The Ritual as Justice School is a school that explores this question: “how do we be in the world in together in good ways amidst the troubles we face?”
To this end, we offer life skills courses and practitioner training programs in cultural somatics, a new and emerging approach to individual and collective healing that holistically integrate somatics, animism, and social change.
Tada Hozumi first started using the term cultural somatic therapy, or sometimes cultural somatics, in the fall of 2017, to describe their healing work that looked at white supremacy as a trauma pattern rising from ancestral wounds. Tada and Dare Sohei connected with each other and became close colleagues through this piece of work.
Dare and Tada went on to form a close working relationship and together they principally co-developed the cultural somatic practice. In late 2019 they formed the RAJ School as a way to share their approach to cultural somatics and continue developing the practice within a community of practitioners.
What is Cultural Somatics?
Our approach to cultural somatics has one simple foundational concept: that cultures are bodies. We see collectives of beings as having invisible somas (bodies) and nervous systems that emerge from networks of complex relationships, which include humans as well as ancestors, animals, plants, natural elements, and other beings.
This shows us that individual and collective healing are inseparable – because oppression is trauma and trauma is oppression. When there is trauma from violence in our relationships, it becomes held in cultural somas as systemic oppression. And vice versa, when there is unaddressed systemic oppression held in cultural somas, it manifests as violence in our relationships.
Understanding this simple principle allows us to embed the principles trauma-informed healing into collective organizing and infuse the cause of social justice into individual healing. It is an effective approach to change at every scale, from one-on-one counseling to organizing mass movements.
Cultural somatics is a vital tool for:
- 1-on-1 and group facilitation work that addresses oppressions such as white supremacy as trauma itself.
- Collective organizing built upon the foundations of trauma-informed somatic healing, such as relationship building, unconditional positive regard, and titration (working gently and slowly in processing emotional material to avoid re-traumatization).
A note on our respect for the emergent nature of cultural somatics
We see cultural somatics as an emerging field of practice with an organic body of common knowledge and shared language developed by a community of colleagues – like a dance.
Other people who use the term cultural somatics to describe their work include Resmaa Menakem, a black somatic therapist and author, who does leading-edge work on healing racialized trauma in collective bodies and in fact had been independently using the term to describe his work a few years before us.
We also understand that many folks do cultural somatic work without explicitly using the term cultural somatics to describe their work
Because of this, we are committed to maintaining the RAJ School as an education and research entity driven by public interest, rather than a gatekeeping institution.
Gratitudes for this encounter and blessings to you!
I’m Tada. I’m a developer and practitioner of cultural somatics working out of Unceded Coast Salish Territories (Canadian Pacific North West). At the core of my practice is the understanding that all oppressions, including white supremacy, are energetic ailments of both the individual and cultural body. I believe that individual healing cannot be whole without tending to the cultural, and vice versa, that cultural change cannot be in good faith without tending to all of the bodies that make up the collective.
Some of my lineages in healing are:
- The schools of modern creative and somatic therapies such as dance movement therapy and expressive arts therapy, the latter which I am certified in. (I would also like to acknowledge that these lineages of modern therapy derive their healing power from the traditional practices of cultures of color as well as European folk cultures.)
- Asian/Japanese ancestral wisdom traditions such as energy healing and martial arts. (Please note that I am not a practitioner who can explicitly instruct on these subjects).
- Street dance, particularly ‘popping’, an umbrella term for mechanical street dances that emerged from black and brown communities of the West coast of Turtle Island during the early 1970s.
I’m Dare based in unceded Chinookan tribal lands (Portland, OR, USA). My people are from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora (Boriken – Puerto Rican, Taino & African), Spain, France, and Switzerland.
I’m a queer mixed-race somatic educator, ancestral healing practitioner, and neurodivergent ritual animist who specializes in helping humans heal relationships with their bodies, the earth, their ancestors, and the more-than-human world. I trained for many years in somatic movement practices, as a dancer/theater maker/trainer on Ohlone land in the SF Bay area, and have a long ongoing study/praxis into the human nervous system and trauma and how that relates to indigenous wisdom and medicine practices.
I come to the work of ancestral healing, and especially to this program, with the experience of someone who comes from a broken mixed-race family with unwell ancestral lineages. As a child to a white mother (French/Swiss) and my father, a Puerto Rican “immigrant” who refused to speak much about his family or heritage, I have navigated firsthand, white and POC ancestral experiences as well as the hinterlands in between.
It is a pleasure to bring the fruits of this learning to the course. Blessings to all beings known and unknown, named and unnamed, who make our lives possible.