The Institute for Contemporary Shamanic Studies (ICSS) is a living, breathing dream. It was first imagined by a handful of apprentices on the Sweet Medicine SunDance (SMSD) Path who, in the early 1990s, desired to share these teachings in Canada. Their vision was to be able to spread the knowledge that had been life-changing for them and to do so in a physical space that would provide a safe, beautiful container. As a result, Black Lightning Lodge was formed, offering workshops throughout Toronto.
Yet they had no permanent space for teachings at the time and so this need became their dream. As a way to assist the birth of this dream, they turned to one of this path’s many tools: they created a mesa, a symbolic representation of the reality they wished to create. Having no permanent space to house the mesa, they took turns carrying it around in the trunks of their cars. This collective gathered faithfully to do ceremony around the mesa, as well as sharing the responsibilities of organizing and promoting the teachings.
As prophesied within our tradition, major changes in Grandmother Earth and in human consciousness became more and more apparent. The leaders of the SMSD collective were ready to offer the first Red Lodge Longhouse in Canada. The founders of our school rented a spacious facility on a building on Bellwoods Avenue in Toronto. And so, thanks to the goodwill, energy, and resources of our collective, ICSS was born in May 1994. The first Red Lodge Longhouse program in Toronto took place that September.
In May 2000, the ICSS settled into its current home and sanctuary at Davenport and Ossington in Toronto. It is now a space where a multitude of workshops, teachings, and ceremonies are held in beauty in a sacred space.
Since then, the dream has continued to grow. For example, ICSS expanded to Calgary, to which our teachers travel regularly from Toronto. As of September 2009, Calgary ICSS also offers a yearly Red Lodge Longhouse program.
There are many layers to growth in both an individual and an institute, and when a building is dedicated to spiritual growth, it stabilizes the collective and attracts many ventures. Over the years, ICSS has provided a home for many seekers of knowledge. We support individual growth through a broadening range of programs that includes the following:
- Women’s and men’s teachings that promote and strengthen ourselves as men and women of power who can help lead the world into balance
- Parenting classes to help precious and vulnerable families
- Other seminars on many topics (e.g., relationships, addictions, death and dying).
- Rites of Passage for children, teens, and adults.
- A strong drum team dedicated to excellence in learning the ancient chantways.
- A full, strong healing team of men and women dedicated to providing shamanic healings whenever there is a request
We are also able to sponsor programs presented by other roadpeople on our Sweet Medicine SunDance path.