Dancing the edge – Pisces new moon ’21 thoughts
I went to my first ecstatic dance in a year this week.
An ecstatic dance pre-pandemic was a gathering of people that danced in a space where sobriety was encouraged and talking discouraged. Some people dance wildly, some walk slowly through, some wrestle or play. There should be no recording, so people feel free to express however they need and the music often follows a pattern of escalation that lends itself to ecstasy.
This kind of gathering was one of the three most important things I did before COVID-19. I have more to say about that, especially in light of the pandemic, but I’ll save that for future writing. Instead, I’ll talk about this one experience and why I almost lost an eye at this dance.
I was one of 6 or so masked people among 60 or more unmasked people.
We were outside. The music was loud enough that all of us could have spread out over the giant field and social-distanced. That’s not quite how it went, though, and I wasn’t surprised.
I had decided, before going, what level of risk I was comfortable with and prepped a list of behaviors I could follow to support that level of risk. I had also committed to myself to follow my plan regardless of what everyone else did.
(My process for assessing risk and determining personal boundaries is detailed enough for me to write a free e-course about it. Check it out if you like. More about boundaries later.)
My boundaries meant I was wearing a mask, all my skin was covered, and I also wore a hoodie, something I NEVER wore at a dance indoors because it’s too hot. It meant I made a commitment to dance no closer to any cluster of people than about 10-14 feet and the closest I’d come to dancing in a circle would be to make my own mega-circle well outside the boundaries of the dance.
I figured this would be easy because I often feel like an outsider anyway.
I was one of three black people in this crowd. And dressed as I was, as a male hip hop dancer, no one would recognize me as a regular member of this group since most people do NOT look like hip hop dancers. I remember the exact moment that It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
I had one of those moments of revelry that maybe only dancers understand, where the body latches onto some undeniable flow and takes you thoughtlessly along. I was winded, elated, and facing toward the center of the group in the middle. They had become louder, feverish, it was the time for a release I’ve come to recognize at an ecstatic dance. And, somehow, I was 5 feet or so closer to them than I’d been the whole time.
Still a van and a half away. Still far enough for me. But why had I moved closer at all? I searched inside for the answer and found a magnetic pull in the center of me. Even though I was on edge in their company, knowing how different from me they were, entitled, oblivious, some of them downright irresponsible. It didn’t stop the inevitable human urge to gather near them.
I knew from my experiences in alternative sexuality spaces that it was time to do a little check-in with my original boundaries. I asked myself, what will I do to remind myself, spatially, of what was ok with me and what wasn’t? There was a tree to my left. I decided to make it my dance partner. I told myself when I felt that pull, to dance with my partner. To take that dance seriously. To not abandon my partner.
And so when I reached my own private frenzy, flung to the outer edge of the dance by an undeniable urge to go wild in the grass, to flair my arms out, to strategically spasm, to do all the things dancers do when they’re having a damn good time, my partner was there to return to, to stand next to, to orbit precariously, daring its pointy limbs to grab my hair and eyes.
It was liberating
and it was hard.
So when I saw Chani Nicolas’ live post at IG talking about the Sun conjunct Neptune and the hardship that it could mean for people, those were the words that popped up in my head.
These words are the story of my pandemic.
Of my Texas blackout horror.
Of being the only black woman everywhere I go in Austin and in places all over the world I happen to be.
Of being a trauma survivor.
And how that means that after decades of being a stranger to anxiety, the panic attacks are back.
And how those attacks are a doorway into higher levels of mediumship and intuition.
And how I can be beyond blessed in the middle of all that
And not feel like it.
That’s a lot. It’s always been a lot.
But now, it feels like it.
I read an article this week, You are not who you were before the pandemic, and I thought, yeah of course, through most of it. The contradiction. The helplessness. Yea, sure. But they lose me at despair.
Because I’ve been black this whole time. I’ve been dancing on the outermost rings of ecstatic dances the whole 10 years I’ve been attending them. Because my awareness of the danger of white supremacy is 30 years old, not born in this pandemic like it was for so many people.
I’ve been a trauma survivor this whole time. I am like the nations that have already been through a few mini-epidemics, already used to donning masks and retreating into self and community and sitting with that tension. Practice matters. Even the kind no one wants to have.
Without the practice, what are we to do when we feel that pull to gather?
When it feels like we’ll die if we don’t do it? Without the plan and the determination to follow it, when it gets hard, we have nothing but the fight to burn bright and be seen (the Sun) and the fight to dissolve (Neptune) and the fallout of nonexistent boundaries.
Yes, some of us are not the same after this year. And that means a lot of us are more aligned with the earth than we’ve ever been in our lives because the earth never stays the same. Welcome to the fringe (and the true center). Where things get strange enough that it becomes dangerous not to be able to think for yourself. There’s plenty to learn, love, and get angry at here.
This pandemic is generating new culture in real-time. Even as I’m hopeful watching, it needed to be overhauled anyway, I’m still remembering that not all the culture around the pandemic is going to serve us and it’s up to us to know when to dance on the edge of the circle…
Next time I may talk about some reflections after the blizzard here in Texas… or maybe more about what I’ve learned in this lockdown. Either way, You’ll hear about it if you sign up for the newsletter. Thank you for waiting. *grins
How was your week leading up to this new moon?
Let me know in the comments.
Tarot Mentor, Coach, CPC, ELI-MP
Siobhan, she/they, is a NYC-born writer, spiritual ally, and coach who helps highly intuitive beings grow their confidence. Her empowering style is the result of over 20 years of tarot study, 15 years of experience with alternative relationships, and leadership and organizational experience in alternative sexuality community. She is the creator of the first-ever collaborative tarotscopes and currently offers e-courses and coaching to highly sensitive professional mystics and artists. Sign up for the newsletter to learn more.