From the time that humans first developed a sense of the sacred, they have used their creative talents to interact and communicate with the spiritual realms. Shamans, priests and priestesses were the original performers, their stage a sacred space of any sort that allowed them to bring their human audience into closer contact with the unseen yet omnipresent powers of the universe. The earliest expressions of music, dance and theatre can almost all be traced back to situations that were ceremonial in nature. Our ancestors who painted on cave walls were among the first visual artists of our species, their art an inherently ritual act that magically connected them to the spirits of animals, plants, mountains, rivers and elemental forces. The first words uttered by poets and storytellers were spoken and chanted in ritualized contexts, unleashing the powers not only of imagination but of divinity. Even the first doctors and healers were ceremonial adepts, as no medicine or treatment would have been considered effective without the proper blessings or channeling of energies.
It is these richly diverse and potent ancestral roots that inspire Jim Berenholtz as a ceremonial artist. It is the place from which all his art is born, and the source to which it returns. Ceremonial art is his path to “Re-Membering”, to gathering together the forgotten pieces of our selves and offering them up for re-examination. To see with new eyes and hear with new ears is the challenge innate to this process. Communion and transformation are the goals, that through this art of ceremony each witness and participant may discover a previously hidden part of themselves, and thus deepen their relationship with our shared universe.
In the process of learning ceremonial arts, Jim has studied with the teachers of many different native traditions. Through that journey he has come to an appreciation of what makes us all “Native Human”. Thus the ceremonies he creates and performs arise from a sensibility of native humaness that is intentionally accessible and universal.
One of the keys to the designing of all JIm’s ceremonies involves the intersection of sacred time with sacred space. Choosing the right location for a ceremony is only one part of the envisioning process. Equally important is the choosing of the right date and time for a ceremony to occur. To do this the heavens must be consulted - sun, moon, planets and stars. These celestial bodies move the hands of the cosmic clock, letting us know where we are not only in seasonal time, but in the cycles of the ages, great and small. Full and new moons, solstices and equinoxes, lunar and solar eclipses are among the important markers of the smaller cycles. Significant planetary conjunctions, perihelions and periastrons, and the cycles of Venus are among the markers of the larger cycles that Jim follows to determine the nature and timing of his ceremonies. But whatever, wherever, and whenever a ceremony is, underlying them all is a deeply seeded intention to bring more harmony, more justice, more peace and more love into our turbulent and troubled world.