A few months ago, we were invited to attend a tribal gathering in Northern Wisconsin. We must be doing something right, because the elders also agreed that we could bring our cameras with us!
Many people associate this Great Lakes state with cheese, but for us this region holds far more meaning than that. The forests of Wisconsin are home to some of the earliest known indigenous civilizations in North America, some dating back to over 10,000 B.C.! Archaeologists know this from analyzing spear marks found on the bones of mastodon and mammoth remains in the region (yes, wooly mammoths! Who needs fiction when the truth is so incredible?).
Needless to say, this is sacred land. When we were invited by the elders to film some of the ceremonial practices that were being shared at this special celebration, called the Midwest Shamanic Gathering, we jumped at the opportunity.
The fact that we were allowed to document some of these time-honored ceremonies on film was a big deal, and an incredible honor for us.
One of the most striking figures we met was a man named Dan Hull, known by his Ojibwe name “Strong Hearted Bear”. Dan is known for a very particular type of healing ceremony that he performs, using a large drum and a circle of female healers. He has been hosting ceremonies like the one featured in today’s video for over 25 years and tells us that he still gets nervous before each one.
When you watch the video below, you will understand why. This sacred drum ritual is a very potent, unpredictable, and transformative practice.
Dan says that this particular style came to him in a series of dreams, during which he met with the ancestors and received a “download” on how to put this unique ceremony together. He was told that these healings were to be shared with anyone who was called to them, regardless of race or heritage.
In this video, you will see very distinct roles being played by the men and women who facilitating the ceremony. Four men in the center of the circle, pounding the drum and singing the songs while six women move around the perimeter healing individual participants with eagle feathers, rattles, and chants.
Dan says that this is a working example of the balance between masculine and feminine in the Ojibwe tradition. Legend has it that the drum was given to man by the women, who promised to always be there to support the spirit that it evoked.
A big THANK YOU to Dan and the other wisdom keepers for allowing us to film this very intimate and profound council gathering.
We will be featuring more footage from this enchanting experience in the coming weeks!
Director, The Sacred Science