Updated: Dec 30, 2021
I’d like to share a piece of writing inspired by the Long Dance, the ceremony I’ve been fundraising in honor of. I’m feeling fortunate and energized to have been there, and am looking forward to many more to come.
Glastonbury, UK, Site of the Movement Medicine Long Dance
“At the close of this Movement Medicine Long Dance of 2018, there are hardly words to reflect the depth of the collective journey our group has taken.
First, consider the context: we’re living in challenging times, I think we can all agree on that. There’s political turmoil and armed conflict, an abysmal human rights landscape and devastating climate change…then, on an individual level we’ve got our embattled personal relationships, increasing rates of disease and disorder despite our modern medical technologies, widespread anxiety and depression, generalized malaise with no clear source. It’s apparent that we’re at the edge of a precipice and a transformational shift is needed. But, to what? Who among us has a realistic idea of what a radically healthier, happier future could look like, and how to get there?
It may not feel like it on a daily basis but make no mistake about it: we, as a species, are fighting for our continued existence on this planet, and that’s what the Long Dance is truly all about. The Dance is a summit of warriors, a contemporary reimagining of a tradition shared across tribal cultures throughout human history. It’s a time to power up while our Sun is highest and hottest, to build alliances and share stories, to teach and learn and help each other. It’s a forum to pray to our own personal gods and to Mother Nature to bless us in this fight.
It is said: “To heal the world, first heal yourself.” At the Long Dance, we heal in service of becoming better friends, partners and collaborators by coming into deeper relationship with our inner identities. We use the old medicines: fasting, drums, rattles, our breath, our tears, our voices and of course dance - the foundation of Movement Medicine is harnessing the innate healing intelligence of the body in motion. Techniques from modern psychotherapy reinforce the process as we dive into our psyches to unblock what’s holding us back and rediscover our connection to this great battery named Earth, where the energy to thrive is always available in an endless supply.
Among the Long Dance participants this year were activists, architects, teachers, practitioners of alternative medicine, therapists, PhD students, musicians and artists of all stripes. There were families with wild, whip-smart kids, who at times led our singing and danced alongside us, who were already raising money for animal rights through the ASPCA. These are the soldiers on the front lines of change, each bringing their own unique medicine to diverse settings such as schools and eco-communities, hospices and addiction recovery programs, prisons and war zones. These are the people engaged in calling a vision for a better reality into life.
Over 80,000 British pounds were raised through 170 participants’ collective fundraising efforts this year, for over 50 different charities around the world. About 25,000 pounds went to the Pachamama Alliance, an organization that partners with tribal peoples to deliver cross-cultural sustainability education and protect the Amazon Rainforest. Manari Kaji Ushigua Santi the chief of the Sapara tribe of Ecuador, activist and long-time friend of Movement Medicine, was with us representing Pachamama and lending his power and humor to the ceremony. The Sapara are a people with rich traditions and a wealth of knowledge about healing and the natural world; in a somber moment, it was revealed that the tribe may not be long for extinction, and is now working to try to pass on their wisdom for the good of all of us before it’s too late.
People attracted to the practice of Movement Medicine commonly find influence in traditions held by the world’s surviving indigenous cultures. Many have studied rigorously, in situ. “Modern”, mostly white westerners so often work within traditions not their own because most of ours have been stamped out, and today’s indigenous are the last guardians of the intricately interwoven way of life we hunger to rediscover, even as they disappear. We must remember, though: the specific context of our necessary current political classifications and the information they communicate about power, identity and oppression aside, “indigenous” isn’t an exotic “other people” with strange customs in some far-flung place. “Indigenous” is all of us. It’s you. It’s your bloodline, your birthright to live in relationship with the natural world around you. All of our ancestors were indigenous; we don’t even have to look that far back into history to see it.
At the Dance, we were reminded that the ball of stardust we call home is made of the same “stuff” today as when it all began. None of it has gone anywhere; no one made any more. All plants, all animals, all stones, all trees, all water, all air, all people have only been recycled, rearranged and refashioned, again and again. We’re a living, breathing kaleidoscope and whatever you believe about who’s in charge or the existential meaning of it all, it’s a practical fact that we’re a united whole. The Long Dance is a ceremony to aid us in doing our part in the dance of life, and to remind us of our common legacy: that we’re all connected to, and through, this living Earth.”
I’ll be leaving up my fundraiser for the holistic health center of the First Nations community of Ahousaht, BC for another week or two. If you are so moved, there’s still time to donate.