Sacred Journeys – Dancing to the Spring
Everyday Rituals & Celebrations
The lusty month of May at last is here! There is so much sexual energy in the air it’s almost embarrassing walking down the street. The birds are arriving in droves and checking each other out, the wind is caressing new blossoms, carrying intoxicating pollen that also fills my lungs, and translates to a lot of flirting on the sidewalks down on the ground as well. It’s my kind of flirting, which is more about drinking deep and filling up with the passion for life and the openness to possibilities, and then beaming that at 98-year-olds in wheelchairs and five-year-olds on the streetcar. It is like swimming in ecstasy and seeing everything around you as a drop in this ocean of creation.
It’s interesting that despite the obvious urge to mate and make like the birds and the bees, the European tradition believed it was bad luck to actually marry in May. (Perhaps concern that one might make an irrational choice drunk by spring’s perfumes.) May was the time for dancing.
On one hot spring day this April, amidst many cold days, I watched as the gal living upstairs found herself dancing in the back yard to warm and equatorial music coming from my window. As she danced, she welcomed this tropical sun as it cast a warm orange glow on the winter stones. Her body and spirit spontaneously listened to the beating of her ancient human heart.
What is really fun is to move into dance as conscious celebration and renewal. We have planted our seeds and now is the time for them to grow as we dance them into existence like a bird singing up the seeds or the frogs singing up the bugs in spring.
When we dance socially at a bar or rave we can have a profound experience even though others around us may be indifferent to the dance. Certainly our ancestors, and those in other cultures dance socially and it has great meaning at a tribal level. Ritualized dances bring the tribe or community together to celebrate or story-tell. Shamans have used music and dance to shift themselves from beta to alpha waves and move more easily into the world of spirit or the ‘unconscious’ world. In this state they are better able to explore the origins of feelings, events, or health issues being created in the unseen world and manifest on the physical level.
We are the dancers, and we are the shaman when we enter into the dance with the intention to invite spirit into the body of the dancer, to commune, to listen or to heal the dancer. We can dance alone or with a group where others are guiding the experience through drumming or music. I love both experiences. There are quite a few opportunities I’ve heard of recently for joining into an ecstatic dance experience – Ecstatic Dancing (west of Toronto) www.mothertouch.net runs a dance series and has web links to further details about ecstatic dance; Trance Dance May 22 (416) 588-4503, a guided experience; and Sweat Your Prayers every week at Dancemakers (416) 929-7294. There are many more, these are just ones I know personally. Drummers and or non-live instrumental music help you to focus on your body, your breath and the rhythm of the sound. Within this sacred intended space we can surrender to the music, then let our body wisdom and spirit guide us through the dance.
The benefits are tremendous. At the very least, dancing can undo stress that would otherwise build up in the body and affect our health down the road. Ecstatic dancing is unlike a loud club environment because it allows you to listen to your body and hear what it wants you to do. At a club you are not able to begin quietly on the floor and move into the chaos and lyrical movements, and return again, perhaps to the floor if feeling called. If our intention is to explore patterns and stories we find in our bodies, an intentional space is best. The rewards of producing endorphins and enhancing a state of euphoria are wonderful results. At a deeper level the dancing will bring on an alpha state and help to explore images or spirits that come up for you during the dance; the body is a direct link to spirit after all, and dance frees spirit up to talk, and all we are required to bring is our curiosity and willingness. If you are doing it at home give yourself 45 to 90 minutes.