Why Clowning Is The New Sacred Medicine


Demystifying Clowning

A clown brings up one singular picture in the majority of people’s minds: a red nose, overly painted face, baggy clothes and maybe a memory of side-show bob from the Simpsons. But, the true spiritual meaning of clowning is incredibly deep and should definitely be demystified, especially in times of tribulation where humanity is seeking to reconnect with the spirit at greater lengths. 

Why Is Clowning Sacred? 

To Native Americans, the path of the Sacred Clown was spiritual calling, essential to the smooth functioning of the tribe. In modern times, Clowns sometimes emerge into the public eye as comediennes, actors in Guerrilla theatre, critics, ritualists/artists/musicians who break the boundaries of whats acceptable. Clowns are everyday people who question whats presented to them and know how to get other people to laugh at themselves. 

The Oglala and Lakota called them Heyoka (“crazy”), the Arapaho called them Ha Hawkan (“holy idiot”), and both peoples considered them religious specialists. The mythic Trickster would pull pranks and mishaps with the intention to teach the tribe moral lessons.

Many tribes use clowning to push the envelope and mock what’s taken too seriously. Clowns are courageous beings that show the people very thing they did not want to see about themselves in order to free themselves from themselves. 

For example, the Salish people honor the memory of a Clown who challenged a missionary. The missionary was enticing natives to go to church while urging them to cover their bodies with white people clothes. It is told with a smile that the Clown (a woman!) walked into the church one Sunday wearing nothing but a hat and old shoes.

If a clown thought that what the tribal council was creating policies that were foolish, the clown would just show up at the council and imitate every move every one of the leaders made. It showed the irony of certain actions, such as clowning about the way people were trading seal and otter skins for rum.

Clowns are dangerous to those that want to control masses because they are so honest and seemingly unafraid of judgement. Clowns train to see life through the eyes of a child, and because of this, they are able spot those that are inauthentic from a mile away. Clowns are sometimes called “destroyer of heroes.” and is the reason why white invaders hated them, of course, so it was either be killed or find a way to hide. Those who were killed are remembered with much respect by their people. Those who survived did so by learning to be Tricksters, to change their form, to become invisible if necessary.

What Can Clowning Teach You? 

Clowning teaches you to be a mirror to yourself.

Sacred Clowns function as the eyes of the Trickster in this world: mirrors in which we see our folly as well as our resilience. Trickster shows us how we trick OURSELVES.

Clownin School teaches you to stop taking yourself so seriously.

When we become too heavy with self-importance, there is the Clown to knock some of that load away and lighten us up!  The power of the Clown is the power of life itself. Acknowledge the pain, then let it go. Don’t carry it around with you. Focus on the joy, the mystery, the happiness, the cosmic joke of it all.

Clown shows us the paradox of life.

The Sacred Clown gives us this paradox: The weakest can be the most powerful. The dumbest can be the most wise. “In a clown’s craziness, she can be obscene or test any of the existing structures and ideas to see if they are true and real

Clowning gives license to your spontaneous, fearless, and playful self.

The clown is an iconic figure, and it lives inside your body: silly, profound, and eternally mischievous. But how to get it out? By letting it be spontaneous and free! 

Clown School teaches you about emotions.

Pleasure, complicity, authenticity, rhythm, fixed point, true funny, not pushing too much, looking at what’s going on, and most of all – reacting. This can be integrated into your every day life. 

You learn to speak your truth and expose hypocrisy!

Welcome to the Bouffon—the counter mask of clown where the goal is to make fun of the audience and expose hypocrisy in humanity. Bouffon gives people the voice to yell and sing and mock all the things we think are crazy about the world, people, systems, relationships, religion, class, race, gender, everything. The bouffon don’t take sides. Everything is on the plate to be mocked. 

Clowning will help overcome your fear of public speaking or failing.

You become very good at being a professional failure and being ok with it! You learn that life is about failures and getting up from it. 

Where to Train Clown: The Best Clown Schools In The World

Momentom Collective Artist Residencies
Nicaragua, Guatemala, & Indonesia
More info on Momentom Artist Residencies Here

Momentom Collective is putting on an artist residency based on Music, Mask and Movement. This year, in Nicaragua, they invite Isaac Luy a professional clown, along with other guest teachers to teach residents about the works through masks in a 2-week intensive training April 1 through April 15. Unlike a professional circus clown school, this short but deep intensive allows you to dive into this experience without registering for an entire semester at a circus or clown school.

For more information and to join our family in paradise, click here.

Francine Côté Clown Master School
Montreal, Canada

Teaching the art of clown, physical theory or creation development, you can study part time or full time for 1, 2 or 3 semesters.

The Clown School
Los Angeles, USA

The clown school in L.A promotes theatrical classes and events dedicated to a celebration of the expressive potential of live theater. They anchor their work in the discipline of clown because they believe that clowning embraces and celebrates the totality of human experience and offers unparalleled freedom in art. Well said!

Other world class clown experience 

Clowns Without Borders

Clowns Without Borders offers joy and laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency. You can travel with them to these regions and train with them directly.

More to explore