Sunday, January 02, 2005

Dance much lately?

I have always loved to dance, and was curious to know what was so significant about it in the past such as in Native American cultures. So I did what any modern day geek would do and went to Google and searched for words like "spirituality and dance" or "spiritual dancing": and I discovered two things I just gotta share: Earthdance, and Brooke Medicine Eagle's book, the Last Ghost Dance. You should get a copy of that if you've ever felt passionate about really helped me understand what is going on in the world today from a broader perspective, and made me see that there is an important part we can all play - NOW, by DANCING MORE.

Here is a short excerpt from The Last Ghost Dance by Brooke Medicine Eagle -

Welcome to the Circle of Power

It is vitally important for us to come together in circles of power to create the life we envision for ourselves and seven generations of our children.
There is something deeply human about coming together in song and ritual movement. We have the opportunity to again vibrate Mother Earth with our dancing feet, stepping to the rhythm of an ancient unfolding song and bringing forth a radiant and renewed Earth.

It is vitally important for us to come together in circles of power to create the life we envision for ourselves and seven generations of our children. Taking a brief look at our history, we can see how waves 0f spiritual gathering and dancing have awakened again and again. Dawn Boy speaks of it this way:

The spirit of Ghost Dance of the 1880s had many precedents among native peoples. In fact, there were so many that one would almost conclude that dancing for salvation or spiritual goals was the "normal" response to stress, war, alcoholism, and cultural disintegration. Often a spiritual leader would call for purification and lead his or her people in a series of dances drawn from existing forms but with greater intensity, stronger spiritual commitment, and specific goals to reunite the community. Sometimes a new danceform would be given in vision, as happened with the Drum Dream Dance religion of the Sioux in the 1870s. This particular form was given to a young woman who miraculously survived a massacre of her people. The specific goal of this dance was to forgive and embrace one's enemies; and it was effective. The Sioux took it to the Ojibwa, their traditional enemies, and to others. This spirit of sharing later flowed into the modern pow-wow dance that is a pan-Indian phenomenon today. The vision of forgiveness and brotherhood lives on through the dancing, while tribal angers and divisiveness often exist outside the dance. That and the resurgence of Sun Dance among native peoples bring us into modern times. We are indeed blessed by the myriad of forms of dance and ritual still in use that have come through vision, dream, and Divine inspiration. We are rich.

The power of these waves of spiritual dancing not only up-lifted the tribes in their time of distress but also often brought visions and power to new prophets and leaders. Neolin of the 1760s, Handsome Lake of the 1800-1820 period, and "OpenDoor" were all heavy drinkers who became teetotaling prophets after various purifying dance waves carried them into personal vision and salvation. These men often met with Jesus in Spirit and got specific advice on how to purify their old ways, how to adjust to contact with whites, and how to keep their dances and other spiritual practices intact in new Christ-oriented settings, and paradigms.

All over the Americas, from California to the East Coast, Indians danced for salvation and got hope, power, and new spiritual direction. The spiritual power was contagious, and many spiritual leaders traveled far from their own tribes and territory, like Smo-halla from Washington who toured the Apache-Din' e Southwest and Mexico to return with fresh ideas, hope, and insight to re-form and reenergize his own peoples. Sioux traveled to Nevada and California specifically to go see Wovoka and his Spirit Dance and to bring it back home if it was worth having. It was, and they did bring it back.

And Jesus himself called the Master of Life and the Master of Breath, encouraged many of these waves of dance and helped rebuild traditional form into new Christian, but thoroughly In-lian, churches. The Indian prophets were so dear about this commissioning from Jesus that they argued theology with various vhite missionaries and even asked them why they killed "their lord Jesus." And common to many of these reforms and visions was the promise and hope that one day Indians would be able to live in peace with whites-even with respect in a world that ended war and became Heaven on Earth. The messianic Christ who inspired Wovoka's "ghost-spirit" dance is often blurred by its Indianness and also by white misrepresentarion. Likewise, the Dawn Star's inspiration of the modern Native American Churchs often overlooked by non-Natives who enjoy thinking of Indians as exotic and even pagan. Yet the overall pattern is clear. Dancing with spiritual goals does work. We modern folks feel disconnected and threatened at times by change and modern life like the Indians did; our damage to the life of Earth threatens us; often we lack deep spiritual experience as individuals and as communities; and we have substance abuse problems like the Indians had. Creator and Dawn Star still answer our prayers, and we still have feet to dance and ears to hear the drums. It is time to celebrate the fulfillment of Heavens promise of peace on Earth and to use these Earth-robe bodies of ours to generate Spirit. That's what Creator put us here for. . . so let's dance!

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