Performance Artist
Ceremonial Artist
Healing Artist

Snake Dancer
Visual Artist
Travel Consultant

Who is Jim Berenholtz?

He’s climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
He’s dived in Caribbean waters to explore ancient ruins.
He’s hiked the Inca Trail to the lofty perch of Machu Picchu,
and made pilgrimage around sacred Mount Kailas in Tibet.
He’s written operas, ballets, oratorios and musicals.
He’s danced for movie stars,
and he's performed music for representatives of the United Nations
from New York to Costa Rica to the Earth Summit in Rio.
He’s visited over eighty countries
and lived with dozens of different tribes,
from the depths of the Amazon jungle
to the borderlands of the Sahara desert.
He’s the author of books that chronicle his adventures.
He’s scored soundtracks for feature films, documentaries, exhibitions.
Symphony orchestras have played his music.
TV and radio have done specials on his work.
Newspapers and magazines have published his drawings.
Organizations have awarded him with scholarships and grants.

He’s designed the flag and shield of a Native American nation,
and helped them win land back from an eastern state.
He’s been given honorary names by indigenous elders
in both America and Africa, in the languages of old.
He’s fullfilled a ceremonial commitment
spanning six continents and fifteen years
to bury the shed skins of a giant python at sacred sites around the world.
He’s been arrested near his childhood home
as one of six hundred peaceful protesters
who successfully stopped the building of a nuclear power plant.
And he’s circled the world with fellow artists
on a pilgrimage for a nuclear free planet
that culminated with ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He’s been chased by elephants and had cobras wrapped around his neck.
He’s led seders in volcano craters and concerts at the pyramids.
He’s managed an organic food cooperative, and gone days without eating.
He’s studied electronic music, and lived six years without electricity.
He’s brought Muslims, Jews and Christians together to record music for peace.
He’s worshipped as a pagan and let Pan dance through his body.
He’s at home on stage, in a tuxedo or loincloth.
He’s taught in universities and studied with shamans.
He’s slept on dirt floors, and in the mansions of the wealthy.
His life is a bridge between many worlds.




im Berenholtz is a multifaceted artist who has been training with native cultures in the living wisdom of the Earth for over thirty years. Whether as musician or dancer, writer or speaker, painter or photographer, ritualist or bodyworker, he is devoted to bringing forth the organic intelligence that is natural to our species and forging a passionate blend of arts and activism, thereby celebrating unity in diversity and building bridges for peace.

As a composer of music for theatre, dance, film and the concert stage, Jim’s specialty is weaving together the classical and contemporary musical styles of the Western world with the indigenous sounds of ancient and native cultures. His works include the opera “Buffalo Nation”, the musical “Songs of Forgotten Relatives”, the ballet “Luna”, and the film soundtrack for “Lords of the Deep”. His orchestral compositions have been performed by the Great Falls and Diablo Symphonies, and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. His most recent audio release was recorded at world-famous Skywalker Sound, near his home in San Francisco. The double CD is entitled ”The Psalms of RA”, and sets ancient Egyptian, Sumerian and Hebrew texts to his original music, conveying a universal musical language of light.

As a performer, Jim is co-founder of the musical duo Xochimoki, a leading force for nearly two decades in the revival of the ancient music of the Aztec, Maya, and other pre-Columbian civilizations. He is also a veteran performer with the Los Angeles Music Center On Tour program, a former vocal director with the Los Angeles Theatre Center, and has appeared outside the United Nations and at La Mama ETC in New York City, as well as performing for peace conferences in Egypt, Costa Rica, and the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Jim’s works as a writer include “Journey to the Four Directions” (published in 1993 by Bear & Co., Santa Fe, NM), “Eye of the Dragonfly” and “Shedding Skins - A Snake Odyssey”. These same books also incorporate his mandalic paintings and photographs of sacred sites. Over the years Jim has guided pilgrimages to many of these sacred sites in such locations as Mexico, Peru, Egypt, Kenya, Maui and Rapa Nui. To date he has visited over seventy countries.

Jim is widely known as a ceremonial artist, helping to create multicultural ritual gatherings from Machu Picchu to Malibu. In 1987 he served as the international coordinator for the Sacred Sites Festival associated with Harmonic Convergence. In 1990 he designed and brought together “Circle the Earth”, a gathering of over 300 people, including indigenous leaders and spiritual elders from across the Americas, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre. In 1999 Jim pulled together Bay Area performers with a Hiroshima survivor to make “The First Light Pilgrimage for a Nuclear Free Planet”, doing ceremony and performance at nuclear sites across the United States, Germany and Japan. As a teacher of ceremonial arts, Jim has appeared at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, Le Fondacion de Soliel in Switzerland, the Lama Foundation in New Mexico and Kalani Honua in Hawaii.

Finally, since 1989 Jim has gained a reputation as an exotic dancer performing with live snakes ranging in size from five to thirteen feet. He has entertained for numerous Hollywood movie stars, as well as appearing at theatres and dance clubs throughout California. In 2003 Jim created, produced and starred in a dance-music spectacle with twenty-three other human performers and twenty live snakes. The show was called "Temple of the Cosmic Serpent", and was performed at Lloyd Wright's neo-Mayan Sowden House in Hollywood. Through his dance and other creative work, Jim helps people to realize how we tend to fear that which we don’t understand. But through understanding we can begin to brake down the barriers that divide us from other living things, and similarly, from other people. In this we can establish the foundations for a more loving and peaceful world.





Jim Berenholtz, renaissance man

Podcast from "Small World Podcast"
February 15th, 2006