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 The Alchemy of Dance

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PostSubject: The Alchemy of Dance   Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:53 am

Alchemy can take many forms. In essence, it is the process of transformation or transmutation. Like an algebraic equation it is very basic, yet fixed. As we insert an infinite number of variables, we arrive at infinite possible outcomes; yet all of them have passed through the same process or equation. The fact that it is so basic is what makes alchemy applicable to everything around us.

The period of time in which we are living is a very significant period in history. We are approaching the end of a great spiritual cycle. We are in the ‘quickening’ phase just before birth. People are going through huge spiritual transformations in order to prepare for this birth. It is only natural that many new forms of “alchemy” arise aiding us in this transition. Each individual constitutes a variable; using our equation, each person can attain the gold in their own personal way.

Alchemy need not be restricted to the lab; we can find it “in vivo” in all aspects of life. The Alchemy of Dance is a process of transformation by the transmutation of energy and spiritual awareness through movement. In this type of alchemy, the body, and more specifically the womb, becomes the alchemical vessel. This is merely the first phase of a larger process called the Universal Dancer, smaller cycles within a larger cycle creating the spiral to the infinite.

The last card of the Tarot, the Universe, is often referred to as the Universal Dancer. It is the point where we are fully integrated with all of life and dance with the Universe. In the Alchemy of Dance, the first stage of Universal Dancer, we explore the feminine side of this aspect. We do this by dancing the subtle earth rhythms and reconnecting with the divine feminine through Sacred Dance. The woman prepares her body to become the vessel, the primordial waters for birthing the masculine or manifested (Self/Horus).

The origins of Sacred Dance date back to the beginning of time. Most tribal cultures still maintain some type of Sacred Dance. It may be performed by shamans or tribal members depending on the intention behind the dance. Tribal cultures still maintain the connection to the earth. Whether it is conscious or unintentional, it still exists. Research has been done confirming the healing properties of this type of dance.

The form of Sacred Dance used in the Alchemy of Dance dates back to the High Priestesses of Dendara Temple north of Luxor, near Nag Hammadi, in Egypt. It is shown in the picture above. Dendara Temple is one of the few remaining temples in which priestesses practiced. It was a temple devoted to the worship of Hathor (Venus/Taurus/Mother Earth/the Sacred Cow/Empress). The word “Hat-hor” actually means “house of Horus.” Horus is the archetype of the Initiate/Hero/Spiritual Warrior/Fool/the Dancer. The house of Horus is where the initiate is gestated or is born/reborn/transformed; it is the alchemical vessel, the womb.

The priestesses of Dendara were well known for being alchemists, healers and sacred prostitutes. They followed the path of Isis (Virgo/High Priestess/the Sacred Prostitute/the Virgin). Isis served as a High Priestess for the neter Hathor (The word “neter” in the ancient Egyptian language, has been mistranslated by archeologists as “god” or “goddess.” The word “neter” actually means aspect, and can be used as archetype or vibration.) Behind Hathor’s Temple (shown below) is a smaller temple devoted to Isis.

Although the word prostitute now carries a negative connotation, it was then highly regarded as a path to enlightenment. These women exemplified the complete merging of the sexual/spiritual energy known as the kundilini or sekhem. Through their practices they were able to transform and heal. Once attaining a high level of mastery they were then able to initiate men through sacred sex.

Alchemy through dance is a very natural way of reuniting the sexual/spiritual energy for one good reason; you can feel it! We do this not just through movement, but by reconnecting to the original archetypes. In the first stage of the greater alchemical work of Universal Dancer (The Alchemy of Dance), we work to reunite the feminine aspects. We do this by invoking the energies of Isis and Nephthys, the two polarities of the feminine. This is why the first stage is only taught to women. The masculine polarity (Osirus) only exists here in spirit.

Once the feminine aspects unite, together they collect and “re-member”, or rebirth the masculine. Once this has happened, and the healing has occurred, then both the masculine and feminine are prepared for the sacred marriage. The Dance of the Sun and the Moon is the second path of the Universal Dancer.

Personally, this process unfolded for me (and continues to unfold) after an initiation in Luxor. In the first stages, I began to develop a sensitivity and attunement to the natural rhythms of the earth; this turned into movement, then the possibilities were endless. The process I teach in the Alchemy of Dance mirrors exactly the process I went through as it unfolded. I teach using this “divine” syllabus.

The initial connection to the earth is very grounding and healing on a purely physical level. Connecting to the earth in such away allows us to bring in energy as well as discharge unhealthy energy, a process well known to practitioners of yoga and martial arts. This basic process, on its own, can be used as a form of healing for ourselves or for others.

The movements used are very basic. What remains of this type of dance is very similar to modern day Middle Eastern or Belly Dancing. As with most esoteric knowledge, being shrouded in a playful or entertaining way has preserved it. What differs is that the Universal Dancer is danced for expression rather than performance. The similarities are on mainly the external or visible level. Although most Belly Dancers are not aware of the esoteric side of the dance, the engaging of this sexual energy can be quite obvious.

On the energetic level, the movements allow us to move the energy from the earth through our bodies and discharge it back to the earth. At this level, the energy loop is created between the woman and the earth. This is the first transmutation and it occurs in many ways. We are able to take the actual rhythm or pulsations emanating from the earth, the sine waves if you like, and amplify them through our bodies.

This is the same process used by musicians in playing or composing music. The musician is merely tapping into the earth rhythm and amplifying that wave on his instrument. In the case of Sacred Dance, the instrument is our body. Just as different waves may be played on different instruments, different waves resonate in different parts of our bodies. In time, we can play an entire piece of music (or mirror of the earth rhythm) on our bodies, allowing the different instruments to resonate in different parts of our bodies. This is a beautiful and wonderful experience, one that incorporates the dimension of sound into the experience as well.

We can use the music as the guide on our journey. But the journey can also be traveled in silence. It is not necessary to dance to external music. And like “intoning” the approaching but not releasing of sound may actually intensify the experience. We simply dance to whatever rhythm is emanating from the earth. To do this takes a great deal of sensitivity, a sensitivity that can be acquired or developed. It is much simpler to just take a piece of music, which is already amplifying the rhythm, and dance to that. The process of “intoning” the dance has other lessons to teach us.

I came upon this experience by “chance.” One evening I was dancing and noticed that as I moved around the room I could feel different energy patterns emanating from the ground. Curious, I continued to move around the room. I realized that I could “dance the room.” I then did this with music as well and realized that every wave pattern was present in the music. It became easy to coordinate the energy pattern emanating from the room with the music and the movement. In this case, the energy pattern was the guide as it lead me through the space. The possibilities are infinite.

The dance can be described in many ways. It begins as a creative and fun process and moves to deeper and deeper levels as we begin to dance with intention and awareness. It is a meditative experience taking us to a place of “no-mind” in which we are completely detached and completely present at the same time. In this state of “no-mind” our intuition and awareness are heightened (very similar to the state women experience when we are pregnant).

The energy first moves though the legs to the root light center and then to the sacral center, hence the term “belly dancing.” The dance begins in the creative center or the vessel, the vessel for transmutation. The bringing in of the energy to the womb is preparing the matrix or primordial waters for a later “seeding” in which the masculine is born or reborn. Some of the movements are cleansing and purifying, some are energizing.

On the esoteric level, we begin as the Magician of the Tarot learning to manipulate the elements physically and energetically. Each element - fire, earth, water and air - has a specific movement. We begin by separating them out and experiencing each one on all levels so that we might KNOW them.

Each of the four movements has infinite aspects. They are related to specific archetypes, vibrations, elements, etc. Once we have access to this knowledge, we are able to use it to connect more deeply to the essence of the movement as well as invoke the power behind it. It is then that we are ready to recombine it back into the larger picture, the dance, so that each time we dance we are recreating the Universe in a moment.

For anyone who has not danced with the Universe, it is a beautiful and creative experience. Training will elevate the experience but anyone can peek behind the curtain. Just find some primal, tribal, heavy drum music; turn off the lights; and, like the bat, just follow your radar and fly!

Leslie Zehr has lived in Egypt for almost 20 years where she teaches dance to foreign as well as Egyptian women. Based on her experiences, she has developed this method of teaching dance and esoteric wisdom (www.UniversalDancer.com). As well as teaching internationally, she works as a Holistic Therapist. She is a certified Aromatherapist, Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master with Diplomas in Homeopathy, Sandplay therapy and a B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Tech where she also studied Biochemistry. Her Shamanic work with plants has led her to develop a line of Egyptian Flower and Sacred Sites Remedies which hold the energy of Egypt herself and can be used for transformational and alchemical healing (www.EgyptianFlowerRemedies.com).

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