Monday, May 25, 2015

Creative Movement Ritual - Bridging the Divide Between Body and Soul

What is Creative Movement Ritual?  It's a way to dance with your soul!

In Creative Movement Ritual, we acknowledge the interconnectedness of the various levels of Self – the physical body, the emotions, the mental processes and content, and the spiritual soul.  What happens to the body affects our emotions, which produce thoughts whose energy in turn affects our souls.  Conversely, a change in our spiritual reality can “trickle down” to our earthly, embodied selves.  The process of inspiration often works this way – a ripple in our soul, that part of us most deeply connected to the Source, can send an image flashing through our mind, which jump starts our heart’s passionate need to express it, which the body then obeys by grabbing a paint brush, tuning up an instrument, writing, singing, or dancing.

This immense and mysterious force can often be capricious, and hard to navigate.  Anyone who has suffered from writer’s block or a similar lull in creativity can attest to those frustrating moments in which nothing seems to flow and we delete drafts, rip up sketches, or throw the whole choreography away.  It feels as if the Muse has abandoned us, and the well of inspiration dried up.  Sometimes it’s good to just take a break and breathe for a while.  But anyone on the creative path will affirm that it’s hard to stay away.  When we have identified what expresses the creative desire of our souls, it is like a lifelong love affair with its ups, downs, dynamics, and cycles.  But to quit is unthinkable!

The Druids consider the force of inspiration to be sacred, and their ritual practice centers on accessing it.  They believe that it emanates from the undifferentiated field of cosmic energy that permeates all existence, and that it manifests in our creativity.  To them, our creative acts are the gifts that we offer the divine force in exchange for the inspiration it gives us. It is a two-way street, a sacred circuit to which ritual is the key.

In the wonderful book Ritual by the neo-druid priestess Emma Restall Orr, she defines ritual as “the art of taking a break” in order to recognize that everything in life is sacred.  She writes that ritual is a powerful tool for discovering how to re-program our attitudes and beliefs, which, as many of us already know, are the real engines of our destinies.  “Through images and sensations we dive into our subconscious, where we encounter and remove the layers of mud that strangle our efforts to access and express inspiration.  In ritual, we seek to connect, see, and hear clearly.  We strive to align ourselves with the contours of the Spirit in order to touch its beauty and power.” (Restall Orr 230)

With ritual, we create sacred space and time wherein we summon the courage to inhabit what Restall calls “a perfect state of being where harmony exists between the inner and outer worlds.”  To me, the perfect medium, receptacle, and expression for this harmony is the body, and this inspiration has guided me for over fifteen years.  It came to me as rather overwhelming impression – this idea that my dance movement could take on much deeper meaning and healing power if I could bypass my rational mind and dive into the mysteries of my soul, allowing its message to flow through me like a musician playing an instrument, or an oracle speaking in a temple.  As soon as I tuned into this inspiration, people, places, and things seemed to “miraculously” appear in alignment to it.  Soon after having this explosive realization, I discovered the philosophy and dance of Isadora Duncan, who believed that the “true dance is a prayer” and whose poetic movement repertory embodies this vision.  Duncan movement, gesture, and philosophy permeate my work in Creative Movement Ritual, because of the ease and clarity with which they bring about sacred states of being.

I see the body as the temple of the soul, and like many others, perceive the soul as that ethereal part of the self that transcends time and space, connecting to the powerful forces of the Earth, the Cosmos, and the vast reservoir of human history, memory, and creativity.  Having been initiated into the beauty and power of ritual through the Wiccan tradition, I had already begun to ritualize certain parts of my dance practice.  Lots of artists ritualize, even without knowing it.  The preparation of one’s working space, the tuning of one’s instruments, whatever they may be – these are all little rituals that artists engage in.  But what about consciously contacting and dialoguing with the source of inspiration?  What about making an art-form out of that contact, and trusting the Soul-Source to pour its inspiration into us?  This is the purpose of Creative Movement Ritual.

In Creative Movement Ritual, I take classical ritual structure and re-cast it to include the body’s expression at each stage.  Those stages are:

1) The shift in consciousness from mundane to sacred.
2) Creation of sacred space/time.
3) Activation of the creative vision and power of intention.
4) Contacting & dialoguing with Soul-Source.
5) Raising energy through the body’s rhythmic movement.
6) Circulating this energy along the pathway from body to soul – through the heart and mind.  This circulation of energy purifies the various levels of the body of its accumulated toxins – the metabolic toxins of the physical body, the emotional stagnancies of the heart, and the mental clutter that impedes the clear channel to the soul.
7) Receiving the soul’s inspiration.
8) Embodying and expressing this inspiration as a creative act.
9) Offering our creative act to the Soul-Source.
10) Sharing the creative act with Humanity.

All throughout this ritual experience, inspiring music, images, and stimuli are offered in order to access the emotions and imagination/creative visualization, which are then expressed through the body’s shapes, gestures, and movements.

Participants identify an intention for the Creative Movement Ritual, which at the various stages is affirmed and re-affirmed as the energy grows in purity and intensity.  In “Feminine Alchemy”, the intention centers on freeing the Self of a “lump of lead” – the excessive, stagnant emotions and thoughts which each person personally identifies in the preparatory stages of the ritual.  These stagnancies impede the connection between body and soul and block our access to inspiration, which is the “philosopher’s stone” that helps us achieve the “gold” – our creative act whose birth is made possible through the disintegration of the “lead”.

In my Goddess work, such as “Aphrohera’s Temple”, the intention centers on parting the veils between the Self and the Goddess Consciousness, so that the Goddess may pour her grace, wisdom and inspiration into our earthly temples and ennoble every part of us – our thoughts, our emotions, and our bodies.  Aphrodite opens our hearts and creativity, while Hera crowns us with a sense of divine purpose.  When they fuse as “Aphrohera”, we experience a profound sense of inner integration – one that affirms the sacred duty of opposites to complement one another.  Passion and duty, for example, do not have to be mutually exclusive.  Through Creative Movement Ritual we can show ourselves, for example, that our creative passion can and should become our duty.  We have the freedom to do that in sacred space/time – to rewrite the narratives that shape our lives, and re-program our attitudes and beliefs about our own power as women.  When we move through this process and express it creatively, we are able to give a gift back to the Universe, which accelerates the whole dynamic exchange and strengthens us on all levels.

Creative Movement Ritual operates on the principle that no matter who or what we believe in, we are the authors of our own evolution, and it is up to us to establish the vital dialogue between our earthly Selves and our eternal Souls.  We can become the inspiration we seek.  All we have to do to get started is make a move!

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