Episode #15 Movement and Medicine in a time of Corona Virus: Conversation with Ya’acov Darling Khan
As our world turns over, we turn to the new-old ways to discover how we could do things differently. In this raw, deep, honest conversation with shamanic practitioner, Ya’acov Darling Khan, we talk about what we can do – and his new book.
Ya’acov is an international teacher of Movement Medicine and a shamanic practitioner. His new book: ‘Shaman: Invoking Power, Presence and Purpose in the Core of who YOU Are’, has just been launched. It’s a clarion call for the new era where we know our globalised links and have found that we can co-operate in ways that leave the dinosaurs of our governments far behind the curve.
In this insightful, raw conversation, Ya’acov and Manda Scott explore the nuances of the present moment, their own personal responses to it, and the sense of opening and transformation that we could lift from now… along with the rage, grief, desperation and horror at all that is happening. In the words of Greta Thunberg: ‘It is no longer enough to be the best of ourselves. We need to be better.’ Here, we explore some of the ways that could happen. .
My guest today is Ya’akov Darling Khan, one of the shining lights in the contemporary shamanic movement in the UK.
He’s been teaching movement medicine for several decades. I think I first met him in the late 80s when he was just starting out and now he teaches worldwide classes and courses.
And now in the era of coronavirus he started to lead courses online. He’s a shamanic practitioner who leads groups into the Amazon in Ecuador and he speaks very movingly of this in the podcast.
He’s also the author of two books. The first came out in 2017, Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart, and his latest is coming out in the 31st of March this year, 2020, which is called Shaman: Invoking Power, Purpose and Presence in the core of who you are, which even before the global pandemic sounded like a really good reason to be talking to Ya’akov.
We arranged this interview many months ago. We were going to record face to face when I was due to be teaching in Devon – and then the global pandemic happened. So I’m still in Shropshire, he’s still in Devon, and we decided we’d tried to connect online, which is fine and has been fine with other people. We had a bit of a technical glitch at my end, which means the sound quality is not what we’d like it to be.
But the conversation felt so raw and so real and I really wanted to bring it to you uncut. We just launched into the conversation and let it run, but it felt very timely. So with apologies for the fact that this isn’t studio sound quality and also that we’re exploring some of these ideas on the fly, they are not really tested at all, but they feel real. So People of the Podcast, please welcome Ya’akov Darling Khan.
Life has changed rather dramatically, hasn’t it? We’ve been praying for transformation and it’s come, but not quite in the way that we expected to.
But it does seem to me that of all the things that could have happened that would get people to really sit up and take notice, CoronaVirus is probably the mildest. It’s not all out nuclear war. It’s not any kind of biological or chemical war. And we’re not yet at a climate tipping point which would be irreversible.
With regards to the war metaphors. Suzanna just read something to me that was written by a woman emergency doctor working in France, saying we are not at war and we don’t have to be. It is interesting to note how we only know how to look at each event through a prism of defense and domination. The restrictions decreed last night by our government are from my sensitivity as a doctor, quite appropriate. However, we are not at war, nor do we have to be. She says there’s no need for since systematic idea of struggle to be effective. The ambition of a service to life is enough. There is no enemy. There is another living organism in full migratory flow, and we must stocks that our respective currents do not clash too much. I just found that really strong to hear and that the war footing the war language that we because it’s the only language we we know really up to now.
Yes -and wars end. You win them. It’s all to fight and flight and freeze – we need to be aware of Polyvagal theory. We can bring people into their ventral vagal pathe – the whole meet and greet, rest and digest pathways. We need to be bringing people to this. Because this is not a war. And we mustn’t forget that language is not useful. But we have a prime minister who sees himself as Churchill. So of course, he doess.
I have to tell you a story about dear old Boris. An associate of ours, about 15 years ago. She was she was being mugged in London.Apparently, Boris rode past on his bicycle and he saw what was happening and got off his bike with his umbrella spinning and saw off the muggers and looked after her.
He looked after her!
Yes. And I think that’s why I kind of like that story. Nothing is black and white. I would hate to be prime minister right now.
Absolutely. I do think there are people that would have been more competent in that role.
But absolutely. I’m not exactly a Boris fan.
This is an invidious time for sure. And word on our wind is that Chris Whittie, the chief medical officer, is currently down with the virus. It’s definitely within the corridors of governments.
It’s interesting, isn’t it? Something like this that doesn’t it doesn’t respect any any boundaries in the way that we might think it does. Of course, people who are in dire economic circumstance would have less resources to deal with it. But at the same time, this is affecting everyone.
I loved what you said at the beginning that this is this is as mild a wakeup wakeup call as we we could be grateful for in a way/ Obviously not for the people who are really suffering from it right now, but to have something that’s literally stopped us in our tracks is amazing.
I was on a call last night with a group called Compoass, which is one of these political groups trying to bring people together from all sides of the spectrum. And Molly Scott Cato, a Green MEP and economist said that trying to change from the existing fossil fuel based economy to the economy that we would need would be like trying to switch a Boeing 747 into being a helicopter in mid-flight, which clearly you can’t do. But she said actually the Boeing 747 has just landed. We could do that now. And I thought that was an extraordinarily useful metaphor for the possibility of this movement.
I noticed in myself so many of these flight-fright responses – to look after our son, look after our land. Make sure the we’ve got ammunition to protect those we love. Have we got amunition for the shotgun, that kind of thing – If it comes to it, I’ll be on rabbits!
But you know that impulse to close down and protect your own kind is huge. And then there’s the impulse of generosity and caring that stems from a different place. I’m well, I’m healthy. I’m at home. I’ve suddenly got a lot of time. What else can I create? What can I offer? I notice those different responses many times during the day to just take a deep breath. You’re talking about the poly valuable theory. Suzanna’s been really deeply engaged in looking into that over the past three or four years. Obviously, to do with her own pony work. Her own horse work.
I was talking to Sarah Schlote who runs something called Equusoma. She’s she’s a trauma specialist in Canada who is trained in human trauma therapy. And that’s then brought it into the horses. She’s really interesting. So when we when we have that podcast, I will send send it through. I wanted to look at it from Accidental Gods point view but she’s done an amazing book as a podcast, called The Whole Horse Podcast on polyvagal theory and horses.
Amazing. Well, it’s so important, isn’t it? And it’s really important right now. We’ve been doing online movement medicine sessions the last two weeks. And on Tuesday night, we had nearly 450 people show up from from all around the worl: from South America to Japan to up in the north, down in the south: people who we know, people are we don’t know. And we danced for about an hour. It was called shaking medicine.
We were all shaking out all of that adrenaline and fear and, you know, coming back to the Digest and Rest phase and then letting the body shake again and then digest and rest and letting those waves rise and fall. It was an amazing experience to be with so many people and to feel literally the the sense of calm – a wave of calm that we created together an making making prayers – Taking that dance into the intelligence of the body and then making prayers from the earth up. It was a very strong experience.
If you send me the link for that, I’ll pass it around the Accidental Gods group and we can increase your numbers next time because until yesterday, the more we can do the work where we change our energy – more than anything else that matters now. More than ideas, more than actions. As long as everyone is safe and well, the energy of what we do is what matters.
And what we’re doing during the day, all those little choices are what counts. Of course, everyone now is racing to find out how to do webinars and online to get things out. To try and speak to a technical advisor on Zoom, these days, you have to weigh about four days, I think!
It’s extraordinary. And we have all of the people that we’ve trained and everyone’s racing towards doing webinars. And again, I can feel ‘Oh, God. And we’ve spent the last three years working at this technology. Now you want us to give it away?’ And of course they do. And of course, we will. And we made a video yesterday to show people how to do that.
Because everyone’s giving everything you. We’ve been saying for a long time, the economy needs to change. And, look, it’s changing. They said we could not possibly afford to do the changes that we needed for climate change – and overnight, we can!
When suddenly it’s not just about us. It’s about all of us. And what what an amazing blessing. I know over the weekend, Suzannah and I are going to go into ceremony and I really want to look at this virus. I want to look at it directly. And because it doesn’t to me seem to be something that is trying to do harm. It’s not something to be at war with. Obviously, I’m very aware of the people who are suffering and who died and overwhelmed hospitals and doctors and and the places where this has hit hardest. But in general, the opportunity we’re being afforded to do exactly what you just said – to make radical changes overnight because we have to. And yes, they were saying ‘we can’t afford it.’ And now apparently we have to and therefore we can.
I’m remembering the chancellor before one was saying it would cost £50 billion a year if we were going to make the changes we needed to avert the climate catastrophe. And that’s just impossible. So we can do it. And now we have £330 billion without a blink.
I think we’re discovering that money is an idea. And it’s an idea that we share and we can change the idea of it. And value is an idea. And we’re just covering that, oddly enough, hedge funders and bankers are not the most important people in society. It’s the doctors and nurses and the people who look after our children and their old people. And the guys who deliver stuff. And the people who grow things. We cleared up our Polytunnel. And we’re just going to plant so much more land because by the autumn, if people haven’t been able to fix stuff, food resilience is going to become a serious issue. So we’re looking at how can we feed the village? Can we fix our food resilience?
It’s like fire – the fires in Australia devastating. There was so much death. But if we didn’t have heat and light and everything that the sun brings, we wouldn’t be here. Fire is neutral in that it is what it is. And and the way that it manifests and our response to it the positive or negative. And this virus is the same. It’s horrendous. I have a friend who’s just been diagnosed with lung cancer and was told that he may be going to have to drive himself to hospital because his wife won’t be allowed to. And he’s on so much morphine, he can barely stand. So that’s not going to happen. It’s appalling. But what we are discovering is, where the holes are in our system. We’ve been like Wile E. Coyote, from the cartoons of our childhood, running across the canyon. I think this is the time we look down and it’s a long, long way.
It’s a time, isn’t it, where everyone’s being asked to make those very deep choices about who we’re choosing to be in. When you talk about growing food and how can we we grow food for the village? Aand we’re the same. We happen to have some diggers here clearing a pathway for the horses in the quagmire that used to be the field. And they had to scrape off some topsoil. So we suddenly had this extraordinary load of topsoil. We’ve spread it out now and we’re going to make a much bigger potato patch so that there’s food for us and for the people around here. W
We were talking with the digger driver this morning. A lovely Devon guy who grew up in Devon all his life. And most of his friends are farmers. And all his farmer friends are saying,they’ve had a rough deal these few decades, and maybe people are going to start recognizing our importance to the society – that we’re the food growers and people are going to need us. So yes, what we’re learning is where we’ve put the status and the value and where we’ve given value and high status to those with more material wealth as if somehow that is the be-all and end-all of this life. We’re being given this quite sharp awakening as that famous poster, we used to have in our kitchen for years, of an old Cree grandmother saying that, ‘When when the white man has discovered that he can’t eat money, he’ll come back to us and ask us how to live. And we are discovering that this is true.
I read the proofs of your book, which is going to come out soon. (I imagine books are still coming. It may be that everybody buys them electronically – so I’m wondering, if Amazon might be about to give books away for free.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I read that Jeff Besos, just just before all this shit hit the fan, he created an earth earth fund didn’t he? Ten billion dollars?
But he only did that because the Amazon workers were walking out. It’s worth remembering that he did not do that because that was what he wanted to do.
I was looking for stuff written about that. Where might I find that?
That’s a very good question. I think it floated past on my Facebook stream but because I was wondering, like what?
Yes, becuase I was wondering, what suddenly makes a guy like that decide to give a very small amount of his fortune to the climate?
Upstream podcast probably have something about it. That’s Della Duncan’s podcast. I’ll have a look at it. But my understanding was that the the Amazon workers were getting organized and he decided to give a very small amount of his fortune. Which is still a lot of money for everybody else.
I met you when I was doing at the Master’s in Sustainable Economics in Devon, and I should be down there just now teaching. And we were going to be meeting. So now everything is being done remotely. I spent the last week redesigning everything. And then the word came yesterday that one of the members of department just came down with the virus so I have no idea what’s happening. But that’s where I began to look at all the ideas that we had of how could we reimagine the economy. And under under what circumstances?
And I remember in my first term I did a term paper. We’d been taught all about alternative economics and Buddhist economics and economics grounded in all kinds of other things, and we’d been given an example of something that was supposed to be a kind of shamanic economics. Were they somebody in Brazil had said, ‘we need to build a dam, but we’re going to journey to the spirit of the river just to check that’s OK’. And of all the things that made me really cross, that was the one that made me crossest because I felt that’s not Shamanic economics. Shamanic economics is we go to the river first and then we say, how can we solve the problem? And I think it’s extremely unlikely the spirit of the river would say is what we need to pour billions of tons of concrete into a dam. I wrote my first term paper on what would Shamanic Economics be. I didjourneys. I looked at dreams. I did three medicine walks. I doing the last of them two days before I had to hand in – holding the question.
I got to a particular point where the world tends to open up for me geographically. And it did. My main guide stepped out in front of me and said, ‘you’re asking the wrong question’. So – then I had to find out what should I be asking, actually? And he said, you need to know, what are we here for? Because the economics has to follow that. And at the moment, everything follows the economics.
We’re here to make money. And that’s completely the wrong way. And all of the light bulbs went on in my head. I had two days to write my paper and I had to throw it all away and start again. But we still haven’t worked that out. From then on, my question was, what are we here for. And Accidental Gods arose out of that and. Because we cannot keep going within a world where everything is rooted in the economics and all we’re here for us to make money.
So I’m very interested in how we can shift. So anyway, we got there from Jeff Bezos. And you having a book coming out.
Yes, and so money became the purpose of life or the material wealth did. I’m sure it’s all to do with survival. It’s all basically survival strategy which has gone rather out of hand.
And it came from not trusting any more. When we severed our connection to the ALl-That-Is, to the web of life, to whatever we want call it. I’m sure that even now if you look at shamanic cultures, there’s a trust that we are part of a system that is home. And when we broke that. We walked away from that. We decided that we could own the land. And then you have to keep the land and defend it against other people who want to own it. And that destruction and subtraction and severance of our connection to what matters means we don’t trust anymore. And then we become afraid and then we do have to do what it takes to protect us and our against them than theirs.
Yes. We take a group out to ther Amazon Or at least we did. Who knows if that will ever happen again.But at the request of our indigenous families and friends, we have been taking a group, not as tourists, but as people coming to learn how to be better allies, but also to learn how the indigenous people live, particularly the Sápara and the Achuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
And one of the one of the most interesting things that people notice pretty quickly is that the indigenous people there in the forest, they don’t they don’t start a conversation or any kind of interaction from a place of judgment. They started from a place of observation. So they don’t start from criticism. They observe. So if they see something different, a different behavior or a different way of being in the world, they don’t automatically go into either I’m wrong or you’re wrong. They go into it with a spirit of observation: let’s see the effect of this behavior. And that is a ground of being it’s a bit like your shamanic economics going to the river with your plan rather than going to the river and listening and observing it. I find that deeply fascinating. It helps me to see how quick my Western mind has been trained to judge and criticize and separate from and put in boxes rather than actually just waiting to see.
And of course, as you say, one of the great benefits or the we of the Achuar and the Sápara people is that they know themselves as part of the forest. It’s not something that they have to learn that the forest is their Mama. That Pachamama is giving them everything they need. They know because they live in that way. They they have to learn how to build their own houses and how to hunt and how to grow food. And they talk about the forest as Mama. They treat her with that level of respect and care and gratitude. And yet, at the same time, the Achuar were a profoundly warrior people. They are warriors. As an indigenous people, they’ve never been defeated. Even when the Conquistadors came, they saw them off. They’re very fierce. They used to fight amongst themselves as well.
They start the day at about 4:00 a.m. with tea. And then they have a little purge from this tea and then they share their dreams. And often we will share our dreams and the elders will interpret our dreams. But this time,people in our groups suggested that rather than us bringing our dreams to them and asking them for their interpretations, maybe we could ask them to tell us some of their stories.
So we asked one of the elders who was the founder of the village. He told us these stories of what it was like as a child of him going to sleep at night, knowing that in the night a band of warriors from a neighboring village could come in and steal your mother and kill your father or take you. And how much stress that was in their life. Even though they knew how to survive. They knew how to hunt them. There was never a food shortage or anything like that. But there was war constantly. And his is a very interesting story for our times because one of their elder shamans, a guy called Rafael Taish, saw in his visions that there was a greater threat than the village next door coming. That threat was our thirst for oil.
And so the the Achuar basically dreamed and called in a Catholic priest from Belgium. I’ve no idea how they managed to do that. There was no mobile phones or Internet at that time. But they called in this guy.And he showed up and of course, he came there and tried to get them all to be good Catholics. And they said, of course, we’re happy to embrace Jesus or any other good being you want to bring to us, but we’re not going to give up our own traditions. We saw off the Conquistadors, we’re not going to give them up for you. But by all means, share what you know. We’ll share what we know. Anyway, they made peace together. They made they they formed an alliance amongst the Achuar people and then wider to include the Sapara peple
And now the indigenous peoples of the Amazon have a very large and very effective alliance. And they Stopped warring with each other in order to make connection with people from our world. And to put out a hand to us rather than running away or even treating us as the enemy. They moved towards us. They invited us to come and to communicate and to shae. And through that, they formed this organization called the Puatchamama Alliance, which has been very successful in protecting those parts of the Amazon for more than 20 years. They work alongside Amazon Watch and they’ve done amazing work.
One of the things I find interesting is the evolution in that story. Those people were connected to their own shamanic traditions, definitely. But they weren’t connected to their neighbors. Their neighbors were enemies. And then some greater threat came. So they had to give up warring with their enemies to make an alliance. They’ve learned how to do that. And we all need to learn how to do that: to give up the idea of war with our neighbors and learn to cooperate. So I think we’re in a process of evolution. It’s not so much that we need to go back to a kind of connection that we used to have. I think we need to move forward into a new kind of connection that includes everything that we’ve learned through this mad rush towards wealth and technology and material security. Everything that the industrial world has done. We need to call out the the goodness that’s that.
I’m so interested that their dreaming, their gods, their guides, their spirits gave them this knowledge. And I’m wondering, why did that happen in the north, when Columbus landed?. It’s always been one of my greatest, deepest questions is. Why was it that white people were able to gain a foothold?
I completely understand. I had exactly the same question, particularly around sugar and alcohol. Because there was a sense of health and well-being and connection to the land and connection to the seasons and the cycles and all the things that we all need to remember now. And yet these strange people came from outside with strange ideas and yet there was a there was an openness or a welcoming.
Manda: And a no warning. Or if there were warnings, we haven’t heard about them. It may well be that there were warnings and they were not heeded.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever read Hanta Yo?
Manda: Hanta Yo: by Ruth Beebe Hill.
Ya’Acov: What a story. And what an amazing, immense opus of work that is.
Manda: And tremendous insight into the psychology of those people and that time.
Ya’Acov: In that story you hear about the warnings that the elders had. But of course, that’s the thing isn’t it? That there’s always a wish to protect what’s known and the traditions that we know, on the one hand. But then there’s also a wish and a very human desire to evolve and grow and tastes new tastes and have new experience. And so I imagine,part of it was a hunger amongst the young people to look and taste and embrace the new.
Ya’Acov: I think that that dialogue that’s I recognize inside me, between being with what is known and the safety and the goodness of that, and then the threat/excitement of the unknown. I feel this now. I wake up in the morning and I feel a real subtle edge in my heart between fear and excitement. I’m alive. what’s going to change today. You know what’s going to change today? How am I going to embrace this? I’m finding the need for my own practice to be in ceremony, to be in prayer, to be with nature and to do that kind of listening.You were talking about really growing day by day and what an opportunity for us to use what we’ve been learning.
This is what I’ve been saying to the Dreaming students and the Accidental Gods students, ‘This is what we were waiting for.’ And we didn’t know it was going to come so soon. I spent all last year really pushing to get Accidental Gods going and kept saying, we’re not really ready and yet it has to be up. We have to get it launched by the winter Solstice. And I had no idea why until probably the beginning of this week, when I woke up to the realization that this is what we’re here for.
Because we’ve all read Deep Adaptation and were thinking that we didn’t have very long. Even so, we thought we had longer than this, for sure. But partly out what was coming up for me when you were talking about Hanta Yo – (and for those listening, if you have time to read it’s a beautiful book. It’s a history of the Lakota. Her name is Ruth Beebe Hill and she wrote it in English and then translated it into Lakota. And then she translated it back again into English so that the rhythms of the language and the underlying essence was not English anymore.
And so one of my deep questions from writing Boudica was, ‘Why did the gods let the Romans happen?’ And then I get to, ‘Why did the gods let the genocide in North America happen?’ But I hit up against this whole concept of complex systems and emergence from complex systems and that consciousness is an emergent property of our complex system. And a lot of the people who’ve had near-death experiences and particularly the one that resonates with me as Eben Alexander because he was a neurosurgeon,so he kind of speaks my language – and they all, to a woman and a man, come home saying, ‘Everything is as it’s meant to be. Don’t worry.’ And I look around the world and think ‘Oh really? Are you serious?’ There are people and animals and death on scales we’ve not seen before in ways that that leave me shuddering. And yet we are who we are. Consciousness is where consciousness is. And I genuinely believe we’re on the edge of a shift in consciousness.
But but we have to actively partake in that now. It’s not enough anymore that we let it passively happen. We now have to be agents of that shift. I couldn’t understand that if we didn’t have the understanding of neuroplasticity and polyvagal theory and all the things that we’ve been talking about. And yet also we’ve got Rob Burbea and the insight meditation. It’s as if everything has reached and apex – though I’m sure it will carry on going up (everybody thinks they’re at the apex of everything in whatever they’re in.).
But it feels to me as if a lot of things are coming together to the point where we have to change. We have the tools we can make this happen. We cannot possibly go back. First of all, nobody would want to. And second, it’s not actually possible. One of the things I was meant to be doing in the next few days is going to speak in a Hegewise conference in Ireland. And I had a lot of time talking to Sharon Blackie, who’s organizing it because her interest is mythology and and archetypes. And she had Bayo Akomolafe and Pat McCabe coming. And I was saying, ‘I don’t know what I have to bring to this because I am not interested in who we were, exceptions as far as the bits that we can take to build forward to who we can. Because it is different.’ We need to take the best of ourselves and grow that to be better than we ever imagined we could be, because that’s the point of emergence from complex systems. You cannot know where you’re going. The chrysalis does not know the butterfly, but you need the chrysalis in order for the butterfly to emerge from it. So we need to be in whatever chaos we’re in just now.
But we also, I think so badly need to be actively participating in making a future that is different. And so I think you going in ceremony, I’m going to do something over the Equionox, but we need to use the energy that is arising nose.
One of the problems I find in the corner of the Internet that’s deeply embedded in conscious evolution is that everybody seems to think that if we just meditate for another thousand hours or philosophize a little bit more deeply or implant nano chips in our brains, we will do it, and I think no! – We have to go out and sit with the trees or the red kite or the hill and ask. It’s not up to us to think our way forward. It’s up to us to be our way forward. And that can only happen if we know how to be.
I’m so interested in your movement medicine and in your ceremony. And also wondering, what is the ayahuasca saying when you speak to the spirits of the plants. When you last spoke, were thay saying anything about where we’re heading?
Well, it is very interesting. First of all, I just have to say, because it’s very important that movement, medicine and plant medicine are not directly linked. And we don’t use medicine in our work. We sometimes take people to the indigenous people for whom it’s that tradition and they invite us into their ceremonies. And so when we were there this time, we were very blessed to work with some of the elders. They are like living national treasures.
It’s a very heretical thing to propose at this time. Everything is evolving in the way it’s supposed to and everything is as it’s supposed to be. And we are as conscious as we are. Because of of course, that goes in the face of the massive amount of suffering that is part of our world. I think so often that spiritual idea that everything is perfect has been used as a as a bypass to stop us actually engaging. And that’s not actually what it is.
In the last couple of years in my dreaming, I had one very, very strong night of dreaming. This is about eleven months ago where I experienced dying in the night seven times. And it was a very strange night. Apparently Susannah didn’t sleep too much because my body was completely rigid in the bed. And about every 20 or 30 seconds I was making this very strong sound. And Susannah just looked after me. In my experience, I died seven times, but I experienced it from all the different places. It was a very archetypal experience. I experience being killed. But I also experience being the kille. And each death was more and more cruel and more and more painful and more and more horrible. And it wasn’t just me. Sometimes there were many people dying at once or being killed at once. And I was in this experience.
During this experience, I kept coming through it, and then I was back in the in the space where everything is just as it’s supposed to be: in that space that you mention from all those people who’ve had near-death experiences.
[00:46:33.86] I was very much in that place and I would have to describe it as the most loving place I’ve ever experienced. And I don’t mean love as a romantic thing. Love is fierce. It means everything is illuminated, nothing is hidden. Everything is completely transparent. And everything is held in that place. Everything is loved in that place. And I apparently in the morning, I was chanting for about an hour. ‘Everything is everything. Everything is everything.’ Everything is inside everything and inside all cruelty is the complete opposite. And up until this stage, I’ve not said that publicly because I don’t want to be put in a box of spiritual nonsense, that everything’s perfect as it is. Beause can’t you see what’s going on in the world?
But interestingly, for me, that experience gave me much more strength to face and be with and make an offering into our world. It’s far from separating me from it, far from me thinking everything’s fine as it is. Therefore, I might as well just put my feet up on the sofa and read a good book. Far from that. I actually felt really impassioned to stand up more, and I’d been writing this book Shaman for those past two years and I had that experience in the middle of this writing.
And this book,’Shaman’ is rooted in movement medicine practice. I was asked to write this title by Michelle at Hay House? I would never have chosen by myself just to write a book called Shaman. She came to me and asked me and I prayed a lot about that. Who am I to write a book called Shaman? All of those questions and all the stuff about being a white Jewish guy living in southwestern England and here I am writing a book, called ‘shaman’ and all the very important conversations that are going on around cultural appropriation and all of those things.
So I went through a big process and I decided that Shaman was an invocation. It’s literally a call to that archetypal force that I really believe we all have access to. And those of us who are brought up in the industrial world or with the effect of that industrial story of separation between the consciousness and the physical world, between the spirit and physicality, or between ideas and the body, and, of course, leaving the heart to go on with itself. The need for us to to come into the kinesthetic intelligence of our body and what we call the dance: the dance of the dancer that lives inside the body, that is movement, that is the intelligence of life in movement, that is the movement of the seasons, that is the breath, that is the way an animal runs or rests or hunts or flies – this movement of life that is in our body.
And so Movement Medicine in this book is an invocation of a marriage of our imaginal selvess, our imagination and our physical selves. How do we make physical or manifest what we dream?
We’re experts at it, we human beings, we’ve been doing it a very long time. We dreamt this world of separation and technological brilliance in some ways. And now we’re faced with something that is beyond our control and we need to dream a world which is cooperative and we need a dream of how we have made our way through this birth canal, these contractions of change of consciousness. We need to to see a possibility beyond what we’ve seen before. That includes all areas of life: economy, ceremony… all the different religions and views and ways of praising life – all of it coming together.
I really believe that we have that capacity and the inner shaman or that archetypal energy is that part of our consciousness that is already connected to the ability to listen to the rhythm? It’s not that we have to learn how to do that. We just have to learn where that place is inside us and shut up for long enough to be able to hear it. And for most of us to be able to quieten the mind down requires quite a lot of physicality. It requires a lot of jumping up and down and shaking and getting physical.
So that’s the essence of Movement Medicine. Rather than trying to stop movement and to stop the mind, we get the body to move faster and deeper than the mind so that the mind settle back into the body. And once the body is really activated, then the mind can settle, the mind can do what it was designed to do, which is to listen to hear, to receive new information.
And so it’s all about the basic of body, heart and mind working together. And I feel very blessed that the timing of this is such that I can put I can put this thing into the world right now when people actually have a chance to sit down and read and and practise and try out those different practices that are there in the book and and really engage that part of themselves, because it’s the part of us that’s big enough to evolve that knows that we have ancestors, that knows death that is part of life.
I woke up the other day with this very, very strong feeling that I’m already dead. And for everything today is a bonus. Everything everything is a blessing. Everything: my toothpaste – face moisturizer becomes a magical thing. never even paid attention to the plants that it was made from, I’m ashamed to say. But something like this wake up that we are receiving now stops us in our tracks enough to be able to recognize the blessing that’s now.My heart is beating now. I have a chance to create to dream now.
And a lot of us – not the medics, or people in essential services – we are being given the time to slow down and do the work that you’ve just. I was talking earlier this week to Rob Hopkins who wrote From What Is to What if And I’m remembering a quote that joy is a radical act because joy calls us to life and life calls to life. And if we can wake up every morning with that sense of joyful anticipation of what the day will bring and the challenges that are coming, our whole world looks different.
It really does. And that’s the amazing thing, isn’t it, that our perception is so malleable and it can change, literally, by the way, we change the way we hold our body or the way we breathe or even just lifting the corners of our mouth. A few years ago, we met Dr. Kitaria, the guy who created Laughter Yoga. And I really thought it can’t possibly be serious, but we went to a session of laughter yoga. And what they told us was that Dr. Kitaria had discovered the body didn’t recognize any difference between genuine laughter or just laughing.
Ya’Acov: [00:56:11.93] Laughter is really good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system, whether you are actually feeling joy or not. I’m sure that, like any medicine, the more concentrated it is, the stronger it is. If you can feel joy and laugh, you’re giving your immune system such a good boost in the morning. So I think we’re going to have to go back to doing a little bit of laughter yoga in the mornings along with everything.
Or just ignite the joy in your and your heart space. I did a video and sent it out to everybody a couple of days ago saying ‘let’s just practice doing that’. Becuase, as you say, your body knows. If you can do that, even for three or four minutes, the Heart Math Institute work shows, that I completely changes your physiology for several hours. And now we have time to practice this? What is there to lose? You know, you may as well. You can sit being glum or you can sit feeling astonishing joy and gratitude and wonder.
Alexa Linton had somebody on the Whole Horse podcast and I haven’t seen the primary evidence on this, so it comes with that coda, but they said that if you bring your heart into coherence then a human electromagnetic field stretches about I think it was three meters, maybe five. A horse’s heart – because htey live in coherence – can be measured at five kilometres.
I want to find primary work. How did they find it?. I’ve written to Alexa and asked for that.
I’ve never I never had anything to do with horses. And Suzannah was asked to take on these four Exmoor parodies that otherwise would have ended up in a can somewhere, and that they are they’re the most sensitive and powerful animals. To be close to one of them, is extraordinary. I find it astonishing to be in that space of that apparent paradox of such physical, majestic strength and such extraordinary sensitivity at the same time in the same bag of bones as those beautiful horses.
My mother was visiting and she said the same thing. She didn’t understand how one one being could be so strong and so sensitive at the same time. Susannah said, ‘That’s how we are. We we all have that capacity for the deep sensitivity.’ I understand people being afraid with what’s going on in the world. And when I find myself afraid, I always askh, ‘Who inside me is afraid of what do they need?’ Last week. I discovered it was it was a little echo of my great grandparents who were refugees who arrived in Ireland in the 1890s, didn’t know anyone, didn’t speak to any of the local language, didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. And I could feel the echo of that fear inside me and as I named it, in fact, as soon as I even ask the question, then Iwas not so identified with it. Another part of me was looking and able to see and then to embrace it. And when I embrace that, then it makes space for all those other emotions.
And a part of our practices is about learning about the emotional intelligence that we have through embracing all of those different emotions. Not being not being just emotional, but really embodying that emotion and seeing where it takes us. The more we allow the emotions of fear and anger and grief, the more access to joy we actually have. And then that leads to a more compassionate heart, because then I can be with somebody who’s afraid, I can be with somebody who’s irritated or acting out. So we have so much to learn. And as you say, those of us who are not on the front line orking in hospitals – it looks as we’re going to have quite a lot of time on our hands.
Yes. I was talking to Rob Hopkins yesterday about wehther it’s possible we could set up a network, a worldwide network of everyone who is doing this kind of work. There will be slight differences in the tone and the texture, but broadly rural heading in the same direction And and we all suddenly have time in our hands. And we all have students. And is there a way that we can link up? Because we can we can all agree to meditate at nine o’clock on Friday night or something. But I think that I can feel that there’s something more tangible possible, but I don’t quite know what it is – but I want to see if we can make it happen.
I’m with you.And I know I’m talking for Susannah to here. I think it’s time for for opening and learning from all the different wisdom that we can and that we can get together. I noticed yesterday our dear friend Manari, who is the leader of the Sápara people, was offering something online. And then today we’re recording this. Yesterday you were talking to Rob. And then Lynn adn bill and John Perkins from the Pachamama Alliance are doing webcasts or webinars. All these people are putting this this stuff out into the world. I think you’re right. If we can join forces together, we’re going to be stronger in our capacity to do something.
We can build an energetic content that will be fluid. Not that we’re all going from A to B, but a sense of energetic content. And the holding and the cradling of the spark of something new and different. Because my fear when I get swamped by fears is that we sleepwalk back into business as usual. Which would be tragic, on every level – such a loss of the teaching.
I saw a prayer, an invitation for prayer on Facebook yesterday which was exactly that prayer – that we can all get back to normal. And no! Let’s let’s learn something from this. Let’s evolve through this. That’s let’s get the basics that we’re being shown here that we can’t ignore here anymore. That we’re one world. We’ve been shown this in the most graphic way possible.
And the plane of the economy has landed. We can turn it into a helicopter. I watched Russell Brand on Facebook last night. He was pointing out the speed with which we’ve gone from a state of distance hwere this is happening far away, to thinking it’s a good reason for me to not do the things I didn’t want to do anyway to realising it’s serious. Certainly for me there was a thought that this is ablip, to realising that this is a chance for difference. I think there is a natural human tendency to strive for return to normality whenever anything traumatic hits. And then there is the realization that there is no going back. I think that our governments, by their nature are part of the establishment. The whole media political network will be striving to return to the safe ground of the known.
And it would be useful if there were enough of us who know that a door has just opened, let’s walk through it. We don’t know where it goes, but we can set the baselines of a place where we will flourish. I think the Extinction Rebellion ten commitments – such as ‘no shame, no blame'(and I’m nto saying we should model on thatm) but they will offer principles of moving forward. That are not the principles by which we have lived up till now that we could establish them together and spread in our various networks and see to it that we don’t sleepwalk.
Yes. That’s a beautiful vision and a very important one, and I think the words you used were a fluid division. Not like any A-B kind of vision, but an energetic intent that becomes a rudder in the ocean so that we’re able to adapt to the currents and the change of the wind. So perhaps we can we can really use this extraordinary opportunity that we’ve been given. Suzannah was reading to me this morning about the clean air over Wuhan, the CO2 drop that’s happened in the last two weeks. And something is happening.
The air is more reasonable. And we’re discovering what it is to have community and to be at home and to share the things that matter. And then we co-create. Wouldn’t that be amazing if, as a species, we co-created a new feature that was one that we all want?
Where we all flourish. We can abandon the old tribal dynamics of politics and of nation versus nation and know we are one people. And ask what is it that we want for ourselves and each other? What matters? And how can we make it? And just allow it to unfold.
It’s less of a slightly hippy, loopy idea that we’re one people when you start to recognize the health system. When, somewhere in Liberia or in Egypt or in in somewhere in South America or in London or whatever, we’re all dealing with something together. We know the Chinese sent out the genome for the virus the second they discovered it. So now labs all over the world are looking at it and looking for solutions. Already there’s that sense that we we can’t go on as we were because it was a a country over there that doesn’t have the resources to contain this, that affects all of us now, it’s not just going on over there.
We cannot build a wall around ourselves or anybody else.
We’ve got to create a new system whereby health care is a global concern rather than just a national or a local one. It’s a global concern. That would be one area of a vision for how we can move forward and there is a need for New a new dream. It’s emerging out of necessity. But I think also it would be beautiful to have some kind of gathering that we can get together.
A global Conference online. And we can do it remotely. Nobody needs to fly anymore. We’re discovering we can do this. It’s not the same as being in the room.
Because we can use our imagination. That’s the amazing thing for me. When we. When we did the Movement Medicine session on Tuesday night with four hundred and fifty people or so, dancing. We were in our tiny little studio in the garden here with a camera. And then there were people all around the world dancing. And of course, it’s not the same as being in the room together. But we connected – and we all felt it. There was an extraordinary feeling of community and connectivity and the power of a unified prayer coming through 400 plus individuals in their different places. And so that has power. And I know the idea of being able to create that kind of Conference. I wonder where we take that? Who the who the people are that are the Conference organizers that might get something like that together and bring it into being?
We are. We can just reach out. Let’s just reach to the people we know. They can reach the people they know and with six degrees of separation, it will spread around the world and see where it goes. I think we don’t need to nail it down yet. We can put the idea out.
I think that’s beautiful. I’m really with you.
Yay! And I’m thinking you 10 years ago, even five years ago, if this pandemic had hit then, we would not have this. The technology is only just here.
Yes, we spent the last three years learning to how to put things out on the web and whereby you can play music and people can hear it where they are, and it’s not just like a horrible muffle.
I think that might be a good place to stop. We’ve been just over an hour. I would love to do this again, mind you. I think this has been really fertile?
Yes. Let us do it again. It would be also great to include Susannah as well. We had originally decided to do this because of my my book.And thank you very much for that. But it would be lovely to do it with her.
Well, let’s remind everybody about the book. It’s out on March 30th – I’ve read it…. it’s wonderful.
Thank you very much. It nearly killed me writing that one. Really pleased to have done it. I”m really glad it’s out. It’s called, Shaman: Invoking Power, Presence and Purpose at the core of who you are. And you can find it online. Thank you.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THESE RECENT EPISODES
Manda’s Equinox meditation focuses on finding our sense of balance as the tilt of the world balances between summer and winter, light and dark, day and night. And from that, finding a stable place with the three pillars of our heart minds: joyful curiosity, gratitude and compassion.
Walking the edge between light and dark: Equinox reflections on Accidental Gods past, present and future
How can we heal our relationship with the earth, heal ourselves and feed the world good, nutrient-dense food?
In this, our 200th episode of Accidental Gods podcast, Manda was delighted to be joined by André Tranquilini, estate manager at Waltham Place, a 220 acred biodynamic estate in Berkshire, in the UK.
Meeting the Spirit of the Land: exploring Spirituality in Farming with biodynamic grower, André Tranquilini
How can we heal our relationship with the earth, heal ourselves and feed the world good, nutrient-dense food?
In this, our 200th episode, I am delighted to be joined by André Tranquilini, estate manager at Waltham Place, a 220 acred biodynamic estate in Berkshire, in the UK.
Making The Nettle Dress: a creative journey of attention, magic and loss with Allan Brown and Dylan Howitt
Allan Brown’s exploration into how we could feed and clothe ourselves as we head towards a world of localism and increasing self reliance led to his spending seven years of his life making a a dress from the fibres of the nettles that grew locally.
It was an extraordinary process of experimentation, discovery and ensoulment – a journey into possibility that would be hard to match in our current, frenetic world. And we know about this: the patience of it, the wonder, the loss, the grief, the resilience, the alchemy… the sheer magic, because Dylan made a film, ‘The Nettle Dress’ which also took 7 years and is also a process of emergence and ensoulment and magic and discovery.
STAY IN TOUCH
For a regular supply of ideas about humanity's next evolutionary step, insights into the thinking behind some of the podcasts, early updates on the guests we'll be having on the show - AND a free Water visualisation that will guide you through a deep immersion in water connection...sign up here.
(NB: This is a free newsletter - it's not joining up to the Membership! That's a nice, subtle pink button on the 'Join Us' page...)