MS, NTP, CGRS
Mythic & Ritual Arts
Nala Walla is a grief doula, culture-builder, and tender of the old medicine ways. After over 25 years of living off-grid, her commonsense and earthy approach to wellness moves beyond the psychological, into the realms of ritual.
Her work weaves Ancestral Healing with Grief Work, all rooted in deep relationship with the animate world all around us. By working along our own lineages, Nala empowers all people, no matter what our heritage, to restore our birthright of connections to Earth, and our more-than-human kin.
Deep attention is given to developing somatic ritual practices in which our grief is an ecstatic portal. As we dive in, we to get to know our deep-time ancestors, and expand our sense of what and who we are.
Through both community and personal ceremonies, we can begin to heal the rampant cultural poverty in modern societies.
As we come to recognize and grieve the harmful histories of imperialism and colonization, we can deconstruct manufactured identities such as “whiteness,” and restore our natural animist orientation towards the world.
To further describe who I am, and what I do,
allow me to share a few sentiments from writer Sonia Horowitz,
responding to the question:
“Where will people who need help turn?”
They will turn to the same places they’ve turned since time immemorial. To the edges and the hedges, to the woods and the wilds. There they will meet the women with twigs in their hair and soil under their fingernails. Hags they called them, cunning women, cut wives and witches. For centuries, through all the twists and turns…these wise women have kept their hearth fires burning, ready to comfort and warm the frightened, the grief stricken, the weary and the wounded. They offer medicine, but are not allowed to call it that. Medicine is only for the sterile white walls and echoing halls of hospitals and universities after all… But when those hallowed halls are closed to many by bureaucracy and politics, you will find her speaking to plants and tending her simmering cauldrons with a wise and patient heart. She is keeping ancient knowledge alive…The cycles will turn, as they always do…There will be dark days, and there will be days filled with glorious light, but still the wise woman will persist. Because she must. —Sonia Horowitz
A BIT MORE ABOUT MY HISTORY
REFRAMING THE BODY
I set out ages ago from my natal wilderness of Queens, New York, as a young, brokenhearted woman, with a sack of books and a whole lot of tears for this precious, aching world. I have spent decades voyaging, dancing, singing, bushwhacking, digging, planting, healing.
In the 1990s, I sailed the seas. Literally, I sailed to Alaska in a small catamaran, subsisting on salmon, seaweed and oysters. And I also sailed metaphorically, getting weathered by the seas of grief. All of this amounted to a deep initiatory process in which I was obliterated, and then rebuilt into a sense of “Body” which include not only the personal, but also the political, and the planetary.
My work is now to share the toolkit of “somatic-tech” I have assembled — ritual practices which help us feel our bodies to be as big as the Earth herself, and as wide as all the creatures here which are our kin.
Our Bodies are so much more than we know.
I’m currently focused on invoking “au naturale” endorphin waves, riding our laments into altered states, sweating and bellowing out of sheer joy.
Ritual theater is my drug of choice.
Back in the day, I dove into a masters program in Integrative Arts and Ecology, and sprung up with my writings on the topic of Ecosomatics. I spent years generating up a storm of connections between inner and outer ecology, and then somehow, the graces smiled upon me, and presented me a homestead to put my ecosomatic ideals into practice. It has been my honor to found a permaculture homestead beside the sea, in the beautiful and magical Chimacum and S’Klallam territory, a.k.a. Olympic Peninsula, Washingon, USA.
Since nineteen ninety nine I have lived at the landbased project The BCollective, building an artist-in-residency through earth arts. Currently, I’m director of The Well, a a gathering place for those who find themselves in devotion to the Holy Waters, that wellspring of both grief and joy.
Nothing I have shared here, is mine. All of what I’ve done, the sweetness I have gathered here, has been gloriously hunted, wilder-woven and prayed down by my ancestors, then laid at my feet by dozens of generous teachers. Teachers who are far too many to name. Far too many. Please forgive the horribly abridged listing which follows.
I have had a long and varied history with performing and improv arts: dance, clown, ritual theatre & music. Here is just a smattering: I learned Flamenco with Juana Amaya in Sevilla when I was 19 years old, studied TinTaal rhythm with Marco Zonka and the Mishras in my 20s. Then, I played with a ton of dance and physical theater with folks like Diego Pinon, Shinichi Momo Koga, and Ruth Zaporah, and rounded out my 30s in a ritual poetic drama troupe with Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates. In my 40s, I became a mother, and performed on dozens of stages across the country with our kooky children’s show, The Harmonica Pocket.
I consider myself down lineage and deeply indebted to a number of grief innovators, including Joanna Macy, Malidoma and Sobonfu Some, Martin Prechtel, Francis Weller, and the honorable poet-bard and griefwalker, Stephen Jenkinson.
KEEPIN’ IT REAL
Throughout all these explorations, I have been either living on a tiny boat or a tiny home on our off-grid homestead, staying “close to the ground” with a minimum of overhead expenses, so I had space — to learn, to dance, to heal. This type of humble life, living without most modern conveniences, helps ensure that I’m keepin’ it real.
I have now spent decades with dirt under my fingernails, face down on the earth, tending fires, listening to voices hard to hear in the blare of the city.
There has never been a time in my life when I was NOT engaged in some type of intensive study. I did my original undergrad studies in the History of Race, Class and Gender at Dartmouth College, and my masters work integrating Arts and Ecology at the University of Washington and Gaia University.
I have also participated in a ton of other programs and trainings outside of the University setting. A few notable examples: the Moving On Center, Bridging Somatics and Performing Arts for Social Change, the Nutritional Therapy Association, the Grief Recovery Institute, White Awake, Ancestral Medicine and The Mythic Body (Emerald Podcast.) I also received a Permaculture Design Certification over 20 years ago with renowned teacher Doug Bullock.
I trained intensively in Ancestral Healing with Dr. Daniel Foor. I have been mentoring for many years with Laurence Cole and Therese Charvet in Community Grief Ritual. And I am currently thrilled to be studying Mythosomatics with the brilliant teacher Joshua Schrei.
And, oh yes, did I mention I am also a Jewish mother, a foodie, an unapologetic postwoke postfeminist, a lover of hip-hop and downtempo, as well as an incurable performing artist? You can sometimes catch me in a spontaneous and unauthorized Butoh dance or Grief ritual in the forest.