Later this month, next Friday in fact, I will be running the last Movement Medicine session of the year in my home town of Budleigh Salterton. It’s been an exciting year for me. I began in the depth of last winter on a cold, dark February night, during what was reported to be the worst hurricane to hit Britain in twenty years – you know how those weather folk do like to
exaggerate. But out I went anyway. We started in Knowle Village Hall, a few miles away from my home, which I would later drop as a weekly venue because being a non–driver it made me dependent on someone else to give me a lift
there. Shortly afterwards I moved into town, so I can use my fabulous pink, furry shopping trolley to walk my trusty
little Pure speaker to the dancers.
That first night there were 5 dancer gathered and I was terribly nervous...having been previously tutored by the enormously strict Simon Buxton from The Sacred Trust
the dangers of crashing landing people in a trance state I
was all too aware of the discomfort that can be involved in playing something like Green Day by accident when it’s Tibetan bells that the moment calls for. I was using Virtual D-J and suddenly watching vibes, dancers, sensitively bringing the voice to guide people through a moving journey and using tech all at once felt quite overwhelming, not to mention little things like making sure you have change and hankies for people and that the lighting is conducive to
the mood you want to create. I remember I was using new (very thick) wicks for my recycled candles that week and was so intent on the d-j-ing that one of my dancers had to point out that the hall was slowly filling with black, acrid smoke….no-one asphyxiated, we all survived and every one seemed to enjoy what was on offer anyway…though come to think of it I did lose the one asthmatic in the group. Just kidding. But what is it they say about the devil being in the detail?
Since then, I’ve had two other venues in town – the very, very large, drafty church hall with the (unforgiving for the knees) stone floor where I had to fend the rude choir master off from barging into the space during a deeply meditative moment because he was adamant about returning chairs…but who helped me access my quietly, equally insistent, yang
voice who communicated that "No. he wasn't coming in."
It's what we call here a High Church and I couldn’t help wondering if at least part of the interaction related to his disapproval of this funny, pagan stuff that we used to burn them for. I also had the strangest feeling that the stones in the very grand building winked at me when I left that night. There was also the fire ritual we did there, which seemed somehow connected to the fact that three days later I set our kitchen on fire, which also resulted in my neighbor who has mental health difficulties and hasn’t spoken to us for several years, breaking out of his usual ego positioning to tell me that there was smoke pouring out of my back door…no-one was hurt, that which was no longer useful burnt down along with the wax that started the fire and Keith re-decorated our kitchen a glorious orange.
Just in case we forget that you shouldn’t play with fire!
I seemed to spend lots of time in water and yin at the beginning of the year too which maybe partly reflected the weather, but also seemed to involve a few weeks of actual weeping as I transitioned from being purely a dancer, to the new role of holder of dancers, taken by surprise by the watery waves that accompanied this initiation. After some months I found my earth and settled in Venture Hall, which for some mysterious reason has always felt very hospitable and where I quite often quite simply find myself plugged into greater intelligence effortlessly. Interestingly two of the other Friday’s I don’t use this hall it’s used by the local spiritualists, so maybe their disembodied visitors hang around to dance in between times.
I’ve also done some d-jing and teaching in the local, much better attended, conscious dance space at Exeter’s Barefoot
dance. Overall this year though, beginning with our leap into the Great Mystery of 2014, I’ve moved through our Movement
Medicine Mandala exploring yin, yang, earth, air, fire and water, self, relationship, environment and now in this last month of the year, ancestors…just in time to come round to Great Mystery all over again in 2015. Also exploring the tree of life, micro, medio and macro in the process. One of the highlights was definitely running a workshop on Yin-Yang-Union at Into The Wild, a gorgeous drug and alcohol free festival and also being approached and asked for some shamanic healing as a result. I came home from that feeling really seen and valued, which as you all know, in the words of James Browns, feels good.
Keith and I have run several ceremonies this year too in order to do our fundraising for The Summer Long Dance, which not only involved raising £600 for the Achuar people in Ecuador, whose forest is under severe threat, but also dancing for 72 hours. The long dance itself was a deeply ecstatic experience for us, held in the beautiful team that comprised Claudia and Bruno, as well as Keith having the honour of creating the central altar. Keith has, rather, incredibly given his hectic work schedule elsewhere, also created a huge labyrinth made from 15 tones of woodchips, a human sized nest for Imbolc dreaming, an 18 foot Klimtesque tree for burning at Solstice and a glorious ring of mud that held a potent community sharing for autumn equinox….all combined with dancing, visits from friends from Bristol, Dorset, Bournemouth and London and drummers from Steve and Gaelle Crossen’s Drum Magic who blessed us with their presence at Spring Equinox.
Rob Porteous and I have also had some fun running Moving Stories in Bristol, with the last one on playing the fool and
moving from passion to gratitude definitely the one that made me laugh most from behind the d-j desk.
Confession time – for years and years dancing on dance floors with relatively well-off, white, middle-aged (ish), able-bodied folk I’ve longed to see more diversity around me in my dance community. It has if you like been a long held dream. I’m glad to say that this seems at long last, to be being fulfilled. From Imbolc onwards I’ve been seeing, babies, toddlers taking their first steps onto the dance floor, older folk, even people from as far afield as Egypt and Syria. I had the enormous privilege of spending a whole hour or so dancing with a three year old after the rest of her family had been trying to drag her off the dance floor to sleep. We danced till she fell asleep in my arms and boy could she move. Never met her before, may never see her again…a special moment in time. Finally it seems, 23 years after I first seeded this dream to share this dance stuff,
my dreams are fruiting in the most beautiful ways…with the whole tribe present…almost…or least a more representative
Possibly the most potent moment of the year for me personally on the actual dance floor was during the session I ran on Relationship. I noticed, as I had also noticed when first trying to share yin with others, the high energy vibration that I so often bring to my work, which can in it’s shadow manifestation become driven and driving of others, including dancers…I noticed that somehow or other that the music I had chosen for them to work with in Macro, just didn’t quite have enough texture and variety in tone…it was just too busy somehow…changing the music to reflect more tenderness and being, I came onto the dance floor myself…just to cop a feel! One of the things I’ve really struggled with this last year is finding a way to witness the extreme suffering of a close friend of mine at the same time as honouring my own boundaries. In that moment on the dance floor I had a wholly embodied Realization that I can relate by standing my ground…that I don’t need to DO all the time, that it can be quite enough to simply BE me and offer the presence of my heart, even from a distance. It’s been a profound teaching and one that has helped lift the burden of ancestrally influenced guilt I’ve carried from some of those who came before.
Such an incredible year it’s hard to imagine what this next year can bring that can equal all the gifts of this one. I will be in Scotland with Ya’acov and Catherine on home ground in Scotland in April…Beyond that, I’m gathering music to welcome the Great Mystery of 2015.
Specific interest in what we might term contemporary “neo- shamanism” within North America and Europe is something that is generally regarded as having emerged over the last three decades. Writing in his critical account of religion and anthropology, Morris posits that this once disparaged subject amongst anthropologists themselves has now become an important area of study. The significant upsurge of interest was originally led by anthropologists and academics, before moving into what he refers to as New Age circles, as a form of spiritual practice. Amongst shamanism’s major proponents in the contemporary environment have been Carlos Castaneda, Michael Harner and Joan Halifax. Harner in particular, after engaging in his own anthropological fieldwork, established The Foundation for Shamanic Studies; an educational establishment dedicated to propagating what Harner refers to as core shamanism, a set of practices I myself am trained in.
Given the role of anthropology in cultivating awareness of difference and diversity it is perhaps unsurprising that much of that which has emerged from its explorations stands as a direct challenge to the values and beliefs of the more mainstream Western religion and culture, often with an interest in emancipation from suffering in the here and now, rather than salvation in the hereafter. Neo-shamanism has thus become established as one of the major strands within what is sometimes referred to as New Age spirituality, something that could be classified as an emergent social movement in its own right.
Shamanism itself is thought to have originated as far back as the early Paleolithic cultures. Classical shamanism is generally viewed as being brought to the popular imagination in recent times by Mircea Eliade in his classical study, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstatsy, work focused upon North and South America and South-East Asia. It is nonetheless, the case that shamanism exists as a worldwide phenomena, embedded in a vast array of cultural and religious circumstances, always dynamic and highly adaptive (See Jay Griffith’s Wild for a contemporary populist and painful account).
For this reason many of those who study and practice it in contemporary settings, view it more as a worldview than as any kind of religion in an institutionalized sense. The word shaman originates with the Tungus or Evenki people from Siberia, who used the term saman to describe their
specialized priests. Variously thought to relate to one who ‘knows’ or ‘sees in the dark’, shamana is also a term for a
Buddhist monk. Mainly due to Eliade’s seminal work on shamanism, shamans have been viewed as those who enter a trance state, thus enabling them to leave the body and engage in ‘magical flight’ in the upper, lower or middle worlds, in order to gather information and cures for those who request their assistance. This would certainly seem to
describe the ability to transcend certain everyday limitations. During such a trance state the shaman is viewed as having the ability to communicate with ‘tutelary’ (helping) spirits who assist them in effecting cures, or divining for their ‘patients’. The shaman has also been variously described as an inspired prophet or leader, a charismatic religious figure and someone who acts to solve the many problems presented to them, specifically through the control of spirits. Indeed it is this very contact with spirits which introduces the notion of a dual reality consisting of the everyday realm and the realm of the spirits.
Amongst anthropologists there are varying opinions on the subject. Some suggest a clear distinction between the material and the spiritual realms while others take the view that the two are fully integrated. Puttick points out that while
shamans believe that the spirits of the unseen realm are real, psychologists tend to relate to the same experiences as
originating within the psyche, or collective unconscious in the form of archetypes. All such technical discussions aside, the main purpose of the shaman is to act as a bridge between the ‘unseen’ worlds and the material realm of what is referred to as ordinary or everyday reality. Indeed the main function of the shaman is to assist the community to deal with pragmatic, practical issues, such as illness and mental and emotional disease, relationship difficulties. Although more traditionally, this also involved where to find food, correcting misfortune, or other matters of meaning, all of which ultimately relate to health, well being and in some contexts, survival. This, just as clearly involves the immanent, or embodied realm, as the transcendent. The ultimate goal of shamanic practice remains then, that of bringing personal and community integration and harmony on a material level.
Shamanism has an ancient history of employing a variety of methods, including drumming, chanting and dancing, the use of hallucinogenic plants, sleep deprivation and isolation, in order to induce what are referred to as altered, trance or non-ordinary states of consciousness. Harner refers to these as Shamanic States of Consciousness. Within contemporary
neo-shamanism the altered state or trance is usually achieved using drumming, chanting or dancing. Within the practice of Movement Medicine, music played for dancing tends to involve the kind of repetitive rhythms known to induce such shifts in state. The community practicing Movement Medicine also at times, employs fasting, the physical isolation of vision quests and burial ceremonies, singing and sweat lodges. The focus of such rituals in such a context tends to be on healing, self-awareness, empowerment, personal growth and a deepened sense of interconnection with the natural environment. The
purpose of moving into an altered state of consciousness is intended to generate improvement in well being for either the individual or the community, where community is defined as inclusive of the non-human world around us, with the health of the latter being seen as intimately interconnected with the former. The shaman therefore has been described a person who acts to solve the many problems presented to them, specifically through relationship with their guiding spirits. Within traditional societies shamans were and still are also often the mediators between the community and the environment, as well as cultural repositories who assisted with the transmission of culturally binding narratives. Indeed the shaman might even be seen as someone who assists others in making sense of their life circumstances through the use of healing stories.
Looking for guidance about some of the spontaneous “altered states” I myself began experiencing in puberty, the answers I found that both made most sense to me and empowered me to move towards a greater sense of personal well-being were to be found in anthropological studies of shamanic cultures. Particularly within the work of Joan Halifax and Marcia Eliade, both of whom described the kinds of crises that form part of shamanic initiation. Living in rural Scotland as an adolescent, traditional tribal elders with the appropriate reference points were scarce and I would not discover my first embodied mentor until I was 21, but in the meantime I could certainly relate to the concept of an underworld journey or healing crisis described by Halifax and Eliade.
The point here is that in my own life, shamanism was something that was initially, quite simply one aspect of my embodied life experience (I only later came to develop my relationship with it in a more disciplined way through engaging with a set of techniques and spiritual practices) rather than a faith per se. In addition, there was very little in the way of economic exchange involved in this phase of my life although I was learning a set of skills which would lead me towards a career in psychotherapy and later still to training as a shamanic practitioner, enabling the provision of services to my community.
Involvement with spiritual, psychological and body based ‘healing’ practices, which are often very interwoven in
contemporary Western cultures, may in some instances be something that includes economic or resource exchange, as it has in tribal cultures for millennia. For all the reasons explained above, it is not something that I believe can be reduced to concepts relating to the marketplace. Given my own upbringing amongst those who can only be described as politically well left of centre, the whole subject of capitalism and the so-called New Age is an area of conflict in my own psyche, I have been attempting to work through in recent academic publication on the spiritual marketplace, but at the end of the day we all need to eat and keep a roof over our heads.
I have mentioned the first stirrings of my own experiences with shamanism and there were several decades, many stories and lots of life experiences between then and now. Tales for another time and place. To update somewhat though, in 2006, I left a relatively successful career within a mainstream organizational context. In my case, this was the National Health Service. I had spent twelve years leading highly complex, specialist therapeutic work within organizational systems that are subject to increasingly unsustainable demands given the resources being made available to them. Throughout those years, both neo-liberal economic approaches and what is blithely referred to as “the evidence-based social movement” swept through the health service.
Along with the increasing emphasis on the business model, management and leadership within the public health systems
as I experienced it, became increasingly, both top-down and brutal. My attempts to bring personal authenticity into an
organizational context I felt increasingly at odds with began to feel more and more lacking in integrity. I had been in
treatment for cancer and was suffering from what we euphemistically refer to as “burn out”. I desperately needed time to experience life at some distance from the intense suffering involved in working with serious trauma in a systemic context that often rendered me impotent to offer more than superficial remedy. I believe that at least some of this trauma results partly as a by-product of particular sets of cultural mores that devalue the place of what we might describe as the ‘feminine’ within that culture. Furthermore, that such tendencies are amplified by socio-cultural models that place the ethics of growth and competition above the value of life - the existence of which I believe has profound consequences for the well-being and embodiment experienced by both genders and possibly even for the continuation of life on our planet.
In addition, never a big fan of the medical model, I came more and more to consider the largely socially de-contextualized treatment of mental, emotional and spiritual ‘dis’-ease with drugs (from which the pharmaceutical industry makes enormous profits) as an ethical travesty. Post-departure, however, I was still left with the aspiration and the task of attempting to transform existing skills into a new livelihood more congruent with my personal values. Over the next few years my quest to transform a more viable model for empowering self- leadership for well being into what Buddhism refers to as right livelihood led me to train and set up as a shamanic practitioner. My husband, valiantly supporting my ongoing quest for more sustainable self-leadership was about to become bankrupt and I meantime, needed to return to the labour market.
Throughout this time however, in an attempt to transform my relationship with my health, I had made a commitment to
follow a combination of what I experience as spiritual guidance and what I would describe as body-based, holistic, intuitive sensing, rather than the more usual cerebrally based way of accessing information that our conditioning In Western culture has trained us to believe is the best way to orientate ourselves in the world. I pledged instead, to attempting to follow my sense of what Colquhoun refers to as communion with the unbroken wholeness of my life, rather than making decisions based upon my cultural conditioning. So that faced with the pressing need for yet more change, I did what I had been doing in response to problems and challenges, both my own and those whom I had treated as clients, for the past several years. I took a shamanic journey. A practice that involves using drumming in order to enter a trance state in which one is able to consciously and deliberately access greater intelligence, that which Gregory Bateson and others refers to as non-local mind and what shamanism names as our ancestors.
Going outside one evening I lit a fire and began drumming, with the specific intention of asking for guidance from my
guides and ancestors, about the way forward. Within the shamanic tradition the ancestors is the name given to those
unseen forces of all that has come before us and lives around us, which provides spiritual guidance for those of us in the seen world. The answer was swift and surprisingly prosaic. I was instructed to look on the Internet. This was not at that time something I had ever done in my life to pursue employment (neither the drumming nor the internet I might add) but nonetheless, I did as suggested. Imagine my astonishment, when ten minutes later the very same evening I discovered a job description that looked as though it had been written especially (almost) for me. A funded position in a business school to research leadership, spirituality, well-being and embodiment, not only felt like it spoke to my life’s work, it had nonetheless, a strange sense of calling about it.
Coming from an ancestry of Irish peasants, coal miners and those subject to the Scottish Highland Clearances, amongst
whom the kind of financial elite I expected to find in a business school were the designated enemy, life really could not however, have suggested a more apparently alien environment than a business school, in which to pursue my inquiries. The opportunity to be paid for three years to write about embodiment and well-being was however, especially in the face of impending bankruptcy, so seductive that I applied anyway. As someone who is, as I have described, innately suspicious of external authority, I tucked the term leadership out of conscious awareness, where like much that we are unwillingly to tackle up front, it would later demand considerable attention. Not something commonly acknowledged within the standard scientific research literature, Romanyshyn (2007) a Jungian analyst and author of The Wounded Researcher, writes about just such unconscious processes in the life of research. And as I outline in one of my own early academic papers he argues that research not only has a life and agency of its own, but that some research actually “hunts the researcher, with a view to finding just the right voice to meet its needs, at the same time as assisting its vehicle to address and heal their own wounding” (Young 2011).
Within a week of being accepted for the research post another synchronicity meant that I returned to visit The School of Movement Medicine, the newly constellated organization, run by Susannah and Ya’acov Darling Khan whom I first met over twenty years earlier. Within the particular community that they lead, following one’s innate felt sense of what ‘calls’ one is seen as the route to embodying one’s sacred dream, a process Maslow refers to as self- actualization. Just at exactly the time when I needed a spiritual community in which to conduct research, I was re-embarking upon involvement in a re-constituted version of one I had left several years earlier.
Although I had stayed connected to a more local group, I had taken a break from The Moving Centre’s international community several years earlier. This had coincided with a number of personal concerns about the leadership and values of the organization itself, including the environmental ethics of international travel; the commoditization of
spirituality and exploitation of indigenous wisdom within historical and contemporary contexts that involve colonial
imperialism, as well as the potential for alternative spiritualities to inhibit social change due to the fact that they may neglect to locate the causes of ‘dis’ease in wider organizational structures. I had in the meantime become aware that Susannah and Ya’acov Darling Khan, two of the leaders within the international community I have previously mentioned here, had left the parent organization, Roth’s Moving Centre, setting up a new organization in England close to where I live.
Some months prior to applying to begin my PhD thesis I had already made a decision to participate in the foundational workshop that they were now teaching as part of their newly constituted practice – Movement Medicine. There had also been many things I had valued in my previous experience of belonging to a community exploring movement as a spiritual practice. I was curious about whether any of my previous misgivings would be addressed within this new organization. This new school had, unlike the previous organization, quite specifically dedicated itself to promoting the tripartite goals of social justice, environmental sustainability and human fulfilment, rather than simply exploring individual personal growth.
Given the personal nature of some of my relationships within the community I would not have considered it a viable
proposition to have re-entered it from a place of inherent hostility to the values being espoused. I decided after spending a week within it that I felt sufficient resonance with it, along with still holding the questions I had held about its
organizational predecessor, for it to be a viable community for the research I was about to embark upon. My re-search was about to become research. Whilst my journey into the wilds was about to take me ever deeper into the centre of the forest.
Last Thursday about 40 of us gathered at the beautiful Rill Farm to begin this year’s Ritual modules, with the SEER process. Assisted by the beautiful Sian and the lovely David, Ya’acov was about to teach us all how to go retrieve
Systemic Essential Energy, which we had leaked, lost, dropped or generally mislaid during experiences which we had found difficult . It is generally understood, in both the therapeutic and the shamanic paradigms that trauma and distress which we have experienced in our past and have been unable to
fully express at the moment of its occurring becomes locked in the body or lost somehow as freely available life energy, often causing what the shamanic paradigm calls soul loss.
The good news is that we can recall it, thereby
retrieving what has been lost, often during moments of pain, restoring strength, energy and integrity to our circle of reality, body, mind and heart.
As is always the case the Great Choreographer had assembled a stalwart crew, all having made time in their busy schedules to provide each other with whatever requisite mirroring we all needed. You couldn’t have planned it.....unless, of course, you are the Great Choreographer, in which case you just sort out the travel arrangements....
We had been asked to prepare in several ways; by writing our personal story (as someone who has been writing for over 20 years, I strongly recommend the healing power of writing to anyone who might be unfamiliar with it....just put pen to paper...it’s a kind of dancing with ink), making a list of situations we wished to resolve and creating an object which represented our strengths, weaknesses and overall intention for healing that week.
The longer I’m alive the more I realize that everything, we do, think, feel and intend, affects everything else. Although,
once again, I was present in the group with the dual role of participant observer and researcher, and even although I am trained as a shamanic practitioner myself and have been fortunate enough to have retrieved many of my scattered
fragments already, I still went through a very intense personal process last week. Thankfully, I am long past my victim phase and it was important to me to write my story in a way which reflects the beauty and the magic which is my life, as well as acknowledging what still needs some work. A large element of the whole process was working with our support group in order to share these stories, as well as the unfolding of the week’s work. In truth, some of the mirrors I saw there were a challenge for me and I began the week wondering whether I was avoiding some of my pain by choosing to edit some of the more traumatic factual events of my life. I concluded later that this was a concern rather than a truth and was delighted to observe the energetic power of my words when having described my overall essential soul essence as wild unfettered laughter, my support group were rolling around the floor before I even got to read that to them. BE VERY CAREFUL HOW
YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF. IT SHAPES LIFE!!! I also shared with people that my overall intention for the week, apart from getting some good interviews was to have a REALLY good laugh. And so it came to pass. Remember, we can choose to have fun. Imagine what it would be like if we all did. Heaven on Earth, that’s what interests me. I don’t want to wait till I’m dead.
The other fascinating strength of this particular body of work is that, as well as working with the Movement Medicine
mandala, it includes all the current resources of the dancer doing the work(play) and allows an opportunity for the body to engage with a deep physical process which enables a very full “clearing” of whatever the original upset was. If you can
imagine the amazingly powerful combination of having your story witnessed, with the pleasure and support of the dance,
the space to let go as fully as you need to and the spiritual framework to call upon total assistance, then you’ve got the
SEER process. It is both a very powerful and impressive tool and a method which offers wholly integrated healing .
Speaking to my 5 year old son on the phone on the Sunday morning, just before I entered into what would be a very deep process, he said to me, “I’ve got a joke for you Mum, What do you call a diamond with no colour in it? “I don’t know, what do you call a diamond with no colour in it?” “A see through diamond!....I’ve got another one for you Mum, What do you call a see through diamond?” “I don’t know, what do you call a see through diamond? “A diamond you can see through!” Referred to in traditional shamanism as being a hollow bone, the level of clarity to which he so wisely refers is a place of presence and being, which requires an ongoing commitment to the polishing process. The more of our emotional toxins we can take responsibility for cleaning up the more possible it becomes to see and act from the strong eye of the heart and to respond simply, lovingly and elegantly to whatever is around us.
My deep thanks to mandala man Ya’acov...you the (sha) man...to my interviewees past and future, to my dear old friend Sian whom it was so lovely to see again, to my husband for fort holding, to Scott and Inma at Exeter University for being courageous enough to take me on as a student(eek), to Roland for his sweet support, to Susannah, especially for Party for God, which has been a musical life line for me this last month, to the people and land at Rill, to my support group who mirrored what needed to be seen, to all who journeyed alongside and above all to life past, present and future.
A few weeks ago I took my 11 year old daughter shopping with me with the intention of going to try
on a dress I had fallen in love with. It had the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration splashed over
a tutu and a bodice. Skeletons partying till they
dropped. I loved it. I wanted it. Sadly at 46 I no longer fit into a size 8, which was all that was left, but my 11 year was also instantly besotted and as it actually fitted her, I wrestled my envy to the ground and bought it for her instead.
At least that way I get to enjoy it as an art work. A
few weeks later we went to a party, around enlightened,alternative sort of folk. The first comment which greeted her about her newly acquired dress was, “Wow, that’s a scary dress!” Much the same as the standard response to telling folk you are about to dig your grave and get in it for the night. Having done this ceremony twice and made a point of making sure I told as many people as possible, I only met one person who was incidentally, also a plant shaman, who was enthusiastic about the prospect.
Having had cancer, more than once, I also know quite a bit about people’s responses to the prospect of being terminal. Funny that, the effect Death has on us Western people. So, fellow warriors just give yourselvesa massive pat on the back for the enormous transformative gift you
have just offered the collective. The morphogenetic field just got BRAVER. Well done guys and gals.
For anybody who isn’t entirely sure what I’m whittering on about I just got home on Tuesday from the week long Burial ceremony which Ya’acov, David and Sian have been holding at Rill Farm in Devon. Although I wasn’t that afraid, as I gathered many of my companions were, it was
nonetheless a strong, intense ceremony.
The first time I had participated in the exercise of spending a night within (and under) the Earth, it
was presented to me as an opportunity to be in conversation with the Big Mama and to really let
ourselves be known by her. As a child of around 9, my own mother was treated for a supposed psychotic breakdown, because after years of refusing her gift of being able to hear the dead’s insistence upon asking her to take messages to the living, she began to have
communications from nature, which were so powerful that they blew her rational Western conditioned state out of the water. After almost killing a Stag with her little Volkswagen beetle, one day, on her rounds as a district nurse in the
Highlands, now trees too began demanding her time and attention. It was all too much for my Dad, an avowed atheist, who called the Doctor, to have her medicated.
I took to the woods, where deprived of my mother, the trees decided that I would do instead. I consider myself hugely blessed that I have never become disconnected from the big Mother in the way so many of us have and that I have heard her call since that time, to take her messages to those with ears to hear. That she is alive, and that we are all her children.
As a result of that and my cancer, I don’t have a lot of conscious fear of death. Pain, yes. Loss, yes. But death itself, that sliding between the veils, into the next big adventure, or maybe, to blessed peace, no. It’s life rather than death, which presents me with my challenges. Really
choosing to be here, on the plane of so much of the suffering which accompanies the glorious beauty and engaging, fully.
And over the years, I guess as many of us do, I’ve distracted myself, with drugs and alcohol, with complaining and resentment about all the bloody work there is to do to promote healing. As if the healing process we call life needs me as a publicity agent anyway! I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding my own pain by engaging in the compulsive need to fix those around me. Aarrgghh! Though thankfully, that phase is well on it’s way out. Phew!
One of the last roots has been kicking an addiction to painkillers which I initially began using to treat savage migraine headaches. Kicking codeine has been a lengthy journey for me, but until last week I hadn’t managed to rid myself of my methadone like replacement of a lesser pain
killer. Shame, yes, I hear you knocking, but c’est la vie. All shadows must come into the light sometime.
I’d tagged that one as a process for the Phoenix next year, but having taken to my bed with migraine’s on two Movement Medicine modules since July 2009, it was obvious unwillingly to wait any longer. Asked to consider the effect of my life on other people, whilst buried underground, I was instantly transported back to the time of my birth, when interestingly enough I was also drugged and pulled out into life by forceps. Giving myself permission to simply stay with the fuzz and the disengagement of my entry into life, I felt initially as though I would never emerge from the fog. Talk about staying with your body. Around 3 or 4 hours later
I suddenly, spontaneously, felt awake. The ceremony continued, but in many ways that was the jewel for me.
The following day I was struck by a 3 day migraine. I allowed myself to stay in bed for over 24 hours, without taking any pain relief, which for me, in my ‘busy’, no time for weakness life, is nothing short of a miracle. I joined the community long dance for only a few short hours, before
the pain returned and went back to bed. And so it continued for the next couple of days. Fading in and out of great physical pain, but actually allowing myself to feel it. Ouch! And at the end I feel like I can actually hear my body, in my pain and suffering, as well as my great commitment
to doing what needs to be done for the world and her children every day. I feel like I am at the
beginning of learning how to listen in a whole new way. I have emerged from the bowels of the earth, anew. Is it worth facing death, pain, suffering? Too bloody right!
“May all beings be balanced between the dark and light. Rooted upon the Earth, we children of the Stars. From far below to the great beyond, our hearts, begin to glow!”
This May I attended the second “Be the Change” symposium, run by Susannah Darling Khan of Movement Medicine and Chris Salisbury of Wild Wise. The
work originated with the Achuar shamans in the jungles of Peru and
Ecuador.people who still live within the Dreamtime they were disturbed by visions of immpending destruction that they said would be wrought by what they call “The Dream of the North”. Sending out a call for help, they were responded to by, amongst others, Barry and Lynne Twist, with whom they
formed the Pachamama Alliance.
We had come together for the day to stare down the beast. That’s no way to speak about the facilitators I hear you cry. No, no, I meant the beast we see in the mirror each day, which is the face of Western consumption. Yes, dear
reader I meant us. Not them. Us! My companions and myself had come to look at our own hearts and to listen, ears straining to the wind, to hear to whose tune they dance. Was it a tune of our own composition? Did it bring joy and nurture to our world? Or were we somehow like the character in the fairy tale in shoes we cannot take off our feet, as we dance crazily over the edges of greed, trance and stupidity? I guess the answer for many of us is that most days we see what Bruce Coburn poetically refers to as the angel-beast
Before you lose track altogether, we had come together to look at how we might contribute to the creation of an
environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling human presence on our home (it’s the only one we’re gonna get} Planet Earth. A well-crafted mixture of information presented via DVD and group process exercises, it is shared in a compellingly engaging format, which is deeply moving, funny, beautiful and fresh enough to retain the capacity to shock. It is divided into four sections. “Where are we now?”, “How did we get here?”, “What’s possible for the future?” and something like “What can I do?” These sections are interspersed with small and larger exercises in groups, which included art, movement, poetry and old-fashioned talking to each other. Susannah very skillfully set up an emotionally contained environment in which I for one felt free to weep through the whole of the first section. Tissues were freely available and lets face it, what’s happening on our home is a tragedy.
For example, did you know that scientists publishing a report called Extinction Risk from Climate Change are predicting the loss of 37% of all species in 20% of the world’s land mass. That’s over a million species. That’s a worst-case scenario that would unfold from continuing levels of “response”. They regard 18% as inevitable now. On the social justice front these are some of the statistics that apply if we shrunk our planet to 100 inhabitants (which it may be anyhow, if we don’t get down to work). 50 would suffer from malnutrition; 6 would possess 59% of the world’s wealth and would be from the US and 80 would live in sub-standard housing. Basically if you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head you are richer than 75% of the world’s population. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy. Perhaps the deep spiritual malaise we see in our addictions, increasing mental
health problems, and violence is also woven together with the knowledge that we live in a deeply unfair world, teetering on the brink. None of this is comfortable to sit with. However, I encourage you to take heart and a big deep breath.
Having been taken through a whistle-stop tour of the mistaken worldviews which have led us here, we begin looking at the enormous ground swell of change which is happening just “off the radar”, represented in the thousands of groups working for change everywhere. This isn’t being reported in the mainstream media but it is happening. My favourite was Jesus People against Pollution, because it made me smile, challenged my prejudice and is a reminder that whether we like it or not we’re all in this together. Like the Chinese I Ching says, the greatest crisis is also the greatest opportunity, for respect, creativity,
compassion and transformation, which our species has ever seen. The Power of One reminds of all the individuals in history who have refused to accept the status quo and become remarkable change agents, leading great tidal waves of social change. We can all contribute.
Given that one of our last exercises of the day was to talk about what we already do which I found embarrassingly like
boasting, I’m going to do some more of it. I travelled home by a combination of scrounged lifts, which has been a way of life for me for decades and public transport. My first challenge came at the railway station in Exeter. I hadn’t eaten since around 12.30 and I was hungry. I bought both coffee and a sandwich encased in plastic but then and there I vowed to begin to carry a flask around with me if I know I might need a hot drink. Tackling the plastic cup addiction starts here. Two days later I went out for the day and did just that. It felt good. Later that same day I stood my ground with my 9 year old and refused to buy her a Snack Attack (aptly named) for her packed lunch. A feisty exchange took place that honestly, I would normally avoid after a long day. Plastic or future? It’s called informed choice and she has a right to it, even if the information isn’t to her liking. The future won. I’m noticing as I write, a concern that some of the readers will be feeling disgust that I didn’t take this
action years ago, and feel that public acknowledgement of shame may well be an important part of our change process.
I dreamt last night, that many of us journeyed behind the veil to be reminded by the ancestors that a better future already exists and that what we have to do is travel into the dream and bring it back. Interestingly, part of the mission of the Achuar is to awaken the Dreamers of the North in order that we might assist in changing the dream. I’d like to end by telling you a “little” story from last summer.
For the last few years the supermarket giant Asda has been applying and re-applying for planning permission to build a 400,000 square foot complex right next to one of our local areas of outstanding Natural Beauty, Exmouth Estuary. The Creative Visioning Group which is part of Transition Town activities in Exmouth decided to tackle the task of protecting the Spirit of the Estuary. Although 10,000 people in a town of 30,000 had objected to the plans, this particular pod comprised about 15 of us. In the month running up to the ultimate action before the planning meeting, 3 adults and 3 children spent a lot of time on the Estuary collecting, of her body, so we could represent what we came to call the Estuary family.
We walked the area that Asda wanted to build on time and again in protective circles we called Walks of Intention,
scattering rowan berries and comfrey as we walked. We drummed and spoke to the Estuary, who was, we discovered, fairly mouthy, although the ancestors told us it wasn’t the outcome we were to focus upon, so much as our own actions. A circle in Switzerland also drummed for her every week. On the day of the action I felt dis-spirited and ill. People told us we were wasting our time. It was said pockets had already been lined. We felt foolish!
A month later local newspapers reported that plans which had seemed absolutely set to go through were now “Dead in the Water”. Admittedly, the recession was the stated reason behind the change in the decision making process, but I like to think that justice wears many faces and I for one will never ever believe that anything is hopeless again. Relying upon the power, love and support that resides in the unseen realms of the Ancestors not only works, it is imperative, in order to plug into the grid which supports all life, rather than simply the petty concerns of the ego, as well as to avoid the burnout which many activists end up suffering. I heartily recommend the collective inspiration represented by the Be the Change symposium, for whilst we can all take responsibility for the “small things”, we also need each other for the journey ahead.
I have packed too much. I hadn’t wanted to get cold or wet or to be
uncomfortable. I am so well prepared it is way too much to carry, for what feels like miles across Dartmoor on a blistering hot day in June. I lag behind, reminded of being the smallest and physically weakest during my school days, also recalling the humiliation that tended to accompany this, when no-one wants you on their
sports team. I observe that I would rather have a heart attack than ask anyone to stop. Hmm......there’s a facet of ego....the face of pride.
Having arrived at base camp we all strike out even further to find a place to sit for two days. As others stride off into the far distance, I feel strongly called by a shady glade, by the stream, full of foxgloves. I am surrounded suddenly by the most exquisite iridescent blue-green dragonfly’s....an insect I have been in intimate relationship with this past year and so I take it as a sign and deposit the few things I have with me in order to mark my chosen territory. Funny that.
Waiting for everyone to return I grow colder and colder. By the time the ritual begins I leap to my feet, eager to be on the move. I forget to use the threshold or introduce myself to the spirits of the land, asking, simply to be shown how I may serve better. My buddies follow behind and after a failed negotiation, because I am not clear enough about my needs, we all set off up the valley to agree a meeting point for the next few days. With a buddy system in place we are all required to visit once a day and leave a message
for our companions to let them know that we are OK. We need to find a relatively equidistant place. One of my buddies is encamped miles away. Walking up the valley away from my rucksack, I ponder my inability to secure this basic requirement for myself and begin to feel resentful. It’s dusk and I’m feeling anxious about setting up my shelter before nightfall. I can see that on so many levels my anxiety is completely irrational, but I can’t help it. The whole setting up escapade is to be one of my hardest times over the next two days. I even help my second buddy find her lost marking before I head all the way back down the valley to get my things. Hmm.....another pattern spotted.....do not state needs, help others when I need to sort my self out,
feel resentful....Ah well....Note to self!
I am finally setting up my tarpaulin just as it gets dark. Never having made such a rudimentary shelter on my own before, I am ridiculously pleased with myself and set out to finds branches to create my circle around my camp. It has been suggested that we get ourselves up two or three times during the night. Having been working very hard recently and having arrived feeling completely knackered a lot of my personal process in the days of preparation before coming out has been about my relationship with external authority. I go to sleep.
I am awakened the next day at dawn, by the pony family who arrive to drink from the nearby water. It is about 4 in the morning. I stride out up the hill in front of my camp. I walk and walk and walk. The sun comes up and it grows hotter. I walk. As I walk I become aware of feelings I’ve been having about a long time close female friend who has not responded to my communications over the last year. I know she’s busy, but away from distraction and work I begin to really feel what’s in my heart about this situation. I am feeling undervalued and ignored.....abandoned even. This one has been floating around for a while, along with my awareness that I can sometimes find it really difficult to accept it when life (and people)changes. Given that I aspire to acceptance this is one of life’s dilemma’s for me.
Arriving at a stone monument I ask the stone if it will act as my witness. You’ve heard of La Stone therapy? This was a sister treatment. Stones make great listening ears....they’ve got all day, they don’t charge by the hour.....what more can I say? After I’d spoken to that friend, I spoke to two others. I wept and I raged. I’d been in and out of therapy for a number of years, in order to address apparently irrational deep-seated feelings of abandonment, before I discovered that my mother had given me to my aunt for the first six months of my life, whilst she nursed her dying alcoholic mother. I’d grown up feeling more attached to my aunt than my mother and could never really understand why I always felt so bereft when I left her home. My body remembered though and I was still trying to deal with the legacy well
into my thirties, when my aunt finally decided somebody really ought to tell me. It is only in the last few months that I have become truly, fully, aware that some of the drama’s I have run in my intimate relationships with women really belong in that original situation and I finally felt ready to take full responsibility. The depth of feeling I associate with being discarded, whilst it may have some reality and validity to it in the present day really belongs back there and it is time for me to take full responsibility for my feelings and stop releasing emotional toxicity when other people don’t behave according to my agenda.
In truth, I am amazed at what arises, here, with a stone, in the middle of the Moor. At one point, a man appears over the hill with a large rucksack on his back (almost as large as mine, though he does look better equipped than me to carry his). I can see that he is desperately curious about what the hell I’m up to....but I Do Not Want To Be Disturbed and I feel, ridiculously pleased when he reluctantly wanders off over the hill, turning to look back every now and then to ponder this raving lunatic he’s comes across in the middle of his walking holiday. Given that there are 24 of us dotted around this valley I wonder, chuckling, how many more shocks he has in store today?
Feeling remarkably cleansed and not at all hungry, on my first morning of spring water, I simply enjoy, on the way back to my circle.....the blazing sky, the ponies, the flowers, the warmth on my body, walking, being alive. I have spent about 12 hours wandering the moor, walking in all four directions, stopping at lunchtime (well it would be if I was
eating) for a snooze. I notice what an active person I am and that I love to strike out for far distant horizons, just to see what they hold. I am a natural explorer. Sitting contemplation not for me, but rather a noticer-on-the hoof.......which reminds me, that my second walk seems to be my Medicine walk. Coming to a piece of ground scattered with brown and white feathers I begin, feverishly, to collect as many as I can hold. Puzzling over what bird they belonged to and assuming it met it’s end in the talons of
a buzzard or the jaws of a fox, I realize it has been a young sea-gull. Strange somehow to have come all this way inland from the sea where I live and be here collecting gull feathers. A dead gull. I wonder whether this a message that we should go ahead with the move we have pondered this year.....or the opposite.......or just seagull feathers, which I am enjoying, regardless.......I also find a whole lot of burnt heather wood, which is so marvelous in it’s twisted knarliness it fills me with desire for a collecting bag. I plan to come back for more but do not, as a new horizon calls me.....hey maybe that’s what happened to my absent friend. It
just is.....our feelings about it truly are, our responsibility. Most excitingly, because I’ve somehow been working through some sort of process with Deer Medicine this last year, I find a deer leg. I imagine how my dear sweet friend Xenia, who’s not much of an outdoor girl and was horrified by the bits of dead sheep we found lying around when we were first walking out, will take a deer leg in the car on the way home? Maybe best not to tell her I think.
The wind is up tonight and I wonder whether my shelter will hold. It does....under a significant challenge from the weather spirits....if that’s a metaphor, I am pleased by the reflection it offers....my work holds under challenge.....and the pony family are back again......wonderful to observe these natural rhythms.....they, like me, need to drink regularly....we are, all utterly dependent upon Water...the sun rises, travels round the valley and sets, the moon rises and falls and the sun rises again....maybe too the Deep Feminine rose and fell, overshadowed by what has felt like an overbearing masculine (for where is the moon in the heat of
the day?), but all life moves in cycles and she rises again, to bring her cool, dark, balm to the world, as one cycle must always, by the law of nature give way to another....life-death-rebirth....Yay!!!
In the evening I sleep...again. I spent most of the rest of the day in sheer and simple delight in my surroundings. Away from work, conversational demands, washing dishes, e-mail and all the other clutter of contemporary living I fell headlong into bees, grasshoppers, dragonfly’s, rushing water and tree canopy’s. The woods were where I spent most of my time as a child and I have always found immense
solace in her arms, as she provides such a peaceful crucible in which to just BE.
I come back full of gratitude for my magnificent life, apologize to the spirits for my lack of etiquette on arrival.......I sing by the fire which has held us all in it’s warmth these last two days and return...home from whence I came in the first place. It would be a good day to die!
I dream of helping to hold the fire for others way back in 2010 during this Vision Quest. This summer of 2016 I will. :-)
I have just returned from the first Module of The Journey of Empowerment with the task of writing about it. This is my gift to The School of Movement Medicine, in return for the opportunity to be present upon this group as a researcher. Come October I will join the Centre for Leadership Studies at Exeter University, as a PHD student, in order to conduct fieldwork on embodiment, sustainability and well-being, within an overall context which examines the relationships between leaders, followers and our future on Mother Earth. To begin with I wish to offer deep gratitude for the grace and beauty of this particular group of intrepid explorers, to Susannah’s deeply compassionate holding and wisdom and the work itself. I also want to celebrate what an awesomely loving woman she has become over the time I’ve known her and to say a simple Thank You to the life which offers us all the remarkable opportunity to be alive at the time of The Great Turning.
Having had a six year break since I last worked with them the most profound thing which struck me on becoming
acquainted with their new work, is the depth of loving kindness which is present at its heart. It’s as though, having spent years building a temple which could house all the rage and grief, the complaints and moaning, the sense of being a victim and all that dark material from which new worlds are born, the temple has flooded with the sunlight of hope and
compassion, of peacefulness and above all LOVE and tenderness.The temple of course, to quote one of our beautiful assistants on our Journey, Marold, is not only the work represented in Movement Medicine, but also “the body," housing the self. The body, the ground of our being. And as we allowed its earth to turn, under the careful attention of our care, we find that we are actually on a deeply mysterious archeological dig, into it’s very foundations. One moment finding the debris apparently carelessly left by the ancestral originators of the temple and in the next, see-ing it as a precious, priceless inheritance beyond compare, the chance of being alive enough to hear the heart buried in the body under the rubble.
Whether we move to its rhythm or not, lying in our power of choice. We gathered together, in a heroic attempt to bring Mind, Heart and Body into Alignment. It’s such tiring and challenging work at times that in the darker moments it’s easy to joke that we must all be slightly mad to be paying for such exquisite torture. After all who in their right minds spends their vacation trawling the unfathomable depths of their uncharted oceans? Those of us who wish to hear the deep dreams held in the heart and to dance them to life, for ourselves and all our relations. I guess it must be the same thrill that under-sea treasure hunters chase. Times of boredom when no wind blows us forwards as we go through the dancing motions in the doldrums, times of fear as the jaws of the great white rise, devouring old ego-patterns in bone-crunching encounters and times of being engulfed in storms at sea.
And yet as the ship sails forward there is the most beautiful sense of unity in this crew, as we see our shared humanity in
our hunger to dive beyond the surface of the water, to embrace the life within the ocean of the soul, teeming with life familiar and unknown and to search for the key to the treasure chest. So, where does that leave us? Ah yes, attempting to align, heart, mind and body in all our complex, fragile “humanitree”, to use one of the quotes of our time together.
Perhaps one of the most instructive elements of our practice together is that of simply bearing Witness, both to ourselves and each other. And of course, the better we are able to offer ourselves the love of acceptance, the more we can begin to extend this into our surroundings. Given acceptance, all states change and indeed taking on the role of witness, rather than judge,jury and executioner, gradually allows us to access the perfection in every event, feeling, and person in our life. All personalities and interactions which arise from Being Alive a part of the passing carnival, all faces, many aspects of the One, all simply embodied fragments of the Divine. Unhooking from the realm of the verbal, which is so often the domain of the culture’s conditioned state, into the beingness of the body, and the practice of just moving, one of the most potent ways I
have ever experienced of accessing this acceptance.
Acceptance alone though, can lead to the inertia of passivity and so we must also work with intentionality, the backbone of all alchemical transformation, as we move from what is, to what we dream of. Why have we come here to this place, to move boulders from the caves of the ancestral burial grounds? What dreams call us forth? And as the body releases the grip of it’s history and the muscles relax, we can come home to the still place at the centre of our being, home to our hearts and we can remember, why it was we came here in the first place. We can remember the dream we came here to birth.
As we are re-born into our own hearts our tribe welcomes our arrival. We bear witness to the shared pain of the vast
cultural dis-memberment in the land of the lost and forgotten dreams. We bear witness and love each other for our ability to keep moving and keep breathing. Our hearts open in deep tender love for our collective wounding. We remember that we are the Divine and we sing the dream back into life. We sing for freedom.
Love to you all! Ali
Rightly or wrongly, I feel like I’ve been staring down the Beast and my eyes are aching. I really must get my confrontational attitude sorted out once and for all and learn to embrace it every time I see it. It is so clearly desperate for love. “You, sir, are obviously in need of a stiff hug!”
We finished the third module of the Journey of Empowerment in November where we had all been deeply honored to witness the bright unfurling of the many souls who took flight in song, each pai of wings a miraculous demonstration of the unique beauty of every single cell in our collective body. Even if I haven’t been gifted with the glorious sight of the naked presence of every being around me, I came away from the Journey of Empowerment with an awesome sense of the magnificence, which lies just under the surface of our conditioned selves, awaiting it’s golden moment to show it’s bejeweled and wonderful array of perfection. I long for a world in which everyone has the same privilege as us. My research
at CLS, which some of you are aware of, is my present contribution to the re-birth project, and so I thought I’d just share a little summary of what’s been said so far.
Asking people about their experience of leadership within the Movement Medicine work, metaphors about growth and
gardening are what seem to poke their heads above the soil most often. Our community seems to be like ground which once over farmed, is now being returned to a fertile organic landscape. Our gardeners are seen as pouring their love, care and inspiration into all the plants which the wind blows onto their land. Tenderness is offered to thistles as well as roses and new seeds are given the space and time they need to emerge in full bloom, even when the gardeners don’t know what sort of plant they will mature into. Mirroring Gaia, there is an awareness of the inherent perfection of life itself which, “if you tap into that, go with the flow of that...alot of things become possible, or become much simpler...when you’re fighting it, they’re not possible.”(Rob Porteous)
Questioning people about how the work contributes to their well-being, I was reminded time and again of the body’s own innate,animal wisdom. Simply by allowing ourselves to move in the way we want and need to, rather than responding to external stimulants, in conjunction with the powerful container of our tribe around us, we are able to experience so much more of LIFE. The medicine of welcoming all that has been outcast by the rational, Western cultures of which we are a part, creates increased trust, relaxation, confidence, openness, acceptance, clarity, responsibility, grounding, strength, presence, healing, retrieval of lost aspects of self and feeling, power re-call, the dropping of judgement. In other words in learning to
trust the body, we learn to trust life in all it’s “different colors, energies and speeds.”(Anna from Switzerland)
Our community is also very clearly modeling a way of being with spirituality which our conflict driven world desperately needs. There is a strong sense of ourselves as microcosmologies, each one of us expressing, reflecting and indeed, being part of the unknowable mystery. Many of us see our life task as being that of awakening, to the power of the heart, to freedom and love and interdependence. As we each set out on the the warrior’s archetypal journey, to slay monsters, wrestle demons, gather riches and win love on the path which leads back to home, we learn that the divine lives right where it has always been, in the flower of the human heart. In opening to life we begin to see that all our fellow travelers are heading for the same place. As acting as what one of the interviewees described as “lantern-bearers”, we hold the evolutionary vanguard of knowing and embodiment of the ultimate wisdom, that we are all God and that strangely enough, this learning germinates in the darkness of all we have hidden from the light. As Marold, one of the apprentices who assisted on JOE said, “...my soul is in my body..what I truly am is in every cell of my body...I don’t have to think about what I am - I am....my truth is not a concept, but is lived.....”
And working as we were, to make video footage for The Six Billion Reasons website, this is not a community which is blind to the turbulence on our planet, interviewees spoke of their concerns about pollution, consumerism, fundamentalism, justice, control and displacement, at the same time as recognizing that this practice offers a way of moving towards harmony and reconciliation. We unify in dance and song, listening to the Mother’s heartbeat, ancient practices for encouraging communion with self, other and nature, we hold each other when one of us is bottoming out in grief and suffering, no-one is ever left alone and in our practice we act as exemplars for what is possible. I would like to offer my deepest thanks to everyone who gave their time to be interviewed and to bow to the depth of wisdom and love in the community of which we have the enormous blessing to be part of. I’d like to finish by quoting the glorious Dee from Ireland. “...anything which gives power, like what we’re doing now, it’s really special,...it’s really important...it means that you can reject easily material stuff, you don’t need that shit, we all know we don’t need that shit, once you start looking into it a tiny bit even, it’s so surface really,.....control is through the material, hugely, on the planet and basically what I’d like to see is just gradually, gradually that people find that little bit of power for themselves and it can’t be taken away. I would really hope
for that and their connection to God is theirs....the planet is theirs.” So mote it be!
Ali Young is both a published poet and academic, with book chapters in collections on
embodiment published by
Routledge, as well as a
variety of academic papers.