"I have invariably included dance in my methods of meditation, because there is nothing more miraculous for meditation than dancing. If you dance fully, if you dance totally, then in that dance you’re being comes out of the body. The body will go on moving in rhythm but you will experience that you are out of the body. And then your real dance begins: below, the body will go on dancing; above, you will dance. The body on the earth, you in the sky. The body in the earthly, you in the celestial. The body will dance the dance of matter; you will dance the dance of consciousness. You will become natural, the king of dancing." Enlightenment, The Only Revolution Osho"
A common thread in many ancient civilizations is sacred dance, dancing before the goddess & god as an essential element in all ritual. The rituals being of sacred knowledge and origin, practiced only by women initiated into lineages by their mothers & grandmothers. Within the context of the ancient Hindu temple, a devoted temple dancer, popularly known as a Devidasi performed for the sole purpose of devotional offerings to specific gods/goddesses. These women also known as conduits & receptors possessed the ability to manifest within the material body, the heavenly dance of Apsaras. The Apsaras are the celestial muses who incarnated in women's bodies during ritual yet remained immortal & made of the heavens. Devidasi dancers dedicated their lives to holding the energy of the temples & dancing as devotion to the deities. The antiquity of the Devadasi tradition mystifies its origin. The temple inscription & architectures within the archaeological record provide relevant and significant information regarding this holy tradition. Inscriptions can be found, dating as far back as 611 A.D. in countries such as Egypt, Greece, Assyria and Babylon. It was custom in many of these traditions for the nobles to employ their unmarried daughters for the service of The Goddess. In Babylon not a single girl before her marriage could be spared from this duty. This was a binding obligation, however the custom of dancing after marriage was not an obligation. In Sumerian times the Devadasi were a highly respected tradition of Babylon & as Ishtar was the famous deity of Babylon, the Devadasis appointed as Ishtar herself.
In Egypt, priestesses performed ritual dances which mimed significant events in the story of a god/goddess, they imitated stories of the stars & cosmic creation myths. The Afterlife is a major theme of Egyptian religion & much of ones life was spent preparing for reincarnation. At Egyptian funerals, women danced to express the grief of the mourners. The Egyptian temple dancers had various initiations to become a temple keeper, many of whom were devoted to the Temple of the goddesses Isis & Hathor.
Traditionally the dance was performed by Devadasis (community of temple dancers) in the ancient temples. The tradition of devadasi was very famous not only in India but also in the countries beyond India. But due to the illegal, irreligious attitudes of some priests, nobles and powerful persons, this sacred tradition became extremely polluted. Because of the degeneration of the sacred tradition, the reformers were compelled to abolish ritualistic practice of devadasis. The lineage of the temple dancer reveals it self through out history often portrayed as courtesan's or the dance as act of prostitution.
Through all history the mythic temple dancer appears. In Greek history the temple dancers were appointed in the temple of Apollo, the Sun God. Many of these rites where performed by the mythological Maenads, whose dancing is devoted to the harvest rites & for the god Dionysus. The connection to priestesses of delphi & oracular divination was a well known practice in the temple and it was honored that these women held deep communion with the spirits & offered dance as a spiritual devotion.
Drawing inspiration from the feminine divine, Deva Desi & the soul memory of the temple dancer rites. I would like to honor all my teachers whom have been a divine light inspiration & support. As dance has always been a form of meditation & spiritual practice to honor the cycles & rhythms of life.
My teachers and dance luminaries I have had the honor to study with: Jill Parker,(Tribal Fusion) Suhaila Salimpour,(Tribal/Cabaret) Carolena Nericcio(A.T.S) Zoe Jakes,(Tribal Fusion) Colleena Shakti,(Odissi) Miriam Peretz (Persian)Rachel Brice (Tribal Fusion) Prajwal Vajracharya ( Nepalise ) & many more.
Honoring the lineages that create the rooted structure of these practices of many ancestors whom have come before. My beloved Teachers in Yoga Swami Sitaramananda, & Shiva Rea.
Honoring the lineages of Krishnamacharya, Kashmir Shaivism, & Priestess Path.
I am Presently continuing studies in sacred dance,Feldenkrais, shamanic healing, somatic healing & body energy medicine
My Teachers in Esoteric studies Jonathan Rigby, Barbara Brennan, B.O.T.A, Tom Kenyon, Lady Freda Harris, Dion Fortune, Angelles Arren
“The Priestess and the Performer
The priestess in ancient times was integrated into her community. With time priestesses as keepers, and dancers of ritual disappeared.
The altars, which had been centered in each family’s hearth, were moved out of the temples & into the church.
Churches replaced the communal worship grounds and centers. Temples were now viewed as separate edifices to a distinct institution of priests. Ritual became to be the domain of only select individuals on behalf of the community in place of community participation and self-expression.Organic rituals became prescribed religion. Dance as an interregnal part of women’s spiritual practice shared a parallel fate with the priestess.
As many religions forgot their roots and were forced to conform, the priestess now in secret lead communal nature dances. But the sacred dancer was now made the servants of the temple and its priests. The momentous split between artistic form of worship in a devotional setting. Social division of priests and worshippers, now made masters and servants, brought about a split between the sacred and the profane.
Devotional dances gradually became commissioned works for the enjoyment of paying ruling spectators, for provocative entertainment.
Dance was transformed from religious art and rite to a work of art intended for observation and subject judgment by the observer.
From these shifts a rose a culture of dance and theatre as entertainment.
The universal feminine principle of spirit matter connection was transformed into the duality of seductress/virgin, priestess/midwife these roles were considered black magic. This is primal exotic illusions appear. Repeating itself over and over in history.
Sexuality and procreativity were split from a concept of belonging to nature and the flow of seasons. In addition to the sacred dance became a spectacle and only entertainment. Another major transition occurred when men gradually began emulating and then taking over woman’s roles in dance. Increasing the propaganda against her and her rituals. Men dressed as women and danced for their kings.
The few remained dancing in the priestess steps. She is the lens focusing for the others the higher energies. The sustaining life that constitutes and defines earthly existence. She acts as the transmitting agent of divine emanations. Her dance is a system of movements, gestures, prayers, and devotion to the invisible forces of life. The function of the priestess is to facilitate the groups and gingival process to teach and remind how to be receptive". ~Unknown