Penny Allport broke her back in a car accident when she was 18 years old. Over the course of six years, she went through chronic pain, declining health, an eating disorder and PTSD. All of this led her to a yoga class. It didn’t take long for her to get hooked. After five years training in yoga and yoga therapy, she opened her first studio. For 13 years of ownership, she always found a way to incorporate rituals and ceremonies into her studio.
Five years ago, she followed an impulse to move ceremonies out of studios and retreats into a larger community, creating Moving Ceremonies. Allport sold her land and retreat. She moved to Victoria, British Colombia, to bring awareness and care into rituals and ceremonies of end of life experiences. She credits this change to the Celebrant Foundation and Institution. Additionally, she offers ceremony for weddings to help couples make the ceremony the centerpiece of their day.
Below, Allport shares on her experience with Celebrant and how you can get involved.
Mindful Studio: How were you introduced to Celebrant Foundation & Institute, and why did you decide to become a certified life-cycle celebrant?
Penny Allport: In 2014, I discovered Celebrant Foundation & Institute after several young women I had mentored through yoga and rites of passage ceremonies in my studio in Steveston many years prior asked me to officiate their wedding ceremonies. I was also asked throughout the years of operating the bookstore and studio in Steveston to facilitate celebrations of life for several clients who had died, and was inspired to create ancestor honoring, Earth Day, baby blessings, seasonal celebrations and such.
Through research and a friend who was a practicing Celebrant, I discovered Celebrant Foundation & Institute. Their focus on education and support, based in the mythology of Joseph Campbell and Ronald Grime’s work, along with a genuine care for inclusivity and honor for the many faith traditions, and providing continuous ongoing support through a network of folks around the world, inspired me to engage in a course of study to become better versed in the art of ceremony and belong in a community of international colleagues who care about the re-imagination of ceremony in our times.
MS: What were the benefits to your studio as a result of being a life-cycle celebrant? How did you use your certification there?
PA: Becoming a Life-cycle Celebrant® as a studio operator sharing yoga, continuum and other forms of healing work was a natural and organic process. As facilitators of consciousness and embodied practices that deliver people into a greater awareness of themselves and their belonging to the greater whole of the earth, human and more than human community, studio owners are usually well respected and connected community members in their respective villages. Becoming certified offers the community even more confidence in my ability to support and hold space for them as they go through the many changes and transitions in the life cycle of being human. Belonging to an organization with a solid code of ethics and continuous care for the “10,000 ways to kneel and kiss the ground” as the poet Rumi says, is of great benefit for everyone.
MS: How do you bring ceremony into other studios now? What do you love most about it?
PA: Currently, I am deeply inspired around supporting education and facilitation around end of life, dying and death. I mentor individuals in transitions of all kinds through co-creating ceremonies to slow down and integrate the immense energy and emotions, feelings and transformational power of this natural part of the life-death-life cycle. I’ve co-created a program with The Centre for Earth and Spirit here in Victoria, British Columbia, called Living Well, Dying Well, and we are sharing it in various studios in the community and hope to share in other communities as well.
I offer education around the ecological impact of death in our culture and inspire folks to consider this as the last act of legacy to the next generation. I love inspiring other studio owners and folks in general about reclaiming and re-imagining ceremony in these times and remembering it is a biological as well as a somatic and spiritual need to honor transitional times.
I love offering moving ceremonies, no longer brick and mortar, but in the forest, on the beach, in the mountains and open air, restoring balance with the natural world – within and without.
MS: What else can you tell others about Celebrant and the benefits of becoming certified?
PA: The Celebrant Foundation & Institute is a respected and inspired organization with genuine care for ceremony and for the spread of Celebrancy in the world. The community is vibrant and inclusive, a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Becoming certified offers an opportunity to belong to a growing movement of caring people, awareness of and inclusion in international and cross-cultural beliefs and traditions and backing to support your inquiries when you are stepping into unknown territory.
For more information, visit celebrantinstitute.org.