Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Calling the Circle: The First and Future Culture

Rate this book
The original small-press edition of Calling the Circle has become one of the key resources for the rapidly-growing "circle" movement. This newly revised edition brings Christina Baldwin's groundbreaking work to an even broader audience ranging from women's spirituality groups to corporate development teams.

50,000 years ago, women and men gathered around campfires to decide the key issues in their lives. Today, groups everywhere are discovering a new form of this ancient ritual for communication, mutual support, teamwork, and social change. Now, in a book as consciousness-changing as Riane Eisler's The Chalice and the Blade or Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline, Christina Baldwin offers this powerful new tool to everyone who longs for a community based on honesty, equality, and spiritual integrity.

In this simple, profound practice, participants sit in a circle, pass a talking piece from person to person, and speak and listen from the heart. Christina Baldwin gives detailed instructions and suggestions for getting started, setting goals, and solving disagreements safely and respectfully. She also offers inspiring examples of circles in action: a women's spirituality group, a father and son in crisis, a PTA group that averts a school strike and a work project team that accesses a new level of creativity and caring.

256 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1994

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Christina Baldwin

23 books35 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
62 (38%)
4 stars
57 (35%)
3 stars
36 (22%)
2 stars
4 (2%)
1 star
3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Evan Anderson.
Author 7 books
November 18, 2017
An immensely practical book; if I have any criticism it's that the key concepts can be explained in two to three chapters, and some of the examples of group dynamics in action feel like the author's efforts to make the circle more "relevant" in today's business environment. In fact, it is visionary: a rediscovery of an ancient practice of connecting in a circle that's been shoved aside in our still-entrenched pattern of hierarchical, top-down structures of living and decision-making. The book's usefulness really comes to the fore when it's put in practice, and I've had the opportunity to put it to use on a number of occasions. A book that I can easily recommend to anyone interested in creating good group dynamics.
Profile Image for Molly.
493 reviews23 followers
May 13, 2013
This book is a good resource overall. It started to lag during the second half and feel repetitive and I began thinking it could have been distilled into an article, rather than expanded into a book. Helpful guidelines for circle work though and good basics of group process that I will use in future classes!
Profile Image for Tracy.
216 reviews
May 20, 2018
Interesting process. I'm sure I'll try a bunch of this as it aligns with things I already do. Not right, I think, for all occasions, but needs fair testing. However, the book probably could have been half the length. Baldwin just uses too many words. Her style is way too verbose for me personally and I kept feeling like I was reading the same thing over and over. Could have been half as long. Ended up feeling like a very hard sell by the end, a hard sell on things I was already convinced of, which is why I was reading the book.
Profile Image for Antoinette.
112 reviews
February 2, 2020
I don't particularly think there was anything outstanding about this book. In my mind, I read it and realized it was all a way to capitalize on 12 step meetings/indigenous wisdom. I don't know if I agree with the premise that circles are a whole culture unto themselves. I use a modified version of the PeerSpirit (tm! see what I mean by capitalizing on stuff that really shouldn't be trademarked?) format for a group, which is why I read it, but was unimpressed by the book itself.
37 reviews6 followers
January 8, 2018
I appreciate Christina's writing on the subject. Her book helped me get a better grasp of calling and creating circles. Becoming a citizen of the circle is a profound experience and Christina tells the tales masterfully. Thank you for your passion to write this book.
49 reviews
June 14, 2019
It's hard to rate a self-help type of book. Was it enjoyable to read? not really. Was it helpful? Could be. Did I learn something? yes.
Profile Image for Mark Oppenlander.
749 reviews18 followers
May 8, 2016
A former co-worker gifted this book to me and it took me some time to get around to reading it. I assumed it was just another self-help book on management techniques. As it turns out, it is something else altogether and the contents are only tangentially associated with the workplace.

Local (Whidbey Island) author Christina Baldwin is an advocate for circling as a technique for creative dialogue and problem solving. In her view, circles are the first and primary form by which humans came together for decision making (e.g. tribal councils). But this technique has been lost by our industrial and increasingly digital and virtual society. She advocates for a return to circling as a process of spiritual discernment and problem solving. The three basic principles of circling are rotating leadership, shared responsibility and a reliance on spirit.

The book has a definite New Age vibe to it. However, while Baldwin recognizes a spiritual component to her ideas, she remains agnostic, stating that the circling techniques she describes can be used in either sacred or secular settings. She provides personal examples from churches, businesses and even community settings (e.g. a PTA group) of effective circles. The book starts with understanding the purpose of circles and then gives step-by-step advice on calling a circle, getting started and trouble-shooting problems that may arise in a circle, especially over time. It is like a field guide to circling.

The concept of circling and the principles underlying it are pretty counter-cultural. Baldwin shares stories of people overcoming objections to circling from their peers. I found some of these anecdotes believable and some of them less so. I would love to think that businesspeople would pick up this idea and run with it, but I struggle to imagine a work team at, say, Amazon.com thinking circling was a great idea. But maybe that's just my cynicism.

As a Quaker, this book seems very familiar to me. The Quaker process of group discernment and consensus building has much in common with Baldwin's "circling" prescription. For anyone who has ever learned to Clerk a Quaker meeting - or even just watched a gifted Clerk in action - you will see the similarities. But for those who have no such tradition to draw upon, you may find this book helpful. It sets up a structure and a process for doing discernment together that can be adapted to a wide variety of situations and settings.
11 reviews3 followers
July 25, 2008
In a break from the traditional group dynamic - TQM discource (yet still applicable in many of the afore mentioned situations) this book interwove practical implications with an anthropological, spiritual and indigenous origins of collective movements as well as mediation and personal growth. I thought it was a great, and more holistic, reference for facilitating a variety of group interactions from community organizations, project/task groups, therapeutic support groups and just circles of like minded and individuals. The inclusion of historical and tribal uses of this type of group council/facilitation make the content even more interesting. Don't be put off by the "new-ageish" feel to some of the content, there is a goldmine of practical applications within the pages.
Profile Image for Holly.
3 reviews
September 22, 2012
I ambled my way through this book over a long period of time with an intial fascination with the possibilities of stepping into a new leadership role with a sense of honor for those I would be leading and hope for great teamwork. I believe that this book laid a hopefilled framework in my mind and that we collectively achieved much in the way of greater results from greater respect for each other and those that we would serve.
Profile Image for Franco.
Author 16 books18 followers
November 9, 2012
A most precious resource for those who wish to explore the healing power of the circle in a very pragmatic and direct way. The text provides effective tools for dealing with group dynamics, which can be easily applied in any context of life, such as family, organisations, workplace and intimate relationships. The book is inspired by a deeply holistic consciousness, which can provide significant insights for anyone on the path of group healing and reconciliaton.
March 15, 2014
"Calling the Circle" shows us the answer to conflict at all levels. This simple, ancient-yet-new way of communicating, finding consensus, and deepening respectful connection is artfully presented by Baldwin, whose prose is a pleasure to experience. Our countries, our businesses, our families - all groups of human beings - need to move towards these simple methods if we are going to begin to accomplish peace in our world.
Profile Image for gail.
25 reviews3 followers
November 25, 2007
Circling - "a council of ordinary people who convene to create a sacred space and from that space accomplish a specific task, supporting each other in the process."
Profile Image for Janne Asmala.
29 reviews34 followers
February 10, 2009
Although the language gets a bit New Agey at times, this is still the definite guide to circling, a minimal structure of dialogue and co-creative leadership.
Profile Image for Tina Whittle.
Author 23 books83 followers
May 20, 2010
A profound book that gives voice to that often unintelligible need we have for communion, community, and culture. It articulates the call. Necessary and beautiful.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.