Drawing from nature experience, dance, anthropology, and shamanism, Dr. Eline Kieft explores improvised movement as a pathway to insight, healing, transformation, and direct interaction with source. Dancing in the Muddy Temple takes the reader on a journey through multiple layers of embodied spirituality based in movement and embedded in the land.
Addressing existential questions outside of mainstream religions, the book seeks possibilities for a spirituality that dances with the sacred life force within and all around us. Starting within the body, and always using movement as a way of knowing, Kieft expands on further concrete and subtle layers of connection. A sensorial immersion in the land develops into an expansion of consciousness and meeting intangible aspects of nature. After exploring the role of ceremony in contemporary times, the book concludes with an unexpected chapter on healing, drawing together insights for a dynamic approach to health and wholeness as innate part of an embodied spirituality.
Moving seamlessly between her personal, professional, and academic background, Kieft creates an unusual scholarship in which bodily and autobiographical narrative are neatly interwoven with interdisciplinary literature. Its uniqueness lies in a radical integration of theory and practice, which brings an aliveness to the material that stirs an inquisitive desire to move, rooted in language that inspires confidence for personal inquiry into a rich and complex territory. This inspiring book offers an intricate road map to explore and strengthen the interwovenness of various layers of self, surroundings and the sacred, distilling tools for a practical, moving spirituality of the everyday.
Eline Kieft is an independent scholar, consultant and coach, combining her background as anthropologist, movement facilitator and shamanic practitioner.
1. Existential Questions
2. The Spirit of the Dance
3. Body and Embodiment
4. Movement as a Way of Knowing
5. Immersion in the Land
6. Expanded Consciousness
7. Encountering the Spirits
8. The Cauldron of Ceremony
9. Towards Wholeness
Appendix: Six Practical Orientations Towards Dynamic Wellbeing
Here is something completely different and quite unexpected. (Unless you have met Eline Kieft in person!) Curiously compelling with its ineluctable invitation to attend to a new way of practising, honouring, and celebrating embodied existence in the world. More so even than this, Eline offers a profound recognition of the ways in which life itself performs its ceaseless dance, drawing together each of its myriad expressions into an ever-newly improvised articulation of its holy life-giving sacredness.
Using her own experience of life’s twists and turns, Eline explores the connections and spaces between movement/dance; spirituality/embodied wisdom; landscape/wholeness; soul/soil; ritual/journey. The overarching and wonderfully transgressive and transformative idea of the ‘muddy temple’ both guards and proffers, enfolds and reveals, an ancient wisdom that finds sacredness right before us – shimmering at the heart of aliveness itself.
I have read this book three times now and, on each occasion, I have found something new, different, challenging, and stimulating. At the end of the third reading, I was struck by the thought that this is exactly the kind of book the celebrated Rhineland mystic Hildegard of Bingen would have written had she lived in the 21st century. It’s a masterpiece, a gem, of embodied, integrative, and healing thought and action for the people and creatures of today’s world that this human will return to again and again for inspiration.
Eline Kieft’s Dancing in the Muddy Temple is a joy to read. She skilfully weaves a compelling narrative of the relationship between embodiment, dance, and nature—rooted in academic study, informed by real-world experience, and spiced with a rare passion for her topic. This is a book about cultivating new ways of knowing ourselves and how we fit into the world—through the silent wisdom of movement and dance. It is also a book about an urgently needed transformation in consciousness grounded in embodied experience. Kieft writes with clarity and conviction, inviting us all to participate in this new paradigm of embodiment.
Dancing in the Muddy Temple draws us into a meeting-place of dance and the body, spirit and place, ritual practice and shamanic experience. Eline Kieft’s dancing feet trace out the temple of the spirit, but they are also always aware of the everyday ground on which they (and we) stand and move. There is a lot of depth to this enticing book, which interweaves the scholarly with the personal and experiential, and readers from many different backgrounds will find their understanding gently expanded and extended as they follow Kieft’s journey through the various modes of embodied awareness. Those who choose to follow her footsteps will find her a secure and informed guide to the new disciplines through which we can learn to reinhabit, and contact the wisdom within, our outer and inner worlds.
Dancing in the Muddy Temple is an illuminating book providing a portal to the reader to explore how dance, creation, spirituality and healing companion one another. Here is scholarship that is not only knowledge, but contributes to the wisdom of the body and exemplifies a philosophy with flesh. Kieft’s book reconnects what too long has been separated and invites one into a fertile space of dance as a pathway to insight, transformation and connection to the earth. In a time when the planet is hurting, we are given a book as medicine— a medicine for dreamers and dancers, scholars and seekers, philosophers and artists, but most of all, an embodied spirituality and an embodied scholarship that dances. This is nothing less than an exquisite offering to the world.
Eline Kieft’s wonderful book of dancing scholarship emerges from nature immersions, somatic spirituality, field research, and shamanic practices. Its easy reading style opens upon a channel of wisdom and a metaphysics of courage. Rather than being a book about nature, dance, shamanism, or anthropology, it explores a cross-disciplinary gateway towards a somatic spirituality that is culturally inclusive.
Kieft deftly threads lyrical reflections on dance, nature, and spirituality through intriguing stories about her own movement-enabled discoveries, to reveal how improvisational dance can heal cultural and personal wounds. Drawing on her experience as shamanic practitioner, she makes the case that dancing can help people cultivate connection with their multi-layered selves, with other humans, with the natural world, and with what she calls “spirits” and “source.” Kieft's gentle encouragement and clear examples guide readers to release their own capacity to dance as an enabling condition of their health and well-being.
In Dancing the Muddy Temple, Eline Kieft artfully navigates a breadth of knowledge on dance and embodiment in the realm of spirituality and healing. The book weaves together experiential and scholarly perspectives on dancing as a way of life, a wellspring of insight and a source of spiritual sustenance. A wide ranging overview of historical contexts, cultures and concepts are surveyed in order to bring understanding to dance as an exploration of consciousness. Always, this is brought back to the bodily felt experience of the author, who bravely shares her internal life and the complexity of ‘dancing consciousness’. There are challenges in writing about intangible facets of life experience such as spirituality, which Kieft explores through her unique voice with joy, feeling and connection to the reader. This book will be of interest to those who are curious about their bodies and movement in daily life, as well as a portal to embodied consciousness and spirituality. It is a highly readable contribution which serves not only researchers and students in this area but also a wider public who would like to know more on this topic and find pointers for their own personal enquiry. Bring an open mind and heart, and you are sure to find resonances, surprises and reflections to inspire you.
This unique and attractive book offers a journey into the sensorial world of movement, nature and spirituality. It offers an opportunity to discover how to access and appreciate the wisdom in our own body, and our body’s capacity for moving in relation to the land, and with each other. Written in a highly accessible style it is also rooted in Eline’s own deep knowledge and experience of somatic principles and philosophy, in dance, anthropology, shamanism and the healing potential of movement. With interdisciplinary at its core, this book welcomes the reader into self-discovery and will appeal to anyone interested in embodiment and the transformative nature of movement.