For decades, Joleen Patene felt drawn to American Indian culture without knowing why.
Her Sicilian Catholic family questioned her interest in tribal dance and music. Patene only knew traditional Christian teachings left her empty.
Then, at age 42, she discovered the Unity faith, which teaches people to explore and pursue personal spiritual paths. Unity helped Patene unearth a truth. She is, in fact, one quarter American Indian.
Today, Patene, a retired clinical social worker, leads the Native PowWows, The church at 13540 N Florida Ave. will host a Full Moon Circle from 7 to 9 p.m. today. All are welcome to attend the event, which includes drumming, chants and prayer.
"It's not just banging drums like people think," Patene said. "It's not just screaming. It's a way to show devotion to God, to make joyful music to offer the creator. It is a practice of worship and praise."
Music offers more than meets the ear, Patene said.
While studying sound healing at the Omega Institute in New York City, she learned to use music as therapy. She mastered drums and other instruments. At Native PowWows, she grew accustomed to expressing devotion using song.
Through Unity, Patene attended an American Indian workshop where she examined the art of the sacred feminine.
"Native American worship includes both the masculine, the warrior, and the feminine, the nurturer," she said. "There is emphasis on healing oneself and others that I connect to."
Patene, a Unity volunteer, said Unity drum circles invoke a divine energy. Evenings begin with a blessing, followed by time to familiarize with the instruments. Attendees learn chants and dance around an alter. Each circle concludes with prayer reflection.
There is no cost to attend the full moon circle but a love offering is appreciated. The event, intended for ages 8 and older, will take place indoors. Inside or out, the moon permeates the experience, Patene said.
"Native Americans are very closely connected to the seasons and the rhythm of the moon," she said.
For more information, visit unitynorthtamp.org or call (813) 962-4361.
Contact Sarah Whitman at [email protected]