of Shekinah practice
practice A wide range of
integral practices set in the context of a coherent worldview.
of dyadic inquiry: recipes for transfiguring relationships
Courses and workshops
Below is my general account of
primary theatre, or co-creating. The inquiries developing this method, in which
I participated, were conducted in Italy in 1996, 1998 and 1999; in an
ongoing inquiry group in New Zealand meeting regularly from 1994 to the present;
and in several inquiry dyads between 1996 and the present (May 2003). See also Shekinah.
inquiry is a form of spiritual enlivenment. We respond to the
spontaneous promptings of our indwelling spiritual energy, giving dynamic form
and voice to, and inquiring into, our immediate relation with what there is. We
explore, reveal and affirm, in nonverbal and verbal ways, our original
participation in creation.
People may work in pairs or small groups or in the whole group, each taking a
turn with the silent, supportive witness of the others:
Stepping out of and transforming ordinary, culturally conditioned
ways of being.
Originating authentic forms of posture, movement, sound and speech;
liberating and reclaiming metaphor and analogy, the revelatory power of symbols.
Gifting the other people present, sharing with, revealing to, and
interacting with them.
In these ways each person is engaged in:
Releasing, expressing and celebrating personal presence and
connectedness; remembering my original and archetypal self, rejoicing in who I
Opening to being, cosmic presence, our go-between divinity.
Opening to powers and presences, interrelating different levels of being.
Contracting the person into the alienated, distressed ego.
Inhibiting personal presence, constrained by embarrassment, and not wanting
to embarrass others.
Seducing the audience, showing off, hiding behind the props.
Inflating the distressed ego.
Conforming to imagined expectations, doing-it-right.
Competing with the other people present.
Own, express and move out of embarrassment, fear, shame, avoidance,
shut-down, competitiveness, copying, showing off, etc.
Explore the dramatic interface between the contracted ego and the expansive
Explore fully symbolic use of posture, gesture, facial expression, eyes,
movement, breathing, sound; and verbal use of metaphor, analogy, myth, story.
Try things out. Explore acting into charismatic dance, sound, gesture, speech.
Talk to, with or as, what there is in every respect without let or hindrance,
or any part, aspect or dimension of it: people, culture, the audience, nature,
the solar system, the galaxy, the cosmos, archetypal powers, presences,
immediate experience, complementary realities, life indwelling, universal
Let awareness go down into body being, the belly brain, the hara, centre of
timing and spacing; and let expression charismatically emerge, as in a
spontaneous dance, rather than be fully prepared in advance, with smooth
transitions in and out of the flow, in and out of the session.
Explore a within focus, or an interactive, connectedness focus.
Be open to emotional processing as part of the ebb and flow.
Take time, allow pauses, silences - for their own sake, and for gestation
What is the role, if any, of the following?
Self and peer feedback after each turn, or after all have taken a turn.
Peer feedback during each turn, as discreet gestures with a prearranged
Coaching and transpersonal facilitation to release authentic expression.
Forms of primary theatre
have had experience of all of these and they are all very promising.
People take individual turns in a group or in pairs, each person
exploring their unique relation with creation - verbally, vocally, in gesture,
posture and movement. The audience gives full, supportive attention.
One person takes an individual turn, and one or more members of the audience
respond, either as discreet mirroring, or as a discreet response, or as full
Group members are expressive together nonverbally, with vocal toning,
gesture and movement. They may do their individual thing, resonating with each
other side by side, or explicitly interact, as moved.
Group members are expressive together verbally, each being a spokesperson
for an archetypal power or a presence.
Two people explore verbalized co-visualization, focusing on some entity
within, or aspect of, creation, such as a planet within the solar system.
The group as a whole explores its original relation with creation, collaborating
in the design and execution of a ritual. The leanest rituals are free
of any explicit theology, that is, any language or artefacts which are loaded
with ancient or modern religious beliefs. They are designed using only the primal
meaning of basic gestures and simple words and everyday objects. Thus the
group may choose to stand in a circle with arms reaching upward and say 'above',
then kneel to touch the ground and say 'below', then stand and cross their hands
over the heart and say 'within', finally reach out to take the hands of those
on either side and say 'between'. Or each person in turn may hold up a
key to the next person saying 'This is a key', touch it from heart to heart, and
pass it on.
Other rituals may awarely adopt and integrate elements
drawn from variety of sources, ancient and modern. These elements are always
adapted and reframed for use in a context of independent inquiry. Innumerable
lean rituals can be designed by a group open to the presence of being. They generate
sacred space and create a means for inquiring into its coming into being.
Benefits of primary theatre and lean ritual
Primary theatre practices are forms of enlivenment and fulfil in action
inward practices of attunement, such as high prayer and meditation, traditional
forms of enlightenment. They may also lead over into, and be consummated in,
such inward practices.
They nourish us, and they empower us to bring the spiritual into our
everyday life. Thus:
They help develop charismatic presence and timing at home and at work and at
They can be built directly into the the process of mothering and fathering,
and of education at all levels.
Shekinah practice is a
distinctive version of primary theatre and lean ritual.
It has developed as the bedrock of
our ongoing inquiry group.
Hebrew means 'residence', 'dwelling'. In Jewish tradition it is the name for
divine immanence, for the divine presence as it makes itself known in the
material world, 'overshadowing', 'hovering', 'indwelling'. It is also associated
with the feminine aspect of the divine, concerned with interpersonal
relationships. In the mystical system of the Kabbalah, Shekinah is linked
with the tenth Sefirah of Malkhut and the manifestation of the divine kingdom on
earth. In what follows Shekinah refers to the spiritual reality that is between
humans, and between humans and presences in other realms. It is
the reality of the relation between. I give below an account of what goes
on in a current inquiry group meeting at the SPCHI.
(1) As people arrive
and gather we socialize with cups of various kinds of tea.
(2) When we are well
settled in, round a low table with candles and other items, someone proposes
or starts a check-in round. This round accommodates a whole diversity of
options: simple reportage of current life-events, routine, joyful, challenging
or traumatic; an account of current spiritual, psi, psychological,
interpersonal, energetic/sexual/somatic dynamics; a cathartic release of some
current and/or archaic distress with self-generated insight;
self-transfiguring spiritual assertions; etc., etc. Group members support and
bear witness to the person checking-in, but rarely interact or comment,
because the check-in is somehow directed to what is between us.
(3) There may then
be a period of silence, or a period of silence plus someone stroking
the rim of a Tibetan bowl with a stick of wood to produce a tone.
(4) At a certain
point there is a very distinct and spontaneous qualitative shift in the group
energy field, and one or two people are moved, and gradually and
idiosyncratically each one is moved, to open their bodily, incarnate energy to
what is between us, and between us and presences in other realms, by posture and gesture, by movement, by vocal toning, by
rhythmic sounding of a diversity of rattles, drums, bells, tambourines, etc.
This is also an opening of the heart. The posture, gesture, movement, toning and
sounding are improvised in the living moment out of a heart-communion with the
(5) This dynamic,
charismatic body-heart opening goes on for a considerable period, with series
of crescendos and diminuendos which are potently co-created with the rhythmic
life of the between.
(6) There is an
unmistakable final diminuendo. We become entirely still. We draw together
and hold hands, or sit silently apart, and for a long period feast on the
extraordinary depths and presence of Shekinah.
(7) This also has an
unmistakable ending. It may, or may not, be followed by a sharing, an
affirmation, an inquiring review, of what has been going on.
(8) We close
the meeting and people depart for their homes.
What may be
interwoven with the above are spontaneous episodes of in which one or more members may speak out of, and
speak as, archetypal powers interfused with the event.
And there are
three types of inquiry with which we engage. The first is our bedrock
inquiry process which occurs at every meeting. The second and the third are
procedures we adopt at varying intervals:
(1) The active discrimination
during charismatic expression, exercised on-the-hoof, with regard to how
we are doing it and in relation with whom or what.
(2) Co-deciding an intentional
project beforehand about how we do our charismatic expression, then
doing this, then sharing feedback on it, then building on this in a
second action-reflection cycle, etc.; or in the milder version of this,
simply reporting back on what has been going on for each of us during
our emergent Dionysian charismatic expression.
(3) Using part of a fortnightly
meeting to plan individual or agreed spiritual practices to be taken as
an action inquiry into daily life before the next meeting, when each of
us report back on our inquiry strand.
For more on Shekinah practice see
Papers on the inquiry group