R I T U A L _ L A B O R A T O R Y : Labours of Herakles

Monthly Workshops R&D:    April 2019 - February 2020 

Previous Events:

📷: Fiona Garden

📷: Layal Hussami

Ritual Laboratory - Labours of Herakles

An investigation at the intersection of traditional therapeutic instruments and modern
production tools. A choreographic score with responsive sound, based on mythic narrative.
Looking at the transformative role of performance and altered states in creating health and
well-being, and the ability in this application to create healthy communities. To bring people
together, as well as the cathartic potential to create positive change on an individual and
collective level. An enquiry into the potential impact and scope of ritual sonics.

An opportunity to harness the trance inducing potential inherent in participation of the arts,
and to examine the conscious use of ritual, as a technology to transform consciousness.

This project focuses on communal action through improvised / choreographed movement
within the context of mythic narrative. Looking at the transformative role of performance and
altered states in creating health and well-being, and the ability of spontaneous communal art-
making to create healthy communities. The catalytic potential of sound and movement
performance to create change on an individual and collective level.

Through imposition of physical communal activity, we challenge the dissociative side-effects
of increasingly disembodied tools. We also consider the relationship between interface design
and performance platform, and the impact that it has on social interaction in our culture and
creative practices.

We are working with a participatory audience to bring the story to life through movement;
whilst musicians, dancers and performers hold the space.

Why Astrology, Why Herakles, Why Ritual?

We will explore the symbolism of the Astrological Zodiac by performing the 12 Labours of
Herakles in ritual form. Revealing the progressive narrative contained in the symbolism of the
astronomical zodiac through contemplating the parallels that underly these myths. Utilising 12
rituals, occurring as the Sun moves into each consecutive astrological sign, we examine and
balance the energy signature of each symbolic archetype. An effort to embody a contemplative
device, which can be formed, expressed and accessed through communal performance of the

The annual cycle of the Sun is made up of it’s progression along the Zodiacal constellations.
These signs each represent a symbolic phase in a transformation of energy, or consciousness.
They are reflected in the cycle of the seasons. This symbolic interface can act as a cipher, a tool
with which to navigate, through uncharted territory. There are 12 Signs.

The mythic Labours of Herakles explore the nature of duality, and the journey of the soul to
awakening, or consciousness to reintegration. Herakles ‘Glory of Hera’ balances each
successive energy by learning from the completion of a symbolic task, present in each myth.
The myths speak to us on multiple levels as they unfold, sharing a complete metaphysical /
psychospiritual symbolic system. Offering some tools and markers that we can use to navigate
constantly shifting forms. There are 12 Gates. 

As we progress, we awaken the astrological body, mapping our understanding of these
energetic signatures onto our bodies through movement. Beginning with Aries (The Head) down
to Pisces (The Feet). The rituals provide an interface to systematically make contact with the
astrological symbolism within the cycle of the seasons (Macrocosmic Heavens); and mapping
multiple layers of understanding onto our body (Microcosmic Earth); through performance and
focused intention.

Some thoughts at the end of the full series:

“I did find a way to hack and subvert the heroes journey. And turn the (not very nuanced) warrior into a more tender being, still strong (not measured only by physical means - obviously), that sees that true power is vulnerability. A way out of all this violent programming. In our version Herakles learns that you can't beat everything with biceps (obviously). Nor is that a very good way to live. We unpacked, transmuted and re-embodied all of the patrairchal warrior hero nonsense contained in these stories, to try understand it more and to give others in the story a voice, especially the women and animals in these tales who were usually brutally murdered - it was a long and painful study. We did our best to slowly turn Herakles into an ungendered, emotionally sensitive, caring being that could see outside themself, hacking their own stories and making peace. A great cleanse for the section of our psyches that was subjected to our collective culture without defence when we were young and impressionable. We are living the legacy of the violent warriors who raped and pillaged and now that is also the cultural root of our psyche. The process was highly therapeutic and transformative.

One thing I would like people to take away from this study is that the storytelling device that you use matters. Because of all the unconscious implications. You build a house on poor foundations, it will affect the entire structure - and it will fall - no matter what techniques you use after. We need to stop telling stories about the gods/goddesses/deities/godexs/spirits from a position of fear, or from a sterilised all is love and light place that leaves no space for hardship or difficulty, that is just not reality for everyone. We need to embrace our fears and our flaws and transmute them. Have empathy for all living things. Look after our planet and each other. Unify and liberate as opposed to divide and conquer. That's where the stories for life live. Well, for me.”




[ 19 / 02 / 2019 ]