Social Artistry Ashland Experience August 2014
(letter from Social Artist Victoria Scott)
A deep stirring in my soul told me that these two weeks in Ashland were going to be life changing, not simply from what I was going to learn but also from the connections that would be made there. Not at all surprisingly, my soul was right. Everything unfolded in a magical and beautiful way. It was at the same time mind blowing, gracefully heart cracking, fun, profound, touching, enlightening, empowering and so much more.
When I spoke to Jean Houston for the first time in the spring, she suggested that I go to Ashland to train in Social Artistry and connected me with Peggy Dean. So on 31st July, there I was in a room filled with possible humans doing incredible things.
Over the following 12 days I was bathed, baptized, danced, sung, guided, supported, encouraged, inspired and propelled into the life of being a Social Artist and of becoming Me on a scale much deeper and more whole than I’ve ever experienced.
The first part of these two weeks started with an ‘Introduction into Social Artistry`. It was led beautifully over a few days by Lisa Nelson, Joyce McNamara and Sophia Bowie-McCoy. The room was full of empowered people from all over America, some of whom had been working with Jean for over 30 years. We were also extremely blessed to be joined by two Social Artists from Zambia. The exercises that make up Social Artistry were presented to us in a very clear and hands-on way. I realized very quickly that they would work for everyone regardless of age, culture, etc., and that they are full of potential for an ever deeper exploration into Self. Life is a mythic journey and these are the tools that take us into that journey with all of our senses, enriching and empowering our lives in a beautiful and magical way should we chose to.
Everything I’ve ever learned in my life was suddenly coming up and saying Now do you get it? Now do you understand why you learned everything you did and had the experiences that you did? Now it’s time to use all of this in a conscious way to serve and empower others and these are the tools to do it. I was being taken back in time and seeing the different parts of me in their various experiences. They were rushing up to the surface like bubbles in a bottle of champagne, eager to be seen, eager to play, dance, sing and be used to their fullest potential. They were all parts of my ‘inner crew’ eager and willing to assist as soon as I asked them to and all of them experts in their own field. The safe and sacred space that was created by the trainers allowed for so much to happen so quickly and easily. Jean calls it ‘jump time’ and it certainly is.
Following the Introduction, I joined 70 young adults experiencing Social Artistry in the form of ‘The Odyssey’. They had already been together for several days and yet they welcomed me and others as though we’d been with them forever. Their vibrant energy, daring to express, courage to go to new depths, abundant creativity and enthusiasm were joyous to witness and extremely inspiring. Working with Richard Geer, we were guided through an incredible exercise called ‘Story Bridge’. In less than 24 hours a two-act play was created using personal stories. Songs were written, costumes pulled together, lighting, sound, dance, and props all magically came to be a part of this incredible experience. I saw people’s stories enacted that had never been told before, I witnessed healing happening with ease and grace as I’ve never seen before. We became a united whole, so deeply connected through our stories, our common suffering and our love. We were each experiencing our heroic journeys into the underworld and out into the ‘possible universe,’ as Jean calls it. We cried together, we laughed together, gently pushed ourselves and each other through the fear of the past and into the light of the future. I have worked as an actress most of my life and yet I have never been involved with something as deep, raw, authentic and as profoundly changing as this was in just over 24 hours. The respect and honor for each other’s journey was truly enriching.
Social Artistry Summit
This was then followed by two days of ‘The Social Artistry Summit`. There was a different energy from the previous few days and still extremely propelling and exciting. Jean shared with us information about incredible projects that she is involved in internationally and very much showed up as the flag bearer of the possible human, luring us all into more and into our fullest potential. She was keen to hear how Social Artistry was being used by people in their communities and how it was evolving. Always encouraging us to be more, to go further and to create more. Over these two days various Social Artists presented their projects, giving us their personal stories of how they were using Social Artistry in their communities and within their work. I was bowled over by the diversity and by the amazing results everyone was witnessing. Projects had been created involving schools, hospitals, families, youths, adults, from theatre to community gardens, art, storytelling, various areas of health work etc., and these were happening in parts of America, Nepal, Aruba, Guatemala and Zambia.
We also discussed how we saw Social Artistry growing, how we envisioned it reaching a greater diversity of people, how this could happen and what we, as a community needed in the way of support to bring this into its reality. Working together on a mutually soul-feeding project and having this common purpose created a deep unity and understanding amongst everyone.
Social Artistry Trainer’s Training
These two days swiftly transitioned into five days of ‘Train the Trainer’ which took me deeper into all the elements of Social Artistry and myself. Peggy Rubin gifted us with her presence each day and guided us with incredible wisdom through various journeys using music, envisioning, body, enacting etc. Other trainers also shared their fields of expertise and presented different parts of the syllabus, which brought a great richness to each day. As trainers, we were then given the opportunity each evening to present exercises to the rest of the group and trainers. During this process, I found that each element took on a deeper dimension helping me really embody the journey internally and externally.
The common theme that kept coming up for me was the importance of deep listening, beginning with oneself and then with others. It opens the space for miracles to happen. When we simply and purely listen to others free of our own opinions, our ideas, the need to help and judgments, it opens to a deep and mutual understanding. It also clears the feelings of being alone and brings awareness that others have stuff too. When it becomes a natural part of life from childhood, I am convinced that peace will prevail and we will be the witnesses of the true beauty of life.
Purpose and Possibilities
So much was happening in each day. As I stepped into this new reality, I found myself carried on a wave of possibilities, witnessing projects unfolding before my eyes and deep connections happening between people who’d just met, thanks to a common purpose that was awakening everybody’s creativity and imagination. A passionate sense of purpose was sparking everyone to go way beyond where they’d ever been before. I was experiencing a new soul urgency of wanting, desiring, needing, questing, yearning to know myself even more and witnessing the same beauty in everyone around me.
It felt that during these two weeks I lived several mythic journeys each day and then several more at night. I was truly touched by witnessing the infinite possibilities in each one of us that seemed to be growing tenfold everyday. Together all things are possible. It’s much more than just words, it’s a knowing and it is so empowering to be a part of it.
I have come away knowing that I am a possible human (as we all are), in a possible universe and I vow to step into this each and every day. The more I show up as my authentic self with an open heart and an open mind, the more I witness God taking care of the details – a million times better than I ever could. I choose to play in the playground of possibilities and to dance the dance of the Divine from here on in.
I am already organizing workshops where I currently live to introduce people to Social Artistry and will be joining a Social Artistry team based in Colquitt to assist with the training there in January 2015. I will then go to Zambia for three months to assist, train and be a part of the Social Artistry team there too. I’ve been invited to share with the young adults at the Launching Pad in Berkeley, California and all of this came together within the two weeks of arriving in Ashland. I love the realization that I am a mentee and a mentor and always will be.
I thank myself for listening and following my calling to go and I thank every possible human I met during the time in Ashland who supported, encouraged, listened, loved, played, connected, and dared in their own unique way. Without them it would not have been possible.
In love, deep gratitude and understanding, here’s to Be-ing possible.