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Spring Forward – March 2016

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Soul Awakenings withou text

It’s 5am and I’ve woken early. I’m travelling home later today after an epic 5-week journey that began in Verona, Italy, took me through the Ecuadorian Amazon and continued with a 5-venue tour bringing Movement Medicine to the USA for the first time. It’s hard to know where to begin.

Should I tell you about the joy of being back in Italy again, teaching in Verona and the great food and Amarone wine my hosts served up? Or maybe the challenge of packing for such a long trip covering so many climates? Or perhaps arriving in Ecuador without any of the aforementioned luggage which mysteriously got left behind in Atlanta and the adventure of getting it to us at a remote hacienda an hour outside Quito?

Maybe it would be better to write about waiting for our little plane to return and take us into the forest from an emergency mission picking up a sick child deep in the forest. I was touched by the generosity of this missionary airline that offer free flights out of the forest for any of the indigenous people who are unwell and need medical treatment. The day before, we couldn’t travel into the forest as it rained all day and the small planes can’t fly in that weather. We had been talking with the group we were taking into Achuar and Sapara territory about how the concept of ‘waiting’ just isn’t part of life in the forest. There is only what’s happening. And so here I was, given a perfect moment to see if I had learned anything about that in our journeys over the past few years. The four of us in the ‘waiting room’ had such a rich conversation. When we finally took off, and the roads disappeared from view and the green of millions of trees stretched out in all directions, my heart just burst with the joy of returning. The Amazon and its peoples have become such an important part of our lives and my eyes were a pair of rivers as we flew back into the pristine depths of Achuar territory to rejoin the rest of the group in the community of T’inkias. I felt such joy re-meeting old friends, sitting quietly on the canoe as we travelled by water to the camp. And there was our dear friend, Jimpikit, an elder shaman, who has been such a source of inspiration and guidance over the past few years. The laughter and warmth in our greeting makes my heart smile as I remember it.

At T’inkias, we swam in lagoons, drank chicha (the traditional Achuar fermented yucca drink), and did ceremony with Jimpikit. During the ceremony, I was blessed to be able to offer healing to a sick child and the wife of one of our dear Achuar brothers, Juananch. As we sat in the candlelight at the beginning of the ceremony, with the sounds of the forest all around us, I nearly jumped out of my skin when an unseen creature jumped onto my thigh. I had no idea what it was. I became still quickly and shined the red light of my torch on my leg. Sitting there was a rather large and beautiful albino lizard, with pink and blue patches on his flanks, looking at me expectantly. I felt such a deep connection with this being. We stayed in eye contact for quite some time. After several minutes, it moved on but its spirit remained with me for the whole ceremony. What a welcome back that was!

Our journey continued with a visit to an even elder Shaman called Sumpa who we met a couple of years ago for the first time. He was so very sad as his wife of more than 60 years had died only a few weeks before. And yet, even in his grief, he worked tirelessly with our group. He told us that the best medicine for him was to continue to offer his work in the way he has been doing for more than half a century. The next morning, he told us how happy he was that we had visited and how much our visit had supported him and his family. He remains in my prayers every day.

We also had the privilege of visiting Rafael, the Achuar elder shaman whose vision more than 20 years ago created the Pachamama Alliance. He had been badly injured since we had seen him last. A gun wound to his head meant he had to go to the city for surgery. The day after his surgery, he left the hospital and returned to the forest. We were delighted to see him looking so well. He has built a new home and his ‘accident’ seems to have strengthened and humbled him immeasurably. He just looked so well!

The final leg of our forest journey was to visit Manari, Belen, little Manari, Maria, Aritiachau, Umaru and our other friends and family in Sapara territory. As many of you will already know from the MM facebook page, this is a critical time for the Sapara and their struggle to protect their land and culture. As many of you commented on the photos that are on the facebook page, Manari looked worn from the endless rounds of meetings and protesting and travelling and worry for the forest and its people. Manari has become a dear brother. I dream with him often, and this time I met his great-great-grandmother who showed me how we could help her people in ceremonial space. She showed me that she was weaving a cloak of protection from the clouds that would make it impossible for the oil companies to find the oil in the ground. If you want to add your energy to this prayer, please feel free to visualise a blanket of powerful protection over their land. And if you feel the wish to protect the forest, for the benefit of these beautiful people now and for all our collective descendants, please make your prayer concrete and make a donation to the Pachamama Alliance. They truly are one of the most high integrity and effective organisations I know and their work has managed to keep the forest standing for over 20 years. Your donation is super important. Please click and offer something now. It’s money well spent! We did everything we could to offer what we have whilst we were there and as always, our Sapara hosts were so generous in their looking after us and sharing their culture and medicines with us.

Our journeys in the forest are rooted in the twin paths of deep commitment to healing and revealing self and strengthening our resolve to stand and act for what we care for in the world. This is the same in Movement Medicine practice and it has been super interesting for me to be bringing this perspective through our medicine to the USA for the first time. I’ve had a very successful tour here, working with groups in Burlington, San Diego, Esalen and Port Townsend as well as having an afternoon working with some of the Pachamama Alliance team (with David Tucker, our fellow journey leader) in their office in San Francisco. I was happy to meet Bill Twist, co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance, and to have the opportunity to thank him for his fantastic work over these past decades. I stayed with him and Lynne at their home in San Francisco and was touched by their generosity.

Visiting Esalen and teaching there was a bit of a pilgrimage for me really. I worked on the dance floor that was originally put in for Gabrielle Roth for the workshop we taught with her about 15 years ago. The power of the ocean, the wild life (on the morning before the ceremony we did there, we saw a bob cat, dolphins, otters, a snake that crossed my path and mating butterflies!) and the history of the place and its massive contribution to awakening humans on planet earth were so palpable to me. There was sadness too to remember so many good times with Gabrielle and our American family over the years, to feel that loss, and to acknowledge that the peace we have found with Gabrielle was only able to take place in spirit since she died.

I want to say a huge thank you to all the organisers who did such a great job of getting MM up and running in the USA and naturally, to all the dancers who came and took the leap into a new modality. The news from the front line is that people seem to have been strengthened in their practice by the work we have done and that makes me happy.

And so I return home tonight. I am so excited to get back to my sweetheart, to our home, land and our beautiful dog. And I am so happy to see friends (party this weekend – whoop! Whoop!) and to smell the sweet fresh air of the Devon Spring. A new season of growth has begun and I for one, intend to make the most of it. Sap’s rising. Enjoy!

Ya’Acov DK. March 2016.

Forthcoming Workshops with Ya’Acov:

30 Mar–3 Apr: Re-Creation, with Ya’Acov. Oslow, Norway.
A great journey for the still ‘early hours’ of the year, takes the dancers into transformation of relationship, of past stories, and guide you into stronger, more sound empowerment within yourself and within that which matters to you on your path. This workshop includes a Dance Ceremony, the S.E.E.R Process (systemic essential energy retrieval) and an introduction of the archetypes present in Movement Medicine: the Dancing Warrior, the Wise Elder and the Fool.
Contact Marit Winther: +47 45604535;

9–10 Apr: Power Stories, with Ya’Acov. Paris, France.
With preceding Move! Evening Friday, 8 April.
This workshop is an invitation to find out more about the power you hold inside and your relationship to that resource. Through dance and embodiment, we explore how it manifests through past stories, how we might deny our own power, or give it over to another authority within or without, and how we can access that power in a healthy, truthful way to give space to even more of what we are.
Contact Pierre-Henri: + 33 615 325 816;

16–17 Apr: Power Stories, with Ya’Acov. Copenhagen, Denmark.
With preceding Move! Evening, Friday, 15 April.
This workshop is an invitation to find out more about the power you hold inside and your relationship to that resource. Through dance and embodiment, we explore how it manifests through past stories, how we might deny our own power, or give it over to another authority within or without, and how we can access that power in a healthy, truthful way to give space to even more of what we are.
Contact Matthias: +45 21261120;

12 May: Move! Evening, with Ya’Acov. Strasbourg, France.
Introductory Movement Medicine event.
Contact Fabienne Hester: +33683961254;

13–15 May: 21 Gratitudes, with Ya’Acov. Luzern, Switzerland.
This is a Movement Medicine shamanic journey through the 21 Gateways of the Movement Medicine Mandala, which tells a story of wholeness, connection and balance in all aspects of life. It can illuminate shadow aspects as well as offering new viewpoint onto ourselves and our lifes.
Contact Katriona:+41 33 676 2708;

16 May: The Sacred Space, with Ya’Acov. Geneva, Switzerland.
This is a space to connect with your body and with your movement emerging from inside, as it is also a space to connect with others, the earth, ancestors and the spirit world.
Contact Véronique Champalou:+33 7 81 46 57 49;