School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: February 2013 Newsletter
Emerging from the Womb of Winter

By Ya'Acov
So much has happened since I last wrote an article for our newsletter, its hard to know where to begin. If in doubt, start where you are, I hear my Wise Elder whisper in answer to a little prayer for inspiration as my train cuts a purple line through the flooded landscape of the South West. Ok, so where am I? Im on my way to Switzerland to teach Return of the Light, a workshop that celebrates the old Celtic Festival of Imbolc. I was wondering how my dictionary describes Imbolc:

ORIGIN a Celtic word, literally ‘in the belly or womb’, the festival being dedicated to women (the feminine) and fertility.

Aha! Now that explains something to me. Last night, I was dreaming about participating in an ancient ceremony where the shaman was unlocking these multi-layered and super complex ‘gates’ that led into the feminine mysteries. One of our first shamanic teachers taught us about the power of the womb. She described it as the second brain and she told us men that we had to build an ‘energetic womb’ so that we too could experience the intelligence of our original home. We were given chi kung type exercises and grounding techniques so that we could each work with this intention. We were also invited to sit with a beautiful woven basket, known as a marriage basket, resting on our belly. This basket, we were told, had come from Native American traditions. Woven with a beautiful pattern with 12 gates and an opening, we were instructed to sit with it over our belly and breathe as deeply as we could. I can still remember in my body the deep feeling that arose of a cavernous space opening inside me that seemed to be dark, moving and infinite. I fell inside it and was held in a glorious sensation of feminine embrace.

25 years later, I still have that basket. It sits at the foot of my bed and every now and again, it comes with me into ceremony to do its work. In our first Winter Dream Dance that took place last week, inspired by a community wish to create a ‘red tent’ space and by the story of one dancer who had recently been to see a Womb Whisperer (someone who has the gift of being able to hear and communicate the voice of the womb), the group creating the earth alter constructed a womb space for any dancer to go and be held in. We have often had these kinds of constructions in the Alchemist’s Garden, the energetic space we construct for the all night ceremony in The Alchemy of Stillness workshop. This year, this workshop will form the basis of the second module of The Journey of Empowerment ongoing group that begins at the end of March.

We often talk about life as being a creative project. And more than that, every idea or creation needs a good womb, mothering, fathering and time to go through its puberty and adolescence, before it enters into adulthood. This recognition of how creation moves in cycles also means acknowledging that everything that is born will eventually die. And making friends with death is a vital aspect of every shamanic pathway.

Sometimes things are born quickly and move from dream to manifestation with ease and grace. At other times, the birth can be difficult and we all know the challenges of childhood and the teenage years! For myself, recognising that we are not in charge of the timing of how things gestate and eventually find their form and their place has been a great blessing. This is especially true for the part of me that used to suffer so much as a result of being impatient (one could say adolescent), and attached to some mind-imposed timetable of creation. That the Alchemist’s Garden ceremony has finally found its place in the middle module of the Journey of Empowerment is one such example of how things take time. I could even say that our whole body of work is an example of this. Movement Medicine has been in the world for 6 years. In that time, it has already evolved way beyond its original conception, mainly down to the dancers to have found it to be good medicine and have worked with it and offered so much back to the energy field that is Movement Medicine.

At the Winter Dream Dance, a yearly event only open to Apprentices, we also graduated three more apprentices. Kat Forrester and Lynn Campbell qualified as Movement Medicine Teachers and Ben Yeger qualified as the first Movement Medicine Facilitator. We offer hearty congratulations to all three and wish them well as they spread their wings and fly.

And so the wheel of the year is turning again and here in the Northern Hemisphere, the first signs of spring are already appearing. In January, we were blessed to visit our friends in Ecuador again. We deepened our relationships with our friends in the San Clemente Community, who live on the flanks of the sacred volcano known as Imbabura. As we left after three days of ceremony, we were given two stones from their ‘ancestor cave’ to bring home with us. This community is such a living symbol of hope and evolution based in dreaming and plain old work. The grandparents of the people who live there were slaves on their own ancestral land under the hacienda system imposed by the Conquistadores. In the mid 50’s, the land was returned to its rightful guardians and since then, these brave and beautiful people have been reconstructing the old ways of living according to the cycles of nature. We feel blessed to call them friends and we look forward very much to seeing them again when we return next year.

We also went back into the heart of the Amazon rainforest to meet our friends the Achuar People. Being in the Amazon is such balm for me. Being surrounded only by the songs of the forest in a landscape that has uninterrupted lines of connection all the way back to zero strengthens my love for life and my desire to give everything back in ways I find hard to articulate. Being there at the invitation of Tribal people is such a very different way of being with indigenous communities. We don’t go there as tourists. We go there as friends and allies to exchange and give and receive support for our journey. The forest is a perfect system. Everything knows its place and plays its part in the great dance of life, death and rebirth. I love the place and I love the people. We met two shamans on this visit, one who we knew already from last year and our exchange was deep. These guys have an unbroken lineage and tradition that stretches back over thousands of years and the quiet, subtle power of their songs that weave together such a strong circle of love and protection are truly something to behold. I learn so much from just working alongside them and we are delighted to have been invited back to continue our work with them. As many of you know, the Achuar (and their neighbour’s) territories are under imminent threat from the 11th oil round which aims to carve up 10 million acres of pristine rainforest and sell it off to the highest bidders. This would totally destroy the forest and the Achuar are totally committed to protecting their forest for their own sake and that of their children. They are also aware of what the forest gives to the rest of the world and they recognise the realities that this is not just about their own homes but the future of life on earth. We have also pledged to go on supporting them through the work of the Pachamama Alliance and we are in the planning stages of several events to raise funds to support this work. We hope you can join us at these events through the webinar technology and through the Summer Long Dance (only 30 places left at the time of writing by the way).

We are looking forward to sharing the spirit of what we have learned in the events that are coming up, including the Phoenix Retreat (March 3-10) and Recreation (May 1-5). The Phoenix Retreat really is an extraordinary piece of work. On it, you learn to use a shamanic tool that will support you to make more space for the soul or essence of who you are. Not only is it an essential prerequisite for anyone wishing to participate in our next Apprenticeship Programme, it’s also a fantastically useful piece of work for anyone on the path of awakening. Re-Creation will happen this year for the first time in Europe after it took its bow in South Africa last year. Our work is to recognise our past experiences as a potential powerful source of energy for being who we are and for giving what we’ve got. As I write, I feel that tingling deep down in the centre of the womb that tells me that a new cycle is beginning. As passionate as I was about our work before our latest journey in the Amazon, I am re-inspired and ready to make this 25th year of our work teaching movement the most creative and effective yet. Fancy a little of that? Great. I’ll be seeing you and I look forward to a year when a new dream for all of us begins to take root. Yes, these are challenging times. And yes, we have the resources to support one another to step up and meet these challenges and dare to dream that the trees continue to stand strong and that life continues for the generations to come.

Ya’Acov. February 2013.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.