Anime Care To Get A Drink With A Pretty Girl Whosoever Knoweth the Power of the Dance, Dwelleth in God

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Whosoever Knoweth the Power of the Dance, Dwelleth in God

Sacred Dance has nothing to do with a specific dance style or body technique. The dancer moves in a way that unites her Mind, Body and Spirit with a Higher Spiritual Energy. It does not matter whether we call this energy “God”, “Creator”, “Great Spirit”, “Nature”, “Cosmos” or anything else. Importantly, this causes the dancer to feel spiritually uplifted and full of joy.

Dance is one of the earliest forms of worship. Early prehistoric rock art testifies to the power of dance. Such paintings and prints occur all over the world. In western Arnhem Land, Australia, a rock painting shows two men playing instruments to accompany a dance. A rock shelter at Cogul near Lenda in Catalonia (Spain) depicts a group of nine women. They are wearing knee-length skirts and are dancing around a small male figure. The Indian state of Madhya Pradash has a wealth of rock art depicting dancers and musicians. There are paintings of dancing women in the caves of Tassili, Algeria, and in 500 BC the Etruscans depicted them dancing on wall frescoes.

Some dances imitate animals or are intended to ensure that something will happen. For example, ancient hunters appear in cave paintings dancing wearing animal skins and masks. We can safely assume that this was to ensure good hunting. The dances that pamper the harvest must also be of ancient origin. Over time they have become folk dances rather than sacred dances.

The Sacred Dance is preceded by elaborate secret preparations, such as bathing, avoiding certain foods and drinks, and sexual intercourse. There may be times of intense prayer and trance-inducing substances.

One of the best sacred dances in Europe is the one associated with the worship of the Greek god Dionysus. Rituals in his honor included orgies, animal sacrifices, excessive drinking of wine, and trance dancing until the dancers collapsed from exhaustion.

Judaism had no problem associating dance with worship. Psalm 150 for example:- “Praise the Lord… Praise Him with timbrel and dance.” King David is said to have toured in front of the Ark of the Covenant. In the Talmud dancing is described as the main function of angels.

Dance was part of the early Christian church service. It was performed in the choir and led by the bishop. Today there are Christian churches that are resuming the dance, sometimes in a very conscious style.

Sacred Dance can be therapeutic in itself.

The Shakers, descendants of the Quakers, were brought to America from England in 1774 by Ann Lee. One vision told him that sex was the source of humanity’s problems. He created a closed community that practiced self-sufficiency and communal ownership of all property. The Shakers had a deep understanding of the aesthetics of simplicity that they displayed in all aspects of their lives.

Shaker dances were performed in the evening. Men and women entered the hall one by one. They tiptoed in and formed two rows facing each other about five feet apart. The men were on the right and the women on the left. The Grand Master stood in the middle and gave a five-minute speech. At the end he said: “Go, old man, young man and maiden, and worship God in the dance with all your strength.” Men and women did not mix. There were pauses to see if anyone had received a ‘gift’. Then the two sisters closed their eyes and began to spin like tops. They continued to walk around for about 15 minutes when they suddenly stopped and sat down again.

There are no longer viable Shaker communities and so the dances have disappeared. A certain number of their hymns, however, continue to be sung in many other churches.

An ancient Sacred Dance tradition continues today in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa. Sufis (who represent the mystical side of Islam) have round dances. In Turkey the tradition is Celaleddin Mevlana Rumi who died in 1273. His son organized his followers into the brotherhood of whirling dervishes known today as the Mevlevi.

When Atatürk gained political power in the early years of the 20th century, he abolished the order of dervishes and turned the monasteries into museums. They were revived in 1957.

The importance of the dervish dance is related to the sun, moon and revolving stars. Parents wear clothes with symbolic meaning. The tall conical felt hats represent gravestones and thus the death of the dancers’ egos. The white robes represent the fabrics around their ego. The flowing black capes symbolize the dancers trapped in worldly graves.

The dance is accompanied by the reed flute. After a series of rituals, worshipers reach a point where they are simultaneously spinning with their right hands palm up to receive heavenly blessings. The left hands are weakly held down to bring blessings to the ground.

Although non-participants are permitted to watch the event, the dances remain true Sacred Dances to those who participate and to many who watch. Dervish music should never be used for secular purposes, especially not to accompany oriental dance. Songs are prayers and should be respected as such.

Today Africa remains rich in the field of traditional Sacred Dance. The Yoruba people of Western Nigeria have many traditions of the dance of the gods. Some are said to be able to dance on one leg. Sango (who is associated with thunder) consulted Orunmila (who is associated with intelligence and wisdom) on how he could achieve lasting wealth. It was Orunmila’s recommendation that Sango procure a magnificent garment, on which he should sew as many cuaris as he could. Cowries were once used as currency and are therefore a sign of wealth. People who saw Sango dressed so beautifully would have assumed he was rich. Orunmila told Sango that she should dance wearing this outfit. As a result, by dancing and asking for alms, Sango became very rich. Sango priests carry axes in company or procession. Sango priests wear feminine hairstyles, beads around their necks and earrings during festivals. Sangora dances are very fast and athletic. All gods have their dances. Not being able to dance is not being able to worship properly.

In Ghana I have seen young men dancing in trance and cutting themselves with sharp razors. The hard bite never broke the skin or left a mark. I have also seen the Sacred Dances of the gods of the Thunder Pantheon. Here the older women of the cult walked through the crowd making suggestive gestures with a wooden phallus. The show was supposed to be fun and it was. There were also presidios who changed the sand with white chalk powder in their hands. Anyone could come to watch the dances, showing proper respect to the deity. This meant that both men and women had to be bare-headed. Men had to tie the cloths around their waists to be bare-chested and women had to tie them under their armpits.

West African Sacred Dances are usually danced outdoors at night. Dancers enter the circular dance area and leave as they see fit. They may all be dancing the same steps but each dancer expresses them in their own way. Everyone dances in a group but has their own “space” inside. Dancer and choreographer are one and the same person.

Africa is in serious danger of losing its Sacred Dances because the number of people adhering to traditional religions is decreasing. Only cult members can dance the Sacred Dances. Members of Christian churches and Followers of Islam have not always, unsurprisingly, been expressly prohibited from participating in any Sacred Dance and the number of converts is increasing. Some Christian churches allow a certain amount of drumming and dancing during services. Both drumming and dancing have little “life force” or visual and aural interest. Musicians are beginning to create new authentic African sacred songs for the church. If anyone knows of choreographers working to create contemporary African Sacred Dance, I would love to hear about it.

Cults need younger members. If they are not realized, the Sacred Dances will not evolve in their true context. Dances will disappear or become a shadow of them as social dances danced for the enjoyment of all and sundry.

I have written very little, in fact, about music that is equally important to dance. Music is a subject in itself. If you are interested in African Rhythms, I suggest you get “An Approach to African Rhythm” by Dr. Seth Cudjoe, published by the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon.

The Sacred Dances of Bali, Indonesia are a beautiful manifestation of prayer. Wali Sacred Dances are inextricably linked to the rites of the same name. They are performed on the first day of a ritual, in the inner courtyard of the temple.

Sanghyang Dedari and Sanghyang Jaran are both Sacred Dances. I witnessed Sanghyang Dedari where two little girls danced in a trance mirroring each other’s movements. Their eyes were wide open but they didn’t seem to see anything. At the end of the dance they were brought out of their trance by a priest dressed in white who sprinkled them with holy water.

Sanghyang Jaran is a very impressive dance in which a young man wears a belt with a horse’s head woven from coconut shells. A priest put this young man in a trance. Then he ran like a horse into the coconut shell fire. Then he stood still for a while before jumping around. It was then taken out of the fire and the burning skins gathered together again before the youth danced into the fire. The third time he did this he sat on the embers and rolled around. At some crucial moment, the onlookers, who were not identified, cleaned the young dancer and helped her out of her trance.

The Balinese are Hindu gentlemen and the tradition of Sacred Dance is still treasured, cherished and a part of everyone’s life.

Let’s hope that in the parts of the world where there is still real Sacred Dance, it will not degenerate into a show where we want to affect the audience rather than the spiritual world.

If you have any comments or questions, I will be happy to hear from you. You can contact me through my website.

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