Shante' Sojourn Zenith
is an animist somatics practitioner tending the roots of her kin’s developmental dissociation from felt sense embodiment by re-enlivening relationship to elemental earth consciousness and initiatory process.
Where I come from...
What am I in relationship to?
I live in Mni Sota Makoce on the traditional homelands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe peoples. My ancestors come from England, German, Sweden, and Romania and Ukraine...the most recent Jewish ancestors on my biological father's side came to Turtle Island 3-4 generations ago, some of the ancestors on my mothers side were immigrants who came in the 1800s, but the largest majority of my maternal ancestors were early colonists who came to new england in the 1600s.
In 2019, I completed an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College with focuses on ecological healing, grief-tending, embodied expression, and the poetic imagination. This MFA included experiential research into embodied practice. I attended a training intensive with Azul Valerie Thome to learn to facilitate Grief Composting Circles and also completed an immersion into the Work that Reconnects as a participant in the 2019 Earth Leadership Cohort.
I'm currently continuing my studies through an Individualized Masters in Health Arts and Sciences with an Embodiment Studies Concentration, also at Goddard College, in which I am studying clinical discourses of nervous system coherence and trauma healing. I am also currently studying for certification in the Soul-Based Coaching modality developed by Annemiek van Helsdingen after the metaphor-based trauma therapy work of David Grove, which includes body and image tracking as a way to access resources for systemic transformation. I have been learning about nervous system coherence and embodiment processes through studies into polyvagal theory , animist ritual practice with the Ritual as Justice School, and am currently participating in a professional application course with somatic practitioner Liz Koch focusing on core integrity and the bio-intelligent psoas.
Right now, I’m really working on anchoring in the rhythms of spacious and easeful daily practice, sometimes painting, sometimes contemplation through short sits or movement and voice explorations, sometimes writing and speaking, sometimes just arriving in my studio to rest. I live on a few acres of wild(ish) land oddly nested in a city suburb in Eagan, Minnesota and so every day I try to walk the edge of the land to notice what is growing and emerging there. Last year I lived near a marsh I could walk to everyday and watch the turtles (my favorite sit spot and daily practice ever), and I’ve had many experiences of hearing the voices of trees and other land beings while traveling, but that doesn’t happen as much when I’m at home. There are specific deep time ancestors and some other spirit/archetypal beings who I spend time with through listening and channeled writing, often in short intensive bursts over a day or two every few weeks.
The work/research I’m doing is within the container of an Embodiment Studies self-designed masters program that is a gentle way to give me a tiny bit of structure, accountability, and witnessing— I have done a lot of research into nervous system toning, different modalities of metabolizing trauma and charge, working with metaphor modeling and systems approaches, and exploring organismic intelligence by learning about interpersonal neurobiology, the psoas as biointelligent messenger, and through reading about forests and other larger ecological bodies.
I have a capacity to tune in and listen to a flow of sound coming from other beings—ancestors, trees, different forms of energy—and if I stay with the sounds they shape into words/poetry that I can write or speak in a form of channelling, or sometimes into pure sound coming through my voice as wordless singing (which is still somewhat of a slowly thawing/freeze/edge/lonely place for me).
I also have a voracious and difficultly nonlinear skill for feeling wider systems of relationship and sensing the connections between things—a feeling like a synapse firing inside of me in a burst of energy as different seemingly unrelated concepts connect in books, in people speaking, in perceiving emotions or wild beings…this kind of systems perceiving always feels like the answering wholeness of something is just out of reach and impossible to articulate in linear words so there’s this sense of knowing/being connected to unspoken wisdom that I want to communicate to other people, but feeling incredibly fumbling and empty when I try to find the entry point to explain it in words.
Part of this systems perceiving also gives me capacities for really feeling into the spatial/relational/third body aspect emerging from a group or a culture of people… I am especially drawn to giving witness and voice to those third body collective energies (that other people seem to be possessed by but not to notice and enter into relationship with directly) and have had a few experiences of my life of being guided into spontaneous ritual on their behalf. Those experiences that were definitely more peak-y and high intensity through my individual system than they needed to be, but a lot of what I’m learning now about distributing content across a wider system of relationships instead of funneling it all through my own body came out of those not as well contained experiences. The baseline of my relationship to subtle energies is that if there is charge in the field and I have capacity for presence and groundedness, I want to find a way for that charge to be connected to support and creative process/ritual so that it can be metabolized and transform into something lifegiving.
Another layer to my tracking is that systems perceiving part of me that feels the third body energies as organisms in their own right, so I’ve had several experiences of witnessing the entity of whiteness or colonization, tracking it through the ripples of rupture and freeze responses as it shudders through a room, like the floor opens up and a gaping chasm of ancestral trauma yawns up from the below. In those moments, I try to relate to that energy through ritual and through meeting it directly, because I have the sense that the energy perpetuates through misdirection where the charge is fed by activation as it remains coupled with the content and the energy itself is not acknowledged. In this way I am becoming listening to the nervous system energies and longings underneath different worldview, which feels important to me as long as I have capacity to listen in a way where I am simultaneously honoring my own deep knowings and not shutting myself down in the process. I value continuing to develop that skill of being able to be securely rooted in my own core knowing while simultaneously being able to hear someone else’s reality without needing to change it, so that it’s possible to support the other in coming into a more grounded nervous system state where more emergent possibility opens up for understanding and responding to the actual needs and longings underneath the surface.