The Dance

For three days everything in my body and everything swirling around me said, “Be still.”

So I did. I waited and I listened.

Today, there was an old corn-dance song straining at my soul all morning: first the call, then the answer. ‘Round about two o’clock, everything told me to dance.[1] It called—I answered.

Whether it was the moon or the storm or the thin-veil, I got the urge to dance in the middle of a Monday. So I lit a fire.

When I was little, I always looked at the women dancing with shells tied to their knees and wanted to feel the weight of a turtle-bunch on my scrawny legs. But I was told, “No, no. Little girls keep to the outside.” Never as close to the fire as I wanted to be, always feeling the desire to be in the thick of it, I kept my distance. I knew my place.

I closed my eyes and sang the call as best I remembered: “Ay-ay-hey-ya-hey-ha-ho’oh.” Shy and foreign at first, stronger as I recalled the sensation of the vowels as they slide from front to back. A few minutes in, something somewhere answered. Then it didn’t matter that I thought I couldn’t remember the call, that I thought these things were permanently lost from my tongue, that I was never the one old enough (or male enough) to call, something called out of me. And I knew my place.

I was moving in a circle, nearer the fire than I had ever been allowed. And though I was entirely alone, my mind saw the men move one way, the women another. Our bodies, a living kaleidoscope.

The dance is subtle. It’s not the whooping-and-hollering of Hollywood. But you prolly knew that. It’s meditative; sometimes somber, sometimes celebratory. But never all bluster and flare. That’s for tourists.

And I can’t say it’s unlike the dance of the church of my youth. I was practically raised in a Pentecostal church. Wednesday nights, twice on Sunday, choir practice, Bible study, revival, Jesus Camp. Summers we spent back on the old stomping grounds, or what’s left of them, in North Alabama. The pulsating rhythm and undulating repetition, the nearly serpentine effect of spirit-dancing is the same in many cultures. The shell-shaking Stomp-Dance and vocalizations of ancient prophesy, or the tambourine jangling spirit-dance and tongue-speaking of the Charismatic. Though I’ve never been ridden in the same sense as a Voudouisant, I have given over to prophesy as oracle and I have been “slain” as they say.[2] Today I felt them all converge in my body.

Robert Mirabel, a Pueblo musician with whom I fell in love after hearing “Tony and Allison”[3] over a decade ago, sings of “The Dance”[4]:

When there is doubt, there is hope
When there is fear, there is love
When there is hate, there is peace
When there is suffering, there is the dance

When I first heard the lyrics, I thought, “Doubt = hope, fear = love, hate = peace?” My mind ran to the idea of balance: Where there is one, there is the contrasting. And then when he said: “When there is suffering, there is the dance.” I understood. “I dance to dance a dance of peace.

Today I am surrounded by the hate of another’s darkness, directed at me because I protected someone she would see exterminated.

Today, I danced a dance of protection and weaved an ancestral web—a real one this time—around a broken heart in need of a little space for healing.

“Where there is suffering, there is the dance.”

Get up and move your feet, ya’ll. I’ve got a beautiful birdie here with a battered wing, dance with me a spell and help her fly?

Wæs hail!


[1] It was on my calendar to dance today as I typically take a belly-dancing lesson with my daughter on Mondays. It didn’t happen the way I thought it would.

[2] Even as a practicing Pagan, I found profound spiritual experiences in a Christian prayer-line. The Laying on of Hands seems to transcend religious doctrine.

Those who say this is a purely psychological event have obviously never experienced it firsthand. Those who have experienced it in non-Christian settings and still deride it oughtta be ashamed.

[3] All lyrics from: Robert Mirabel. Mirabel. Warner Brothers. 1997.

[4] Here he is Though his culture and mine are separated by chasms of time and space, there is something transcendental about The Dance.


4 thoughts on “The Dance

  1. lol the moon’s pull is strong today, I blogged it too. May your dance be fruitful and the little one healed, and whatever other stuff is going on, I hope that gets sorted!

  2. Pingback: The Undreaded Dread Pirate Roberts « The Bad Witch Files

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