School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: September 2012
Up and Over Lollover (in the rain)

By Roland
Friday 6th July was the first day of the Summer Long Dance. This is the one day in the year when I step out from my organiser role and do something which is a bit more hands on. I lead the procession from the EarthSpirit Centre on one side of Lollover Hill to Bartlett’s Farm on the other side of the hill where the Long Dance ceremony takes place in a large marquee.

It was raining as it had been for much of the summer.  Now it was raining harder and more persistently than at other times.  Just before we started the procession I had received a phone-call from Ya’Acov to tell me that water was coming into the marquee and looked as if it might get into some very expensive Bose speakers we had been leant especially for the event.  “I can’t do anything right at the moment,” I replied.  “I’m about to set off on the procession.  Maybe you should raise those speakers off the ground.”

The procession proceeded smoothly but slowly up Lollover hill.  Each stile and gate would necessitate a wait to allow those at the back to catch up.  The rain kept falling.

On the way back down the hill I stepped over a stile to be confronted by a large black bull and a herd of very lively bullocks.

I stopped a few metres down the hill while I waited for the first of the 120 people behind me in the procession to climb over the stile and started to assess the situation.  The bull, though large, seemed remarkable docile.  A large amount of grass was protruding from his mouth and there the grass remained for the next 15 minutes.  It was clear that eating and enjoying the entertainment of watching a long procession of humans dressed mostly in white were not activities that could be conducted simultaneously.  I turned my attention to the bullocks.

There are certain things that make bullocks more lively and aggressive than they are normally.  These are:

  1. Early evening.
  2. Rainy early evenings.
  3. A large number of strange people walking through their field when it’s raining in the early evening.

Worryingly, one of the bullocks was beginning a warm-up dance that made him appear as if he was auditioning for a role in a rodeo movie.  The centre of his body seemed to have a special articulation in its middle that allowed him to kick up the whole back part of his body into the air with both his hind hooves reaching up towards the sky.  I now knew who I needed to keep a close eye on.

Once a sufficient number of people had crossed the stile I slowly started to lead the procession down the hill.  It was not long before we were joined by my rodeo friend together with a few of his brothers.  For a period of about 10 seconds they were quite well behaved but then they began a series of charges in an attempt to test the weakness of the line of walkers.

When I was very young we lived small cottage that was situated at least a mile from a road and to go anywhere we had to walk.  And to walk anywhere meant going through fields of cows or bullocks and so I was taught how to do it by my mother.  Here are the rules I learned.

  1. Do not be afraid.
  2. If you are afraid don’t let them know you are afraid.
  3. Act as if you are in charge by standing your ground, looking them straight in the eye and if you wish them to move wave your arms at them and making a loud noise.

(Please note this is not a comprehensive list for all occasions and there are several situation like bulls alone in fields, confined spaces, dogs being present and cows with young calves which call for different action.)

Because of the remote place that we lived I did not encounter many children of my own age and being the youngest child of five with a sister who nurtured a grudge against me for ousting her from her place as the baby of the family I had a strong incentive to have control over some other creatures.  And so by the time I was 4 years old, I had gained a precocious mastery over the herd of cattle near our home and the local farmer commented that my future employed prospects was assured.

Now, 55 years later, the moment had arrived when these skills could be very usefully employed in a very public setting.  I held off the bullocks, put someone else in charge of leading the procession down the hill, and when the bullocks cantered off downhill I followed them down and again faced them off.

However, the drama facing the Long Dance was not over yet.  The rain was still falling when we arrived at the marquee.  Susanne and I now needed to return to EarthSpirit to pick up the van which we need to ferry the equipment and supplies between the two sites.  I had arranged for a participant to give us a lift in her car and I was pleased to see that she was waiting in her car in the prearranged place.   Susanne and I jumped in the car and our driver turned the ignition key.  Nothing happened.  She tried several more times but there was no response from the car.  Susanne and I very reluctantly got out of the car and into … yes this is becoming predictable … the torrential rain and half walked and half ran along the road to EarthSpirit.   We wondered what conditions were like inside the marquee.

When we returned we found a group of people had started to dig a network of trenches around the marquee to drain away the water that was pouring down the hillside.  Periodically over the next few hours I inspected their progress and reflected that the pride that I felt in the heroics I had displayed with the bullocks was very minor compared with the achievement of those digging these trenches in the pouring rain (I am beginning to run out of adjectives to describe the rain) in the dark.  By the next morning all the trenches were dug and all the water was being diverted away from the marquee.

In fact the Long Dance ended up being a great success and I am very pleased to report that participants raised a total of £35,226.30 for charity of which £11,798 went to the PachaMama Alliance for the support of the Achuar people in Equador and £2881.80 was raised for Survival. We also collected nearly £800 in cash to help pay for the education for all the children in an HIV orphanage  in Narobi for a year.  The rest went to a variety of local projects and charities throughout the world.  I enclose a list at the end of this article.

The picture at the top of this article is by Tonya and is inspired by the purple Emperor butterflies that alighted on the top of the Marquee on the final evening of the Long Dance. She writes “Hundreds of purple butterflies over the mesa”: Purple, the colour of protection. Butterflies the transformation from a grub to a butterfly… My heart is still dancing, my spirit is calm and full of joy and my thoughts are with the rainbow people: “We do, what we want to do, we go where we want to go - Love is guiding us.”

There is a beautiful Long Dance Slide show of photos taken and edited by Justine Skowronek. I was really struck by how strong and moving the images are and would like to share them with you.

We have had a very positive reaction to our new printed brochure.  If you would like a copy (or several copies for your friends) drop me an email with your postal address and I will send you one.

The new brochure lays out the Movement Medicine map very clearly so that readers can gain a good idea of the three Movement Medicine journeys that lead through to the next Apprenticeship which will begin in August 2014 and the subsequent profession training in 2016.   We are now taking bookings for the following residential courses scheduled for 2013 Journey of Empowerment, Recreation, The Phoenix Retreat and Initiation.  Please contact me if you would like an application form for any of these workshop.

We have two residential workshops scheduled for this Autumn.  The first is the Poetry of Presence  19 – 23 Oct and is led by Ya’Acov and Charlie Morley and focuses on Movement Medicine and Lucid Dreaming and will take place at Orval, Belgium.  There are only a few places left on this workshop.  Please contact me on if you would like a place.

The other is Dancing with the Heart of the World which will take place at Waldhaus in Switzerland 18 – 23 December and is led by Susannah and Ya’Acov.  There are now only a few places left on this workshop and if you book by Sept 30th you will be entitled to Sfr 150 discount.  Again contact Roland at if you are interested in signing up.

Other Movement Medicine workshops coming up soon are:

The Dreaming Body.  12 – 14th Oct.  Guest Movement Teacher Christian de Sousa will be teaching this workshop in Berlin (now my favourite city after spending a few days there in August) Please contact Kathrin +49 39 28458820 if have any questions or wish to join.

Susannah and Ya’Acov will be travelling to South Africa and teaching the following workshops:

The Circle and the Sword  Susannah in Cape Town 13 -14 Contact Janye +27 766963527

Way of the Dancing Warrior Ya’Acov in Johannesburg 13- 14 Contact Ryan +27 825520619

On the weekend of 19 – 21 October Susannah will be teaching Source in Warsaw, Poland.  Contact Olga + 48 509 774 884 for more details.  This will be preceded by a Pachamama Symposium on the 18th.

And on the weekend of the 27 – 28th October Susannah will be in Luzern teaching  The Circle and the Sword  Please contact Katriona +41 33 676 2708.

In November there will be weekend workshop in the following places Munich (Y), London (S), Prague (S), Hamburg (Y), Zurich (Y), Paris (S). And in December Manchester (S).  For more details on these and for our full programme for this year and next please go to

The webinar series is now a year old and is proving successful and future webinar dates are all schedules in the calendar above.  It is possible to sign up at any time by going to  The cost is £35 for 10 webinars and if you miss one it is possible to catch up by going to archive section of the webinar site.

Wishing you all the mellow fruitiness of Autumn



A list of other charities that money was raised for by the Long Dance :

The Forgiveness Project
Tree Sisters
Quality of Life Nepal
Alzheimer Organisation Germany
Beat – eating disorders
Connection at St Martins’ – Homeless Charity
Polish Young Adults Charity – youth work
Wildwissen – school in Germany fostering wilderness skills
Red Cross Switzerland
Trocaire and Development Perspectives
Freedom From Torture
Kogi Indians
Oikos Jugendakademie – ‘be the change’ – youth work
Cultural mundo
Medico – Kinder Afghanistan – children in Afghanistan
Aerzte ohne Grenzen – medecines sans frontiers
Children in Tibet (school)
Ecological charity
Plant for the Planet
Seed and Abalimi
Nceduluntu Sanctuary Trust – Cape Town – childrens’ refuge
Children in Need
Water for Africa
13 Grandmothers – Council of indigenous grandmothers
Children in Cape Town with AIDS (HOEIKA)
Wolves & Humans Foundation
Association Petits Princes
Paedagogisches Project (educational charity for cooperation)
Fynn Fund/Nepalese Street children
An Australian friends’ charity – animal rescue
Orphanage in Peru
Fox Project – ambulance/rescue for foxes
Hilfswerke Pro Beatrice
Project Moken – artwork – indigenous people Burma
Natural Beginnings Society – information/coordination project
Friends of Flushing School
Action Aid
Dublin Sawmens Community – homeless charity
Magic Breakfast – charity providing breakfast for English schoolchildren who don’t get any food at home
Schule fuer Afghanistan – Schools for Afghanistan
Local environmental charity
Oxfam School Campaign
Brighter Futures Jersey
Nepal Friendship – womens’ project – schools
Happy Homes – orphanage in Nepal
British Heart Foundation
Lakota – heating
Youth closet on the rez
Kinderprojekt Deutschland – childrens’ charity in Germany
Foundation for Disabled People Poland – FPLN
Polish Charity for Teenagers with problems
Polish Cancer charity
Polish charity for child asthma sufferers
‘Women for Women’ – in countries in conflict
Trees for Cities
Rettet den Regenwald – safe the rainforest
Montessori Home School
Tierschutzhaus – animal shelter
A custommade bike for a friend with cancer who has been completely housebound and who will now be mobile again.
Amnesty International
Support for Kenyan girls’ education
Project for the Victims of Tsunami 2011
Awa – through Survival International
Children for Tomorrow – Switzerland
St Johns’ Water Source Project
Emergency Fund Italy
Xingu River Fund
Hospice in Prague
Safe Heart for Children
Abused Children
Spiritual Center Baba Yaga
Environmental charity Nigeria
Heifer Foundation – animals for poor people
Community Garden
Public library
Art center for young people
Sieben-Buergen EV – Roma childrens’ charity
Save Prashan & Achuar
World Vision
Medecins sans Frontieres
Age Concern – local to Harrow

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.