For the past 3 years, journeys to make butoh offerings honoring spawning salmon at Mile 11 had very little prior preparation. I sent out a "call" to anyone who felt drawn to join, we grabbed some costumes & a camera and headed out. Often the going was tough to just make it there through the landslides, wind storms, power outages, ferry cancellations and so on but we had the salmon's endurance to inspire us and the results were amazing each time. This 4th year, because I have been working with an indigenous spiritual leader who teaches of the incredible power and value of intention and preparation when embarking on ritual and prayer, I began studies, prayers and preparation for this 11/11 journey months in advance.
Most all the members that I coach at a distance through skype (in Virginia, Toronto, Boulder, New York) agreed to gathering in person at Mile 11 so that we could all participate in an event together at least once this year. I began research about indigenous tales of salmon/human relationships locally and all around the Pacific Rim. Amazingly, I happened upon a book packed with stories, images and inspiration that would become like a "script" for our process called First Fish First People: Salmon Tales of the North Pacific Rim. We met at the studio and created the performance score, self-portraits, costumes and ritual offerings during the days prior. It was a huge logistical feat, not to mention the depths we were touching creatively, emotionally and spiritually by gathering in this way.
We were blessed that two talented and soulful musician/singers; Loraine Bays and Deborah Koff-Chapin felt called to play and sing during the journey. It was a complex and lengthly score that spanned from gathering for ceremonial clearing/costuming; continued with offering the prayer boats to the jumping salmon at 11:11 am; dancing non stop through the entire life/death cycle of salmon; till our conclusion with a swim in the sound at 1:11 pm; and followed by a great potluck feast at the graces of our host Susan who lives on this sacred site.
Thanks to photographer/videographer/witnesses; we can now share some glimpses into our trans-body experience. As you bear witness, I suggest you open your mind/heart to remember this is not about the dance form or style. Rather, it is about authentic & unabashed prayer offering from our hearts and souls through our flesh and our exchanges with one another, the land and all beings present there. We are so grateful for this opportunity to pay attention to the grace here and humbly restore this precious salmon habitat to a thriving HOME for mating, dying, birthing and perpetual return.