Kabbalistic embodied movement project

The Kabbalistic embodied movement project exemplifies an aim of the Alef Trust, and one that relates to the transformative challenge of Transpersonal Psychology. The intention was to explore an older wisdom school (in this case, that of the Kabbalah), and revitalise core aspects of its teachings. This was to be achieved, firstly by reviewing the kabbalistic knowledge in the light of relevant contemporary scientific and psychological insights, and secondly by drawing on other lines of practice—meditation, visualisation, and movement, voice and breath work—to create approaches to esoteric practice which resonate with contemporary concerns and pathways to embodied spirituality.

Our focus was on kabbalistic teachings embedded in the Hebrew letters. That the letters embody essential mystical principles is a central tenet of the tradition. In the words of two thirteenth-century kabbalists:

Within the secret of the twenty-two letters you will find the entire creation of the world, its structure and the fullness of lifeforms. All is dependent on the letters. One who understands their hidden mysteries … will contemplate the profundities of the letters, yet no created being can fully grasp their infinite depths. (Gikatilla, 1248-c.1325).

The letters are without any doubt the root of all wisdom and knowledge, and they are found at the core of prophetic consciousness…. (Abulafia, 1240- after 1291).

Weaving in depth psychological and somatic perspectives, we researched how a personal, as well as archetypal, connections with each letter could be forged through creative and embodied amplification. Each letter became a gateway to the principles operating within creation, and the ways through which these principles become expressed in all our lives.

The project proceeded through four phases:

  1. Delving into the esoteric meanings of the letters, as conveyed in classical kabbalistic texts.
  2. Amplifying the meanings through a range of imaginal practices, including visualisation, sound work, archetypal journeying, etc. In addition, the narrative conveyed through the alphabetical sequence was explored.
  3. Creating movements for each letter that would embody the key ideas arising through the first two phases. The primary intent of the movements was to express the esoteric connotations of the letters, not their shapes in a literal sense.
  4. Elaboration of the core movements into expressive works, including music, poetry and embodied narrative. This was achieved by following and amplifying the impulses generated by the core movements.

Working within a group context was essential to all four phases. Group members brought ideas from different backgrounds and traditions to what may best be characterised as a form of action research.

Core movement

Amplified movement

Les Lancaster has also shared a blog article about the  Kabbalistic Embodied Movement Project which gives more background, especially about his own involvement in this project.