Discovering Council

The Way of Council is an Illuman practice that has been introduced to us through The Ojai Foundation.

Council practice is a way of engaging ourselves and others more deeply “by fostering attentive listening, authentic expression, and creative spontaneity,” building “positive relationships between participants and neutralizing hierarchical dynamics fostered by inequality of status, race, economic stature or other social factors.”

Council is a modern practice derived from many ancient forms of communicating in a circle. Sometimes referred to as "Listening Circles," Council utilizes a center, a circle, and a talking piece to create an intentional space in which to share our stories.

The Four Intentions of Council

The Way of Council is Illuman’s primary practice, implemented at all levels of our work, from rites of passage to chapter meetings, from our homes to our wider communities. We respect this enough to equip men to do it well, but we acknowledge that council emerges apart from our efforts to control it. Circles have an archetypal life of their own. Council is the best teacher of council.

turned on candle lantern


Speak from the Heart


gray rabbit


Listen from the Heart

silhouette of person raising hands


Be Spontaneous

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones


Be Lean of Expression

We understand the Way of Council as a communal contemplative practice. It affirms the importance of listening and speaking from the heart within a circle of men.


Guiding Principles of Council

Sit in a circle.

Everyone participates as peers.

Use a talking piece.

Seek a collective (not invidual) truth.

Listen deeply.

Observe the four intentions.

No crosstalk or interupting the speaker.

Confidentiality permeates the entirety of Council.