It’s not my intention here to describe the ceremony itself, but to provide a look at the process of creating it, and how beautifully it worked. During the first round of sharing and comparing notes, it was clear that the spirits were as eager to work together to create a beautiful ceremony as we were. The information that each person received fit so well into a whole that it hardly took any work at all for us to weave it all together. One or two people received information about the opening, another about the closing, and everyone received some aspect of how the main healing section would work. As they talked, people easily saw how the pieces they had received would fit with what the spirits had shown to others.


The collaborative nature of the process was evident, not only on the part of the group, but of the spirits as well. While no specific core shamanic methods were mentioned, it was clear to all of us that two practices in particular were being described by the spirits. One person received instructions that clearly referred to a healing method he was not trained in, but that others in the circle were. Similarities and common themes abounded in people’s descriptions of what they’d been shown. As one participant remarked, “After journeying, having received guidance from spirit teachers and animal spirits, when the drumming group began creating the ceremony, common themes and symbols emerged. For example, we reported parallel experiences of streams, waterfalls and pools.” I made notes as people talked, thinking that I might use the lunch break to compile everything, and bring it back to the group for comments. The process went so smoothly, however, that we only needed one round of follow-up journeys for clarification. The notes I made during the two rounds of sharing were so easy to follow that I didn’t even re-write them for the ceremony.

The group broke for lunch, and a chance to experience some of that gorgeous day before the sun sank down behind Bear Peak and plunged us into shadow, and we came back excited to see what was going to happen. We started with a dry run, to see if there were any details that still needed to be worked out. It was at this point that it became tempting to add in new ideas or new details, beyond what people had received from the spirits in the morning. I suggested we include only what came directly from the spirits, since that is the source of the power of the ceremony.

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