Gabrielle Roth — February 4, 1941 – October 23, 2012
Here is the interview we did back in 2004 with Gabrielle for our first CoSM Journal Issue.
Interview from CoSM Journal #1:
Reinventing Contemporary Shamanism
Usually when I am asked, I try to squeeze myself into a dancer, which I’m not, or a writer, which I’m not. My world, as I had to reinvent and redefine it for myself, is totally shamanic. The world we live in does not embrace or understand contemporary shamanism, which is the transformation of cultural and personal wounds into creative forms. My work clearly falls into the Shamanic paradigm and needs a contemporary denotation. It is a marriage of Art and Healing, and one who practices their art as medicine or their medicine as art falls into this category. If we include people like Sam Sheppard, Patty Smith and Alex Grey, we see that their art has an edge, and it is madness that calls us to walk that edge between everything, dark and light, that place where we are disillusioned of all the contraries. Dance was the first way that we had of expressing our connection to the divine. It was the most primordial in the sense that the drummer was within. The Shamanic Paradigm dating back to about 75,000 years ago, came out of awonder of our environment. We began asking questions like, “Who am I and how do I connect to my world?”. The way we connect on a primal level to our environment is through moving. The truth of existence is being, which is an action, a verb. We become a part of that action through moving with the waves, with the cycles, with the patterns; to become an expression of the changing seasons and the night and day cycles. Out of this grew all shamanic forms.
The 5 Rhythms as a Map
One day the drums were calling to me and I began to dance, accessing different states of consciousness through the dance. That’s when I began finding the maps. When you want to go inside to the essence, to the core of it all, you have to have a map, so I began my career as a map maker. This is how the 5R came and all the maps that followed. It was a hologram, a medicine wheel, a map to how the psyche is formed, wounded and healed. It came out of, and I consider it to be, the essential Feminine Spiritual path
which comes from the body. I was the captive audience, I named and articulated them, but the rhythms were there. They were in orgasm, child birth, place, people — in everything you’ve ever done. The first rhythm is the feminine, the idea, you are the receiver, the receptor, letting it all in. Then we move to the staccato period when you
define what you are experiencing and what you want to express. This takes us into the real heart and passion of the creation and there is a dynamic that happens between the feminine and masculine – between the body and the heart that takes over and we’ve enter the Chaos realm. This is like a seed that is created and becomes its own dynamic entity and we learn to serve it. If we are able to go into this unknown place with our creation, then we have entered the realm of the intuitive artist. Out if that comes the fourth rhythm of Lyrical -a place of trance, of no ego – an energy of letting our creation be what it wants to be and now we are being. Then we move into Stillness. which has its own energy and we have become detached from whatever it is we’ve been a channel for. This is the DNA of the creative process which I fell upon, a continuous process that is recreating itself through movement. It is a map about energy which is never fixed and always in flux.
I have about 150 teachers throughout the United States, Europe, and the British isles who teach the 5 Rhythms. The teachers training requires 400 plus hours of work to become certified as teachers. The most advanced section of the training is Mirrors. It is about owning your own ego. First, we go through the 5 Rhythms where we get our physical bodies in motion, in flux, in energy, grounded and centered. Next, there is the heartbeat level, embodying and expressing your emotional world in a fluid, free form way where we practice being different emotions. The 3rd level is about the life cycles. Once we have opened our bodies to dance, we begin to feel and attach feelings to certain relationships. We need to cleanse and look at our life, abhor then our death and everything in between. We see the sacred teachers of Mother for body, Father for heart, self for self, society and the Universe, or God, the Universal Principal, or Great Spirit, whichever name we want to use. Each of us has to have a direct relationship to these energies.
We realize that there is indeed no one to blame, not our Mother, not our Father, not our self, not our society and not our God, and that the problem must have another name, and that is Ego. We begin to work with the concept of Ego Trip, which is not who we truly are, it is who we are not. This is a forum to invite the ego to center stage and witness.
I am not teaching people to teach this whole journey because that is overwhelming. I am teaching them to teach the 5 Rhythms knowing that it will catalyze and inspire all of these other changes organically over a period of life. Life itself is designed to enlightened us if we choose to wake up and see what the life cycles are today. The beauty of being in a room with people of all ages is that we are dealing with all levels of maturity that learn from one another. It is a path designed to give you the tools and maps to resurrect yourself, reinvent yourself, to heal, to bring oneself back into wholeness and therefore holiness or sacred self.