“As soon as I committed myself to simply moving, letting the inside flow out, … I entered the realm of ecstatic dance.” Gabrielle Roth, Maps to Ecstasy.
Check out your reaction to this account of a ritualistic snake dance.
Ed Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness:
"I happened to glance out the little window near the refrigerator and see two gopher snakes on my veranda engaged in what seems to be a kind of ritual dance like a living Caduceus they wind and unwind about each other in undulant graceful perpetual motion moving slowly across a dome of sandstone. Invisible but tangible as music is the passion which joins them. sexual? combative? ... The two gopher snakes are nearly identical in length and coloring... they intertwine and separate, glide side-by-side in perfect congruence, turn like mirror images of each other and glide back again, wind and unwind again…. At regular intervals the snakes elevate their heads, facing one another, as high as they can go, as if each is trying to outreach or overawe the other. Their heads and bodies rise higher and higher, then topple together and the rite goes on."
Simultaneously hypnotizing and horrifying.
What is going on here? Is this a mating ritual, a duel, a show of strength, foreplay? If the two snakes are just gearing up to get it on, why not copulate and get it over with? Why all this slithering, sliding, coiling, vaulting and falling?
Whatever the meaning, with each vibration, undulation, the drama exudes primal energies of fecundity and decay, power and virility. We feel as if we are voyeurs of the simultaneously profane and sacred.
This is dance of the highest order; weaving raw passion and meaning together with symmetry, and synchronization.
The sensuality, rhythm, and vitality, is enough to make a modern interpretative dancer envious; a classical dancer blush. Another reason perhaps, why the Judeo-Christian tradition demonized snakes and banished dance. Such audacious displays of primal passion do not fit into any regimented moralistic traditions.
Our captivation and wonder at this display underscores its mystical and spiritual profundity. It connects the most primitive and sophisticated elements of existence shared by all of us, reptile and human alike.
According to one of the founders of the New Cosmology movement, Thomas Berry, the role of humanity is to mirror and give conscious expression to the processes of the universe.
If this snake dance is an expression of universal consciousness, what does it inspire us to do?
Dance of course. Tap into the primal physicality and sensuality and give it rhythmic expression. Touch on some core, raw nerve. Resonate with deep undercurrents of consciousness. Twist and churn with the cosmic wave.
The universe is in perpetual motion, forever changing and renewing. That motion, rather than being chaotic, destructive or anarchistic exhibits symmetry, diversity and interconnectedness. It cultivates mutuality, beauty and music.
When we as humans, blend together in movement and music we are merging with the core motions of reality and participating in Spirit in a healing and enriching way.
Gabrielle Roth, renowned movement therapist, healer and author, sums it up this way: “Movement has taught me all I know. And all I know is that ecstatic movement is empowering and healing.” “Egos don’t dance… They keep us from being who we are, knowing how to live and what to do, by sapping our creative power and sabotaging the authentic expressions of human energy - the dancer, the singer, the poet, the actor, the a healer.” (Maps to Ecstasy)
So I dance.
I am at times awkward but not often clumsy. My dancing may be slow but not lugubrious. I attune to the drum beat. I model the masters. And I will stay with it until I learn to writhe as the snakes, until I too feel the pulse of the universe in my heart, my veins, my motion.