School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: March 2011
Dance with the ancestors

By Henk Kieft 


Part of the first Long Dance in July 2010 at the Earth Spirit Centre at Glastonbury, UK.


We were invited to dance either with all your ancestors at once -it might even be with the animals or plants before us in evolution- or with certain ancestors.

I have chosen to dance with my recent ancestors and go back several generations as far as the dance would guide me. The suggestion was to take one step backwards for each generation you felt to go back in time. With the warning to go forward the same number of steps when you were ready and when the dance was over. For me this appeared to be 7 generations along my fathers line –which I did not plan beforehand, I only realized afterwards it was that kin-.


Each step backwards, I kept still for a second or two, to feel how far I should go. After 7 steps it was clear: here I had to start.


7. The male side felt very tense, bad and nasty, not to say clearly criminal and inhumane. I had no images of any reason behind, it was just that feeling. The energy felt splitting and thundering as well as thick viscous. His wife side felt shame, huge shame and shyness, not wanting to see her husband, but having no choice but to live with him.

6. The sixth generation felt as a real couple that had to cope with that shame and tried to live a decent life, regaining some self-esteem and proud.

5. Their son felt as a heavy block of concrete, it did not move anywhere, totally inflexible (dogmatic?, depressive?). And I felt the deep pain of his wife, the pain of an unseen and very lonely partner. I felt very sorry.

4. The next generation felt as a couple again, not much profile though, just trying hard to survive as peasant family, anyhow closely related to soil and crops. It was hard and poor.

3. My grand-grandmother –I‘m still in my dad’s line- felt as a strong and very self-confident woman, brilliant mind, radiating. Her husband giving her space to be and did not claim position himself.

2. My grandparents felt again as that small farmers family, struggling for survival, no specially strong or weak characters. Just a feeling of having the right to be there, able to survive.

1. At my parents generations I sensed my dad’s fear at my birth, his doubt whether I would be worth the possible loss of his beloved wife. I also felt their mutual love and respect.

0. It took me slightly more time that intended, but I could focus and finish the path and I took forward the same number of 7 steps into the now.

And I realized that there is my daughter, sitting close to me in the tent, sensing my strong emotions as well, tears in her eyes.


Sunday, in the second round through the MM-mandala, I again danced with my ancestors. Now –in spite of all that had happened- I was able to say thanks to them for being my predecessors, eventually giving birth to me. And I danced through the 7 generations again. I danced with all my mental and bodily power to release the spirits of their pains, sorrow and struggle. Both the cruel 7 and the concrete block 5 took a lot of energy, but I felt I had to do it. It felt I was dancing to free myself as well. I also released the sorrow of their wives, and the generations that followed. The peasant life felt tough but fair and close to the land. I also understood the fear of my dad and thanked him for everything he gave me –it was what he could and it was a lot-. It took time before I was through. But finally I expressed my gratitude and it felt as if my heart had opened a bit more.

I have made the 7 steps again into the now.

At the end I felt very strong and free. It was this power I tried to hand over to Eline, and she continued the dance …



Written half a year later, from my notes and memory. As if I danced it yesterday.





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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.