Not yet time to join the ancestors…by Eline Kieft

Exactly a year ago on May 22th, I didn’t join the ancestors. I had a very close shave after an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, and I was rushed into hospital for a life-saving operation. Ectopic pregnancy means that the foetus nested in my fallopian tube instead of my womb. This is a dangerous condition, and one of the leading causes for maternal death in the first three months. According to the doctors it had been a window of two hours. Any longer, and I would no longer be here.

I am so grateful that I could give space and attention to the healing journey, which was intense and multi-layered. I went through deserts of despair, oceans of grief, volcanos of rage… with open eyes, as much as possible. Writing poetry, journaling, painting, ceremony, and being out in nature were some ingredients that helped me integrate this experience.

Dance was the one that connected them all. I remember my first 3-minute movement to Rodrigo & Gabriela’s Tamacun, dancing both the gratitude of still being alive and shaking out the shock of it all – and shaking with exhaustion afterwards. I felt I was literally ‘fighting’ my way back to wholeness. It wasn’t linear, it wasn’t neat. And since then, life seemed to take so much more courage than before. Was I up for it? Oh Gods, why didn’t I just die?

Exactly nine months after the operation I went into the studio to do a danced soul retrieval ceremony. Soul retrieval is a (shamanic) practice to retrieve dissociated parts of ourselves. Inviting the four elements earth, fire, water and air as allies in a strong medicine wheel, I danced the original events of pregnancy, apparent miscarriage and nearly losing my life. I then expressed the many stories I told myself about these events, the feelings I experienced in the moment and in the long aftermath of healing. Finally, I reconnected with a soul piece that had left during the process, and harvested the wisdom gifts that I received through the experience. I really felt healing and integration happen during that ceremony – in a way being reborn into life.

The next day I condensed this 40-minute healing dance ceremony into an improvised performance. Instead of choreographing every step and sequence, I used the various building blocks that I identified during my process of recovery as a movement score.

I am delighted to share the 15-minute online performance East Wind: the story of my ectopic pregnancy. It is a testimony to the tremendous capacity of dance to mend what was broken, retrieve what was lost, to integrate and heal.

video available here link:

I hope it soothes and inspires anyone who is on their own journey of reclaiming their health and well-being. Whatever you are experiencing, you are not alone. Dance provides such a deep avenue for expressing the whole range of emotions we experience, and a resource to find courage and resilience to move with and through whatever life offers us. May you dance!

I give thanks for all the support I received during this challenging time, from people, various practices, mother earth, and spirit. And thank you for reading this. In connection from heart to heart.

Please note that the video may cause strong emotional responses, especially if you have gone through a similar experience. If you think this applies, you can best watch it together with a trusted person, or make sure there is someone you can call afterward.


On the ‘one year anniversary’ of this experience I was in Brittany, intending to visit a neolithic passage grave on one of the tidal islands off the coast of France (That’s one of the things I do in my free time – see my previous post).

The intriguing thing was that this mound on Île Venan, which I hadn’t visited before, was completely covered with brambles, so it was literally impossible to enter. To me its inaccessibility symbolised that, indeed, and thankfully, it was not yet my time to join the ancestors.

This experience has given a different window into being human, which will lead to making different choices in life, and also to questions of ‘what kind of ancestor do I want to become’ – even if this does not, in this life, involve physical children. Sharing this dance video is a first step towards that.



Eline Kieft danced from a young age, including rigorous classical and contemporary training to become a professional dancer. She then decided to study anthropology, deepening her fascination with worldwide similarities between indigenous traditions regarding intangible aspects of reality and other ways of knowing, including embodied epistemologies and shamanic techniques. 

She pursued her PhD in dance anthropology at Roehampton University with the late Prof. Andrée Grau. She also gained more practical understanding and hands-on experience with shamanism while studying with Jonathan Horwitz from the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies. Eline furthermore became qualified as teacher of Movement Medicine, an approach for contemporary shamanic improvised dance, created by Ya’Acov and Susannah Darling Khan.

Eline works at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University, where she recently led a project to build a Somatics toolkit for ethnographers.     

Finally, Eline is founder of Clover Trail, which offers soulful journeys to integrate the sacred into the everyday, and create your own meaningful and personalised art of living (mostly in France and UK). and

Categories: General

17 replies

  1. Thank you for sharing this healing journey with us. There are so many ways to help us return from the underworld and you have demonstrated what works best for you… All the elements you used can be used by any of us to help us heal as long as we know about them…

    This is off the subject but I am presently dog sitting two small dogs (I have two of my own – so they have to stay in their home – not an ideal situation -). Three weeks ago they lost their dad, and now they have been left because their mother is in Boston with her daughter who has just had a successful kidney transplant…Phoebe seems like a lost soul and every time we make eye contact as she licks my hand I am plunged into sadness and experience something akin to a broken heart. There is absolutely nothing I can do to help her except to be present – how I wish animals had some of the rituals some of us have developed to move through grief…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Sara,
      Thank you for your reply! I think many animals do have their own grieving rituals when they are in the wild. But perhaps domesticated animals too have become disconnected from their normal social behaviour in the confusions of ‘culture’… I don’t know… Your presence will be a great gift, helping them move through it!


      • I don’t think dogs are a bit disconnected – and that’s why we need to understand how deep their grief runs… Phoebe’s brother has been able to move through this process – Phoebe got stuck. Yesterday I went over to see her after her people returned and she greeted me with such enthusiasm that I was heartened – whatever else has transpired a solid bond between us has been established – and that will help.


  2. Elise, thank you got sharing your sorrow, beauty, and power. It is very moving to witness a story in dance. Your snake tattoo is an exquisite and expressive part of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elise, I was very moved watching your expression through dance. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just heartbreakingly beautiful! Your dance is expressive, raw and cathartic. I, for one, am delighted you haven’t yet joined with your ancestors. I am so sorry for your loss. My prayer for the spirit for your little one is that he/she is dancing with all of your ancestors now even as we speak.
    Thank you for sharing your dancing. I can feel the movement even in my own body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you dear one! Me too, after grappling with the whole experience I am very grateful. And thank you for your beautiful prayer, that moves me! I had a conversation with the spirit of the little one – a completely self-less wake up call for me, with no agenda for itself… So, indeed, how am I going to use the time that is given me!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating! Many thanks for sharing your feelings and your dancing with us. Are you saying that your unborn baby is dancing into a new birth? What a splendid idea!

    I had a near-death experience in 1992, but it was asthma and not pregnancy and failed birth. After two friends took me to the hospital, I saw the Goddess. It wasn’t my time, either. It’s good that you’re here to teach and dance and do everything else you do. Bright blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Barbara,
      Thank you for commenting! That is a wonderful idea indeed, but wasn’t what I meant. I meant that the experience has lead to a rebirth for me – a stepping into new self, and more courage to do so…
      Thank you too for sharing your experience back in 1992… It must have been so scary, but how beautiful that the goddess appeared to you. I’m glad you are still here!
      With love, Eline


  6. “I felt I was literally ‘fighting’ my way back to wholeness. It wasn’t linear, it wasn’t neat.” Thank you for reminding us that our paths can be incredibly chaotic and messy, and yet, still we rise!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Eline,

    I can’t thank you enough for the courage and the love for us it took to share this journey of descent and return with us. You model what it means to be a healer/shaman/priestess – not only did you do the work of healing yourself – a great gift to begin with, for when we choose life, go into the underworld to be stripped of ourselves and then climb back up regain joy, we do it for all of us, whether we know it or not. But to then bring the work we’ve done into consciousness and consciously craft pain and sorrow into art – that truly completes the heroine’s journey.

    I saw Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s work in your dance as well as Gabrielle Roth’s. It gave me a tiny glimpse into your creative process which was fascinating and rewarding in itself – so many levels on which you shared.

    I have a dear healer/therapist friend whose fifty year old daughter committed suicide last year. She has spent the year grieving and processing. I will share this with her. Your dance made think of Elizabeth, her daughter and of my beloved precious daughter too. Mother’s always carry an enormous potential for grief in our consciousness. at least I do. Your dance eased that fear a little, let me shake myself a little free-er. Thank you.

    Many blessings, beautiful woman. Namaste


    • Dear Christine,
      Thanks so much for your reply and sharing your witnessing of this journey! Yes there are many levels to it, and although one phase feels complete, on the level of ’sharing’ indeed it is only just beginning. Thank you for your reflections on this.

      So sorry to hear about your friend, wishing her all she needs to move with and, perhaps in time, through this shock.

      Indeed, here’s to shaking a little free-er of the weights we carry, so we can meet challenges when they occur without being weighed down so much we can’t respond…

      Much love to you, and thanks again!


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