Advice List of Circles Resources



















In 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.

Joining 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.

Some 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.

Being 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.

Thinking 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 together?

• 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 a place?

• 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?

Ideas for Meetings
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.

Ideas 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).