chapter  8
16 Pages

Ritual and Ceremony in Soulful Community Work – In Dialogue with Polly Walker

Peter, I would like to begin our dialogue by acknowledging all of the Indigenous and western elders and knowledge holders who have shared their wisdom and experience, providing a foundation for us to dance more soulfully in the world. And now I would like to pick up and weave some threads from your Introduction. You describe soulful practice as involving ‘the capacity to tap into the energies available in the world that animate or reanimate who we are as individuals and groups that ensure vitality’. This comment resonates very strongly with my understanding and experience of Indigenous ceremony, which revitalises relationships between humans, ancestors, generations to come, and the natural world. These rituals are based in philosophies of a cosmos in which everything is alive (Cajete, 2000) and which makes up a vast relational network. I have had the opportunity over the past 12 years to participate in dialogues involving Native scholars/elders and quantum theorists, and have learned from Blackfoot scholar Leroy Little Bear who has been the facilitator of these dialogues. He explains that the Native American paradigm:

is comprised of and includes ideas of constant motion and flux, existence consisting of energy waves, interrelationships, all things being animate, space/ place, renewal, and all things being imbued with spirit … Renewal is an important part of the Native American paradigm. From the constant flux, Native Americans have detected certain regular patterns, be they seasons, migration of animals, or cosmic movements. (Little Bear, 2000: x–xi)