Reviewed by Nicola
Jason and I had been running shamanic drumming circles for just over a year when we stumbled upon this book, and it was so reassuring to find. Written almost 25 years ago it is just as relevant for today as it was I imagine when it was written back in 1992. Sedonia Cahill and Joshua Halpern have created this easy-to-read manual for creating ceremonial circles to bring about the shift in consciousness needed at this time, and they set out that consciousness although being individual, is changed at the community level. As they say ‘consciousness is linked in with the community in which we live, so if we really want to change consciousness we have got to do it within a group’.
They talk of what is needed to get a group working well together – most importantly trust, where people are honest with each other, but also value, where everyone in a group has value by virtue of being who they are are, not by virtue of meeting certain standards.
They speak of the fact that the time has come, the need is extreme, each of us has to come forward from our own circle of power and break down the border-lines. Each of us can call forth the shaman within. We all have the power to call a circle, to transform, to heal the terrible predicament we are all in. They offer the advice to trust ourselves, as as long as our hearts are pure we will create good.
They explain that to create a ceremonial circle is to step out of world time and into sacred time. When we make ceremonial circles we create a form in which to align ourselves with the sacred pulse of life, and to form a circle establishes the possibility for communion. This is a response to the hearts longing to return to a harmonic vibration within the earth. They offer the idea that authentic shamanic practice stems from a circle of people who are involved in where they live, who feel a part of their bio-region, who know the ways of the moon, whose diets are attuned to the seasons. Authentic shamanic practice is in service to the personal, and responsive to the political realities that affect life.
The book is full of practical information about shamanic practice and how to create ceremonies and rituals by working with the tools and techniques of the Sacred, and includes interviews with well known ceremonialists such as Starhawk. It is a manual for those who care and are ready to back up their caring with action. It is for people who want to be with others in a deep and sacred manner and who are ready to build community. It is for those who recognise the crisis facing humanity and who are looking for solutions that combine spiritual with ecological and political reality.