I’ve been thinking a lot about how to maintain strength and courage. I write on this a lot because it doesn’t cease to be a daily practice!

Today I’m soaking in a student’s feedback that through dancing she gained confidence to “go to a [dark] place without fear.” This is the super power we all need right now!

Healing trauma involves facing our wounds

The context for my student’s comment is the Roots and Kinship community gathering that Wisdom Dances created with Lyla June Johnston. For this gathering I felt very strongly that we needed to apply the healing power of our dances to be an ally to present indigenous struggles, the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in particular. Humanity has a horrible history of destroying the women who have the closest relationship to the land. The epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is the present ugly head of a deeper pattern of violence against women which has been felt around the world.

I learned from my teacher Laura Shannon about the violence experienced by Greek women during Turkish occupation. For a long time I couldn’t understand why we would sing about such horrible things. The lyrics (translated from Greek) “Hey, give us your black eyes before we cut you into pieces” don’t make you want to dance, do they? My students were understandably apprehensive of learning this song.

Embodying Strength

The dance that accompanies the song invites the dancer to move with a strength and inhabit a contained power. Over many summer nights I pushed my students to find the force in the handkerchief flicks, to take forward steps with assertiveness. There were lots of nervous giggles, balking, and discomfort and surely many felt they were faking a strength they didn’t have.

Yet gradually they each learned what power and solidarity felt like in their bodies through this dance. Together they became a fortress of dancing strength that could bear an otherwise unspeakable pain. They found the capacity to “go to the dark place without fear.” Finding collective embodied like this is an invaluable resource! My guess is this is why most sessions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa began with dancing.

There is so much healing for us to do individually and collectively. Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed by all the hardship in the world – the pain my ancestors experienced, the pain my ancestors caused others, genocide, slavery, so many lives lost to gun violence, and mass extinction. How can our hearts hold it all without fear so that we can heal? I believe dance has extraordinary power to hold all of these pains and at the same time lead us into a deeper experience of community, reciprocity, and connection with the earth. Come experience it for yourself at the Ancestral Love retreat for All Souls’ Day. No experience required. I’d love to see you there.

With big love,


A retreat to help strengthen your connection to ancestral love and wisdom

The Ancestral Love All Souls’ Dance Retreat will draw on Laura Shannon’s research on the healing power of traditional women’s ritual dances from the Balkans, Greece, and Asia Minor. As tools of transformation, the dances support us in connecting to the love that exists even within complicated inheritances and unlocks our power to heal our painful stories. Early bird registration ends on October 15.

Weekly Practice and Community

Healing Waters Qigong is a Spring Forest Qigong practice group. The Wisdom Dances Circle is based on Laura Shannon’s research on traditional dances from the Balkans, Greece, and Asia Minor as tools for healing and transformation.