Jackie Haworth and Belinda Gore recently completed the fourth annual Instructor Training workshop at the Cuyamungue Institute. One of the participants, Anne McIsaac-Miller, first came to the Institute fifteen years ago, and now that her four children are on their own she returned to complete her certification training. We welcome Anne as our newest Cuyamungue Instructor.
This year we were at the Institute for the August “blue moon,” the second full moon in a month. We were a group who sang often and enthusiastically when we greeted the sun every morning, we celebrated by singing to the moon: everything from Native American chants to “Moon River” to Beatles songs. It was great!
This group agreed that being on the land of the Cuyamungue Institute is a special experience. With sensitivity and open-heartedness we can hear the spirits walking with us, joining us in the kiva during posture experiences, and singing to us as we walked the land together. Although the Board and I had been considering having regional trainings for certified Instructors, the feedback we received from this group confirmed our earlier decision to ask people at this level of commitment to travel to New Mexico and experience the rituals that Felicitas began and to feel the presence of spirit that infuses our traditions in this work.
With each year we have expanded the training as we deepen our understanding of the practice of using ritual postures to expand our consciousness. While Felicitas used the term ecstatic trance, from the anthropological literature, to describe the state of consciousness that we access using the Cuyamungue Method, we find that too many people associate the term “trance” with a loss of consciousness. Instead we are expanding consciousness, primarily through learning to use the capacity of the entire nervous system and especially the right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex. The Instructor training now includes several segments on neuropsychology as a foundation for understanding what occurs in participants’ experiences when they use the Cuyamungue Method.
Another important aspect of the training is to really understand the nature of the several categories of postures: healing, divination, spirit journey, metamorphosis, initiation, and celebration, as well as accessing the realm of living myth. Every participant has an opportunity to introduce a posture from one of these groups and to lead us in the ritual of the Method as well as facilitate cultivating deeper meaning from each person’s experiences. Since there are very few of us who are anthropologists, we do not so much link individual experiences with belief structures of specific indigenous societies (which was Felicitas’ outstanding talent!), but instead to link with a worldview that is earth-based and body-based, then to explore the meaning for the individual.
Next year the Instructor training will take place September 4-8, with Belinda Gore and Paul Robear as facilitators. For more information and to register contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Since all certified Instructors are required to have participated in at least one Masked Trance Dance, Paul, Laura Lee, and Belinda will also facilitate a Masked Dance August 28-September 1. For more information about the requirements for certification visit www.cuyamungueinstitute.com/