The word “shaman” means “one who sees in the dark.” It is a path of direct revelation. A shamanic practitioner chooses to live in two worlds at once: the outer world of form and substance and the inner world of instinct, inspiration, intuition and essence. It’s not something that can be experienced and retained purely in the mind; the body is the true vessel.
To access the ancient celestial cellular wisdom of our ancestors, we must first become embodied. Only then can we enter the world Gabrielle called the “Silver Desert”, a world of luminous silence and endless movement where we drop our identity and enter the mysterious realm of spirit.
It was decades before I fully realized that ours was a shamanic practice. It was only after encounters with shamans of South America…
If Motherhood is a Cathedral built on the sweat of millions of unseen lives, then the 5Rhythms are one of the few tools I can use to enter it without fear of guilt, reprisal, or eternal hellfire.
In class last week, I stalked around this echoing chamber, trying to enter into a different relationship with the vastness of this calling, this institution, this minutia of routine and drudgery. I am raging,one moment, at the high vaulted ceilings and the impossible demands for lifelong devotion and the next I’m finding surprising sweetness in how the shafts of light through the stained glass have forever altered my perspective on life.
It’s not just that at this speed a small child can’t keep up, would want to be picked up, would be calling ‘Can you carry my bike’. Without this extra weight, I can fly like the wind. How fast can I go?
Part of the need for speed right now is to more easily shake off roles, reputation and restriction.
At these times, my identity is up for grabs. And with one jab from my fingers and elbows, I can pierce right through Nature, Culture, Politics, Economics…READ MORE
In traditional societies, a Rite of Passage marked a state change, acknowledging the movement from one life stage to another; in this case, the transition into adulthood. Ideally, this is witnessed by the local community who acknowledges and appreciates the growing skills and abilities that the young person has to offer. In these times of (often fragmented) city-separate communities, this rarely happens, resulting in low levels of confidence and some serious self-doubt.
So what can we do? Can we attempt to give our young people something that we may have never even had ourselves? Is it idiotic to even try and run some form of relevant rite in a basically uninitiated society?
Maybe so, and yet I personally knew that hard hunger for meaning, connection and caring community only too well from my own youth and those questions that had come through me thick and fast:
“What is this adulthood thing? Is this it? Separate solo living and learning to suppress our sense of self? Aiming to get ahead in the endless world of work, in order to seek some future based outer security? Harden up and hide your deep feeling-heart way down behind busyness and getting by? Seriously, this is it……?” READ MORE
Community is the
– Thich Nhat Hahn
The 5Rhythms community is a 21st century collective unbound by history, culture, race, religion, gender or politics. We are bound by the beat, following our feet on a dancing path to freedom. We are beat-driven, service-oriented, heart-based individuals who come together to embrace our tribal longings.
The measure of a community is its respect for the wisdom of its elders,
the innocence of its children, the passion of its artists, and the hope of its healers.
We are committed to inspiring and serving these roots and wings of community.
In 2012, 2 days after Gabrielle Roth passed away, 5Rhythms teacher and UK ambassador for Women for Women International Neda Nenadic walked to Everest Base Camp to raise money for women survivors of war, dancing along the way. 4 years later, she was with her husband in his last days, facing his death. This is her reflection on life, death, grief, and gratitude and dancing it all, as told to Morgan Nichols on 21st September 2016.
You cannot have the deep love of life if you‘re going to avoid the suffering – this is the teaching of the practice – Neda Nenadic
Since I was 17, it was my dream to visit Mount Everest. I had been supporting Women For Women International for years. WFWI was started after the war in Bosnia, which felt close to the history of my own country, Croatia. They offered me half the fees to take up a place on the team doing this walk. I was so honoured and I took it on.
It was a year since we had finished our teacher training, and we were the last teachers training with Gabrielle Roth. It was only then, after 22 years of practicing this work, and after her death, that I realised just how much I respected Gabrielle; that I realised what she meant to me in this life. It was such a beautiful journey of grief and gratitude. On the walk, we were honouring not only the fund-raising for WFWI, but recognising that each woman and each human being has to walk their own inner and outer mountains.
I see it on the dancefloor all the time. The magnitude of those mountains reduces you to the humility of one breath and one step. You cannot take this journey with your ego – it’s a journey of surrender.
I just shiver now, when I think about the dancing along the way, the crying along the way. The immensity of grief and gratitude for Gabrielle. We made prayer flags in our community and carried them up to the mountain. At every stupa* we came to, I showed Gabrielle’s picture to it and honoured it.
One night, we were walking in this beautiful village at 3440 metres above the sea level, moon shining, mountain crystal clear, quiet and serene, and I had a monologue with myself: “God, Gabrielle, you are my teacher, and I wonder a lot about spirit. Where are you, what has happened? What on earth is this body and this soul? Does anything else exist?” As I walked down the steps in this quiet little village, suddenly I heard “Smells like Teen Spirit”, one of Gabrielle’s favourite songs. I went to the bar and asked the guys there to put the song on again so I could dance to it. Then I asked one of the Australian guys to film me. It was so hard to dance on that altitude to that song because you really can’t move properly. I gave everything of myself.
We arrived at Everest base camp, at the glacier. Mount Everest is called “Chomolungma” in Tibetan, translated as “Mother of the universe”. We put out the prayer flags out and I said, “I’m just going to see if I can move and dance.” That was my offering. I had a wish to dance to the song, “Wise enough” by the band Lamb. Nothing was choreographed, I had matty hair, I had my period and I hadn’t showered for days. But I thought, “My God, I have got this far. I promised myself I would do this for these women and for Gabrielle.” At one point, I thought I was going to faint – this was where you see me lie down in the video. It still is one of my favourite dances because it was a total surrender! I was going to delete the video, but then I thought, at that time that was my heart and soul’s offering, something I’ve lived. It was a really profound journey, inwards and outwards. READ MORE