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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Dametto

Shaking Medicine

The world's oldest living culture, that of the Kalahari Bushmen, most likely holds the most profound healing practices on earth. It's based on a disciplined way of arousing and orchestrating an ecstatic body experience.


Bushman Shamans are masters of spiritual expression. They see the constant changing of form (shape-shifting) taking place everywhere they look or listen. Plants start as seeds and become sprouts, roots, stalks, and blossoms. Weak infants become strong adults and then fragile elders... Our emotions may feel sad at one moment and joyful soon after.

It should be no surprise that shaking is the most important experience for people who understand the shape-shifting quality of the natural world of birth, life, and death.



When we engage in ecstatic dance, there is a flow that begins grounded and stable (in our feet and legs) evolves into faster, repetitive movements (bones), and then explodes into belly-centered chaotic, wild movements where we access deep power and the ability to let go and transform.


This act can feel unsettling and scary and then just like the release of an arrow, we take off, speed up, and land. Maybe we are releasing the build-up of an emotion, the letting go of a trauma, the shedding of an old way of being etc., whatever the case, the shaking takes us further into the surrender. The shake opens the door to ecstatic love, healing, emotional contact, and transformation. And then, just like the changing form of the plant, the dance opens into a different state of being and our ecstatic movement blossoms into a luminous, lyrical dance of the heart and soul. Eventually, we slow down and rest in awareness and bliss of the Divine dance of Shiva- nothingness.


Next time we dance together, I invite you to become the arrow that cleanses any old stagnation or negativity and sends you straight into your own wild release. It's not just about dancing fast and interpreting the music, it's about firing up your belly of manifestation and shaking in a way that would impress even the Sacred Clowns and Gods (same thing).


Barbara Dametto

ps. Check out the teachings of Bradford Keeney- anthropologist and author of

"Shaking Medicine".


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