This is a beautiful, heartwarming account of a first time Conscious Dance event held in a far northern town. This woman really wanted to offer a Solstice event in this fashion to her community, and she had never attempted anything like this prior. I just had to share this story with you!
To my friends and loved ones: This is an account of the Solstice dance. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you!
...The dance went very well! It was not the event I was expecting… but I think I knew it wouldn't be. I spent an enormous amount of time on the preparations - getting the space, finding our DJ, putting together advertising and applying to the Seward Arts Council for money (which they gave me, by the way! After a bewildering runaround) building a rhythm wave and putting together my event map … not to mention working on my own state of mind so I wouldn't drown in anxiety. (I drowned a little anyway, but I think that's part of the process.) I've had a *lot* of support from other, more experienced dancers and leaders, and I've been really grateful. But still, I felt the weight of it.
We danced in the basement meeting room of the Seward library, which is large and new - it's also a free space. On the night before the dance my friend Kate helped me, as we strung twinkling Christmas lights to thwart the fluorescents, and hung colored fabrics to soften the white walls. With two tables, we separated the dance floor from the other half of the room, making it smaller. Because I knew there were children coming, we made the dancers a communal space to sit on the other side if they absolutely *had* to leave the dance floor. The alter was a podium draped with a quilt, set with salt-rock and selenite candles, the sage I'd used to smudge the room and friend Carly's prayer beads, along with a few other sacred objects. In its corner I propped a plastic skeleton holding a hollow painted egg. In front of the alter, on a colored cloth, were my drums, egg shakers and zils.
On the night of the dance, I arrived early to finish preparing the space. DJ Hank came in to set up, and then together we went over the details of the rhythm wave, making some last-minute changes. Later, I'd learn that Hank had studied dancing for five years, but before this I'd only know him as an actor. When he went home for a bite, I propped the heavy outside doors open and hauled in the food from
my car: there was going to be a potluck after the dancing, and I'd made turkey and white-bean soup with sage, heavy oatmeal bread with butter and jam. for By the time Carly and Wisna arrived to help, the setup was mostly taken care of.
I didn't feel like myself. We switched off the overhead lights. Carly and Wisna stretched and talked in low voices. I slid onto the dance floor and moved with my eyes closed, using my phone to play the songs that make me feel the most grounded and connected, to combat my rising anxiety and excitement. When Hank came back into the room and quietly transferred my songs to his speakers, I experienced it as kindness, and was grateful.
The dancers were slow to arrive. I feared they wouldn't come at all. But slowly… they did.
In all, we were fifteen. But only nine of us were adults!
When I'd made the fliers and the advertising, I'd written "an all ages event". I wanted people to understand it was a community event, not drunken dancing like in a bar. I had imagined them bringing older kids. For some reason, it didn't occur to me that people would bring toddlers - not until someone asked me about it, a few days before the dance! That had resulted in a rapid recalculation of how the event would work - but at least I was prepared. Although it was a much different event with kids, I can't say I was sorry to have them. The little ones brought a great energy to the dance. Also, I'm 100% sure that we would have had far fewer adults otherwise. It was an improvisational event, to be sure.
We had an opening circle and check-in, and I said a few words about the kind of dance we were about to enter - basically that you can't really be told about conscious dance, you have to do it. I explained that the music would guide us - and invited the dancers to follow their own movement without judgement. I reminded the dancers to be aware of their own body space and their own body IN space - when we're dancing hard, it's too easy to run into each other. I asked them to be aware of their own body-limitations, and encouraged them to keep moving.
I asked them to remember that the dance floor is a nonverbal space. I explained that the dance alter was interactive, which meant that the instruments were there to be pIayed with. (originally I had meant for some books of dance-related poetry and something to write on to be part of the space as well, but those intentions got misplaced in the rush of preparation.) I opened the floor for questions, and then Carly led us in a series of yoga poses. Which, she confided later, she'd changed on the spot, to accommodate the range of ages in our group.
After that, we danced.
For me, it was a completely fresh experience. Usually, in the dance, I'm able to drop in and let go… that's one of the reasons I keep coming back. But here, in this space, I couldn't do that. It was new to me.
It was my job to hold the space, and I'm still new to that role. I needed to maintain my own headspace to an extent, but I primarily had to watch the room, to hold it for the others. I already knew that, had expected it, but it's one thing to know it, and another one to do it. I watched the others dance, impressed and delighted like I always am at how readily they dropped into the dance - how ready our bodies are to move, and our minds to let go! I ran interference on small children before they could throw the egg shakers under dancing feet, and reminded the dancers to use the space. I leapt out of the circle to greet latecomers and the man from the local paper who wandered in, and I invited the dancers to interact with each other. As the crowd dwindled, I asked DJ Hank to skip a few songs and start bringing us down… I could see that the dancers weren't going to make it through the entire set, and judged it was better for us to experience a complete wave together and have a closing circle, than to let people slip away by twos and threes, until a few die-hards were left alone on the floor. I think I did well, for a first time… but it was exhausting.
Through the dancing and everything else, I enjoyed watching the others open up on the dance floor, the way their bodies told their stories, and their differences in their movement. But the thing is, holding the space in that way… I wasn't able to connect and let go in the way I usually can. I confess that I was a little disappointed. I assumed that if I couldn't feel that connection and surrender, then the others must not be feeling it either. Because I'd hoped to offer/hold that kind of space, I was a little let down.
And then we had closing circle.
As we went around the circle, checking in with the changes in/to our bodies and states of mind, I *heard* the other dancers, over and over again, saying,:" I feel so good in my body" and "It's been too long since I felt this way", or "I can't remember the last time I felt like this". Saying, "I feel so connected to everyone here, and to the music, and to myself." "It's so good to move." "I feel so accepted here." "I feel so not-alone."
And I realized I had been wrong. For all the small hiccups the dance had had, for all my silly insecurity, these people *got it* after all. They got that gift that's in the dance and the music. I didn't have to feel it for them to feel it - it wasn't to do with me at all. I mean, I knew that when I started, but somehow, when I got caught up in wanting to have a perfect dance, I forgot. That *good thing* wasn't waiting on me to do some perfect thing to draw it out - It was right there in the dance, just waiting to be found out.
It wasn't perfect. Things can get a *lot* more intense. But it was right there, all the same. And they experienced it.
And the other question from everyone, the very best way I can measure the success of the dance: "When are we doing this again?"
We are doing it again, a week from Saturday (01/04/14). We set the date before we left the room. I've already sent out the email. There will need to be more advertising too, and a followup, but it won't be a "big" event like this was, but something smaller and simpler.
So, I feel good. Confused and tired, and good. It went well. I think it went well. I think, maybe, it did what it was supposed to do.
...That's the whole story. I'm glad to have shared it with you, and I welcome any feedback. I wish you wonderful holidays, and a transformative new year.
Lughnasadh is the first harvest point on the wheel of the year. Most people who are familiar with the sacred timing of Lughnasadh are aware of it occurring on the first day of August each year. More traditionally however, Lughnasadh occurs at the exact opposite point on the wheel of the year from Imbolc. This year, that precise opposition occurs on the 7th of August. This is the time of year that Leo holds sway, and this year in particular will be very exciting since Leo will be in the New Moon coming up on August 5th. This is a very firey time of year, the hottest time of year for many places in our world, and therefore it is a fantastic time for your personal creation mechanics. In fact, the very root of the word, "Lugh", means "Light". This is a wonderful time for you to infuse your ideas and creations with Light and focus on the growth that you have been intending upon in your life, whether it be personal, family oriented, professional, global, or all of these areas. Tune into your inner fire in order to enhance your creativity and ignite the spark within the seeds of any projects that you have been meaning to tackle.
This is a most beneficial time to allow yourself to receive guidance in whatever forms feel comfortable to you. Meditation, divination, and journey work are all excellent examples of tools that you can engage in order to receive guidance. Connect to the Leo energy, your inner wildcat, your lion or lioness self. Leo is also significant in accessing your inner courage, and at a time of year where there is so much Light pouring forth, and especially if you are working with this Light intently, please remember that stronger burning Light will burn deeper into that which remains hidden... the shadow aspects. This pertains to those things that you may have placed upon the back burner or swept under the rug, or have simply been unaware of until now. Along with that which is buried deep, once it reaches the level of conscious awareness, emotion may be brought to the surface along with it. Allow this emotion to come. Beauty lies within its release. Allow this to assist you in connecting with the Earth Mother, and the waters with which she supports all of life.
One of the after effects of emotional release, should it occur for you, is a feeling of emptiness, or a void of some sort. This is entirely natural. Now would be the time to plant your new seeds of intention. What do you wish to plant and energize? What do you want to see grow within your own life, and blossom from this point forward? Between now and August 7th, you may wish to intuit these seeds, plant them, water them and observe their growth. Harvest and transformation help to remind us of the wonders of our planet earth. They keep the magic within our hearts alive, seeing how something new and nourishing happens from something so small. But this only happens once that one small thing is planted by us, watered by us, and nurtured by us. Attention needs to be given to these small things, and it is then that we can anticipate growth and change ... transformation and alchemy. Here are some questions to assist in this process:
Giving thanks for, and truly acknowledging, that which you have already received will assist in the process of honoring the Earth Mother. So you can see how it only makes sense that giving thanks before your needs are met will only help to enhance that which you hope to receive. Think of Gratitude as your fertilizer, the feed for your seeds. Once you truly feel this Gratitude take hold within you, move with it. Stretch it, dance it, reach with it, breathe it, sing it. Move it from within, to throughout and around you. This vibration of Gratitude will be that much stronger then. It will anchor much more clearly into your energetic field, and then simply by nature of the business, it will assist you in bringing forth more of that which resides in your heart.
How wonderful is that?
Tonight’s full moon is in the wonderfully watery sign of Aquarius. Within the circles and worlds of the mystics, astrology passionatas, and cosmic surfers this particular full moon is very auspicious. There are three windows of energy driving each full moon, and these are:
1) The exact point of day PRIOR to the full moon;
2) The Full Moon day itself;
3) The day directly following the Full Moon.
It is a full 180 degree stretch between the sign occupied by the Full Moon and the sign occupied by the Sun. The day prior to July 22 sees the moon in earthy Capricorn and the Sun sitting in the emotional and watery Cancer. The very next day, the chart shifts, and this Full Moon of July 22, 2013 lies within Aquarius, placing the sign directly opposite the Aquarius house as Leo. Therefore, the Sun resides at this point in time within the house of Leo. The sign of Leo is ruled, rather potently, by the element of Fire itself. If the Sun depicts the energy, vibration and oscillation of Male energy, then the Moon depicts the energy, vibration and oscillation of Female energy. With the potency of Aquarius and Leo backing the two of these, it creates a very strong window of opportunity for Manifestation, driven particularly by the marriage and balancing of the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine within each of us.
Here are some simple, yet very effective ways to work with the intensity of this particular Full Moon energy:
· Set a clear, emotion-filled, heart-driven intention for yourself. If you are able to work with a stone or crystal at this time, I would highly recommend it. A few stones I would suggest are:
a) Citrine, for its manifestation and Fire balancing qualities
b) Amethyst, for working with the energy of Aquarius and clearing the higher chakras for highest intent of manifestation
c) Garnet and Jasper, for a lovely ‘massage’ of the Heart Center and clarity of heart driven prayer
First, clear the stones with running water or sage smoke (preferably followed by the smoke of sweetgrass). Secondly, ask the stone if it is willing to work with you for your highest good. There are a few different methods of establishing a ‘yes/no’ response, ie: a pendulum or muscle testing. Upon receiving a ‘yes’ response, you may gently place your intention to the stone, and mentally or vocally repeat your intention until you feel it ‘take hold’ within and around you.
· Upon going to bed for the night, intend to work with the dreamtime. Ask for guidance within your dreams, and for clarity and understanding upon awakening.
a) Place the ‘Intention Stone’ you have just worked with beneath your pillow. You may be surprised at the vividness and knowledge that come up within your dreams by performing this simple task.
b) Keep a dream journal next to your bed, in the event that you wake during the night in the midst of a dream and have the feeling to remember it. More often than not, if you think to yourself that there is absolutely NO way you will forget this dream and choose to go back to sleep, the chances are good that you will forget in upon waking again in the morning. Frustrating, I know, but ‘tis the mysterious way of the psyche!
c) First thing the following morning, be sure to record any insights, sensations, or emotions that you experience. Greet the day with gratitude. Remember, this process can also be done the day/night after the Full Moon.
· For the days and weeks following the Full Moon, intend upon paying heed to the Divine Mother.
a) Shower upon yourself the true essence of Self Love, a reverence for the Great Mystery, a commitment to decisive action for following the mysterious and magical path of your own intuition.
b) Take note of what you have given, and give yourself permission to open to receive.
c) Trust your spirit and its innate wisdom of freedom within action.
We are working with the mighty dance of Aquarian Air and Leo Fire here. Unique ways of self-expression are likely to bring themselves to the forefront. This is a delicate dance now, and work must be undertaken to find a way to authentically ignite the flame of intent and desire, while gently and gracefully fanning these flames with the delicate breath of air. This is truly the idea behind breathing life into ideas. Aquarius energy is also great to work with in the realms of technology and learning techniques for navigating the new world which is being birthed at this time.
Once put into motion from within, air moves swiftly and fire responds accordingly. Motion must be undertaken. In this, yes, I mean physical movement. In whatever way you sweat your prayers, be it Yoga, Dance, Walking/Running or Martial Arts, be sure to move the body in order to anchor these gifts within your energy field. This is also to maintain a healthy equilibrium between Mind, Body, and Spirit. We do not want the mind to take over so that the potency of these elements become less so. Of course, I am partial to the dancing path myself. So my method is to grab some good, pounding music and drive my body into action with the beat. Apres-danse is a perfect time to pick up your journal and a pen.
Intend now upon expanding beyond limiting beliefs, creating goals (both personal and business related), and committing yourself to the notion of trying new things while catching hold of your thought waves in order to guide them into new territory. You may even feel the need at this point to change some things, such as your hairstyle or your presentational wardrobe. Listen to that. Most importantly, allow yourself the time and space to process your experiences. Claim your place within your own life. Remember that you are the grand architect of your experience here … your Earth Walk. Make yourself a promise to never forget this one simple, yet deep seeded truth. No matter what comes up for you in this experience, above all else, remember to love this process. However it feels, trust that it is at work for you and your highest good. Remember to let go, and to have fun!
Please also enjoy the following article:
Decompression the Cosmic Way, by Sarah Varcas
This is the first of two Full Moons in Aquarius making the second (20th/21st August) an auspicious astrological Blue Moon. In an attempt to clear the air ready for this lunar event, the current Full Moon brings us a veritable energy blast, filled with the electrical power of its ruler Uranus who is now moving retrograde in Aries.
This is not the most comfortable of Moons. There’s some irritation here and a building inner pressure which may cause us to feel what I can only describe as compressed. Think of the pressure within an aerosol can and this’ll give you an idea of the energies around us right now. We want to break out and be free, explode into life, but instead we have to squeeze ourselves through this little nozzle to get into open air. And we all know what damage aerosols can do…
The good thing is this pressure has a powerfully creative element to it if we allow it expression rather than seek only to confine it. If we feel it building inside us this is a sure sign that something needs to be acknowledged and expressed, no matter how much we may prefer that it politely go away. This Moon helps us with this expression if we’ll let her, and if we won’t she’ll just call upon Uranus to do it for us anyway, so far better we step up to the plate and take responsibility for our own personal de-compression chamber and begin to release some of it bit by bit.
It may be anger, frustration, impatience, jealousy, despair… so many emotions we’d rather not have and yet which seem to take up so much energy when they come upon us. This Moon is triggering them now, not to torture us with our inner demons but to show us how their compressed energy inside of us is just about ready to explode. There’s nowhere left for it to go except outward. It will tolerate forced containment no more, which is why we need to stay alert to our feelings and behaviour at this Full Moon, not allowing the polarisation of blame and attack, judgement and conflict. Instead we are all united in a process of decompression during which we can breathe out fully and allow all this pressured, built up energy inside us to gradually release. We may need to do something physical to assist with it: walking, dancing, running. We may prefer to sit quietly and watch it disperse. We may need to act it out, write it out, sing it out. Whatever’s necessary to release the energy we must be prepared to do with awareness and the intention that its expression contribute to the highest good of us all.
To be honest, this is a bit of a test. Here we have an opportunity to show just how far we’ve come in managing the powerful energies that build inside. They can feel so huge, so over-powering that we may live our lives in fear of ever expressing them or even admitting they’re there. But however huge they feel, the universe is infinitely bigger and no matter how much of them we have to release there will always be space for more if necessary. What may feel all-pervading and destructive to us is a mere puff to the endless cosmos into which we gaze!
So this Full Moon is all about energy and what we do with it, how we express it. It’s about owning up to the monster we thought we had inside only to find in the eyes of the universe it’s merely a naughty puppy that needs some love and a bit of firm training. So yes, a pressurised Moon for sure, but one that’s ready to reveal just how creative we can be with the energy inside if we’ll only own up to it in the first place!
Happy Full Moon everyone!
Some students of mine during the Arts Infused Learning Program
Children are natural movers. They are fully engaged with their bodies by default. I can attest to this by the way I am woken each morning by my 3-year old son; ``Mom, I`m hungry! Mom, I`m thirsty! Mom, look, there`s the sun, I want to play outside!`` At this tender age, it is natural to sense and express our emotions directly through our bodies. Not much thought is given about how to do it, it simply happens. It is natural. All cells and neurons are switched on and firing, and given enough fuel to the emotions, we naturally sense that the time has come to RELEASE. And the most direct way to do this, is to let it out the same door it came in - the body. The deeper the release, the more intense the expression, and the greater the healing. Which is why movement therapy, in its direct and authentic sense, given freedom and permission to simply BE is an astonishingly profound and fast way to heal the body-mind-spirit system.
This also goes for the healing potential that movement holds for those suffering from PTSD, anxiety disorders and the like.
I really appreciate the following write up by Brigitta White, and I admire all of the ladies involved in this Memorial Day healing arts project for their heart-filled dedication to the work. Thank you|*
This Memorial Day weekend seven dance/movement therapists across Maryland, DC and Virginia came together to support children between the ages of 6-10 dealing with grief and PTSD. For the second year in a row, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) expressed their desire to have dance therapy groups as part of the grief counseling component. The Good Grief Camp is put together by TAPS and is held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA over Memorial Day weekend.
Through the Dance, we are able to rediscover our wholeness and move our entire consciousness into a spontaneous healing. A point will come at which you will have no other option but to be true to your inner movement and you will be left satisfied, ecstatic, and healed. As we move and sweat, we move deeper into our breath. As deeper breath comes into our lungs, it feeds our blood with the necessary energy to move through the body and experience physical and emotional healing. Trance Dance can easily and gracefully put you back in touch with your inner child, allowing you to once again become enchanted with your life, your world, and your self. Lost and far-reaching memories can be reclaimed - and that is only the beginning. We can also experience:
- A renewed trust in the healing powers we all possess
- A dissolving of lifelong patterns that no longer serve us
- Deeper trust that Spirit is real and influencing us at core levels
- Sense of safety to dive into the adventure of exploring oneself without judgment
- Reclaiming the wisdom which manifests itself into taking responsibility for your life and dreams
- Pleasurable relaxation into letting go and simply being with life's experiences
- Increased excitement, energy and vitality
- Greater awareness of the personal inner and outer worlds
- The unlocking of stagnant perceptions
- Transformation into lightness, well-being and inner peace
"We have come to be danced.
Not the nice, invisible, self-conscious shuffle,
But the matted hair flying, voodoo mama,
Shaman shaking ancient bones dance
The strip us from our casings, return our wings
...Sharpen our claws and tongues dance."
-jai jai ma
Welcome! Thank you for visiting my blog space. In this place, I will share writings of my own, along with other events and musings from the world of Movement Medicine, Dance Therapy, Yoga and Shamanic Healing.