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Posts Tagged ‘dance’

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Recently, a dear friend of mine reminded me about the eventual effects of continuing to make withdrawals on those reserves that make you more fully human and not compensating with the appropriate deposits of what feeds that humanity. As you fill your coffers with spiritual tools and resources there has to be a point of counter balance (note I did not say equanimity) of what anchors you in this lifetime’s experience of manifest reality and all that goes into the informing of that life. This is not a new conceptualization of the need for renewal but one that we often overlook relying solely on the belief that the Universe will provide all that we need. The Universe does supply, but we are also tools of attraction, so if what I am setting out as the magnet of attraction is depleted in what makes me fully human than the spiritual resources I attract will not have the maximum potency of effect.

Being the driven and disciplined (or perhaps conditioned) individual that I am it is not uncommon for me to completely forget my physical needs in deference to the path of service and work that I wish to do. There are many forms of conditioned response we establish as we mature so it would be easy for me to blame conditioned response in this case from years of self-abuse as a classical ballet dancer. But, that thinking would only be a small piece of a larger puzzle. Chronological time factors in to the equation, at times insidiously, and as I am getting older, the feeling that “time is running out and there is still so much spiritual work to be done” fuels the furnace of neglect of that very container that enables that work to be accomplished. After all the greatest work is that of being human and having the capabilities of a physical being. As aspiration toward perfecting the spirit grows in urgency (very different word from Informed Will) this human aspect of our being can largely go completely unfed.

The irony is that I know all of these things and yet, somehow, I still do not consider my own human needs to be of the same importance as my spiritual. You could think of this as basking too long in the fullness of the sun’s light which dehydrates and burns the flesh that is the necessary container used to experience the pleasure of sun bathing The trick is to come to a point where the shade and shelter that is needed is derived from the physical/manifest sunblock that has been applied with each physical connection that allows us to safely enjoy and be rejuvenated by the brilliance of spiritual light.

In thinking about the reminder given and the need for restoration my plan is to reconnect to those things that brought me pleasure and fed my physical senses at a time when I was more wholly in touch with myself, and the experience of my human nature.

Reading Readiness

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I love to read and for over a decade the “soul” source of the tomes have been non-fiction geared and carefully selected to inform my teaching and broaden my base of knowledge. So, for me, returning to a place of reading simply for the pure joy of losing yourself in the story means reading a fiction book. I have always loved everything about books and my rule of thumb has been the smaller the print and the thicker the book all the better. I worked as a page at our local library as my first teenage job and reveled in the smell of hardbound books, the feel of holding the book in your hands and turning each page not knowing what great adventure would continue written on its surface.

When you read non-fiction as a steady diet there is a decided difference in how you perceive the world around you. Suddenly, everything becomes a petri dish ready for examination. Even in the process of testing and questioning the facts obtained, it is still through the lens of the observer. Imagination may enter the equation, but the end goal is in seeking the truth. Taking a breather from this constant scrutiny offers opportunity for unstructured imagination to flow and awakening the space for languid and fantastic inner journeys. Ironically, listening to the wisdom of your own psyche will usually give you clue when its time to ease off. The periods of time where I simply could not read another book have been more frequent. Over saturation is the way I would describe it. Forcing the issue just results in having to reread what you set to because nothing is sticking. Time to “un-think” the diet and re-introduce some new foods.

I remembered how much I enjoyed reading the Anne Rice novels and the chapters I’ve read so far of the new series have been great.

Color It Simple

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One of my favorite pastimes as a child and young adult was to color. A new box of 96-color crayons or colored pencils was my idea of visual and tactile delight. The kinesthetic quality enforced my appreciation of the skill and deftness of hand required. Engaging my visual sensitivities in the selection and matching of colors opened a new frame of reference about the varied tones, hues, shades and values available in this rich palette. The products of these experiences took the forms of embroidery, sewing, drawing and painting. Using this tool of expression I could control the result while allowing the inventive energy to flow and a single brushstroke or stitch done differently would completely alter the visual impact of the finished product. A trip to AC Moore and our basement (our eldest daughter is a Visual Artist) provided me with everything I will need to dive back into this place of renewal. A coloring book of Mandalas and a Paint-By-Number Owl should be a good start.

The Gift of Music

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Music has always been a part of my daily life. There was a time when I would sit quietly day dreaming as I listened to my favorite composition. The sound would carry me into my own world of creative imagination and the effect was soothing and renewing regardless of the intensity or anguish of the tones I was hearing. I realized that for some time now, music has become the habitual background that plays on even though I am not focused in the listening. I do use music and sound regularly, the singing bowl, drum or correct tonal frequency to effect and stimulate spiritual growth; but, rarely just for the pure joy of surrendering myself to the sensation without expectation and intent. I thought back to the type of music I used to listen to that commanded my attention- and imagination. I downloaded some of my favorite bands and set off on a journey that took me where it willed and called up the visceral physical and emotional response in the memory of how much pleasure I had derived from it originally.

Dance Like No One is Watching

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And, finally I return to what made me feel most alive and fully connected to my physicality and transcendence of its limitations. For me this is the ultimate test in turning off the critic, teacher, choreographer and goal of perfection (very human, though non-productive human responses) and allowing my body to move in a response that is purely of its own making. This is the exhilarating joy of painting a vision of space and energy crafted by the interaction of the physical form moving on a canvas that is limitless.

When I was performing, the rehearsal studio was Sacred Space and the theater was the Temple that called out to those appreciative of the art form. As we prepared backstage and transformed into whatever role was to be played, you could feel the palpable effect of this transformation on yourself and knew that any who were witness would for that brief amount of time be carried with you into the realm of imagination and forever changed because of it. For me, this is the space of interface between spirit and human.

I am older now, and joints often hurt, and muscle memory can be a real pain (literally), but none of those things can prevent me from reconnecting to that part of me that is most human. The soul infused abandon interwoven with the physicality of manifest form is the gold bullion that’s a valuable asset of deposit in both my spiritual and human banks.

Ready for What’s In-Coming!

For now, my Great Work of Spirit is to be receptive and aware of feeding what connects me to Humanity. To enjoy the flow of in coming experience that is self-initiated, physically driven. The “fun” part of the journey is to explore the potential held in nurturing a space of joy and levity in fostering a deeper appreciation of the gift of being fully present in that human experience. This is what sustains when times become challenging both mundanely and spiritually.

So, next you hear the phrase that you “are a spiritual being having a human experience” don’t forget about tending to all the needs of that human experience. Allow your senses to open to receiving the in coming flow of your own humanity.

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The arts have run through my veins like life giving blood from the earliest time I can remember.  My grandmother danced me to sleep as a baby and I was surrounded by music, art, dance, writing and a mother and grandmother who knew the value of their mystical worth. That spiritually artistic environment helped me to create my own way of moving through the physical world, and although I did not completely realize the intrinsic connection to a path of magick, I saw beauty, energy and form in the places that most do not realize it. I believe the fabric of the human soul and consciousness is fed by the stream of artistic endeavors and creative actions that surround and permeate our every moment, whether consciously or at the subtle levels of our responses.  In retrospect, this belief and the foundation from which it was created has been the singular thread that has punctuated all of my life’s experiences both magickally and mundane.

I am a visual kinesthetic learner; meaning that I learn best when visually engaged and am able to act out or move in accord with what is being taught. Most magickal workers are visual kinesthetic in their basic learning style.  This mode of learning and processing is also the underpinning of most artistic experience.  The Arts stimulate the senses and open and awaken the neural pathways to respond in a more dynamic way. This stimulation in turn causes a tactile response; integrating and responding to the experience through the process of doing.  Add the visual component and you have the key ingredients of magickal practice.  Learning through doing and visualizing intent-fully what is sought to be brought into manifestation.

We hone these skills through access, albeit at times unconsciously to the themes of artistic expression that surrounds us daily.  The term “Circle of Art” gives some indication of the potency of artistic expression that is called upon when crafting the work of magick.  It is within this circle of continuum that we use sound, movement, dramatic intent and create the painting of vision of what we desire.

It is scientific fact that the brain responds in accord with the and signature of rhythm that is provided it.  If we look at this response using the definition of art it is clear why so many of these forms of creative beauty are used to access the deeper response of the soul and elevate conscious awareness to a place of inspiration.  Music is used as therapy to heal, calm and stimulate function because of this innate resonance of the neural pathways to specific electrical patterns.  Visual Art evokes emotion through use of color, tone and hue; again creating specific patterns of vibratory resonance and the geometric or non-linear method of structure produces its own set of stimuli for the brain to respond or react to.  Movement or Dance catches us in the wave of energy produced by the fluctuation, ebb and flow of carving out shapes within the fabric of space and the auditory response to the music accompanying this pattern of vibration creates a new set of rhythmic response.  Theater and Drama allow us to step into the roles of fantasy and myth, try on different personas or live through the experiences being portrayed giving us respite from the routine experience.

Dance:

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 o beautiful elongated neck, breath 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.

Drama:

One of my first workshops was entitled: Ritual Drama. We began with discussion of how adding a dramatic (or theatrical) approach to the myths, celebrations and stories of the Sabbats.  These stories enacted were not only the vehicles for enlivening our own inner creative nature but served to draw out these same qualities within those who were witnessing these plays.   We enacted the celebration of Yule and the battle of the Holly and Oak kings.  Emphasis was on projecting the voice and calling up the energy of the role and story you were portraying from the center of the solar plexus and the throat chakra centers.  We had no costumes, just imagination and the desire to embody what was to be portrayed.  Each word, each gesture had its own meaning of significance and each imparted its own wisdom etched into the consciousness.

Music:

Music soothes the soul, quiets the mind and sets the listener in a space of tranquility and peace. Music unleashes the prime instinctual nature and rouses the passions, spirit and emotions of the listener to a place of alertness and action.  Music inspires what will become art or a piece f great writing.  Music links the atoms and cells of its vehicle in grace and fluid motion, or syncopated frenzy.  Music beats out the rhythm of the heart and carries the journeyer to realms hidden and remote holding treasures of deeper mystery.  Music carves its way through the energetic fields surrounding and like the ephemeral flutter of butterfly wings, lightly etches its feathery strokes;  forever changing all in its path.

Art:

One of my daughters is an artist.  Her work is inspired y the spiritual nature of humanity.  She is often lost in the work she produces as slender hand sketches, paints and adds life to what she creates.  The visual image is a powerful tool in magickal work.  We use statues, magickal tools, candles, amulets, altars and more to bring our intent into a place of manifestation.  We empower sigils and glyphs to hold the energy they have been created to embody and we garb ourselves in the dress and style of the magick we work as form of identification.  Underlying all of these actions is the universal principle of attraction and the resonation of like with like to produce a synthesized and cohesive newly created product.

When you read her artist’ statement below, you have a sense of what is the intent for the work to be viewed. The interesting thing about this is that this statement will vary as the artist finds new routes and methods of expression each having been formulated from the foundation of the other.

My work is centered on the relationship between the human body and his/her psychological environment. The paintings store an energy and imprint of the moments in which it was made, a physical manifestation of the urge to create. The images serve as a mirror for the psyche of the viewer. Art as a viewing and making process can raise awareness and restore the unconscious struggle for internal/external union. In understanding our inner components that give way to the whole of ourselves, the better we can empathize, accept, and co-exist with our fellow man… Caitlin Fennelly, M.F.A.

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Image: Bodhissatva by Caitlin Fennelly

Art can convey the line and flow of the alchemical elements.  Color and the vibration emitted from each create imprints upon minds and are translated into our emotional stores to be accessed on mundane and spiritual work.  We are surrounded by color in varied hue and tone and the simple act of walking into a room painted in one color versus another can stir the memories of associated emotions stored as response to that particular color’s vibration.  The painting below is one I used for the cover of my book, The Elemental Year.  I had asked my daughter to paint something evocative of the four elements that would conjure the necessary connections at a subtle level. This is the power of the visual arts and their subtle yet profound impact on the way in which you in turn visualize the world around you.  This is the magick of creation pouring from one vessel into the next and available to quench the thirst of all who desire its sweet nectar.

AT10zb97Sb7Vh0jaImage: Triad by Caitlin Fennelly

Literature:

The tactile sensation of typing or putting pen to paper transfers the energy of the writer to whatever is receiving his/her imprint.  We are often told to read between the lines and in magickal terms this is more accurate than may seem.  There is contained within each letter put upon the page, a holographic image of its creator   Within that writer are the points of cellular light that have flowed through every individual and all matter from the beginning of time and creation.  We are accessing the core essence of what was the intent at the first inception of its creation.  We not only connect to the writer but we connect to the pure essence of the origin of concept. These are some of the great mysteries spoken of.  Not simply the material we see, but what is “hidden in plain sight”.

The Arts reach into the depths of our being and extract the essence of our true beauty and creative potential.  And, once acknowledged forever change how we perceive our world and our place within it. 

Resource:

To view more of Caitlin’s art:  click here 

This is the beginning of a series of articles about each of the Arts and their application and effects on Magick and spiritual practice.

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