(published by the Inner Yaga in their newsletter September 2006)
In the personal work arena generally, (and specifically in the Inner Yaga), we have readily accepted the idea of indigenous peoples’ incorporation of the directions as a part of a work template for setting sacred space. We all know how calling in and using the six directions of East, South, West, North, the Above, and the Below help to focus our intention and help to ground the safety of a container. The Inner Yaga introduces the formal additions of the 7th direction of the Within and the 8th direction of the Without into the closing of a sacred circle. Yaga circles are being encouraged to use this directional template in their circles’ structures by honoring each direction at sequential meetings. This provides a cycle of 8 meetings. At the end of the cycle, the circle starts the pattern over again. This cyclic format provides a familiar container which results in a level of safety that has rarely been achieved before in the personal work arena. I suggest that the 8th direction is greatly responsible for this phenomenon.
My experience of the 8th direction stems from the use of the concept with my Yaga Circle. Our understanding of the 8th direction includes:
- It is the Without
- It is represented by the color orange and is symbolized by the scent of oranges.
- It is widely viewed as our participation in community
- It is the cultivation of intimacy
In my years of observing the idea of an 8th direction, I have expanded the idea of the Without to include:
- Not only is it our participation in community. It is our participation in any relationship outside of the culmination of the first six directions into the Within.
- Its intention is commitment which can be represented by the archetype of the goddess Hera.
The 8th direction of the Without is the relationship of the self with the outside world. This direction could be interpreted as the direction that holds our quality of relationship with other or with that which is outside of us. Ideally, when an individual becomes aware and responsible in the six directions of E, S, W, N, the Above and the Below she is solidly in ‘her hoop’ which is the direction of the Within. From that self aware stance she can consciously commit to relationship outside of herself, therefore participating in a balanced way with the 8th direction of the Without.
The relationship with the Without moves like a wave through layers of intimacy. Those layers include (from near to far): intimate relationships with significant others, children and family, friends, acquaintances, community, country and with the world. In healthy relationship, I stay grounded in the direction of the Within as I participate in the Without in relationship.
Commitment is the practice of connecting with other in different layers of intimacy. It is in the 8th direction that we bring the practice of sacred agreements with ourselves out into the world. This is why I suggest that the Without’s intention is commitment. The practice of commitment includes the importance of closure. The use of closure is an essential element of safety and of deepening intimacy. This is not a new concept in the personal work arena. It is common to have an agreement in a personal work circle to have intentional closure when an individual decides to leave a circle. It is known how powerful it is to the individual who is checking out and to the circle when this protocol takes place. Conscious closure can occur in an ending of a relationship, a leave taking from an association or a job, or in ending ones participation with an intentional community. A conscious closure protocol can also include a re-commitment to continuing a relationship including the re-negotiation of agreements; re-committing to agreements that are working and re-structuring or releasing those agreements that are not working.
I suggest that is important to extend a protocol of closure to a circle itself, which can occur in the cyclic visit to the 8th direction in a Yaga circle. My Yaga circle’s agreements include the agreement that we meet sequentially using the direction template introduced in the Inner Yaga Weekend. With clear intention, the structure of our meetings follow the qualities of each direction. When we get to our 8th meeting we use that meeting to re-evaluate our group. We use that time to intentionally consider what worked for us and what didn’t work for us in the past cycle of meetings. We use that time to look at our agreements and we end the 8th direction’s meeting with a re-commitment for the next 8 directional cycle. Having a regular 8th direction protocol of acknowledging the previous cycle of 8 meetings, then opening the circle to re-commitment for another cycle and then closing the circle again for the next 8 meetings gives an empowering flavor to the circle. Consequently, each participant then knows that whatever agreements the circle has, there is space in the container of the group on a regular basis to re-negotiate its agreements. It also refreshes the group by maintaining an element of creativity and curiosity.
It is a curiosity that the Inner Yaga vehicle has not designated archetypes in 7th and 8th directions. The ‘first’ 6 directions have had archetypes designated: Kuan Yin in the East, Artemis in the South, Baba Yaga in the West, Buffalo Calf Woman in the North, the Great Mystery for the Above, and Gaia for the Below. For the 7th direction I suggest the archetype of the High Priestess from the Major Arcana of the Tarot. (That is another article for we are speaking now of the 8th direction.) My suggestion for the 8th direction’s designated archetype is the Greek goddess Hera, whose Roman name was Juno.
Hera is the Goddess of Marriage. She is a goddess in of the major pantheon Western Gods and is the only feminine archetype whose primary role includes relationship. All the other major goddesses were virgin goddesses, in the context that they didn’t marry. Hera is a much maligned archetype in our western way of viewing her. She has been more fully embraced in her shadow aspects. These include the jealous, vindictive, shrew-like wife. She is well known for her vicious exploits of turning her husband’s mortal and immortal sexual conquests into all sorts of creatures because of jealousy. At the very best, she is seen as a powerful and pitiful figure who cannot keep her husband’s pants on. I suggest that this viewpoint was, and is, supported by our culture’s belief of the feminine not having many aspects of expression. What if Hera’s explosive and virulent reactions were based on not being respected for holding of the eighth direction’s integrity of having the potential and ability to stay fully within the hoop of the Within and fully participate in relationship?
The light aspect of Hera culminates in the sacred marriage. With an intimate other this is the combination of being able to stand in my center (the 7th direction) and from that place participate in deep intimacy with my significant other. This conscious task is another way of defining commitment. One of the consequences of this mastery is the embracing of the concept of ‘and’. Rather than having to define myself either in relationship with other or not in relationship, I am available now for both. When I am able to master this heroic task of consciousness, I am able to extend that mastery to my other ‘Without’ connections. The Hera archetype encourages projects of connection other than marriage. She supports and empowers collaborative partnerships of all kinds when done with integrity and in the safety of conscious commitment.
We have been using the 8th direction in our extended community for a long while though the directions of the Within and the Without are not called in as formally as the other 6 directions. The Warrior Community’s Coming Home ritual ends with the protocol of the new brothers facing each other with the initiated brothers facing in around them and the extended community in a third circle around them. The protocol culminates with each circle integrating with the other into one big circle as a somatic experience of realizing that the new brothers are members of the larger community. This is an exercise of the 8th direction. By consciously incorporating the Without whenever and wherever we call in the directions it brings the whole of the personal work arena into a new stage of development and potential. When we can acknowledge the extended conscious use of the 8 directional template for setting sacred space, our ability to provide safety has the potential of being inclusive of the whole community: women and men; initiated or uninitiated in ways we have yet to experience!