Not Going Back- Taya Mâ Shere

I am in a category of people who will not be going back to “normal”. As those close to me receive or pursue COVID vaccination, and begin to dream of “returning” – to connection, to work as before if possible, to in-person learning, and so much more – I am stymied. My eyes glaze over at best, and I am totally scrambled inside as I listen to them, WTF being my most honest response.

I hear the yearn –  for what was, for what could be, for communal joy and connection in ways beyond Zoom or intimate pods. I hear the hunger and readiness for perceived invincibility, for getting back into the groove of systems that felt safe and sustaining to some, yet dangerous and depleting to many more.

I will not be going back.

While I don’t yet totally know what that looks like practically, I know that I cannot contort again/ anew to fit inside a normalcy that has never been normal, never been liberatory, never meant thrive for all.

I know that me at the mercy of approval, legitimacy, accolades, success, productivity – even in the minimal ways my irreverent & privilege-saturated self tracked these things – must drop.

I know that my liberal yeses to intensity and sacred adventure, and regularly convening experiences ripe with them, needs to be curated with much greater care.

I know it means that even if you are so excited to meet again, or to work with me in person, I may not meet you there.

Teaching from the sanctuary of my li’l spot has made it infinitely more possible for me to impact change and stay whole-enough inside than when I was getting on eight planes a month to share the goodness everywhere.

I feel ridiculously lucky and privileged that much of my work has been able to pivot to online, and that I have been able to access creative expression this past year even amidst/ in between bouts of epic exhaustion, systemic overwhelm and flailing inside of trauma feedback loops.

I, too, yearn. For bodywork. For sex with someone I love besides myself. For chicken satay and a fresh young coconut. To hear the crash of the waves against rock and watch sunsets in my heart home. To sit in the workshop of my teacher – who is far from the reach of wifi – and feel his care and transmission through his welcoming smile, his raspy, booming voice, and the spice in his Shabbat stews.

Hermiting these nine months – really having to face myself, my patterns of dysregulation, over-orienting to external stimuli, letting overwhelm and reactivity run my show – has been a boot camp I never would have chosen and that has been transforming me from the inside out.

I have so much more rooting in presence to do. So much more balance to be. So much more living into the mystery to say yes to, not from abandon but from inhabiting awe.

I am not ready to go back anytime soon, or ever.

The only way I know forward that feels whole and honoring of what has been and become is to track any movement toward emergence with exquisite care, to let that motion be as colossally slow as it needs to be to truly anchor change.

I palpably remember the beginning of the pandemic – my distinct not knowing if I would make it to the other side.

The not-knowing remains, and has morphed into a pulsing commitment to show up with what I have, continuing to weave love and community and transformation in the ways specific to my capacities and perceptions. And to share the gifts that do live inside of me from overflow rather than depletion.

So, I will not be returning to what was.



Ancestral Healing: An Introduction



Taya Mâ is a senior teacher in the Ancestral Medicine model and is Visiting Assistant Professor of Organic Multireligious Ritual at Starr King School for the Ministry where she trains emergent clergy in multi-religious ritual and ancestral practice. She teaches Ancestral Lineage Healing workshops across the U.S.and offers session work online. Her chant albums have been heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music.”

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