dance

Dance as Catharsis

May, 2018

(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

 

Do you know what I’ve learned? That although ecstasy is the ability to stand outside yourself, dance is a way of rising up into space, of discovering new dimensions while still remaining in touch with your body.  When you dance, the spiritual world and the [physical] world manage to coexist quite happily.”

-From “The Witch of Portabello” by Paulo Coelho

 

I was fortunate to grow up in a culture that valued dance. Every weekend, the whole extended family would get together at a relative’s house, eat together, socialize, and dance. After everyone had had time to chat and digest their food, we’d all pitch in to help move the furniture to the outskirts of the room, thereby creating a dance floor. The record player belted out Top 40 hits, world music, dance music, and all sorts of other eclectic beats and sounds; we’d easily go from Michael Jackson to Julio Iglesias in an evening! Although I confess, I was never much of a Julio fan, the adults in the group certainly loved him. And that leads me to the other brilliant thing about these evenings: they were multi-generational. The kids danced with the adults, teens, and elders. Everyone was included.

This went on until I was about twelve years old. I knew that something was wrong in my extended family when people stopped gathering as often. But I knew that something deep was at work when my family stopped dancing altogether. Internal family conflicts divided people and they simply did not know how to utilize the dance for anything other than celebration and personal expression. They didn’t know that dance was therapy and that they could dance through anything and come out the other side of it more balanced than before. I often wonder what might have been different and if communication would have improved if they had had this knowledge at the time.

It took me about sixteen years to recover my love of dance after that. I found myself attracted to non-choreographed dance modalities such as belly dance, rave, and trance dance. I’ve been dancing 5Rhythms (www.5rhythms.com) for almost two decades now and it is a practice that has supported and moved me through some serious transitions in my life. I’ve danced through tremendous grief, exhaustion, fear, sadness, joy, rocky love relationships, moving away from my family, and healing an addiction. I dance because my body doesn’t lie to me like my mind does. It is utterly honest. When I come to dance an issue in my life, my body tells me exactly what is going on as I move the way it wants me to. My body tells the story of what is out of balance and gives me clues for what I need to do to regain my centre. It does not use words so I’ve learned to uncover the messages of the somatic language of feeling throughout years of practice.

Going to class isn’t a “So You Think You Can Dance” sort of atmosphere. It is the polar opposite of competition, showing off my steps, or learning rigid dance moves. It is a spiritual experience where my body literally moves and heals me. All I have to do is follow my feet and my instincts. Often, I can feel burdens lifting off my shoulders and emotions leaving the hidden caves they’ve been trapped in- sometimes for years. I never know what is going to happen and that unpredictability is a part of the attraction for me. The unknown is where we heal, learn, and grow. They body knows how to move us in that direction if we surrender to its non-linear intelligence.

Dance, rhythm, and music have been used since the beginning of time by shamanic cultures throughout the world for healing and celebratory purposes.  These elements were and are often entwined in ceremony and guided by the culture’s medicine person.  Shamanic cultures the world over weave these three practices into their daily lives because they know of the increased health and well-being they bring into the lives of the people.  These creative modalities give the body and the psyche expression without words. In short, they take the ego mind out of the equation so we have a chance to experience our true selves.

It is fair to say that most people in the Western world are disconnected from these readily available healing tools.  One need not have extensive formal training in any of these modalities to receive healing benefit from practice.  This is intended as an invitation into a spiritual experience that has no dogma and is not affiliated with any religion.  Everyone can practice it.  It is through the experience of it that healing naturally occurs and since no two people are exactly alike, each person will have a different experience.

When in the midst of dance, we can heal without words by learning to tap into the body and spirit wisdom that is lying dormant inside of us.  Along with patterns that don’t serve us any longer, we have a chance to witness those that do.  The beauty is that it is never too late to heal pain or celebrate victories from the past.  Indeed, engaging in this ceremony takes courage and willingness to show your true self; that is a huge victory in and of itself! Dancing within a ceremonial context is very different than a class; however, practicing in dancing meditation classes is a good way to connect with our bodies if this is a foreign concept!

These days, I lead Soul Vine Dancing Ceremonies, which are done in a spiritual container of safety with a very specific alchemy. Folks come and dance at their own pace in a way that works for them, their bodies, their hearts, and their psyches.  Most of all, I encourage folks to be gentle and to forgive themselves through the practice.  They can allow what’s there to be there: joy, grief, sorrow, anger, boredom, exhaustion, resistance, or sadness.  This includes negative inner dialogue.  We can keep moving through all these; they are indicators that something is shifting!  We can talk to our High Selves while we dance for guidance.  It’s safe to let go of the past and move that healing right through our beings.  We dance for and with ourselves because we are all worth it.

*Part of this article originally appeared on the author’s blog in August 2014 (https://jenniferengracio.wordpress.com/). The author has added content to the original for PaganPagesOrg Magazine.

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

Click Image for Amazon Information

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

 

MagickalArts

May, 2018

(en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses:The Hymns of Polyhymnia

 

(Image: Sculpture from the State Hermitage Museum)

This is the Sixth posting of the (en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses Series

Each time I have lost myself in the beauty of music, Polyhymnia has been whispering in my ear. Her name is derived from the Greek, “poly” meaning “many” and “hymnos” which means “praise. Her name is alternately spelled Polymnia. She is attributed with many gifts and depending on the territory of Greece that she oversaw, her garb and visage was adapted. Her primary creativity flowed through music, song and dance and in the more traditional sense she became the muse specifically of religious hymn and praise.

Unlike her sisters, Polyhymnia was depicted as more pensive in her demeanor and of an almost meditative and spiritually charged seriousness.

She was a daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the Titan Goddess of memory and remembrance as well as attributed as the inventress of language and words. What more beautiful expression of her mother’s gifts than to be the child that brings adeptness and creativity to the sacred words of devotion and hymn.

Polyhymnia was consort of Oeagrus, the King of Thrace. In some myths he and Calliope or Clio were the parents of Orpheus. In others, Polyhymnia is appointed as the mother of Orpheus. This gives testament to the cross over and threads of community that the Muses held. All having many of the same gifts, but their expression and who they were attached to in the mortal realms meant that as mothers or aunts, the shared the parenting of many of the offspring attributed to one muse or another.

In other myths she is identified as the mother of Triptolemus, the first priest of Demeter and inventor of agriculture and working the lands. This birth was by her union with Cheimarrhus, the son of the Greek God Ares.

(Greco-Roman mosaic from Vichten C3rd A.D.. National Museum of History and )

The Greek Historian, Diodorus Siculus writes…

“Polyhymnia, because by her great (polle) praises (humnesis) she brings distinction to writers whose works have won for them immortal fame…” 1.

Not much has been written of Polyhymnia, in contrast to her sisters. Nonetheless, she remains a muse whose essence continues to flourish with each writing and composition of any work of devotion. So the next time you are inspired by song or feel the rising of your Soul’s desire in response to music’s harmonious flow, offered up gratitude to Polyhymnia as she whispers gently in your ear.

The next post will focus on the Muse, Urania and her Gifts of Astronomy

References:

1. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History books III-VIII (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.).

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

Click on Image for Amazon Information

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Click on Image for Amazon Information

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

MagickalArts

April, 2018

(en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses – Terpsichore

 

(Image: Carnegie Museum of : Terpsichore by Antonio Canova (1821))

This is the Fifth posting of the (en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses Series

Terpsichore has been with me longer than I can remember. I was born to dance and the pure joy and thrill of moving through space, weaving energetic patterns and being so completely absorbed by the music are all of her gifts as you open to her magickal inspiration.

Her name means “delighting in dance” and is derived from the Greek word “Terpo” which means to be amused. She is often depicted as wearing laurels on her head and holding a harp or Lyre as she dances. As one of the Nine Muses, her joy in movement is contagious as we see depicted in all the Muses forming lines of flowing grace, regardless of their primary attributes. Her name has come to be synonymous with “dancer” in its English use. As a daughter of Mnemosyne (memory) and Zeus (authoritative power), she is also called upon to assist with the creative effort of choreography and labanotation (the scribing of choreography using symbols that indicate movement and tempo).

This reference calls forth the need to remember in order to re-create the steps given and the ability to command the audience’s attention. Just as her sister Muses have multiple attributes, so too, Terpsichore is also considered the Muse of Choral and education, as a lessor inspiration. The Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus writes…..

“Hesiod even gives their names [the Muses’] when he writes: ‘Kleio, Euterpe, and Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsikhore and Erato, and Polymnia, Ourania, Kalliope too, of them all the most comely.’ To each of the Mousai (Muses) men assign her special aptitude for one of the branches of the liberal arts, such as poetry, song, pantomimic dancing, the round dance with music, the study of the stars, and the other liberal arts… For the name of each Mousa (Muse), they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her… Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), because she delights (terpein) her disciples with the good things which come from education.” 1.

The Greek lyric poet, Pindar writes of Terpsichore’s sweet song in the Isthmian Ode 2 (In memory of the victories of Xenocrates of Acragas Chariot Race 470 B. C.)….

“Then the Mousa (Muse) [i.e. the poet] had not yet bowed to love of gain, or made herself a hireling journeyman; nor in the market clad in masks of silver did honey-tongues Terpsikhore (Terpsichore) barter her gentle-voiced and sweetly sun refrains. But now she bids us pander to that word the Argive spoke, to sadly near to truth: Money, money makes man.” 2.

In some accounts Terpsichore is attributed as the mother of the Sirens (sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death), fathered by the sea God Akheloos and a son, Linos, fathered by the God, Apollon (the Solar God of prophecy and oracles). She is referenced again by Pindar in his Dirges as singing the lament over her dead son, Linus, who was struck with his lyre by Heracles….

“But in another song did three goddesses [Mousai, Muses] lull to rest the bodies of their sons. The first of these [Terpsikhore] sang a dirge over the clear-voiced Linos [personification of the lamentation song].” 3.

In the epic poem, Dionysiaca by the Greek Poet, Nonnus, the River God of Aitolia, Akheloos is credited as fathering the sirens with Terpsichore….

“The Seirenes (Sirens), whom rosy Terpsikhore (Terpsichore) brought forth by the stormy embraces of her bull-horned husband Akheloos (Achelous).” 4.

Terpsichore’s gift of song is gifted to her children and the stories of these sirens songs have long held legend of fateful death on calm seas. The Greek epic poet, Apollonius Rhodius, speaks of the seductive songs of the sirens in the Argonautica….

“The clear-voiced Seirenes (Sirens), Akheloos’ (Achelous’) daughters, used to bewitch with their seductive melodies whatever sailors anchored there. Lovely Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), one of the Mousai (Muses), has borne them to Akheloos, and at one time they had been handmaids to Demeter’s gallant Daughter [Persephone], before she was married, and sung to her in chorus.” 5.

 

(Painting: Terpsichore, Muse of Dance by Jean Marc Nattier.1939)

Terpsichore’s gift of music is depicted in the traditional fashion of her holding the Lyre in the painting above by Jean Marc Nattier. I particularly like this painting. The artist gave the feeling that she can barely contain herself in rest and at any moment will break free and dance away. Other representations of Terpsichore show her playing the Flute.  

Terpsichore’s influence is perhaps the most wide spread of all of the Muses. In terms of artistic expression, she is the quintessential master. , song, dance and education all held within her powers of inspiration. And, if we consider the effect of these art forms on society as a whole, she is the bringer of cultural delights. Dance is infectious and every culture throughout time has incorporated dance as art of their social and often spiritual traditions. Her image graces dance studio Logos, titles of choreographic wonders and educational materials, all singing praise to her inspired movement and flow.

The statue below is found in the Bavarian Gardens at Beyruth Court. Her image graces the gardens as inspiration to the joys and pleasures to be found in the dance of nature. 

Join me as we enter the world of dance and take center stage as Terpsichore in the Ballet – “Apollon Musagete”choreographed in 1928 by Serge Diaghilev. This ballet was later re-choreographed by George Balanchine of the New York City Ballet, and re-named simply as “Apollo”, where it has become a classic staple of the company.

The ballet features Apollo, god of the arts and the sun. The ballet begins with Apollo playing the Lute and dancing alone. Three of the Muses, Calliope – Polyhymnia and Terpsichore enter the scene. The three dance with Apollo, each in turn, as they weave moving across the stage in sheer delight. Apollo then gives each of the Muses a gift and asks that they dance for him. To Calliope he gives a scroll of parchment; to Polyhymnia a mask. And, to Terpsichore, a lyre. She dances joyously, filling the space with her passion for movement and the love of the music. Apollo judges her dance to be the most perfect of the three and she and the God, dance a beautiful and slow pas de deux (duet); both “delighting in the dance”.

(Come Dance with Me)

Terpsichore has been with me for longer than I can remember and her transformative grace holds me forever in her embrace…

My first magickal experience occurred as a dancer performing at the age of 10 or so. I did not, at the time, realize I was setting up the gateway and intent for magick to move through me. My only intent was to connect so fully and deeply that I would become the persona of the role I was portraying and lose my human nature in the process. The desire was to transcend human form and become something more. The intent was powerful enough and the music and rhythm acted as the keys that opened the gates to the other realms through movement and motion. I became the swan flying high above the earth. I was the beautiful being that was shot through the heart and gracefully fell to earth, wounded and in the throes of death.  A final arch and curve of beautiful elongated neck, gentle flutter of white feathery wing and the final lifting upwards towards eternal ascending flight as death welcomed me into its soft sleep.  The music stopped and I once again returned to the land of human and living; applause awaking me from this deep connection forged as the gates of magickal working closed until called forth again.  

The next post will focus on the Muse, Polymnia and her Gifts of Sacred Hymns and

References:

1. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 7. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.).

2. Pindar, Isthmian Ode 2. 6 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.).

3. Pindar, Dirges Fragment 139 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.).

4. Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 313 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D). 

5. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 892 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.).

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

The Magickal ARTS

June, 2014

Move with the Flow- The art of Dance (Part 1)
My first magickal experience occurred as a dancer performing at the age of 10 or so.  I did not at the time realize I was setting up the gateway and intent for magick to move through me.  My only intent was to connect so fully and deeply that I would become the persona of the role I was portraying and lose my human nature in the process. The desire was to transcend human form and become something more.  The intent was powerful enough and the music and rhythm acted as the keys that opened the gates to the other realms through movement and motion.  I became the swan flying high above the earth. I was the beautiful being that was shot through the heart and gracefully fell to earth, wounded and in the throes of death.  A final arch and curve of beautiful elongated neck, gentle flutter of white feathery wing and the final lifting upwards towards eternal ascending flight as death welcomed me into its soft sleep.  The music stopped and I once again returned to the land of human and living; applause awaking me from this deep connection forged as the gates of magickal working closed until called forth again.
When we dance, we embrace the flow of energy as a kinesthetic quality.  We engage the breath inhaling the prana of life and exhale out offering up our consciousness to ecstasy and joy. This practice has been used since the dawn of humanity as devotion, celebration and more. The movement of the Whirling Dervishes is used as a tool of meditative connection.  The Dances of Universal Peace of the Sufi’s is used to set a tone and rhythm of gentle flow into the aethers; setting the cycle of cause and effect into motion. The classical dance of India, in particular the Kathak engages the art of storytelling.  Those artists who performed this style of sacred dance incorporate music and mime as they brought to life the myths and great sags of the Indian pantheons and sacred Texts.
Every time we engage in any activity, we are in essence dancing . We are moving i response to what stimulates us and that flow of movement changes and affects multiple outcomes. So, let’s begin by slowly changing our perceptions of what we think dance is.
Self-Inspired:
For this month’s exercise the focus is on movement. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a dancer, think you have rhythm or are self-conscious. Everyone can move! Swaying from side to side is movement. Walking is movement. tapping your foot to the beat is movement. All of these actions engage you with the flow of energy that surrounds and sets you in sync with that energy.
Find a place where you can move freely and won’t be disturbed. Start by simply moving without any background sound or music as support. Try to hear the internal music that is created as you move. Do this for some time and then sit and make note of how your body is vibrating in response. This may present as an increase in heart rate, rapid breathing, etc.
Next. select a favorite piece of music and repeat the above. This time try to focus on the sounds you are hearing and move in whatever way you feel expresses that sound. Do this for a long as you are able. Sit down and again make note of your body’s physiological response.

Next Post: Universal Choreography- The of Dance (Part 2)