As more of us begin to explore connecting online in ways that nourish and support us, it is important to consider what that means in terms of confidentiality, trust and sacred space. We have put together this short guide to doing and sharing sacred work online, with recommendations and guidelines based on our experience.
Sometimes it can be easy to share online without considering the consequences. It can feel like an intimate medium and it can also be easy to forget how quickly words and images spread. Online work can be a great asset as we share connection, inspiration and wisdom. But it can also leak power and drain the magic if we are not mindful.
Working online needs similar clear guidelines as when we meet physically in Circle. There are some things that are meant to be shared, and some that are not. Being clear on the difference will help to keep the sacred power alive.
* This guide is also available here as a PDF download - please feel free to share it.
Posting on social media –
It can feel wonderful to share a powerful experience or a deep teaching that has touched you and have people respond to it. It can inspire others and bring power and nourishment into the world. But before posting, please consider this: is it something that wants to be shared? Are these words given to you from your Spirits to keep as a gift in your heart? Or are they words and images that the Spirits encourage you to pass on and spread like seeds, yielding a new harvest?
Please remember that words have power and they can be used in many different ways. Ask yourself: is it acceptable to post your Spirit practice online in order to “be seen” or admired through likes? Spirit work is always sacred, whether it happens in the forest or on the computer. We have a responsibility to act in a way that is true to our Spirits and Nature Teachers. If in doubt, ask yourself and your Spirits and be honest about why you are drawn to post something sacred on social media.
In most cases, we recommend that you do not post photos of your sacred spaces, altars or power objects. If you want to do this, please consider your intention. What is the purpose of sharing it? Is it for healing, empowering, inspiration – or something else? What is your personal intention and how does it serve your Spirits; how does it serve the world?
If the altar belongs to another human or is a communal course altar, we ask you to never photograph it without asking the humans involved and having their clear permission. We feel strongly that this is a strict rule respecting both shamanic work and other fellow shamanic practitioners.
It is also important to consider if the altar and objects want to be shared beyond the immediate circle? As we relate to the universe and everything in it as living animate beings, we remember to always ask the Spirits, the objects, the words, what their wish is – to stay close to us, or be shared with the world?
Holding Circles online –
When we are limited from travel and physical meetings, it is possible to use video conferencing. Many of us are experimenting and exploring with this form. How can it be possible to recreate such a powerful thing as a circle through technology, where we are not able to hold hands and let our voices join as one? Though it matters a lot to us as humans, we have found that the Spirits are generally not overly concerned with physical aspects of the work, as shamanism always asks us to go beyond the surface and look deeper.
As in all Spirit work, it is mainly a matter of intention, connection and attention. Our experience has been that online circles are usually not as powerful as meeting in person, but they can be very powerful in their own way. And when necessary, it is more helpful to meet online than not to meet at all, if held in a proper way.
We recommend that the person/people holding the circle should have the intention to hold it as a circle rather than as a meeting. They should prepare for it together with their Spirits and get advice and help from them to hold it. It is good to remember to keep the Spirits close throughout the meeting, inviting them into the space right from the start. We find that it helps very much to have an altar next to your computer, both for facilitators and participants, to remind us all that this is sacred work. The facilitator should be aware of holding the space throughout and balancing spirit needs with practical and technical needs. Making time at the beginning of a meeting to help people move into connection with each other as a circle is important and essential to creating the space.
When we do shamanic work, we are not limited by the physical situation, so there are ways to work with technology and the internet as a type of invisible web that responds to healing energy. If you are interested in working with online circles regularly, we recommend that you journey to your Spirits and ask them for their advice and perspective. A suggested journey mission is: “How, if at all, can I work with technology and online circles in a way that honors and supports Spirit power?”
In terms of recording online circles, we recommend it only if you keep it within a closed group and you have a clear reason why it is necessary to record. Remember the Talking Stick guideline: “What is said in the circle, stays in the circle.” If it is meant to be shared with a bigger audience, as you do when you are holding a physical event (course or talk), be aware of what is the right thing to share, the right thing to record, and if there are any parts that should not be captured and passed on.
Sharing recordings of ceremonies –
Traditionally ceremonies in many societies were never recorded, and still today, in many places, it is strictly forbidden to record them. They are too sacred, bringing power into the moment and helping us to step outside of time. They are not performances but Spirit work. When filmed or photographed, they tend to be “flattened” so the invisible power disappears and only the visual surface is left. This runs the risk of making even the most vibrant ceremony lose its magic. Like all shamanic work, the point of ceremonies is not what they look like, but about what is happening in the field of energy, consciousness and spirit. Be aware that you do not reduce shamanic essence to costumes and performance in a wish to share it through visual media (social media or film).
In these days, however, things are changing a little. As the human relationship to Earth is increasingly in need of help and healing, it is possible that certain ceremonies may now want to be shared more widely, to bring power and wisdom into the world. If so, it is extremely important to ask the people involved in the ceremony, as well as your Spirit teachers and the Spirit of the Ceremony if and how to do this. Always work with a clean heart and clear vision on solid ground.
We have to be ready to meet the unexpected. The key is to be aware of your intention. What do you really want to offer through your sharing? Where is your focus – is it on your connection with the “audience” or on your connection to the Spirits? The difference between ceremony and performance is that in ceremony there is no audience, there is no interest in who is watching; there is only the participants’ intention on the purpose and power of the Ceremony and on making space for the magic of the Spirits.
As times change, we will have to continue to work together with the Spirits to learn appropriate ways of sharing, whether that is online or in the physical world. We all have to do our own dedicated personal work to make sure we keep a spiritual authenticity. If the work is clean, it will be vibrant and have more power to make a difference. Be true to your Spirits, listen carefully and know what is in your heart, and you can find your way. Wherever you do it, the heart of the work is Spirit Connection, Power, Healing and Love.
** If you have any further suggestions or comments on working with the Spirits online, you are welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are grateful for reading about your experiences and learning more together.
This guide is available here as a PDF download - please feel free to share it.