It is the Winter Dream Dance, with Ya’Acov and Susannah Darling Khan and some of the apprentices and teachers from the School of Movement Medicine. A yearly gathering that holds an opportunity for me to work with my own dance and my own life, a time not to teach what I am passionate about throughout the whole few days, but to process within it for my own journey. This is vitally important to me and due to my busy working life, there are fewer chances for this anymore, so I take this opportunity and dance deep.
However, I am also there to support others within the space and that is a natural part of this dance also. I know I will be offered opportunities within ceremony to help me understand more about my own teaching practice, my position in the school I work with, and what this process from my inner world to my outer world is ready to reflect.
I know there will be challenges, I know I may need to face some darkened places of my soul and my heart. I know I will need to explore my shadow. I know that ceremony and its enforcing light will show up the areas in my life that need attention. It is the very nature of this extraordinary movement medicine field.
My journal is to-hand, as I must document all that I explore lest it be lost like a dream that has been awoken too quickly from its place of slumber.
Part of my journey here and a way for me to look more deeply into my own teaching was to share a piece of my own work, a constellation from my workshop, Circle, Fire and Phoenix.
I would be sharing the dance of the Phoenix, held by strong circles of yang and yin energy. By the masculine and feminine circles. (I have written more about this in my newly published book, ‘The Circle, The Fire & The Phoenix.’ Now available in the Movement Medicine shop and on amazon.)
Offering this in ceremony, I knew would highlight its needs and empower it to step forward into a stronger and more supported field.
I also knew this work came from much of my own story, about yin and yang and some of the needs I had had in my own life with the masculine and feminine balance. I had learned to hold both quite strongly in my life until their union could be felt and the marriage between the two had begun to reflect in my relationships outside myself. My yin and yang were rooted firmly within my own circle and the fire of my commitment would keep them wedded together eternally. The dance of the Phoenix would always allow me to surrender to its fullest dance, knowing I am always held by this medicine field and all that I am has a journey of letting go within its structure.
But for me in this moment something was missing, I was still trying to grasp the understanding of where I felt a pain, a lack of voice and an area that I could not interpret into anything. It felt dark and mysterious and so unknown to me.
Why did I continue to feel a deep loss of some part if me? What was its message for me?
I always pay attention to my emotions, it is my practice and the gateways I use to help me learn more and journey deeper. Emotions are gateways into our lives and an important practice to keep in contact with.
But this particular emotion was haunting me endlessly.
In our ceremony, we as a group of 40, divide up into support groups of 3 or 4, so we can share how we are more intimately and speak of anything else that is important to us. It’s a time to be heard and a time to listen and support each other.
In the ceremony, I began to feel a sadness, a loss which led to boredom and disinterest. I felt upset that my support group was with three young men. In fact they are my colleagues and we each have a role within the winter dream dance. I had a sense however that I wanted some female companionship, but I did not get that this was the whole truth of the matter, so I needed to explore further. I knew these men could hear this from me and they understood, yet it was to be and I knew in the pain of it there had to be a strong message to unfold. Apart from that what woman would not want to sit in Circle, with three fine young men, open-hearted and speaking their own wisdom? What fool was I? Still there was a pain in my heart.
Before we sit together for a while I feel a tightness and pain in my throat as if holding back tears and a repulsion in my belly! Still we sit and we share, I speak a little.
Individually I love these young men, but together in a group I noticed I was more challenged by being with them. I reminded myself of my own three sons, I am reminded I have had three very dysfunctional relationships with men in my life. I am reminded that my father was a family of three boys. My now loving partner, Ben is a brother of three.
Any one of these stories could be being reflected by this group.
During one sleeping dream that evening I was reminded of a recurring dream I have had many times, it is of an old woman, she sits with her medicine in her small home and is visited by three young men who come in and cut out her tongue. She lives her life gnarled and speechless. Never able to share her wisdom.
Ah yes, I have some strong stories about the journeys of my life with the three!
But this information I had known for many years and though I visited it all on occasions it still did not truly unravel that pain in my heart which seemed to not be able to become visible. I knew that usually, once I had identified a pain within my history then it would lessen its grip. But this particular state of melancholy was holding on fast.
It took awhile and I gave my focus to the dance of the Phoenix, helping to create its circles with the group and for a short time share what had developed for over the last few years. After holding this medicine circle and seeing it dance its way into the ceremonies existence, I knew I could now let go a little and start to give more attention to my own story.
And it was time to ask, to ask my heart ‘what is it, tell me, what is hurting you so very deeply?’
I keep asking the question over and over again, following my own dance in and out of writing, meditating and praying. I know I will be heard and the ceremonies light will answer me in time. I am deep in its ritual and waiting for my story to unfold. These stories can often take their time, but I learn to wait patiently. Sometimes I get bored and feel many emotions, but I watch as the process unfolds and becomes more known to me. Boredom I have found is one of the greatest gateways of all, it is a time when I know things are about to change and I am about to move forward into unknown territories.
Ya’Acov calls me to drum for a while, to share a moment in holding the drum beat for the other dancers. This I am very happy to do, it is all part of my journey, a time to listen and still to journey ever deeper into my psyche and soul. I also love the collaboration of drumming together.
I stay aware of the painful place and yet the distraction is welcome too. I know I have asked and I will not be failed in the response, however hard it may be to hear it.
The drum beats and I drop deeper into myself, I am aware of the deep yearning on a whole new level for the sacred union of the yin and yang. We journey into the ancestry round and I feel a grumble, in my belly, a sound of discomfort, she swears, she writhes she wants to speak out but she struggles. And then it emerges a strong voice finding its song, a lament at first and then a richness of song, no words but sounding out her voice, her heart.
And in that powerful moment another musician, Hazel, joins us. We are still in the ancestral round and she takes her clarinet and joins in with my voice, I also hear the songs of Ya’Acov and Susannah and I notice a meeting place.
Hazel plays her clarinet and I feel the sound and my voice begin to mingle and weave together. In that moment I am reminded of my fathers love for the clarinet, his piles of records of Aker Bilk and many jazz musicians. I remember my fathers favourite instrument actually being the clarinet! I am drawn in and tears begin to flow, I feel its support and my own voice breaks a little. Then my same broken voice suddenly highers its tone and my heart lifts. I am reminded of my fathers twin sister who died as a small child. In this ancestral round of dance and praying I feel her come through me with the support of the clarinet. She is here, she is singing her dance, she hears her brother! I feel immense joy, I am connecting to her, to her spirit.
She had died and was forgotten, buried and never spoken of. No images no stories, no name. Just the knowledge she had existed for a very short time. Yet of course that pain had lived on in my father and his parents for sure.
I had known of her existence but had never realised it could have an impact on me and was part of my own journey. And just maybe she wanted me to connect with her soul with her spirit, her need to be free from the realms of living and be freed to her rightful place. The lack of wisdom, to help her move on seemed to me, to be holding her to earth. Not allowing her soul to move into other realms. What happened to those little ones, depending on the age they died of course in those long ago years? This of course is the work of the psychopomp.
I would need to spend much time with this and recognised in her a strong Ally. I am reminded of how much my lovely man, Ben has such similar qualities to my father and how he himself is a twin!
And just as all of these realisations hit home, my three supportive male friends came and stood at my side, they could have known nothing of my journey, yet there were these three dancing brothers, really present within my own story supportive of me. My love for them filed me with joy.
Magic happens, the mystery unfolds and we continue to dance. My great Aunt as that little girl, would have her ritual for sure, I would find a way to settle her spirit, yet I knew she would teach me many songs and allow her voice to flow through me. I would receive her support and give mine to her, and together we would play with the clarinet and allow its rhythms to touch our hearts.
I remembered a shaman once saying to me, there is a woman close by who wants your attention. But because of her way of leaving this planet with no knowledge, it was hard to really connect it into my life.
Still I felt that here was a union of my father and his twin sisters souls, both have left this world in body, but if this really had been asked of me to some how connect them again, I am happy and welcome to be part of it. The joy and ecstatic humbleness I now feel about this story is touching me deeply. I am so moved and it makes me even more determined to share my own gifts of the yin and the yang in dance with others and with their support I will dream it in more fully.
Understanding now what lies in the undergrowth of that need for divinity,
That feminine and that masculine
How beautifully they dance together
Yet she died, voice-less, forgotten, never a word spoken,
He suffered deep deep grief – not knowing why or who to turn to,
My voice now brings me closer to her and I will speak out
I will share my songs not through the needs of the rebel
But the needs of the artist and poet
His music will sooth and open that melancholic heart that closed with her death
Their souls will be reunited and their union will transform the lives of many in the sacred union of divine and natural power, which exists lovingly in all of us
Where all emotion is love, in its purest, most creative and clear expression.