Wasn't Jesus the original hippie? With his sandals, dress and kind, compassionate, tender, joyful nature? What a loaded word that is! I am oftentimes called a hippie – in some ways, I am, some not. I am an Older Mom with Young Kids and Older Kids, Four in All – Remarried, Striving to make a Step Family with Love and God's help.
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Changing the World through Dances of Universal Peace
So here’s a test for your ego.
Go outside. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and raise your arms into the air, fingers outstretched, head back, taking in the world.
Can you do it?
I mean I am working on it. Honestly, the first time I decided to try this, I could not even in my empty dog park. What if someone appeared? I would look crazy, right? Standing there with my arms in the air.
But here’s the thing.
It feels good. Doesn’t it?
It says, ‘Here I am, World! Bring it On! I am here. I am alive. I am Open.’
The ability to try new things and see things from a different perspective.
That is what I am doing with the Dances of Universal Peace. I am getting some flack from my husband, my prepubescent sons and my mother, comments on being a witch to devil worshipping to just odd. ‘What exactly are you doing out there?’ Great, my mom is outside with her friends holding hands and swaying in a circle.
When something is not the norm, aren’t you always opening yourself up to criticism? I mean forty years ago, yoga was odd in the Western hemisphere. But nowadays it is completely acceptable to stick your butt up in the air, plant your hands in front of you and walk through a Sun Salutation.
The Dances of Universal Peace are meditative, spiritual folk dances employing inspirational language and incorporating diverse world religions. My friend is leading a handful of us in these earth based celebrations during different natural cycles and events such as the new moon, full moon, equinoxes, etc.
I am digging them.
Last Sunday night, we celebrated the Full Moon in Taurus.
We walked in silence down to my neighborhood boat basin along the river. The day had been horrible weather in Illinois with a cold front moving in and tornados popping up such as the destructive one that hit in Washington, Illinois outside of Peoria.
Another friend texted me earlier saying she was thinking twice about standing out in gale force rains and wind, but I was hopeful that it was going to blow through by then.
And it did. The night was cold and cloudy, but all in all, not bad for a November night in the Midwest. The clouds of the front moved quickly, every once in awhile showing an opening for the beauty of the full moon to shine upon the river.
My friend Genis opened with individual blessings waving sage over each of us, ‘breathe in positive thoughts, breath out any negative thoughts that are no longer needed in this time and place.‘
The first song was called ‘Neesa Neesa Neesa’, a Native American song from the Seneca Nation signaling the first full moon of winter. You reach with open hands towards the moon bringing in your hands for the first stanza of ‘Neesa, Neesa, Neesa’.
On the second, you put your arms out to your sides, hands up, bank to the left and do counter clockwise swirls backward. I thought of my boys playing airplane. And then felt silly doing the same.
I also thought about visiting the Indian Reservations (that is what they were called back then in the 70’s) in Oklahoma and watching the Indian dances.
I remember watching the tourist show and feeling uncomfortable as they seemed slightly resentful and hostile. Perhaps I was imagining it, but then again, perhaps that is why the Dances of Universal Peace are participatory. Joy is emphasized not technical prowess. Which is a good thing because my voice and dance steps leave something to be desired.
But I felt a sense of kin to the beauty of an Indian dance honoring Grandmother Moon, the first full moon of winter along the banks of a river watching the rows of clouds march across the sky.
And again, I felt Open. Receptive. Alive.
Then Genis read a poem by Rumi. Ahhh, Rumi. I feel like I know you as I read so many of your sayings on Facebook. But I didn’t actually know who he is, so I googled him. I found out he was a 14th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic.
Sufi? My husband queried me afterwards and then informed me, ‘ahh, yes, an Islamic sect. This is getting even odder.’
I confess that I know very little about Sufism but I do know that Samuel Lewis, the founder of the Universal Dances of Peace was a Sufi mystic. I will have to learn more about that.
With all the words my family throws around concerning occult, wiccan, pagan, Islam, etc etc, it occurs to me what is most important is the intent.
Is your motive pure? Only you know what is in your heart. Are you a good witch or a good pagan? Bad and evil have found their way into every religion out there.
What matters not is the way you worship but that you worship and that your intent is positive.
And meanwhile, I am Open.
Open to learning.
Open to respecting other cultures and other religions. Seeing the threads that weave through all of them connecting us.
Open to throwing my hands up in the air and saying, ‘Here I am World. Bring it On!’
And if all of us did that, if all of us took the time out to stop and throw our arms up in the air, to learn different words and views from different religions, to hold hands with our neighbors and friends even while feeling a bit silly, but looking at the moon and the stars that connect us all and letting loose that inner child to airplane through the night, what kind of world would that be?
A girl can dream, can’t she.
Colette O'Neill, Innovator of Goddess Permaculture ~Plantswoman ~ Teacher ~ Writer and Photographer
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