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The Importance of Performance

Yesterday I shared a bit of a dream -- a master of ceremonies is so captivating that everyone else falls under his spell and does as he pleases. The dream came to me during a guide training program with Animas. After working the dream, the idea of a spell -- what type you cast just by your living, what spell is possible in the practice of guiding, became an orienting metaphor for the rest of the training.


Probably the deeper reason why I signed up for my first program, and have continued so fervently with Animas, is because I fell under their spell. Sure, the content of the founder's books is compelling, as are the programs, deeply. But the way he writes whips a wonder. And the way the guides speak...I fall in love every time. My favorite part of every program is when the guides give a wrap on the journey of soul initiation -- what it entails, what it promises. Each guide casts the spell in their own way, all of them riveting. By the end, the participants are on the edge of their seats, mouths watering, wanting. The spell is strong enough that we believe in the story the guide tells us, and we're left begging for it to grace our lives.


We have to be compelled to change. We must be romanced into another world, seduced. It won't do to plainly discuss an alternative, to state the facts. If that were true, we'd have solved many problems that are in fact worsening. Knowledge is only part of power. We can know something without really knowing. We can look, but not really see. Hear, but not truly be listening. But when we are absorbed in something, senses awakened to subtleties, imagination wandering, eyes wide, mouth falling gently open, our whole being reaches toward that world, and we are changed.



I want to grow my capacity to cast a good spell, to sing a song so beautiful you can't not stop, keen, melt. That is a big reason I am in training now to become a hypnotist. The curriculum is much more scientific and reductionist than I am used to. We talk about neurotransmitters instead of archetypes, representational systems instead of ceremony. I'm enjoying learning through a totally different lens. Our text for now is Keeping the Brain in Mind, which is a neuroscience primer for coaches, hypnotists, and neurolinguistic programming practitioners. They urge readers to be captivating, funny, strange even, to make their sessions with clients a riot, interesting, memorable. If attention isn't captured, no real change can happen.


They break this down by talking about the dopamine gate. If something is compelling enough, dopamine focuses attention on that one thing, and shuts out the rest of the world. You experience this everyday -- watching TV, scrolling on social media, perhaps working. I pray you've also experienced this in the wild, where clouds dancing over the moon is the only world that matters, or the first flowers of spring seem to inhabit your whole being, which is everything. These days our brains are so conditioned to the entertainment industry, it is a lot harder for the quieter things to gather us onto them. And we can't be changed by them if we can't fall under their spell.


We must be changed by them. We must fall under Earth's trance. We must.


I am beginning to think of myself as a spell caster on Earth's behalf. Here to allure you into Earth's dreaming. For that, I must be compelling. It is a power I have, undoubtedly, but one I have shied away from, held back by an inner taboo that is crumbling now. Mostly I think I need practice, to go trembling before other humans and let Earth speak through me.


I made this video in that spirit. Here I perform one of my favorite poems, Mary Oliver's To Begin With the Sweet Grass. Poetry is dynamic and deepening, but can come out of a mouth rote or dramatic, and anywhere in between. I'm going for the dramatic end of the spectrum. I find myself curious how it will land for you, if it will feel irresistible, or run of the mill. Clearly I am new at this and the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired - headphones help.



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