately, all of the flows in pyramid schemes such as these will cease–the “Circle” will fail–unless the basic flaws mentioned in this post are properly addressed.
Supportive organizations that mentor women can and are being created as we speak. Circle women would be wise to lend their support towards the evolution of these endeavors. Writing this article has inspired me to meeting with a group of people in my own town who are playing with these ideas, dreaming up structures that are based on Sacred Geometry, Cosmometry, and Economics.
I hope to write another post in the future to report the results of these experiments with designing a Gifting cirlce that truly mirrors the gifting of nature and living systems.
CIRCLE AND LIVING SYSTEMS THEORY
Recently I attended a workshop with Buddhist scholar and Living Systems theorist Joanna Macy. Macy emphasizes that the perils of positive feedback loops–also called vicious circles, or “runaway” systems–result when the system closes itself off from input that something is awry.
She notes that this “apatheia” poses the greatest danger to our current culture, as we simply shut out information that indicate a need for change or course correction. Whether from overwhelm, from stubborness, or fear of change, or whatever, any positive feedback loop eventually results in systemic collapse.
Unification and harmonization… this is the threshold of evolution we find ourselves at now at a new level of global dynamics and complexity. We have built systems of technologies, economies, governance, education, etc, that do not properly account for the features of healthy living systems. As such, they are reaching the end of their viability and are either going to collapse or become balanced and whole at a higher level or organization and coherence. The choice we have now — perhaps the only viable option — is to align these systems with what we now understand is the way the cosmos creates healthy and sustainable systems… cosmomimicry. (From the Cosmometry Website)
As the quote above reminds us, all of our structures, personal, social, cultural–must come into alignment with the Natural principles.
FEEDBACK ESSENTIAL TO LIVING SYSTEMS: A Plea to Circle Women
Since I have many dear friends involved in Circle, this writing is a plea to remain open to the feedback coming your way. Communication among all parts of our system is essential. So is a thorough and honest evaluation of what works well and what doesn’t.
Sisters: Please open your ears to the testimony of women and men about the divisive effects this is having on our communities, creating in-group/out-group distress and allowing suspicions to fester behind closed-doors and secrect society.
Please understand that many women who try and leave the groups or speak out against them are often targeted for shame and rage by their circle sisters.
Please hear that the risks of never reaching dessert are NOT being fully disclosed to new recruits. Neither is the basic illegality of the Circle structure according to current State and Federal Law (irregardless of whether you agree personally with those laws!)
Invitees are generally NOT being told that Circle Women are being prosecuted, paying fines and even doing jail time.
Are you willing to understand that many of us (even those of us you may consider your “opposition”) actually share the nobler intentions of your involvement in circle: to empower and mentor women, to support women’s entrepreneurism, to create and facilitate a sacred economy?
You are experimenting with something new. Great! You are taking steps to develop alternatives to our current economic models. Wonderful! But please get past the machisto (machista?!) concept that you have gotten the model 100% right on your first try.
Please recognize your participation in an unbalanced, growth-based economic structure, which closely mimics the larger (masculine!) economy in which you are embedded, rather than challenging it. Please see the contradiction inherent in discrediting your critics by accusing them of “linear thinking” when your very system funnels wealth unilaterally upwards.
Do you not believe it is significant that so many people—including people you respect—are trying to share with you deep misgivings about Circle? Do not simply write our criticisms off because you claim we are “stuck in fear and scarcity” mentality. Lets work together to develop a Gift Culture that is truly sustainable and truly Sacred.
If you are still with me, perhaps you will be willing to read more about the principles of Healthy Living Systems, and use them to assess the functioning of Circle Culture? I have included below some useful links, quotes and excerpts on Living Systems, Sacred Geometry and Cosmometry to get you started.
Come out of your closed door discussions and engage in conversations with your concerned community members. Let’s collaborate on a model which incorporates a reciprocating flow from the few to the many, a giving-back of the gifts which have enriched those who come first. Let’s create a flow of gifts from the elders to the youth, from those enriched, to those in need, from those who blaze the trail, to those who follow. From the ancestors to the children.
Please Remember: We are all working together towards the same goal—a shift towards Sustainable and Sacred Cultures.
Yours, in friendship and respect—>>>>Nala Walla | 28 July 2013
LINKS and RESOURCES (updated 1 Aug 2016)
•Resources on Circle by Amber Bieg
—Slideshow on Circle Basics by Amber Bieg
—Creating Alternatives to Gifting Circles by Amber Bieg
—How to transform the “Gifting Circle” into a true Giving Circle
•Gifting Circles and the Monetization of Everything — Charles Eisenstein’s perspective on “Circle”
•”Extracting Yourself from a Gifting Circle with Integrity and Grace”– Post by Sondra Rose
•”Addressing the Womens Wisdom Circle Pyramid”–whistleblower post by former “Circler” Lindsey Vona
•Sacred Economics online and in-print book by Charles Eisenstein
•“But, My Circle is Special”–Comment 29July2016–I am including the link directly to my response to this comment from Marian Venini because it addresses a common defense of Circle. Namely, “I’m sorry some women have bad experiences, but my circle is respectful and honorable. My Circle is special!” If you are interested in the problem with this defense, please read this thread.
• Cosmometry WebPage. Please note especially the characteristics of balanced living systems.
1. Self-creation (autopoiesis)
2. Complexity (diversity of parts)
3. Embeddedness in larger holons and dependence on them (holarchy)
4. Self-reflexivity (autognosis/self-knowledge)
5. Self-regulation/maintenance (autonomics)
6. Response-ability to internal and external stress or other change
7. Input/output exchange of matter/energy/information with other holons
8. Transformation of matter/energy/information
9. Empowerment/employment of all component parts
10. Communications among all parts
11. Coordination of parts and functions
12. Balance of Interests negotiated among parts, whole, and embedding holarchy
13. Reciprocity of parts in mutual contribution and assistance
14. Efficiency balanced by Resilience
15. Conservation of what works well
16. Creative change of what does not work well