The Lived Experience of Being in a Sacred Place Constructed as an Archetypal Circle
Carroll, Mary Janette
Hultgren, Francine H.
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ABSTRACT Title of dissertation: THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF BEING IN A SACRED PLACE CONSTRUCTED AS AN ARCHETYPAL CIRCLE Mary J. (Jan) Carroll, Doctor of Philosophy, 2007 Dissertation directed by: Professor Francine H. Hultgren Department of Education Policy and Leadership The purpose of this study is to understand the meaning of women's lived experiences of major archetypes revealed through a "walk about" journey around the directions of a sacred circle. Significant themes are opened up through hermeneutic phenomenological methodology and developed using metaphorical language related to the images that surfaced. Four women took part in several, in-depth, guided imagery sessions with the researcher where they explored different directions of a sacred circle. Their visions and interpretations of this experience, coupled with literary and philosophic sources, further reveal the deeper meaning of a sacred experience and the power of this extraordinary way of exploring women's interior lives. Multiple metaphors surfaced related to the explored archetypes which were the warrior, divine child, goddess, sage, mother earth, father sky and center. The research opens us to a deeper understanding of a "walk about" in circle by exploring such themes as listening, interconnectedness, relationships, double belongingness, groundedness, freedom, authenticity, justice, the body's felt sense of being, discernment, attunement, nowness, trust, reverence, the flesh, wilderness, balance, reversibility, intertwining, crossing the chiasm, mirroring, mystical participation, reflection, comportment, moodedness, and the nature of sitting between, to name a few. Through the voices of these "walk about" women, the knowledge gathered illuminates the elements of what it means to be in a sacred circle and face the powerful archetypes that reside in different regions of the soul landscape. Through this research we come to know an educational process that can serve to reshape women's perceptions of who they are in relation to their souls and a prayerful respect for self that can support both their personal and spiritual growth. This work is also a personal account of the lived experience of a researcher who actually went on vision quest, used the archetypal circle of healing and wholeness, and participated in Sun Dance to understand the phenomenon. The researcher's voice echoes the participants' experiences and themes. Each woman's nature and soul becomes elevated by having taken a "walk about" in an archetypal circle.