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One Drum: Stories and Ceremonies for a Planet

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“The most profound truth in the universe is that we are all one drum and we need each other.” ―Richard Wagamese, One Drum Fans of Richard Wagamese’s writing will be heartened by the news that the bestselling author left behind a manuscript he’d been working on until shortly before his death in 2017.  One Drum  welcomes readers to unite in ceremony to heal themselves and bring harmony to their lives and communities. In  One Drum , Wagamese wrote, “I am not a shaman. Nor am I an elder, a pipe carrier, or a celebrated traditionalist. I am merely one who has trudged the same path many of this human family has―the path of the seeker, called forward by a yearning I have not always understood.” One Drum  draws from the foundational teachings of Ojibway tradition, the Grandfather Teachings. Focusing specifically on the lessons of humility, respect and courage, the volume contains simple ceremonies that anyone anywhere can do, alone or in a group, to foster harmony and connection. Wagamese believed that there is a shaman in each of us, and we are all teachers and in the world of the spirit there is no right way or wrong way. Writing of neglect, abuse and loss of identity, Wagamese recalled living on the street, going to jail, drinking too much, feeling rootless and afraid, and then the feeling of hope he gained from connecting with the spiritual ways of his people. He expressed the belief that ceremony has the power to unify and to heal for people of all backgrounds. “When that happens,” he wrote, “we truly become one song and one drum beating together in a common purpose―and we are on the path to being healed.”

192 pages, Paperback

Published April 4, 2020

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About the author

Richard Wagamese

25 books1,251 followers
Richard Wagamese was one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. He worked as a professional writer since 1979. He was a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of twelve titles from major Canadian publishers.

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5 stars
504 (61%)
4 stars
253 (30%)
3 stars
53 (6%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 118 reviews
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,740 reviews14.1k followers
July 8, 2022
One earth. One people. One heartbeat. One drum. The beat of the drum mimicking our heartbeats.
An earth that is here for all regardless of race, creed or nationality, an earth that we all should be caretakers of, cherish. This man/author who was taken too soon but whose books, messages have served, for me, a boom in darker times. If he, after all he had gone through, could still find spirituality and hope for mankind, this for me shows what is possible.

He never finished this book, a book where he had hoped to write down, explain seven ceremonies, but was only able to finish four. His first is the simplest and one I now do every morning. The others are more complicated but I did enjoy reading about them. The first one does provide a calmness, a great start to the day.

I still have many more, and I'm thankful, for reading and comfort.
Profile Image for Ian M. Pyatt.
374 reviews
May 24, 2023
This is similar to his "Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations" -if you liked that one, you'll like this one. divided into four parts, Beginnings, Respect, Humility (detailing the first & second ceremonies) and Courage (detailing the third & fourth ceremonies).

This is tough for me to describe as it is all about Indigenous ways of life, something I sadly do not know enough about even after a number of this authors works and a number of other Indigenous authors I've read.

Wagamese is an amazing story-teller and encourage my GR friends who've yet to read any of his books, to look read my reviews of the books I've read and see if this piques your interest.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,962 reviews485 followers
February 26, 2022
The last manuscript that Richard Wagamese was working on shortly before his death in 2017. One Drum draws from the foundational teachings of Ojibway tradition, the Grandfather Teachings. Wagamese believed that there is a shaman in each of us, and we are all teachers and in the world of the spirit there is no right way or wrong way.

I have always been moved by the work of this author( One Native Life and One Story, One Song) and will continue to explore both his fiction and nonfiction for many years to come.

Goodreads review published 26/02/22
Profile Image for Leah.
648 reviews87 followers
August 3, 2021
The native culture and philosophies are really interesting. This book is a great way to emperse yourself into it and really feel it. I enjoyed it
Profile Image for Maxine.
1,252 reviews42 followers
March 31, 2020
The most profound truth in the universe is this: we are all one drum and we need each other

At the time of his death, Ojibway author, Richard Wagamese had been working on this book, One Drum, in which he planned to share stories and ceremonies illustrating the Seven Grandfather teachings, the foundations of Ojibway teachings. Sadly, he was only able to complete three before he passed but his writings about them are beautiful, moving, and profound. He illustrates each with a story based on Ojibway lore as well as examples from his own life. He describes four ceremonies that all people can perform to help them better connect with the planet. There are also photographs that add to the quiet wisdom of the book.

This is a fairly short book and, understandably, ends somewhat abruptly and open-ended. I could easily have read it quickly but instead, I read it slowly savouring the beauty of Wagamese's writing and because there is so much here to absorb. It is that rare book I know I will return to again and again and I recommend it highly.

Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Douglas & McIntyre for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Ian MacIntyre.
250 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2023

I didn't know all the stories. And, I am embarrassed to say, I didn't know they were attached to the 7 Teachings. We have much to learn.

The Breathing Exercise is the key. I will try to keep doing it.

Please read this book.
Profile Image for Mary.
566 reviews
December 22, 2019
Richard Wagamese is a beautiful writer. These pages are filled with wonder, ceremony and truths...even though it is an unfinished work.
January 20, 2020
"Those who tell stories rule the world."
I'm positive that there are so many more valuable stories begging for their chance to have air breathed into them, but sadly Richard Wagamese will no longer be able to do this for us.

We should be grateful that we have this last brief glimpse into some of his thoughts. I can't help but wonder if these musings were maybe what kept his monsters/demons at bay, or perhaps they simply added to his literary prowess.

This little book was to be about the teachings of The Seven Grandfathers which when you think about it are meant for all of us regardless of our divide by race, religion, gender etc ... humility, courage, respect, love, honesty, truth and wisdom...the first three are beautifully conveyed but sadly Richard never got to the final four....

In all of his books, including this last incomplete one, you can see that these stories were a final 'act of giving', so that we all might try to better understand one another. We can all have a clearer portrait of what this world(Mother Earth) we live in or on is all about.

"PEACE is the reason I go to commune with MOTHER EARTH and Peace is the Gift I am offered in return."

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐'s for ONE DRUM
REST IN PEACE Richard Wagamese

May you find peace in
the promise of the solstice night,
that each day forward
is blessed with more light.
That the cycle of nature
unbroken and true,
bring faith to your soul
and well-being to you.
Rejoice in the darkness,
in the silence find rest.
And may the days that follow
be abundantly blessed.
- Native Blessing
Profile Image for Colinda Clyne.
404 reviews6 followers
December 31, 2019
Sigh. "This is how you change the world, the smallest circles first." I need to make a poster out of this as a daily reminder
Profile Image for Sandy Plants.
255 reviews21 followers
December 28, 2020
Parts of this I loved; parts of this I found challenging and/or didn’t agree with.

I have a real hard time with organized religion or anything even smelling of that—mass thoughts/rituals shared (and passed down as tradition and cultural norms) by people as opposed to beliefs and ceremony and rituals that have meaning to ME. I also understand why people find meaning in that, it’s just not accessible to me. I also have a hard time with allegory—I am HYPER sensitive to any form of manipulation so when someone is telling me a story and the story is a way of telling me a message (do or don’t do/think something), I feel frustrated: just tell me what you mean and don’t try to trick me! I think this is a remnant of my religious upbringing because it was STEEPED in emotional manipulation through story.

I Love that this was an unfinished book (especially the last before he died). That’s why I love podcasts—they’re raw and unpolished (the ones I like) so this kinda thing is right up my alley: long live raw and unpolished!
Profile Image for Deanna.
733 reviews2 followers
March 1, 2022
“Before, when they said that I had to have faith, I would get irritated and say it's an acronym that stands for 'Find Another Indian to Hassle'.... Now I've decided that it stands for 'Find An Insight that Heals.''

Let that sit with you.

In Richard Wagamese’s last book, we get such vulnerable and practical insights into the Ojibway traditions of the Grandfather Teachings. Richard covers humility, respect and courage (sadly he did not have time to share about honesty, love, truth and wisdom).

His teachings/ findings transcend religion, ethnicity, gender or class. He reminds us what it means to be human and encourages us to heal our own wounds. I have read some reviews that this book is too “religious” but I disagree - he is basically stating that every one of is sacred and healing energy.

I would love to read about the other sacred teachings - can anybody recommend a book to read?
Profile Image for Alexis Armit.
61 reviews
March 12, 2021
This book was filled with so many simple lessons and beautiful images. While I enjoyed learning the breath, tobacco, vision, and respect ceremonies, I took a lot out of his worldview and teachings. We all share a common beginning. We all enter the world in the same way; with humility and innocence. (P.190). The book flows full circle to the idea that we all come from one drum. A beautiful book.
Profile Image for Ekta.
23 reviews7 followers
March 13, 2021
Richard Wagamese is one of my favourite authors! This book is practical and mystical and tells us so much about indigenous (Ojibway) people. I loved all the ceremonies described in this, esp sacred breath. Too bad for us that he couldn't finish it. I am glad we get to witness its magnificence still.
Profile Image for Paddy.
55 reviews
November 21, 2022
Having an issue getting my review to save. More people in the world should read this book and take the lessons to heart. It is a beautifully told piece about ways we should move forth in the world. I loved the lessons and wish that the author would have lived to finish the other four lessons in the book. This book is a gift.
Profile Image for Kim.
71 reviews12 followers
February 26, 2023
What a beautiful, peaceful book. I wasn’t expecting a guide to ceremony (guess I should have read the blurb?!?), but it was soothing and so gently hopeful. For the first time in many years, I finished this book and immediately started again.
Profile Image for Tina.
637 reviews82 followers
July 17, 2022
So glad I got to read this! Listened to the audiobook and it was really great!
Profile Image for Zippity do Dah.
71 reviews
June 29, 2020
I highly recommend this book. The reading of it seemed to me a spiritual practice in and of itself. This book fills me with a sense of connection to the world.
9 reviews
November 27, 2022
I wandered into an Indigenous-owned bookstore in Vancouver today and picked this up. It commanded my attention on my journey back to Victoria and filled my spirit. Our world is better for the gifts Wagamese has left us in his writings.
16 reviews
November 25, 2022
This is a beautifully poetic book. Diving into who we are as spiritual beings according to our indigenous elders. Beautiful stories about life and purpose.
201 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2020
As usual Richard Wagamese takes the essential truths and philosophy of Aboriginal spirituality and makes them understandable, approachable and inspiring. Featured are three of the seven grandfather teachings; Humility, Courage and Respect. As well as outlining the stories and premises of each teaching he also explains the ceremonies that make the teachings come alive in our hearts and spirits. He believes we are all of one spirit, one energy and one drum. This is truly a book to read and practice for all people, of all ages, of all times. I read this book slowly as I wanted to not only understand with my mind, but practice the teachings and ceremonies with my spirit. What synchronicity that I started reading this timeless book before and during the Pandemic. The only drawback is that Richard passed away before he could illuminate the other four grandfather teachings. He will be missed, but his writing lives on.

Profile Image for Clare.
100 reviews
January 7, 2023
This book is the final, unfinished work by Wagamese who unfortunately passed before he could complete his plan to write about each of the foundational teachings of the Ojibway tradition, the Seven Grandfather Teachings.

What he was able to complete is beautiful, mixing traditional myths and legends with personal anecdotes about his journey learning and implementing the teachings. I thoroughly loved the myths, and I related so much when the book focused on choice and the fear that holds people back.

I will definitely look into the rest of the Seven Grandfather Teachings and see what other literature there is on these traditions. I also want to read more of Wagamese's work.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about Ojibway traditions, anyone who may be on their own spiritual journey, and anyone who wants to be introspective.
Profile Image for Sarah Flynn.
255 reviews2 followers
January 12, 2020
A beautiful unassuming little book that really sticks with you and goes a little bit deeper each time you think about it, One Drum is full of wisdom.
I started rereading it even as I was still reading, because later passages illuminated earlier passages, which then upon rereading further illuminated the later passages. It’s the kind of book that I will be thinking about and learning from for a long time.
But the lessons are those very simple yet infinitely difficult to learn lessons of how to centre and be.
Profile Image for ❀ Susan G.
690 reviews51 followers
November 4, 2019
Richard Wagamese was such an amazing storyteller and this non-fiction book is full of Ojibway stories to help share the Grandfather teachings and ceremonies. Unfortunately he passed away after the first 3 teachings leaving the reader so sorry for his death and wanting more of his wisdom and beautiful way with words.

His fiction and non-fiction are intwined as he learned and shared himself in all of his books as he learned and grew.
Profile Image for Wendelle.
1,526 reviews26 followers
March 24, 2021
'Before, when they said that I had to have faith, I would get irritated and say it's an acronym that stands for 'Find Another Indian to Hassle'.... Now I've decided that it stands for 'Find An Insight that Heals.'' - Richard Wagamese
This book, the final writings of Richard Wagamese published after his death, is the final and essential conveyance of his generous spirit and wisdom. The central message of this book, passed on from the wisdom of his Ojibwe elders, is the interconnectedness and harmony of all living beings. He asks us to dwell on the phrase, 'All Our Relations'-- encompassing all people regardless of cultural background or historical background or skin color, all creatures that occupy this earth, inviting us to tread the earth lightly, and to willingly choose to part from fear, which has manifested into agitated struggles to gather more resources, to separate from nature, to defeat others, to rise above others, to control. The extension of welcome to all members of the human family emanating from Wagamese's writings is loving and certain and warm. His message is particularly resonant given his own life experience--he had a traumatic upbringing, uprooted from his heritage, treated coldly, revolved among the jail and the streets, and felt an anthem of anger and alienation beating through his heart: Crazy Horse's proverb, 'Today is a good day to die.' Yet as he grew older and encountered elders and mentors he passed on the realization that he learned-- the proverb is not a battle cry but a meditative settlement of all passions against human foes, against all warlike struggles; the achievement of love and harmony for all creatures including the tribe of the enemy, a readiness to pass on to the next stage of existence awaiting after death: 'Today is a good day to die'; all is resolved, all is fulfilled, one is ready.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 118 reviews

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