3 April 2024
11 min read

We’ve just completed the Spring Dream Dance which includes a 48-hour ceremony to welcome the change of season from Winter to Spring. In these challenging times, acknowledging the suffering in our world is important. And, we also need to be resourced and remember to tune in to the power of nature and the season in order to make a positive difference in our lives, in our work and in our capacity to be with what is happening in the most useful way we can. During our online Spring Equinox ceremony, I was strongly instructed that we also need to remember the power of Spring as the return of life and the rebirth of hope……… 


Welcome to this month’s blog, woven from echoes of the recent Rebirth ceremony which took place amidst the verdant hills, the spring-time light and the song of the wind and the rain here in Devon at the beautiful Rill Estate. The ceremony is a journey – a 48-hour odyssey that takes the dancers through the 21 Gateways of the Movement Medicine mandala twice and gives us a chance to tune into the principles and core values that guide our lives. 

Ceremony does that. It brings us back to the centre where we can remember the miracle of life, the unbroken intelligence that lives the body and is already deeply engaged in the dance and connected to the turning of the season. We have time and space out of time in that liminal place where we remember what guides us. 

the journey

Our adventure began just after the Equinox and not long after our Equinox Online ceremony. We danced with the recording of the ceremony ourselves two days after we led it. It began with a 15-minute talk by three members of Combatants for Peace, the fantastic bi-national organisation in Palestine and Israel that has been working for a non-violent solution for the past 20 years. Naturally, the people involved are devastated by the tragedies and horrors of what is happening now. But they spoke with such dignity and commitment, sharing their personal stories of how their own learned narratives about each other as peoples turned out to be completely false. Listening to them before we danced prepared the ground for a very profound dance. And the ceremony raised £1000 to support their work. Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket and you can still purchase a ticket for the ceremony and dance it in your own time. Or simply listen to them speak. The price of your ticket will add to what has already been raised. 


The ceremony was a perfect preparation for the Rebirth workshop that took place last week. I was stripped down to the bones in my own dance, learning so much along the way, tears falling as they often do to add to the sombre clouds that seem to come from the sky grieving for our human cruelty. I felt the fire of the spring, the rising sap and I entered that space of disappearing in the dance – a refuge for the soul where everything returns to source and all that is left is mystery.

That happened on the Sunday and the following Tuesday, our car was packed to the roof with our new ceremonial banners, and new sound system, along with all the gear and paraphernalia it takes to set up the space. There were 40 of us there, 60% Movement Medicine Apprentices and 40%, a mixture of old friends and new, one of whom we hadn’t seen for 22 years! 


We spent a day and half in preparation before beginning the ceremony. Our intention was to give birth in ourselves to the new hope that the spring brings. We knew that in the coming hours, we would be called to hold the delicate balance between acknowledging and praying for the suffering in our world and embracing the boundless hope of spring. As the ceremony began, the words of the inspiring Julia Butterfly Hill came back to me. Julia spent 738 days living 180ft above the ground on a tiny platform in an ancient redwood tree to protect it from loggers:

Julia Butterfly Hill

“When I was in Luna (the name of the redwood tree), there was this point where I wanted to give up hope. They had cut down so many trees around me; they had cut down a tree that fell on an activist named David Gypsy Chain and killed him. And that’s the point when I didn’t want to have hope anymore – because I was so angry, and I was in so much pain. I’m not afraid to show my pain because that’s where I know my power is – that I’m willing to keep feeling (and caring) even though it hurts like hell. But in that moment, I didn’t want power; I didn’t want to make a difference; I didn’t want hope. I just wanted to come down and say, forget the world, I just want to take care of myself. But I was praying. And the answer that came to me was: Julia, as long as your heart is committed in action, and you have hope –even if you’re the only one left – then there’s hope in the world. And it’s not hope about something in the future. It’s not about something later on. It’s about who I’m showing up as, right here, right now, every moment of every day. And that’s the only place that hope lives.” - Julia Butterfly Hill.

Movement Medicine ceremony

Movement Medicine ceremony is a safe place for all colours of the heart. If we cannot allow our fear, furies and grief, our joy will be dulled and our compassion, a kind of Teflon imposter, rigid in body and lifeless in prayer. The structure of our ceremonies makes space for us as individuals to meet our edges as part of a community in movement. 

The ceremony includes times when we can be with the pain and struggles of our fellow human beings, as well as the animals, plants and minerals that we share this planet with. To open the heart in times like these requires a lot of courage. As dancers, we let ourselves be connected to the weight of the world's sorrows - but not without first remembering what carries us. We had many moments of remembrance, as we danced with the harsh realities of life – the injustices, the hardships, the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that we face.

Shadows and gold

But we do not enter the shadow lands without company, human and imaginal. We remember what we are connected to and what we are made from. Where we come from and what our ancestors have passed on to us. We seek out those flickers of new light – those whispers of hope that dance on the warming rays of the returning sun. Our tear-streaked faces are so much more beautiful than our masks – when we give ourselves to the dance, we are revealed afresh to ourselves, each other and to the spirits. The returning light of the spring brings with it the golden seeds of new life, alchemised from the lead of the past. And we become the welcoming earth receiving that warmth of new dreams rooted in our resilience and strength as individuals and as community, connected and belonging to life.

As the hours passed, dancer after dancer found their edges and the creativity to keep on moving there. Wild dances, tender and fierce, and as the ceremony wound its way into the night, with each step, each movement, each breath, I felt a shift – a stirring in the depths of my soul. I sensed that it was as if the very earth beneath our feet was awakening from its winter slumber, sap rising, reaching out through us to embrace the returning sun with arms of green and gold.

With the first light of a new day, the world around us was renewed. The air was alive with the sweet scent of blossoms, the trees whispered their secrets to the wind, and the sun bathed the land in a warm, golden glow. Spring had arrived – not just outside, but within me, filling me with a sense of joy and renewal that defied explanation.

And yet, our journey was far from over. As we woke gently and returned to the dance, we were reminded of the delicate balance we had been called to hold – the polarity of suffering and hope, of shadow and light. And so, with gratitude in my heart and determination in my soul, Susannah and I encouraged the circle to dance on – not just for ourselves, but for our loved ones, and for the situations and places that are crying out for our support. Healings happened, and we danced through the exhaustion and bruising of the past months and years. A further £560 was raised during the ceremony for the Bereaved Families forum. Although I do individual healings as part of the ceremony, they are offered on behalf of everyone there and the donations raised are part of the reciprocity we hold so dear. Genuine ceremony should reach beyond the lives of those fortunate enough to attend. And so it is. 


We ended our gathering with deep prayers, personal intentions and song. As always, integration work followed. I am deeply blessed and privileged in many ways, not least in my work. Despite the challenges we face and the fast growth of uncertainty, I am glad to be here to experience this life and to do my best to make something worthwhile with it. Deep respect to all the dancers to were able to attend the ceremony. May you and your dreams land well in your lives and may the prayer of this ceremony travel with you.

Dartmoor April 2024

As we all go about our days, I invite you to pause for a moment and to tune into the energy of Spring, and maybe this ceremony. Can you feel the sap rising? Can you dare to dream that we might find a way forward together? Even in the shadows, there is always hope. I’ll leave you with these words from Vaclav Havel:

I am not an optimist, because I am not sure that everything ends well. Nor am I a pessimist, because I am not sure that everything ends badly. I just carry hope in my heart. Hope is the feeling that life and work have a meaning. You either have it or you don't, regardless of the state of the world that surrounds you. Life without hope is an empty, boring, and useless life. I cannot imagine that I could strive for something if I did not carry hope in me. 

The kind of hope that I often think about…I understand above all as a state of mind, not a state of the world. Either we have hope within us, or we don’t. It is a dimension of the soul. It’s not essentially dependent upon some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
- Vaclav Havel.

I look forward to meeting some of you at my upcoming Ecstasis workshop in Holland Fri Apr 12 to Sun Apr 14. At the time of writing, there are still a handful of spaces left. 

Ecstasis, literally meaning ‘to stand outside oneself,’ is a state that has been available to humans across culture and time. It can arise at any time, and it tends to give deeper context and meaning to our lives. It can refer to grief as well as joy and through it, we can gain valuable insight and guidance into our lives and what actually matters most to us.

With love and hope committed in action,

Ya’Acov Darling Khan

April 2024

P.S. If you wish to participate in this year's Long Dance ceremony, Sat 20 July to Fri 26 July 2024, places are selling fast and there are a limited number of tickets left. Very soon, there will be a payment plan option to support you to spread the cost of this not-for-profit event out over 4 months. Do you hear the call?

P.P. S. Next year, the Dream Dance ceremony will take place in the rainforest of Costa Rica Feb 1-7 2025. Keep tuned for more information.

Ya’Acov DK

Ya’Acov Darling Khan, is the author of ‘Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart...