About My Mythic DeerWoman Self:
For as long as I can remember, I felt small but I was not. More than anything, I was the size of many other deerpeople. Only in this way was I different: when I opened my mouth to speak or sing no words or sounds came out. It was as if the sounds or the words could not reach beyond my belly to my mouth. Instead, whatever I wanted to say or sing started upwards but tumbled backwards, down into the recesses of my body, almost to my hooves, back to my half-moon tail.
Bluebird perched on the branch that stretched just above the place where I grazed. Bluebird’s body was so deeply blue it seemed like dusk when he sang. I listened. The sounds fell into my body and then the stars appeared. Coyotes howled.
Sometime after nightfall the wind blew. A storm formed. Leaves shimmered then fell from the trees to the ground. I dreamed. In the dream, I started to move. I dug my hooves into the mud and touched my body to the canyon wall. I don’t know why. When I awoke the following morning, I had a hole in my stomach and my words were strewn about.
I looked inside the hole. I took a breath. I took another deeper breath. When I exhaled a stream of air rushed from my belly. Sounds fell out. At first, I felt happy. I let my belly sing and listened to my song. But time passed, a few days, a month, maybe a year. I grew silent. I covered the hole in my belly with a cloth. I was confused. Am I breathing or being breathed?
It was at this point that Bluebird flew into the hole in my belly. As Bluebird did this, he sang. The hole scrunched and shifted. After a while Bluebird disappeared and the hole in my belly morphed into a mouth. This made it easier for me to speak.
About My Expressive Ways:
For many years, it was hard for me to express what I was feeling, and even harder for me to find my way. Then, in my early 30s, I started to write, and a yearning for the Earth began to appear in my work. At first, I wrote about the Southwest; the land I belong to, and the landscape of my childhood home. Stories began to emerge from some place inside of me that was deeply, utterly, connected to this land and its memories. Its canyons, rivers, and trees taught me how to listen very closely to the yearning that is present in all life.
Sensing into yearning and listening to the body of the Earth drew me closer to my own body and I forged connection through the study of movement. I used movement to express myself in ways I never could. I anchored deep in my body, feeling most at home with Jane Shere’s Meditative Movement, Mariane Karou’s Dance Alive, Emilie Conrad’s Continuum, Fred Sugerman’s Medicine Dance, and Ruth Gould-Goodman’s work with the Deep Feminine.
These types of movement work with the body’s innate creativity, intelligence, and capacity for self-healing. Each focus on different aspects of the body/psyche and are informed by listening and relatedness to the sensations, patterns, feelings, imaginings, and histories we carry.
The more I danced, the more I discovered I was made from earth and the universe existed inside of me.
The more I danced, the more I yearned. Each time I responded to my yearning as if it were my roadmap for living, I was nourished.
At the same time, I began to study the healing arts; massage and Polarity therapy (an energetic type of healing work that is Eastern in its body/mind orientation and grounded in the elemental energies of earth, air, fire, and water). These modalities along with movement taught me more about what it means to be human; we’re all sensitive multi-dimensional creatures, we’re primordial and instinctual animals, we’re mystical and empathic. We’re made — like every other living thing on this planet – of the earth and stars.
In 2011, I began to put the puzzle pieces of my journey together. I completed an Expressive Arts training program at the Tamalpa Institute which engages our physical, emotional, and imaginal selves through the use of movement, writing, and drawing.
In this training, I learned that expression is one of the most elemental medicines that gives us access to our wholeness. Movement. Sound. Image. Words. Witnessing others and being seen. These are our resources and our tools.
In my studies and in my teaching, I’ve found that it doesn’t matter what our expression sounds or looks like. It doesn’t matter whether we’re trained dancers, or artists, or beginning movers that haven’t touched a craypa since we were six. The very act of working in non-linear and non-rational ways, of accessing different parts of our brain and other aspects of ourselves, of taking the time and space to feel, sense, imagine, and express whatever is moving through us, has the profound impact of opening us to the fullness of life on Earth, and the depth of who we truly are.
We live in a world that is deeply soulful, in a time full of possibility and breakdown, and we’re walking a tightrope thread with loss and longing. Embodied and expressive work, tapping into the well of our innately creative, instinctual, primordial selves, can help us meet this moment with all that we have and all that we are.