Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Moving with Myth

In ritual embodiment, we connect with the archetypes in order to integrate their characteristics into our selves - for inspiration, healing, problem-solving, creativity, or just personal growth. Several keys give us access to the archetypes, such as the mythic tales and legends told about them, and the artistic interpretation of these myths in sculpture and painting. These serve as springboards for a wonderful journey & creative process that unfolds in a ritual embodiment session.

I have always sought ways to bridge the archetypes to embodiment and movement; to open them up as sources of inspiration for dancers and non-dancers and to mine their rich psychic content. I like to joke around that my ritual embodiment work flows from the same spirit as childhood dress-up. When we dressed up in our mothers' finery and jewels, we felt grown-up, glamorous, more powerful. The same goes for ritual embodiment.

We "try on" the Goddess' persona in creative phases ranging from group construction of Her shrine to ritual adornment in Her colors, scents and accessories. All this preparation signals to the psyche that the stage is set for much deeper work.

In mythic tales of Artemis and Athena, we meet the "helper" aspects of two mighty Goddesses who come to the aid of mortals in extreme circumstances. Artemis is a champion of women, illustrated in the story of the princess Iphigenia. About to be sacrificed by her father King Agamemnon for the safe passage of his fleet, her mother pleads with her to flee. Instead, Iphigenia accepts her fate for the good of her people, and at the moment of sacrifice, Artemis appears "Deusa ex Machina" and whisks Iphigenia away to safety. Athena is called the "champion of heroes" and appears with alternative strategies and magical tools to help heroes outsmart their foes. She counselled Perseus to use her shield as a mirror which let him kill Medusa without looking directly at her, and tells the exhausted Herakles to use one of the Nemean lion's own claws to kill it.

So I ask participants to think of something in their lives for which they are making great sacrifices and to bring that to Artemis. I lead them through ritual dance sequences evocative of the Goddess' physical traits and actions. Instinct is awakened through animal sequences and deeply rhythmic, shamanic music. Metaphorical bow and arrow in hands, I ask them to think of how they want to "make their mark" and to ask the Goddess to steady their aim, sharpen their focus, and add Her strength to the release of willpower. I ask the participants to stand tall in their power with Athena, credited with the invention of the chariot. I invite women to dance the dynamics of the chariot with me. Powerful, heroic music drives our motions - the summoning and directing of great forces to an ultimate goal. What great dreams, plans, visions do they want to achieve? Which forces must they harness? How cathartic is that battle-cry? How sweet is victory?

It all manifests in a session of Ritual Embodiment. The music, the myths, the movements, the costumes, the dreams, the possibilities that open up in a ritual state. Our sessions culminate in Goddess Photography, whereby women get a chance to create a Goddess portrait of themselves embodying the Goddess and crystallizing the effects of the intensive in their very own work of art, reflecting to themselves, the Goddess and the world the changed they underwent throughout the Ritual Embodiment sessions. When you begin to move with the myths, the myths begin to move with you. When you begin to embody the Goddess, She will also embody you, and a part of Her will stay with you forever.

Sacha channeling mighty Athena
Nicola channeling instinctual Artemis

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