In a time when the divisions and divisiveness created by race, class, and gender have many people worried, it is salutary to recall the Native American belief in circles as the best way to bring diverse individuals together for a common purpose. This brand of spiritual democracy is now inching its way across the country as evidenced by the growing interest in salons where men and women gather to connect with each other and share ideas in dialogue.
The Ceremonial Circle: Practice, Ritual, and Renewal for Personal and Community Healing is a new paperback written by two experts in Native American and shamanic lore, Sedonia Cahill and Joshua Halpern. They note at the outset: "The ceremonial circle is the most effective form for breathing new life into the soul and spirit of human interchange, for inspiring renewed personal vision and for recreating a cohesive community." In a circle, all are equal and each can feel free to speak from the heart. In a circle, individuals can practice spirituality by being fully present, by paying attention to spirit, and by honoring the experiences of others.
Cahill and Halpern present a wide selection of ceremonies which can be enacted by families, women's and men's circles, and community groups. These rituals are designed to stop the world and to put individuals in touch with the earth, their bodies, and the soul-force of the other. Many of these healing rituals are tailor-made for those who yearn to turn everyday activities into sacred acts. The Ceremonial Circle is a necessary resource for anyone engaged in soul-making.