an article I wrote on the experiential practice of one of my projects
a Walking Art testimony
The Serpent Walk was phase two of the Dreambody Project, an exploratory research to establish the possible relations between landscape, body, and storytelling.
It was a 5 days Nomadic Residency, a traveling artistic practice, a creative adventure. To initiate the project we moved between the studio during the day and a tepee at night then launched into 3 full days of walking. We concluded our journey with an intimate day in and with nature to integrate and share our experiences.
9 people as one Silent Serpent walked along the River Rhine, tracing a MAP, rooting into the NOW, each facing oneself in the simple act of walking and being part of a bigger body, the Serpent!
The Serpent Walk has been an organic integration of practices, inspired and based on the Toltec walk practice  and embedded in the somatic and improvisation dance practice .
I gathered a smaller group of dancers/performers who were involved in the Dreambody Project with the call to take on the challenge of reaching a deeper level of the work.
This second phase of the project nourished and served the dancers-performers by inviting them to engage into a full experiential practice, beyond the studio. This practice enabled the dancers-performers to develop further /strengthen the connection between life and art, make contact with an inner and outer source and practice bridging/connecting these two worlds.
The specific approach I apply in my artistic work in relation to landscape is training the emphatic ability to BE IT, to facilitate a shift of perspective from looking at it to BECOME IT, to speak and move from that place. When this process occurs, to whatever degree, it calls the performer to go beyond the separation of subject and object and to tap into a place of unity where we can directly know, sense, feel and move.
Like a serpent, the walk has a form and provides a context to simultaneously experience the outer and the inner landscape in the passive act of receiving images from the outside and letting them enter the inside environment of each individual. This process of transmutation has been the ground practice from which to stimulate availability and to a dialogue between inner and outer worlds. After this full walking practice, the following step naturally was to integrate the experience with/through dance improvisation. The group within the Serpent’s body became a self-existing autonomous organism which was able to move, talk and find physical forms of expression, generating meaningful actions.
I work intimately with the body, following the many inner paths while addressing the reflections in the outer world.
The Landscape shapes our Mind and gives Form to our Body.
The River is a Connecting line, a Continuum.
My journal day 1
A strip of water in the Earth
A liquid line in the cracks of the skin
An intention like an arrow thrust towards a destination
A bridge between origin and destiny
We started with a full day work in the studio exploring dance and text.
In the evening we ate together and later gathered in the tepee to seat in a circle and tune the Mind.
One of us suggested to find an archetypal name to enter the Serpent, the name should be suggested by the group and approved by the person.
10 Names were given which have been tracing the destiny and defining the purpose of each one of us. This will become clear at the end of the journey and even later!
The Serpent’s configuration from head to tail: Navigator, Avatar, Phoenix, Uichichaya, Mother, Venadita, Joker, Fool, Warrior and Alchemist which was following the Serpent keeping all the tents and feeding us in the morning and at the end of a long walking day.
The making of the Serpent
The Walk begins
Under the big highway bridge the Serpent meets the 3 horses
The Serpent is full of dust
A group of young curious cows meet the Serpent at the riverside for the pleasure of being together
Lazy Serpent under the sun, bathing its feet at the river
We walk to remember Who we really are
To walk in silence as one Serpent is a simple form which leaves all the space for a complex and deep experience. It is an individual as well as a group process. Each person roots into his/her inner journey, facing what is there at that very moment, each step is a reminder to take full responsibility and inhabit our body as a place, the walk is a rhythm and a fabric for our thoughts. Each individual is the only ‘I’ and affirms his/her verticality. At the same time, each one of us is part of the horizontal connecting line, which makes the body of the Serpent. We are supported by the simple experience of being part, of belonging, and we are challenged by the same realization of being interconnected as one body. The outside world is a pure reflection of the inner world and we are able to experience it to the extent that we are capable to see and receive.
As one body we experience the moving landscape as well as our body moving in the landscape.
I am the throat of the Serpent
And its tongue
Each step is an opportunity
I meet against my mind, it feels like I am squeezed in the corner of who I am
I endure through the uncomfortable space of my body
This image keeps coming back: It is me falling,
It is my body dropping on the ground
As I walk, as I see, as I hear, as I catch myself thinking …this image like a flash is blinking in and out
My body walks but I am not my body
My body is the vehicle I travel with
A tendon on the left ankle is hurting making my walk difficult
Until a great pain develops on my right foot, at the arch, it is hurting making each step unbearable
I can’t put weight on it anymore, I limp
I struggle with the idea of limping
I slow down the whole Serpent
The longest walk next to the water in the grass
I am not my right foot
I am determined to walk with my intention
I am open for a miracle
Within the time of one step seeing, picking up and giving to me a four-leaf clover in one swift action from Avatar, which cuts through the linear time and I am left with the tangible sign of magic!
I bow to the intelligence of the Serpent of which I am a part
Nothing like the Silent Walk of the Serpent, the uninterrupted experience of living together day and night in continuity on the Earth and under the Sky with a pointed intention!
It is the clear form of a ritual that activates our intuitive body so that we can see the invisible in the visible shifting our experience from ordinary to unordinary, expanding our capacity to perceive and receive. It is the invitation for Spirit to manifest, it is the humbleness of being in the simple form of the walk in a gathered and unified intention that opens the space for the wonder of Life and I can see, I can witness the synchronicity, the perfection and the harmonic dance of the visible world.
In the walk and through the walk each one of us faced his/her own challenge and purpose. In such an intense uncompromising and essential practice the challenge and the purpose coincide, as there where our weakness and fear reside is the very place for our power and our service.
Everything that happens is prepared by everything that happened before
Every event is the necessary fulfillment of each and every step before
I am a meteorite launched in space at a tremendous speed
The mass of my body and the weight of my spirit create the momentum of my walk on the Earth
I am a point in space and my future is a line
I am becoming
Like a river to its final destination
I came here to fulfill my destiny
Therefore there I am fulfilling my destiny: My body falling to the ground
As I surrender to what is
The hands of the Serpent are there, like a true venous flow of my blood moving back to my heart, nurturing and rebalancing the uneven flow
My body is a cocoon
I am faceless
Like a child in the hands of the Mother
I am loved not for what I am but because I am
And I rise above my body in full awareness
It is the Alchemy of Love that makes my Life possible
It is the first Fire that I could see with my eyes and feel on my skin, that burns inside me and when necessary reclaims my body
My name is Phoenix I witnessed my own Death!
The Serpent walk is the space and the time for going deep within as well as stay connected with the environment. Practicing to receive, to let the outside come inside, to explore the threshold between inside and outside, to question it, to live it in each step. I practice noticing my inner and outer landscape. The Serpent Walk becomes the form for my journey, which is our journey which is the journey.
To receive is passive practice, is an allowance, is noticing closing and concluding to constantly reopen, it is a discipline to stay with what moves. In the practice we are given the gift of graceful moments in which we sense the flow of Life and we sense we are in IT, we move with IT, we come to realize we are IT.
As the experience in the body can be dense we can rightly touch upon the light body and the formless presence of Spirit. Or not! We can move through it untouched or we can move through it transformed. Many little deaths are the sign of our process of transformation, making our walk lighter on the mother Earth.
The only art is the art of living, walking our walk.
How far did we move from this as a civilization?
How close are we to it as a human incarnation?
The Serpent Walk is the practice of leaving no traces and find our light step.
The true artist is like the true warrior, lives every moment as the last by a clear-cut leaving no traces.
Cleaning after us always, making a hole in the ground to release our physical waste and cover it.
Walking in silence is a strong loud statement, people can be attracted and smile at it or get annoyed and reactive.
Silence expands presence.
The Mother Remembers
She looks at all of us and remembers we are her children
Nothing is more beautiful
To see her
To be recognized
The moment she remembers anyone She opens a door and we are called to remember Who we really are
Nothing is more simple
As the Mother calls upon us we have the free will to respond
But as the Mother now is one with Nature my will becomes the Will and to respond is my Service!
I see a road that leads to the Heart of the Venadita
I have no other wish than to walk that road all the way to the Heart of the beautiful deer
It is time for beauty
It is time for beauty to express in form
We walked all the way to here to taste the flavor of uncompromising beauty
We will not be content with anything less than the Sublime
Waking up on the last day, Navigator’s body is not able to stand, the body glued on the floor as transformed into a different species, he remembers no two-legged life but only the horizontal state of a body pulled by gravity. What happened to that light body and the gentle feet, which would bounce off the ground as levity would be stronger than gravity? Which guided the Serpent till the night before? Transformation is always dramatic and breaks drastically with any continuity so that something in us breaks open and we are not who we think we are but we become who we really are!
The last day was the day for integration. The Serpent opens its body up to integrate the experience through dance. Dancing the experience is the practice and the ability to give form, to give motion and voice to the inner call, being capable of aligning what moves within with a form without, to be lost and found and enjoy both moments. To stay present and be presence in the changing form of our moving body. To receive and respond in a constant flow. We all dance it out and moved where was needed and in a way we were needed.
The Serpent knows the Alchemist
The Serpent walks and remembers its body as it waves through the land
The Serpent knows the Alchemist outside its body
It knows the elements and their power of transformation
Its consciousness grows with the Knowledge of the Alchemist
And when it is finally biting its tail at the end of each day, it is ready to die and be born
Its body made new by the power of the Alchemist smiles once again and it is ready to dream through the Night!
Images are impressed in our body from what we see, hear, smell, taste…
I see with my feet, my hands, my back. The porous of my body are like millions of eyes and mouths which can see, taste and absorb the outside landscape and alchemically transform it into the inside landscape. It is done.
Images create a narrative, they connect many dots and makeup forms.
The organic narrative of the body of the Serpent, everything is connected.
The narrative is radial, every part knows the other by the center, which is the beating heart where everything begins and goes back to.
As the Serpent walks in a meandering line, like the river, it weaves the threads that connect the visible with the invisible, and so we find ourselves in the middle of poetry.
Based on the experience which has been absorbed, impressed and recorded in our Body-Mind, I asked each participant to write a journal. I invited to write it as if ‘I am it’ as if I am the body of the Serpent and I speak from that place. This way of writing is what I call a ‘scrittura fisica’ a writing that generates from the embodied experience.
The journals, as well as the experience in its own, have been a stepping stone to the next Dreambody phase which led to the full stage performance I am the River.
The Serpent Walk took place in May 2015 in the area of Wageningen, The Netherlands.
My deep gratitude to Carlos Jesus Castillejos with whom I learned and practiced the Toltec Walk, which made me see that to walk lightly on Mother Earth is our very and only purpose.
All my gratitude goes to every individual of the Serpent that fully dived into the experience and surrendered to its teaching.
All images by Raul Anderson[do_widget id=mtphr-post-navigation-8]