A Community Shamanic Ceremony
  I have the privilege teaching workshops, and conducting my shamanic practice in a beautiful space operated by the Boulder Center for Conscious Community (BC3), where I also serve on the board of directors. Last winter, as the world reeled from outbreaks of violence and fear, I was approached by members of both the BC3 and the core shamanic drumming circle that meets at the Center, asking for a shamanic ceremony that could bring healing and support to the community. I gave a lot of thought to this request, knowing that core shamanic healing work is done individually, with permission, and that generally in the FSS programs, everyone involved in group practices is trained and skilled in shamanic journeying. I also knew that in indigenous cultures around the world, community ceremonies are performed routinely, led by the shamans, with participation by everyone. My beloved community was asking for help from the spirits. How could this work? What type of ceremony might we do?


We needed a practice that was known to be powerful and effective, and in which everyone could participate. I consulted with my teachers in both ordinary and non-ordinary reality, and decided to create a Spirit Canoe ceremony with everyone who wanted to come from the drumming circle, from recent FSS workshops held at the BC3, and from the BC3 itself. The ceremony would take place with permission from the group, and the overall intention would be to ask for help, healing and teaching for everyone present. Generally, the Spirit Canoe practice is done for an individual, who is seeking healing for a serious illness, an addiction, or other significant issue. In those cases, the intention is clear. How would we reach a specific and powerful, jointly-held intention, when the client was the entire community? Remembering that ancestor spirits are known to take a special interest in the well-being of their own descendants, I thought perhaps there would be a way to solicit their advice as we formed our group intention. I didn’t know how it would work in a group composed of journeyers and non-journeyers, but I thought that somehow, the ancestors could help. What follows is the story of how the ceremony unfolded.

1. For reference to the Spirit Canoe ceremony, see
Harner, Michael, The Way of the Shaman, HarperCollins, 1980, 1990.

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