The Shaman's Web is the Web of the World

The Importance of Shamanism as tending Global Community

Soon I am leaving to participate in the International Shamanic Gathering in Oracle, Arizona.

As preparation for this, I was asked to write about the significance of global shamanic community. Here is my response which will be appearing in a Newsletter this Spring. As Spring arrives, I invite each of us to consider what new shamanic forms are seeking to be known to us and calling for our participation.

My path over the last ten years has evolved from that of individualistic shamanic training to seeing shamanism as a way of life that is best known and most effective in working to build Circles, linking Circles together, and using the power of Circles to influence changes in our world. Certainly there is always the time and place requiring solitary work with Spirits and for healing work between a practitioner and someone seeking help. This I do also. But even here, I have become persuaded that the deep hunger residing in the wounded souls of those seeking help is to know they "belong" in this world; that there is a place for them; that this is Home. From my experience, nothing so addresses this deep hunger of the spirit as the experience of being in shamanic community.

Just as we can spend all our shamanic work in private, individual sessions, so too, each Circle can easily become an entity unto itself. Being within a Circle is a major way of learning to gather power, do healing, and support each other's spiritual evolution. Obviously Circles serve many and profound functions for individuals on the shaman's path. I think we have a broader "call" today and that is to join together as Circles and learn how these joined efforts can "prosper the whole."

People all over the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa are meeting together in small circles, practicing ancient rituals, discovering new healing methods, encouraging one another. What can we learn from connecting with one another, learning about the dis-ease in each other's lands? What can we contribute to each other by working together through joint shamanic healing methods?

Shamanism involves looking deeply into the realities of the world around one's self, no matter how disturbing. Being willing to look deeply, then we can journey with our concerns to the Spirits, seeking wisdom, information, and ways for working on these problems together.

Equally true is the blessed increase of joy and bliss that comes when we join together for we are able to give each other what one alone can not give to one's self. Just as we do that in a Circle, so too, another Circle, or Circles, can offer a Circle what that Circle alone may not discover and yet seeks to know. It's as though the Spirits are almost demanding of us that we work in all these areas: together as individuals, within a Circle, and together as Circles. This joining allows us to enter realms of power together and bring through such rich diversity of healing ways, global ceremonies, mythic stories to guide us, and knowledge from the Ancient Ones of all the cultures who knew and know what it means to care for every creature and to tend together through even more than seven generations.

This evolution in my path has influenced my professional shamanic work in three ways:

First, although every workshop I lead involves learning certain methods and doing ceremony, there is equal emphasis on learning the art of shamanic circling so that when people leave, they have confidence about creating circles in their communities. In the field of shamanic practice, I introduced several new methods that involve how to work as a Circle in matters of healing, dreaming, and journeying.

There is real knowledge involved in learning how to create and sustain "circle" and this is not taught in shamanic training that focuses primarily on teaching methods. I think both are essential to the practice of shamanism today.

Second, along with some other individuals, I founded a nonprofit, Tending Sacred Circles. The purposes of Tending Sacred Circles are: to support the formation of shamanic Circles around the world; and to facilitate the linking of these Circles in joint efforts on behalf of the health of this planet and peace among people. We are sponsoring the first international gathering of shamanic Circles and individuals this April, in Oracle, Arizona. People are coming from all over the United States, from Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Finland, England, Canada, and, at the moment of writing this article, we are still receiving registrations from many different geographical areas. We are creating a Shamanic Village to learn what it means to bring our diverse "offerings" as individuals and Circles to the Whole Global Village. If you are interested in knowing more about Tending Sacred Circles and the Oracle Village 2000, visit our website:

On the website is a Circles Resource page listing Circles (and people to contact) around the world so that anyone practicing shamanism and traveling to another country, can find a Circle in which to participate. If you are part of a Circle, and wish to join in developing global shamanic community, please go to this site. There is a place for registering your Circle. You will be able to read communications from many Circles about our global celebrations that we are doing together. We welcome any suggestions for how to further this work and add to this website.

Third, for the past five years and still continuing, I have committed some time each year for traveling to other lands and doing whatever I can to assist the people there in learning how shamanism can be applied to their communities, to their homelands. Equally important, I seek to be more informed about the needs of communities around the world and to experience the blessings that always come from working with the people and the Spirits of other lands. This year I will be teaching in the Netherlands. In the year 2 001, I will be teaching shamanic workshops in Israel. Teaching as a term implies, for me, always going as a pilgrim, an apprentice to the Spirits and the peoples with whom I work in Circles. Yes, I assume responsibility for leading workshops; I also assume responsibility for remembering we are all teachers and students learning together, and learning from the Spirits. My shamanic community includes extensive connections with people on the Internet—people in remote villages. I am seeking to use the Internet as a way of building bridges to peoples and other lands to which I might not travel due to limited time or other reasons. These conversations are part of my weekly shamanic practice in Œtending the whole.

Two years ago in an ancient ceremonial cave in Montana, an Ancestor of that Place showed me a vision of dangerous times and what to do during times of approaching darkness.

She shared how the Old Ones knew to gather all around—and then to go even further—to find the lost; to encircle the world as they knew it then; and how we were to encircle the world as we know it now—a small planet in the cosmos, a jewel in the galaxy—and through me she sang within the Cave and we sang as a Circle in the Cave:

The coming of great danger is approaching
The coming of great danger is approaching
Reach out your hand, you take mine, I'll take yours
Reach out your hand, you take mine, I'll take yours
Across the lands, across the Seas
We'll find our Way, We will be shown
Reach out your hand, leave none lonely or alone
Reach out your hand, you take mine, I'll take yours
Across the lands, across the Seas
We'll find our Way, It will be Shown.

And as we held hands singing, I saw peoples approaching from all around the world, coming together around a great central Fire. As people kept coming and coming, reaching out their hands to the next one arriving, a sense of great peace descended and an awareness that as we tended together the Center Fire of all People, of the Earth, so too would we be tended by the Light that is the Source of love and life for all beings and Earth herself. And from gathering together, we would have strength, vision, and courage to do what is required to mend our fragmented communities and our endangered planet.

I have shared this song in many Circles since that experience in the Cave. I carry no sense of alarm. I am a joyful, playful, often laugher-filled person for I think this is a delightful world in which we are gifted to journey as humans. My joy is rooted in my trust in Spirits and is fed by the many people who are walking and circling on this shamanic path.

May we all know we are blessed
May we all bless
May we tend and mend together
And know the joy of Community
And bring that joy to others who are seeking
To Know they have a place
And belong within this Earth Home.

Love and blessings,

Carol Proudfoot-Edgar

© Copyright, Carol Proudfoot-Edgar,,March 23, 2000
This page was posted on March 23, 2000,