Amidst an ongoing pandemic and lockdowns, we have had to confront our own demons. By creating this ritual, we have tapped into the power to confront our shared demons as well. Unfortunately, it is currently not possible to share this ritual with you in a physical space. For this reason, we have developed an online workshop ritual which invites you to create a decolonizing ritual together with us.
A spiritual process of decolonization Decolonization is a spiritual process. One that invites us to travel to the land within ourselves and our roots, a physical connection with the hara, leading us to our ancestors and the choices they have made to live with the land, and to respect and cherish its spirituality in cohabitation with other (human) beings. In this decolonizing ritual, we recognize the capitalist realities that we inhabit through an act of materialization, reminding us of the ways in which we construe the land as our property. Through the act of dematerialization, we subsequently learn to acknowledge that a process of letting go and detachment is key, so as to regain a deeper sense of the land as something that we are a part of, and exist in relationship to. This allows us to build new transformative futurities, which occur beyond the binaries of colonialism. Binaries that are ongoingly reproduced through gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, religion, and even in spiritual practices. Binaries of colonialism such as “(...) ancestors who have suffered at the hands of those ancestors who thrived. Ancestors who have revolted, liberated themselves, and those who have been appropriated. Ancestors who have colonized, and ancestors who have been colonized, enslaved, indentured, commodified (…).” This ritual of decolonization is a way to transition towards a process of letting go of these binaries. Decolonization is often considered as a political and administrative process, dismantling the oppressive mechanisms that are rooted in the colonial project of land grabbing, enslavement and exploitation, which continue to function today. Throughout history, people have been resisting, and fighting against the oppressive system of coloniality. Historically, resistance has often been rooted in spiritual practices.
What does spirituality mean to you in a process of decolonization?
Preparation for the online workshop ritual You are invited to prepare individually by performing two daily tasks dedicated to your ancestors. We would like to ask you to start these preparations on the 23rd of February for a period of four days. Eventually, on the 5th day, we will gather online for the group ritual, on the 27th of February at 19:00 CET. The first task is a short daily writing ritual to your ancestors; the second is to collect symbols for your own personal altar and ritual. The preparations should not take more than 15 minutes per day. For this practice, you can find the specific information on the following pages for each day, to guide you through the ritual workshop. The workshop will be in English. Please note that while writing should be a daily practice throughout four days before the online workshop, each participant should also collect symbols and materials to use during the online session on the 5th day. Please note that the online session itself is a ritual, including body work, dance, meditation, and a group conversation.
Daily writing ritual to the ancestors an act of materialization 5 minutes It is important to create a space where you can be in silence for your daily writing ritual, in an atmosphere you have created for yourself that feels comfortable and safe. Take just five minutes to write to your ancestors in a notebook from which you can also take out the pages. It is important to write within the given time frame, as this practice is intended to be short. Use any writing style you like, such as poetry, or writing down words intuitively. However, do address your ancestors directly in the beginning of your writing. Here are three elements to guide you, in no particular order:
Emotion or feeling Express an emotion or feeling which you are currently experiencing. This might be a feeling particular to the day, or an emotion which has been with you for a longer period of time.
Question or request This can be related to knowledge about the past, and/or guidance for the present and future. It might also break with linear notions of time.
Sacrifice or promise Make a sacrifice or promise to your ancestor(s) which might involve giving up or acquiring a certain habit, but it could also involve giving up on material wealth. The act of materialization, which is your written text, will eventually transform towards an act of dematerialization in the online session. Please collect all your writings for the online session, so that we can create a shared moment to let go of our texts, to detach, and to allow resonance in non-material ways.
Collecting symbols for your altar and ritual 10 minutes Each day, you are invited to think about a specific gesture related to a specific intention. These gestures are called the ‘act of materialization, ‘act of activation’, and so on. These separate acts will eventually become part of the decolonizing ritual which we will enact online simultaneously.
Time Keep each act short, practical, simple, and easy to enact within 2 minutes.
Material Think about the material/source and its personal meaning to you. For example, if you choose to use a flower for one of the acts, think about which kind of flower.
Amount Think about the amount of the material you will use and how it will be distributed in/around your altar. For example, if you choose to use a flower, think about how many flowers, and whether you’ll use a part or the whole flower. This daily moment is intended as a time for you to think about the elements of your ritual. Please gather all your materials before the online session.
DAY ONE Act of materialization writing ritual to ancestors Write an emotion/feeling, question/request, and promise/ sacrifice to a biological ancestor of whom you know the name, and with whom you also have the desire to connect.
Act of activation symbol for your altar and ritual Think of a symbolic act which includes a material object that could symbolize the moment of activation during the ritual; a moment which is your transition from everyday life into the moment of engaging into a ritual. For example, lightning a candle. This act can also include prayers you relate to or prayers you have created yourself. The intention is to invite yourself to develop your personal symbolic way to activate a process of decolonization.
The spiritual process of decolonization invites us to travel to the land within ourselves and our roots, a physical connection with the hara, leading us to our ancestors and the choices they have made to live with the land, and to respect and cherish its spirituality in cohabitation with other (human) beings. Fazle Shairmahomed
DAY TWO Act of materialization writing ritual to ancestors Write an emotion/feeling, question/request, and promise/ sacrifice to an ancestor with whom you do not have the desire to connect. This might be an ancestor of whom you know the name or do not know the name, a lineage of ancestry which is either biological or not. In the way in which you write also express why you do not have the desire to connect with them.
Act of purification symbol for your altar and ritual Think of a symbolic act which includes a material object that could symbolize the moment of purification of yourself for the ritual. For example, washing your hands with (rose)water. The intention is to purify yourself from the violent mechanisms colonialism has (re)produced which we often have internalized and inflict upon others and ourselves. “...ancestors who have suffered on the hands of those ancestors who thrived…”
In my personal belief, tapping into spiritual realms and other realities that are connected to the spirit and imagination, are necessary to rewrite colonial mechanisms in order to create a future that is just to all human and non-human creatures inhabiting this planet. Invoking the knowledge of specifically Black and Chicana feminists, whom I also consider to be my ancestors since the notion of ancestry for me isn’t only restricted to biological lineage, has been a personal means of building resilience. I use their words to empower and carry my existence as a queer woman of color, integrate their lessons to recognize mechanisms and transform those I internalized. By doing so, hopefully become a vessel and a germ for contagious radical healing, which to me could also be viewed as a way of offering resistance. Devika Chotoe
DAY THREE Act of materialization writing ritual to ancestors Write an emotion/feeling, question/request, and promise/ sacrifice to (an) ancestor(s) of whom you do not know the name(s), but with whom you have the desire to connect. This might be from a lineage of ancestry which is either biological or not.
Act of recognition symbol for your altar and ritual Think of a symbolic act which includes a material object that could symbolize the moment of recognition of your ancestors being present with you by placing them in the space with you. For example, by using incense. The intention is to recognizing those who have come before us, and those who have shaped the conditions for the realities we live in today.
My perspective on the spiritual process of decolonization in relation to queer people of color is to deconstruct and reconstruct our personal scale of values. And also try to root the ways we value things within our personal embodied experience. So that the way we go about the de- and reconstructions of these new value-systems stay personal. When one stays in the realm of spirit and energy, you stay in the realm of mystery so you bypass the brain. The brain comes second, and is more of an assistant. When you bypass the brain you bypass all people told you and you start to create your own language. Mohamed Boujarra
DAY FOUR Act of materialization writing ritual to ancestors Write an emotion/feeling, question/request, and promise/ sacrifice to a non-biological ancestor with whom you have the desire to connect. This might be an ancestor of whom you know the name or do not know the name. For example, a queer elder which you feel connected with, or a social activist by whom you are inspired.
Act of transformation and dematerialization symbol for your altar and ritual Think of a transformative element to acknowledge the transition of all your written texts towards dematerialization, which will guide you to let go of the texts which you have written to your ancestors. For example, with petals of lavender, which also purifies the space, followed by an act which actually decomposes/ dematerializes the written texts. For example, by burning the written papers of text with fire. The intention is to transform towards another reality in which we can believe in the possibility of not being objectified by others, and also cease to be objects to ourselves, by acknowledging our mortality and transience through an act of dematerialization.
Disconnecting with the image and stereotypes that don’t belong to me is definitely a way of spiritual decolonization. These stereotypes very often bound us with energies and feelings, or one could also call them entities, that do not come from us and make us more vulnerable and more attracted to self-destructive behaviors. By following the path of spiritual decolonization I start to recognize what is truly mine and what is not: this knowledge protects me from impostors that lure me to a dark path. Paolo Yao
DAY FIVE Today we will finally meet online for the first time. You are requested to prepare the following things Wear comfortable clothes in which you can move freely as we will also do some body work and dance. Prepare a place for yourself where you can lay down on the floor, on a yoga mat or something else which makes it comfortable for you while being able to have a firm grip on the floor as well. Prepare your altar before we meet online and organize it in a way in front of your camera so it is visible to others as well. Also, please take a picture of your altar before the session, and after the session. In case you did not manage to collect your personal materials for the online ritual, you could make a simple altar with a candle, a lighter/matches, small bowl of water, incense/sage, tea leaves. Prepare a few blank papers from the same notebook you have been writing from last days, and a pencil to write. Collect all your written texts to the ancestors. In case you have speakers at home, plug in your jack for better sound quality during the dancing session.
I center myself, I center my body and I initiate movement from energy points of fire within me. With my eyes in a dreamlike state, I communicate with known and unknown spirits through my body and through the space we are creating together. Nadia Bekkers
DAY FIVE PROGRAM
Decolonizing ritual enactment of our personal symbolic acts in sync 1. Activation with the intention is to invite yourself to develop your personal symbolic way to activate a process of decolonization. 2. Purification with the intention to purify yourself from the violent mechanisms which colonialism has brought forth which we often have internalized and inflict upon others and ourselves 3. Recognition by recognizing those who have come before us, those who have shaped the conditions for the realities we live today 4. Materialization by writing to ancestry to acknowledge our physical existence. 5. Physicalization by placing the intention in the body, reclaiming land within ourselves through the relation between heart and hara to search for the guidance through movement within ourselves 6. Transformation with the intention to transform towards another reality in which we can believe in the possibility of not being objectified by others 7. Dematerialization with the intention to cease being objects to ourselves, by acknowledging our mortality and transience 8. Reflections through group conversation between the queer dancers of color of Analemma reflecting upon past days of writing and collecting, the meaning of spirituality in the process of decolonization
Center yourself, your history, your spirituality, your ancestors and the decolonization process starts. It is to understand that we are the ancestors of today and tomorrow. Naomie Pieter
ANALEMMA a decolonizing dance ritual centering queer people of color
A group of queer people of color have created a common space for a spiritual process of decolonization in a reality where different ancestries have been brought together in painful ways. During this ritual, you are invited to think about the relationship with your ancestors. Together, we create a shared space of intimacy even when we experience distance through our personal histories and current realities, which are filled with trauma, but also with a desire for healing and resilience. When it comes to reflecting upon our shared colonial history, we all have different roles to play and positions in the process of healing. In this ritual, we center queer people of color. We will question how supporting one and another looks like in the process of decolonization and in reflecting upon our shared colonial histories. Inspired by Muslim/Sufi traditions of Gnawa, Zar, and whirling Dervish; Japanese Butoh, Surinamese Winti culture, Hindu rituals, South African Gqom. Analemma seeks to engage in a queer act of creating rituals in a reality where people experience hybrid identities, and live multicultural realities that came into being because of the painful histories and realities of colonialism. This work has been made possible by Meemaakpodium regeling, theater De Vaillant, CLOUD danslab, Dancing on the Edge, CultuurSchakel, Cultuurfonds, Fonds 1818, Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie, VSBfonds, Stroom Den Haag, en Gemeente Den Haag.
Initiator: Fazle Shairmahomed Dancers: Fazle Shairmahomed, Devika Chotoe, Mohamed Boujarra, Paolo Yao, Nadia Bekkers, and Naomie Pieter Sound design: ..formerlyknownas Costume designer: Danny Bislik Light design: Fred Janssen Photography: Jassir Jones / Goedkroon Visual design and illustration: Nazrina Rodjan / Hidden Lion Studio Videography and trailer: Joël van Dooren Artistic coach: Junadry Leocaria Advisory: Damani Leidsman, Olave Nduwanje, Yun Lee, Natasja van ‘t Westende, Jacqueline Heerema Text editor: Katayoun Arian With special thanks to everyone who participated in the Decolonizing Dance classes at theater De Vaillant before and during the pandemic. We hope for your physical presence in the near future when realities allow us to perform our decolonizing ritual Analemma together.