Sitting in a Cauldron of Magic

Last weekend I had the privilege of joining with more than 50 humans in the first ever Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute. In this number I include Adrienne Marie Brown, author of Emergent Strategy, Lex Draper, queen (in my opinion) of event planning (From Lex with Love Event Planning), Mama Linda, Lex’s mama, who cooked up warm breakfast options for each day and Kezia Curtis, whose amazing lunches fed our stomachs and spirits (Under the Rainbow Catering).


In hopes that Adrienne would provide a communal altar or sacred focal space (she did), I brought along a small statue representing Cerridwen, a Celtic triple goddess often depicted with a cauldron. I do not practice Wicca. But I do practice Goddess Spirituality and am drawn to the image of the cauldron as a container for integration and alchemy. All week, I’ve been trying to describe my experience/impression of the weekend to friends and family. But, it wasn’t until talking with my good friend, Veronica, that I felt like I finally captured it in a sentence: It was like sitting in a cauldron of magic for three days.

Rarely have I been in a space where I felt so held so quickly. What allowed for this magic to happen?

It began with the container/cauldron created by Adrienne, Lex and whoever else helped in planning and logistics. This includes the physical space, amenities and agenda/activities, as well as the energetics that allowed for the space to feel both sacred and accessible. The night before we began, Adrienne posted a video online in which she asked other Emergent Strategy geeks (said with affection) to hold the weekend with intention and love. That extended co-creation beyond the walls of our meeting space.

Add to that Adrienne’s skill as a facilitator. She was able to guide the process without getting in the way. She co-created with us. She respected the plan she had prepared and the time allotted for each segment, while remaining flexible when needed. She offered opportunities for connection and trust building for those willing to engage. And engage we did.

Fun, Fun Fractal Yay
Fun, Fun Fractal Yay by Tanith Lipsky

Participant engagement was different from anything I’ve ever experienced. It was as if each came with an intention to personally embody Emergent Strategy principles to the best of their ability. We were curious. We were brave. We were vulnerable. We were open to possibility. And when our individual fractals merged, we were rewarded with magic.

And then there were the children. The weekend was billed as child-friendly. But, I’ve never been in a space that did it so well. Sometimes they were separate. Sometimes they were among us. Often a little one’s delight or discomfort was vocalized with perfect timing to what was happening or being said within the group(s). They were part of the whole, not just on the periphery.

I look back at this weekend and think, “Yes. We need more of THIS” in our communities, in our organizations, in both our personal and professional relationships.

Not because it was perfect. But, because it was not. Perfection has very little room or tolerance for the complicated messiness that is the human experience. That beauty and magic could be created without first achieving perfection expands the possibilities for imperfect beings, imperfect organizations and imperfect communities.

Normally, I would cling to something that felt this rare; wishing that I could bottle it and take it with me. But, I know deep in my bones that isn’t necessary. The connections made, tools developed and healing that took place will support each of us in creating our own strains of magic in the cauldrons we call home and community.

In gratitude to all who were in the cauldron with me,


Emergent Strategy
Image created by Chelsea Matilda Robinson.

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