SHAMANIC CIRCLES ~
the ISC we recognise the importance of meeting in circle. But
it does not have to be in a big community. Smaller Local Shamanic
Circles (LSC) - circles within circles - are also important,
where people who are near each other meet face to face and work
together on a regular basis.
an LSC can be a great way to broaden your shamanic experience
and meet other shamanic practitioners who live in your area. Meetings
of LSCs (sometimes called “drumming groups”) generally
involve journeying, singing, dancing and working with the spirits.
They also offer a way for people to talk about their shamanic
practice to others who have had similar experiences.
members of the ISC have long experience in setting up and running
LSCs, and have formed a workgroup to help 'seed' new local shamanic
circles. On these pages you will find advice for starting an LSC,
a list of useful questions to consider and useful reading
material and resources. There are also links to existing
LCS run by ISC members.
part of an LSC, whether you join an existing one or set one up
yourself, can give a lot of support and inspiration as we develop
our practice. It is also another way to create shamanic community
and learn from each other about how we can work together.
of Starting a Local Shamanic Circle?
The following questions may be useful to consider:
• What do you want from the group/what do others want
from the group? What do you/they need from the group? Is there
difference or understanding between these things?
What are the Spirits’ advice on what you are doing?
What is the group’s focus, what is it for? For example,
is it a group that meets to celebrate the equinoxes and solstices,
is it a teaching group, is it a place to expand your practice
Is it an open or closed group? Open groups tend to do less deep
work (though the Spirits can ask for deeper work at any time).
Closed groups tend to be exposed to member’s shadow stuff
which can be a source of challenge. Can new people join the
circle, and if so what is the procedure?
What are the requirements for membership, how do you decide
who can or can’t join?
What responsibility are you willing/not willing to take on,
do you need a co-organiser(s)? In general we think that having
more than one organiser is a good idea, as it helps to have
someone to share issues with and celebrate successes.
What is the leadership structure?
- is it led by the same person/people each time?
- is there a rotating leader, does every member have to lead?
- is it democratic leadership: everyone votes on what to do
next time, with no overall leader?
In our experience its very important to be clear up-front about
power and leadership in a circle. A lack of clarity in this
often contributes to circles falling apart.
How will you decide what to do at each meeting? Be prepared
to have your plan and for the Spirits to have theirs.
If things go wrong how will you sort them out (this will depend
on how your group is organised)?
How often do you want to meet?
Where will you meet, in people’s houses or do your need
to hire somewhere? Who is financially responsible if hiring
How many people is the upper or lower limit (may be important
if meeting in smaller spaces)?
• How will you publicise your group? Marketing or advertising:
flyers, local 'new-age' shops, health stores etc may take a
few flyers, any local spirit-led magazines, website, ISC network?
Are you prepared to do free talks or 1/2 day sessions, like
in a local library or friendly shop?
One of the things you will need to decide is how to structure
a meeting and what themes you want to work with. As an example,
here is a link to how the London
Open Drumming Group (LODG) structures their sessions.
for what to work on can be found in lots of places. Your own shamanic
practice is probably the most fruitful place in which to seek
topics for an LSC meeting. What is real and fruitful in your practice
is likely to also be useful to the group. It can also be interesting
to look in books on core shamanic practice (see the Resources
page for some useful examples).