12 March 2024
5 min read

Report from the field of Wild Honey 

Last weekend I was in Aarau in Switzerland, teaching a new workshop called Wild Honey. This workshop focuses on the relationship between Yin and Yang and the inner marriage of these opposites, but also on what happens when we are able to play with innocence, trust and respect with Yin and Yang in dancing relationship with others.

As I travelled to the workshop, heartbroken for all those in Gaza suffering with famine and devastating loss, and those in Israel suffering so deeply too, I was questioning the crazy juxtaposition of the refined and privileged work I was about to offer with the absolutely brutal level of man-made suffering which is happening and the failure of the world (all of us) to avert this tragedy. 

And then I remembered the words of Zen Buddhist master Joan Halifax (above) who we had the privilege to meet in February. Joan is in her 80’s and full of life, wisdom and fire. She has been a presence in our lives since our teacher Gabrielle Roth suggested we read her book "The Wounded Healer" in 1990. Joan was giving a talk about the necessity for good self-care for those working “on the coal face” who are committed to meeting suffering with an open heart, not just for a limited period, but for decades. How do we not avert our eyes but at the same time, not drown in all the heartbreak and pain? Joan spoke about the importance of having a strong, joy filled spine to back up your open heart. "Strong back, open front." 

I am familiar with the idea of strong back, open front, but it was her addition of joy to what is needed in our spines which really got to me. As soon as she said these words, I saw the space inside my spinal column filled with uplifting golden light of joy. Gold with a hint of fire. Wow. What if this could be my default mode?

And this made the bridge for me. How can I teach this workshop in a way that helps all of us access and strengthen the power of our presence, the joy and strength in our spines, so that we can truly be with ourselves, each other and the world, including awareness of the suffering that is and be part of the love that is.

This was my quest for the weekend. I want to thank the group of dancers who showed up in Aarau. Together, we dropped into deep focus and depth. The resulting joy was a pure delight to witness.

Because the theme is so potentially hot, we worked with great care to develop safety: awareness, responsibility, support and clarity around touch, boundaries, and voluntary proximity. In one word: respect, respect for the life in us, in each other and between us all. And the result of this was a level of freedom and presence in the dancing that I have rarely (if ever) seen before. My interpretation and understanding of this is that people felt safe, supported and free enough to really let go to the creative and co-creative impulse of life inside them and to let themselves become visible in their actual beings. Owning the honey inside and feeling able to share it, let it become known in the inner world and shared with the outer world.

As you may have gathered, bees were an important metaphor or image in this weekend. The altar crew made 88 (infinity loops) exquisite bees from felted wool from sheep in Emmental, which flew over our beautiful central altar.

I want to tell you about one special moment. We had been exploring in small groups with a highly focused and emotional piece of work connecting freedom and support. At the end of this, when everyone had had a chance to play all the roles, I knew we couldn’t do anything else until the medicine of this had had a chance to sink in. I suggested a silent pause and that we lie down and rest. I heard an almost inaudible group sigh which sounded to like "Yes!"

Leaving the room in the wonderful hands of Kristin Glenewinkel I went quietly to the bathroom. Returning to the dance room, I witnessed an amazing sight. Peace. Trust. Rest. Profound stillness. As my tears came, the words formed: “They feel safe. Together”.  I felt as if I had never experienced such true resting together before. As if I'd stumbled on an oasis of true peace. And, knowing what we had just been doing, I knew this was a sacred silence, a true profound pause of deep nourishment and rest we had co-created - together. Chapeau!

Kristin Glenewinkel and Susannah at Wild Honey

This is what I wish for us all, and I’m so grateful to have been able to experience this (and so much more) with the Wild Honey group. I offer my respect to you all and I hope this work supports the joy and strength in your spine, the openness in your heart to offer your love in the world in a way that is authentic and sustainable. 

At the end of the workshop, the altar creators offered each of us a bee to take home, IF we were willing to commit to planting flowers for the bees this year. I do! Thank you!

One of the 88 bees

Let’s plant our flowers for the bees and offer our fragrance as part of the perfume of love that our world and so many beings in it need right now.

A massive thank you:

To Monika Dittli and Amber Dubinsky for organising, to Kristin Glenewinkel for translating, to the teaching assistant team: Regula Häne, Amber Dubinsky, Patrick Hofmann, Marij Colruyt and Marcel Lehner. 

To Irene Lustenberger and Simone Rutschow and the team of women who made the 88 bees for the extraordinary altars.

And to all the dancers who, with their willingness, courage, openness and strength, made such wild honey in the space between us all. What a soul feast!

I love teaching in Aarau in this beautiful dance hall, and I'm so happy we are already have our date for next year: Metamorphosis: 28 Feb - 2 March 2025.

With love and gratitude,

Susannah Darling Khan

My bee, at home!

Susannah Darling Khan

Susannah's life is dedicated to the quest for a world where beauty and compassion flourish....