School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: November 2009
Initiation - Italian Grandmother Story

by Laura Valenti

Few days after I came back from Initiation I went to Italy. 

My heart was full of love, enthusiasm and fear: I was going back home, where for a long time I couldn`t feel safe and where I would allow all the ghosts from the past to attack me. Home it was the place where I would feel always exhausted and depleted.

I knew that this time I was going to experience something different after Initiation. I felt something new was growing inside me, delicate seeds and stronger hearth and roots. I felt that this time in the battle with the demons of my family, with my crazy adorable father and my stormy past, I was going to be centred, grounded and I wouldn`t have been blown away. Here I am. And I knew, that this time the Ancestors were with me because I would call them to support me and because during Initiation I was deeply connected to them, since I offered them prayers,  tears, dances, chants and healing. And I knew that during Initiation, at the end of each day, after having experienced grief, being pulled apart and being reborn, I would meet the companions of the Good Ship and I would sing with them. Every night I felt moved by the beauty and the courage of these people and by the power of my own singing voice.


I went back home, with the idea to connect more to my origins, to my Ancestors and the past of my family. I wanted to be fully present in front of my family members with open heart: here I am. I went there with the feeling that I didn`t want to hide anymore. I knew since few years that something was going on with my voice, but I never really took responsibility about it, I never valued it and I never shared it with my family, almost being ashamed of that! One afternoon I went to my grandmother and for the first time I sang for her a song that I learnt during Initiation. I was full with emotion and my heart was beating so much. We both cried. She asked me when I learnt to sing. I never really studied, I just found my voice. During Initiation we sang every day and our songs brought deep joy and healing to my heart. I liked the story that Susannah shared with us about her grandmother, as she received the torch from her... gifts, love, responsibilities! So I told to my grandmother that she is the one who gave me the torch. My voice is her voice. It is time to continue what she created and she couldn`t express fully. When she was young she was a half soprano singer and an actress, but later she wasn’t allowed by her family to sing, to continue to study and to have a career. In the Italian rural society, in those years immediately before the Second World War, a woman who was an artist wouldn`t have been considered to be “serious” or a good woman (in fact women who have been creative in those times have been literally persecuted, attacked by society and institutions and abused!). So, after more than 70 years, I am growing my grandma`s juicy seeds. She is 90 years old and I found wonderful to meet her and to share with her the experience of Initiation. She gave me deep support and understanding and it was amazing to feel how she could be so open at her age! It is an honour to feel of much of her is living in me and to continue to work in the beautiful garden she created. I want to sing and dance until I die. I want to give voice to all the women behind me who have been muted and who gave me the strength and the courage to stand and to live my dreams. Here I am. They stand behind me.



London, October 2009.

The Next Initiation workshop will take place 3 -12 Sepetember 2009 at Dartington, South Devon.  Cotnact Roland at

for an application form.



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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.