Manari Ushigua at this year's Long Dance
Every summer Pachamama Alliance supporters Ya’Acov and Susannah Darling Khan raise a huge white marquee tent on the land of a local farmer in the English countryside. People from all over the world walk up the grassy slope to join in a three-day ceremony of healing, love, and connection they call the Long Dance. For 72 hours, music plays and bodies move. It is a disciplined, devotional space of deep prayer for healing our inner world and bringing the next level of consciousness to healing our outer one.
For the past three years, Sápara leader and long-time ally of Pachamama Alliance, Manari Ushigua, has been an honoured guest among the dancers, bringing the wisdom of his family and the Amazon rainforest with him, and receiving great support and strength to take back with him to the forest.
“It is a beautiful thing to recognize there are people outside of the forest who dream in the way the Sápara people do. The Long Dance creates the space to enter into a state similar to the one the Sápara people dream in.”
Contemporary Shamanic Ceremony
The Long Dance is a genuine contemporary shamanic ceremony rooted in ancient tradition and modern understanding that deep change can be catalysed. Twenty-five years ago, Ya’Acov participated in a 72-hour Native American Sun Dance, but he recognized that he needed to create a ceremony that recovered the traditional ways of ceremony of his own ancestors.
"The Long Dance is intentionally taking time to fast, to give thanks for our lives, to call for personal healing, to look at our relationship to Pachamama, and to rest in a personal connection with Creation itself.”
Ya’Acov and Susannah are the founders of the School of Movement Medicine, a weaving together of the indigenous wisdom, ecological awareness, and social justice of Pachamama Alliance, with systems theory, neuro-science, western psychotherapy, and movement into a transformative practice.
“Movement Medicine helps us to re-find the sensation of our own backbone, our own hips, our own bodies. When we lose the body, we lose the ground, when we lose the ground, we lose our connection to the Earth.”
Ya’Acov and Susannah believe that for ceremony to work there has to be concrete benefit outside the ceremonial setting, so everyone attending the Long Dance is required to raise money for a project that they love, and Ya'Acov and Susannah want to live their own words about reciprocity as well. The funding work that they do for Pachamama Alliance goes on through many avenues. Portions of the sales from their online shop, Ya’Acov’s new book, and the Long Dance, and 100% of Music For Life sales, all go to Pachamama Alliance.
Ya’Acov and Susannah attended the first training session for Awakening the Dreamer Symposium facilitators in England, and have presented the Symposium for many years. Then a friend returned from a Pachamama Alliance Journey, and told them they simply had to go.
Ya’Acov and Susannah were so touched by their first Journey that they wrote “The Force of the Forest”, a love song from them to the spirit of the forest. And that love affair continues. In January, Susannah and Ya’Acov will lead their fifth Journey, Dancing with the Heart of the World. Susannah once had a vision of people singing and dancing in the rainforest. All peoples, all nations, all ages, dancing in a huge snake of joy. On the last few Journeys into the jungle, she has witnessed that vision becoming manifest: people from all over the world and indigenous people dancing together deep in the Amazon.
Ceremonies with the Sápara
The Sápara are dreaming into a new dream of co-leadership for their people and the world, and in the village of Llanchamacocha, Manari Ushinga, David Tucker, and Susannah and Ya’Acov hold ceremony together for both Journeyers and Villagers. “It is Amazing. Such a beautiful and unusual exchange is based on the level of trust established over the 20 years of Pachamama Alliance’s relationship with the tribes. We are truly grateful that through the Pachamama Alliance, we have had the experience of this gift.”
Creating Strong Medicine
The core of Movement Medicine is to help people find that which is unbroken in themselves. What Susannah and Ya’Acov have found among the Achuar people and the Sápara people is unbroken, undefeated tradition, and Pachamama Alliance works to protect those peoples and those unbroken traditions.
“What Pachamama Alliance gives us and the many other people who come into contact with it is a way of learning about those traditions, and to be able to give back to the cultures that are doing so much to protect the rainforest that we are all dependent on. Through our support of Pachamama Alliance, we are supporting all of that. It is a chance to stand up together, to give a standing ovation to the Earth.”