June 20, 2009

Day 11 Karma Yoga- Dancing for Peace

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It was also the day of the annual Planetary Dance, an event which has been inspired and enacted by Anna Halprin, for the last 29 years. The ritual started as a way of reclaiming a mountain. A community sat helplessly enraged by the theft of this mountain. The mountain was stolen by fear. Over a 2 year period 7 womyn were murdered on the trails. Eventually the risk was deemed too great and the park surrounding the mountain was closed. Mt Tamalpais, a mountain said to be a princess who vowed to lie down and turn herself to rock, earth and vegetation until peace reigned, stood silent. Anna and Lawrence Halprin decided it was time to reclaim the land for the people, for peace. They asked permission to enter the park and perform ritual. This ritual was enacted over several days, and included walks along the very trails where the womyn's lives were taken. Family members were present to plant trees, read poems, perform ritual, all to help heal the wounds of violence, disempowerment, and deep loss. Within a week the man who had chosen to murder these 7 womyn was captured.

Anna was quick to dispel the idea that the ritual had created this magical net. She instead spoke to the power of prayer, that when we join voices and hearts, and stand atop a mountain asking for peace, God provides. It may not always be in the way we ask for it, but she provides all the same. This ritual was continued on the advice of a Shaman. At first it was to be for 5 years. Eventually it grew from a ritual of peace for the mountain, to a ritual of peace for the world and has run for 29 years. People have come from Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa to participate, helping the dance to become truly a Planetary Dance.

The dance is done in three parts. In the first we were to speak aloud before entering the circle, calling out the name of someone in need of support in their healing journey, what they suffer from and wish for all those who suffer from the same to find healing. I called out My Beloved husbands name, and asked that all that are recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brain injuries and depression be healed. I entered the circle and ran as hard as I could, round and round and round the circle. Feeling the pain, his mine, the worlds. And ended up behind a man whose shirt read;

“Beauty can never be denied. For it will always always recognizes itself“

This allowed me to slow down, became my mantra for the rest of this part of the ritual. How profound, how simple...how very very beautiful.

For the second round, we entered the circle after making a promise to create change. It is 3 days from the new moon, summer solstice, and I was standing on a powerful mountain, involved in a ritual which has been enacted for 29 years by thousands of people. I stood and committed;

”I promise to fully accept my sexuality as the divine gift it is and to help others do the same“

As I stood to run, I nearly lost consciousness. I saw a light flash behind my eyes and a burning release in my throat. I felt as though I was suspended in the air and that it was carrying me round the circle. Something happened, I don’t know what was, but it was not in any way ordinary. This time I slowed down quickly and walked very very slowly. There were singers in the middle of the circle,they began to croon;

”This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine“

My mantra for the second part of the ritual.

The third part of the ritual was for the children. We ran round the circle playing, acting like animals. We sang we danced, we were all children.

Today my Karma yoga was dancing for peace. Peace for myself, for this neighbour nation, for the world.

When I left Planetary Dance I gave the journal to performance poet Jahan Khalighi, the grandson of Anna Halprin, the son of one of my teachers at the Tamalpa Institute Daria Halprin. He has been raised round ritual his whole life. He read a poem during the invocation. A poem I heard, yet strangely I could not tell you more than a spattering of the words, because more than heard it, I felt it. His voice and words dripped down my spine and brought my body alive, similar to the feeling of stepping into the ritual circle that second time. I saw him the moment I arrived at the dance, he was getting out of his car. I didn’t know who he was but I knew I would ask him to take today's journal. After I heard him speak I still didn’t know exactly why, but I had more of an idea. I secretly hope he writes his poem inside the journal. For his poetry to grace the pages of 12 days journal #68 would be such a great honour. The question he will be answering is ”What is the importance of ritual?“. I imagine him to be an expert on the topic.

I need to add, before I go, something for David Carpenter. I hope wherever you are now, that you too have found peace. A few of the steps I took today were for you David. Everyone one deserves peace, indeed the only way it can be truly found is by wishing it for ALL others.

1 comment:

  1. That's a tough question to answer. I think that there are people who actually don't adhere to ritual ever, because the structure and framework just don't do anything for them. Also, people do without it and it's not a good thing for them to do without. But I will stick with what it does/doesn't do for me.

    At times in my life, ritual has been important in terms of giving me a sense of stability and regularity. When my life has gotten truly chaotic and out of control, continuing one with the rituals, even just the daily routine type of ritual, enabled me to keep going and feel like there really was something stable and regular about my life, that all was NOT chaos after all. I think it's very important to me in that sense.

    I'm also coming to realize just how important it is to me in a more spiritual and symbolic sense. I was completely and entirely skeptical about the symbolism involved the first time I walked a labyrinth. I was impressed with the IDEA of how it works, but I don't think I honestly believed that it WOULD work for me. I was amazed when it actually did, and that got me thinking more deeply about the importance of symbolic ritual. I'm now exploring it in many facets of my life and realizing how much it really helps me. I find myself looking excitedly around the next corner, wondering if the next big thing is something I can create a ritual out of, or something that needs the help of ritual to deal with, etc. LOL.

    A friend and I were talking about ritual recently. She said she doesn't engage in it much because usually she can just ponder a situation, reach some kind of peace about it, and then let it go. In most things, I can usually do the same. But I'm the kind of person who feels very deeply, and sometimes there are things that deeply affect me and I can't seem to let go of. I'm finding that ritual has really, really helped me to find peace and let go of some of the bigger things that have come my way that have robbed me of peace.

    Ritual has helped me to grow as a human being, to find deeply, longer-lasting peace, and helped me stay true to my path.