One of the incredible assistants in the recent Apprenticeship ‘Immersion’ module wore a striking tee-shirt with these words on the back: “Est-ce le petit garçon que tu étais, fier de l'homme que tu es devenu?”: “Would the boy that you were be proud of the man that you are?” These words touched something deep inside me: “Would the girl that I was be proud of the woman I have become?”
Like a Russian doll inside a Russian doll, within the Apprenticeship ‘Immersion’ module there is a magical module hidden deep within. It’s called the Winter Dream Dance and is the ‘moon’ to the ‘sun’ of the Summer Long Dance. The Winter Dream Dance is a 48 hour ceremony which is just for Movement Medicine Apprentices. It was in ‘that’ white week. The curtain of snow descended and stopped all traffic just after the last people arrived and so we entered the Winter Dream Dance ceremony in the arms of the snow. Tucked into our snow bound sanctuary we danced and prayed and sang and made music and witnessed and were witnessed. Movement medicine ‘black belts’ practising side by side with their relative ‘white belts.’ All of us deep in the full moon snow magic light and dark vibration of this few days. What a gift.
That question went on working away at something deep inside me. Every now and again I was able to go and dance for and with my own personal journey. I remembered the girl I was not so long ago. I danced for her and as her. I felt her innocent strength, her shyness, her fine, sensitive resonance with the natural world, her wild-fire energy and how she felt the quiet buzz of what she called ‘god in everything’. I felt her dance, her prayer, her heart, her fear and her courage. Right at the end, I felt my mother bless me, her wings around my shoulders, and as my tears fell, I felt my little Susy self bless me from within. With pride, amazement and gratitude she said: “It’s happening!”
Yes. Within that Winter Dream Dance we had six ‘Graduation Hoops’. “What is a Graduation Hoop?” I hear you asking. Well, I’ll tell you. People who want to train to offer Movement Medicine professionally go through a long and demanding journey to get to that point. In that journey, there are lots of ‘hoops’. Even after they start working as Apprentice Teachers or facilitators they have another journey ahead of them before getting to graduation. This journey involves supervision (which is ongoing for all Movement Medicine professionals), self and peer reflection on their work as it evolves and writing a big graduation report. It’s not a test of perfection. It’s a practice of self-knowledge, self-awareness and responsibility. Then they come to their Graduation Panel, which normally constitutes myself and Ya’Acov, an elder, a peer and a representative of the Council of the Movement Medicine Association.
We have now had 72 Graduations, which constitute: 50 Movement Medicine teachers, 6 Movement Medicine facilitators and 16 who have graduated as both Movement Medicine teachers and facilitators. Each Graduation panel has been potent, personal and a deep existential meeting between us and the graduee. Over time we have recognised that these Graduation panels are, in effect, initiations. As a deeply individual rite of passage there is nothing that can be generalised about them, except that they are designed to combine thorough co-enquiry and challenge with honour. And this they do.
Then, sometime near the conclusion of the Winter Dream Dance or the Summer Long Dance (whichever is next after their Graduation panel), comes the ‘Graduation Hoop’ which is the public celebration and announcement of the graduation. The hoop is simply a large hoola hoop which is decorated each time with beauty from the natural world. Each graduee stands at the end of a double line of all the dancers present. They form an avenue of people and somewhere near the end is the hoop. Beyond the hoop are their colleagues who have already graduated, their teachers and any of their family who have come to be present. The graduee announces themselves to the mesa and to the gathered ensemble, naming their work, the intent that underlies their work and their particular commitment or direction. They ask for the kind of energy they feel they need as they walk or dance to the hoop and jump, step or dive through. Each ‘graduation walk’ is as particular as the individual walking. Sometimes there is a deep hush, some invoke a whirlwind of noise: drums, rattles or wild sounds of the forest. For some there is song or ululations and cries of jubilation. On the other side, there are often tears and joy and hugs as we confirm their graduation and they are embraced by their colleagues and friends.
We are incredibly fortunate in the depth of service, love, inspiration, courage and creativity of those who have chosen to take this journey with us. As well as those who are teaching Movement Medicine in classes and workshops and thus bringing it to their communities, which is quite a task in and of itself, people are bringing Movement Medicine in their own way and with high integrity into so many different contexts, both mainstream and ‘alternative’. People are graduating who are working in partnership with indigenous people, people who take Movement Medicine into churches and cathedrals, people who work in prisons, in the world of mental health, in hospices, into work in the developing world.
I feel so grateful and so proud of this cadre. There is so much that is distinct and individual in each one. And what is in common is a quality of love in action, of sincere effort to make a positive difference in this world and a capacity to be human, to be fallible, to cry and laugh and celebrate and the love of the dance itself.
So that is what I am doing right here. I want to celebrate the growing depth of this energetic field and of this network. To all the people within it, whether Apprentice or occasional weekend dancer, or Movement Medicine Newsletter reader, I raise a toast of kindness, of joy and I say: “THANK YOU!” Wow. As little Susy said: “It’s happening!”
And at the other end of the ceremony, the local roads opened literally to the hour as people needed to leave. THANK YOU weather divas, and thank you Didier for wearing that tee-shirt!
I wish each of you the joy of company in your creative life, to choose to know yourself as part of many love ripples, and part of this human family of life on earth, and to remember the healing power of human warmth, whether you are giving or receiving,
In this challenging time on the planet, thank you for being there, for being you and for reading this.
I want to end with a quite from the late Stephen Hawking:
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up.”
Love to us all,
Susannah Darling Khan. March 2018
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