There is saying about Voodoo—it finds you. There is also another saying about Voodoo: you take what you know and make it grow. I was called a long time ago and just brushed everything off. I should have known better. When the Lwa want you to serve them—they want you to serve them. Reflecting on the “signs” that I was being called—I can go all the way back to when I was 19. Most of you already know the story. I had a VERY vivid dream of standing near a lake (or some kind vast watery place) when a very large white snake slithered out and coiled around me. He gave me a message and I listened. Voila! I started working with snakes. I was involved in Wicca and Ceremonial Magick. I was in a Ceremonial magick based group. I got initiated and received my name Zehara Nachash (which means Bright Serpent). Of course, 2 years later I entered the world of belly dance. I became the Snake Lady and Boston’s Resident Snake Charmer. My snakes and I were partners and everything I did artistically (and still do!) Aside from doing workshops and classes to educate people on the spiritual and magickal aspects of working with snakes, I also began rescuing snakes from bad homes or situations. Snakes with burns, mites, malnourished, scale/mouth rot—you name it—I saved it. I had 14 snakes in my apartment at one point! I would get them better and find them good homes or keep them. This whole time, I would be visited in dreams by my white serpent guide. He was wise, kind, loving and guiding and again, just thought he was a totem animal guiding me. Around this time, I was performing at a restaurant with my sweet ball python Kaala. After the show, I was approached by a man. He loved my performance. He told me he felt the power of the connection I had with Kaala. It turned out that he was an African Shaman who was visiting his family. He then told me, “do you know you have two snakes above your head?” Of course, I was just thinking…yep they are my totem animal. It wasn’t until the end of 2012 when a friend of mine recommended I read the book “Mark of Voodoo.” I only had a passing interest in Voodoo, but, I am a major book worm so why not?! At this point in my life I was so embedded in Shamanism. I began studying Shamanic Reiki, started going to Shamanic drumming circles and shamanic workshops. I was sure that Shamanism was the path I was supposed to be walking. So, when I picked up a book on Voodoo, I wasn’t really thinking much of it. The book was fascinating! And I remember turning a page and seeing a large temple in Benin West Africa, FULL of ball pythons (those of you who know me---ball pythons are my favorites!). Naturally that peaked my interested even more. Then……then…. I read a line about Damballah. That was when EVERYTHING made sense. I mean everything. For those who are not versed in the spirits of Afro-Caribbean spiritual practices—Papa Damballah is one of the most important Lwa. He is the primordial creator of all life. He created the stars and all the water ways….and…. he is a represented as a white snake! His wife Aido-Wedo, is the Lwa of fertility. She is considered the most precious of the lwa. Their veve is two snakes facing the poto mitan (the main pillar in Voodoo that connects our world and the spirit world). Two snakes. Then I remember when the African Shaman told me I had two snakes above my head. And I finally was able to connect my dreams of the white serpent to Papa Damballah…. And then my journey started. I am a huge book worm as well as a huge history nerd, so the first books I read on Voodoo were on Haitian history and New Orleans history. I absorbed exactly what this religion represented, the people who practiced it and their journeys through from slavery to “freedom”. I understood the importance of Voodoo in their lives, their culture. I then began to read and learn about the religion itself. I began to feel a deep connection to the spirits. I felt them calling. After 6+ years of reading and setting up my own altars to communicate with the Lwa and to leave offerings. I have finally decided to start learning the ceremonies, songs, dances, rhythms that make up Voodoo. To start my spiritual journey and to work towards initiation. To find a House to become a part of and to study with. But, I can’t start that without being in the Voodoo capital of the US…New Orleans. I flew out here to be here for only three days – to absorb what I can—to attend a Voodoo ceremony—to add to what I know so I can keep it growing. And it’s amazing. I can feel the lwa here- I can feel their energy. I feel surrounded by love and guidance. My journey starts now.
This is not a normal blog post. I am not going to tell you how to create and altar or converse with the ancestors. I am not going to tell you how to enhance your intuition. Nope. I am going to tell you about migraines…….and what its like living with them. I am a migraineur. And they have for the most part, interfered with my life, especially the last four years. I have missed work, been on FMLA, been to a bunch of doctors and given medication that works – sometimes—or well, not at all. I have missed family events, I have had my weekend plans tossed down the drain. I have had all these things I have wanted to do…… Why am I writing this? Two reasons. To let others, know—I feel your pain; and to let everyone know why sometimes the things I plan for—the things I hope to do—sometimes fall away at the wayside. I have had headaches my whole life. In my 20’s I brushed them off as a stress headache. Then my thirties came, and the headaches started to become more frequent and more severe. About four years ago, they were the worse they had ever been. I would spend hours in my dark bedroom, shoved deep under the covers and attempting to block out all noise and all light. Migraines are explosions. Literally. Its like the huge explosion in your head—and all light and sound—everything feels like someone is in your head and scraping a chalkboard with long finger nails. Its painful. Its disruptive. And the pain…well…imagine being stuck between two large boulders that are closing in on your noggin. The pain feels like an ice pick being shoved in your head. Its painful. It hurts. There are days when I can work through the pain--- because failure to do so would mean I would have no life. Somedays, however, the pain is so bad I can’t even work-I can’t do anything. The hardest part of migraines is the disappointment. When I need to cancel events, classes or plans- I know people are disappointed in me. They don’t understand what its like. And no, a migraine is not just headache. It’s a life changer. Literally. And it’s difficult to those who don’t understand. The unpredictability is even worse. I don’t when they will come, how long they will they last or how painful they are going to be. I sort them into two categories: functional and non-functional. You can’t figure out which one is easier to work through! Just because you see me working doesn’t mean I am not in pain however. It’s the joy of having an invisible illness. Sometimes my days are spent in shadows, lying in a dark room under the covers. Most days are spent at work, with anti UV glasses on and dim lights to help me with the pain. After a bad migraine—like one that lasts 72 hours and I can’t leave my bed—those days--- afterwards- I deal with Postdrome. What is that? Its like a bad hangover without the fun from the night before. Dizziness, nausea, cloudy thinking, struggling with words---I call it migraine brain. I can’t focus, can’t think straight. So, after hours of painful migraines I must deal with postdrome. Yeah. Migraine brain exists. This has been my life for 4 years. Thankfully, after 4 years of research – I am finally getting answers—and finding ways to at least make my symptoms more tolerable. Diet changes, supplements—ruling out whatever I can and homing in on a possible cause. So, if I cancel a class or workshop, or cancel plans and meetings—or things don’t always go according to schedule-its not that I am not responsible…. or that I am blowing things off—it’s that I am in a dark room, dealing with the pain of having a migraine.
When people hear the word “clairvoyant” they immediately picture a fortune teller and a crystal ball. From French “clair” meaning “clear” and “voyance” meaning “vision”- essentially someone who can see clearly in the future. This is a term a lot of psychics and mediums use to describe their talents. But, there are other “clairs.” I am not clairvoyant. I don’t always “see” things like they do. However, I am clairaudient and clairsentient. This can be confusing to some when they call up on me to do readings or perform as a “medium” between our world and spirit. Most people have no idea that there are other ways of “seeing.” So what is what? Clairaudience is the ability to hear spirits. What does it sound like? It depends on the spirits and what they want to say and want me to hear. Most spirits I work with are ancestral and guiding spirits. They help guide me in the direction I need to go or when working with clients will direct me in the best way to help address and remediate the situation of the client. And of course, there are the ghosts- spirits who need to reach out for contact- or spirits of those who choose to come back and watch over things. Sometimes these communications can be harder to hear and harder to decipher – depending on how strong the spirit it is- they can either sound muffled, sound like they are underwater or be clear as a bell! Clairsentient is a gift that has taken me a good long while to get used to and the one I use most often. I am an Empath, meaning I can pick up emotions and energy from just about everyone at any given time. Being clairsentient means that I can pick up energy from the past and present. What makes it so hard sometimes, is that I can’t always tell if it’s a spirit energy I am picking up on or if I am picking up energy from others. Its why when I do spirit work, I often need to be alone and in a quiet space so I can filter whatever feelings I get. And trust me, its not always easy. I have to say, clairsentient is the hardest to get used to and takes years to be able to hone in on what it is you need to “pick up.” Being “psychic” or having “psychic abilities” is not just being able to predict or see into the future. Being medium isn’t always like its depicted-on TV. There are so many different forms of abilities that its not fair to lump them all in one category. So, do I actually “see” anything? Well yes. Often when I am working with spirit or spirits I will see images in my mind of what the person wants me to see. I will see female or male. I will see long or short hair. And then I usually pick up on their energy (clairsentience) and if I am lucky enough, they will whisper in my ear. Just remember, the next time you schedule a reading—there is more than one way of seeing!
When people first meet me or visit my Facebook page or website, they idea that I have some morbid fascination with death is what first pops in their heads. I make jewelry with vertebrae (human and animal). I paint animal skulls. I post images of death in all its forms. My home is decorated with all things death related-- skulls, skeletons, bones. My altar is dedicated to the dead.
Am I a completely dark soul with an obsession for death? Well...yes and no.
I have been fascinated with death since childhood- and fascinated even more so by spirits, ghosts and all that is unseen. Being born on November 1st, its hard not fall in love with images of death! My birthdays were always filled with bits and pieces of Halloween and All Souls Day. My work with dead goes back as far as I can remember-even within the realm of imaginary friends in childhood.
As I grew older, I began to realize that my life was destined to be entwined between the realms of the living and the dead. My abilities to see and hear beyond the worlds grew and the more I enveloped myself within the shadows, the more the spirits were keen to communicate with me. When I found myself studying Voodoo, thats when my relationship with the spirits became solidified and my appreciation grew deeper.
Am I obsessed with death? No. Do I venerate death? Yes.
I have never been afraid of the concept of death. I understand why most people are. Its frightening to think about the unknown. I have had so many occurrences with spirit that my "phobia"- if one even existed- went away.
I find death comforting. We are all going to end up there. Death is also the one thing in life that does not discriminate; Death does not care if you are rich, poor, what race you are, where you are from, who your family is, what religion you practice, who you pray to. Death is a bit of a coming home after a long journey. Death is a place where there are worries, no bills. I do not fear Death for a find a beauty within Her.
When I work with bones--I find it an honor. To hold something so sacred that ones supported the weight of a living thing is a blessing. When I work on a piece, whether painting on a skull or entwining vertebrae into jewelry, I think of what animal once owned those bones. What type of energy that animal had. Where it lived, what it did. I reflect on the essence of the being. When I work on human bones- its an even greater honor. I think of the person, who they may have been, what they may have done. When I hold a human bone in my hand, I think of my ancestors-- of all our ancestors-- those who have walked this earth thousands of years before now. Its a sacred honor to me to hold those human bones in my hand.
So yes, maybe in some strange way- I am obsessed with Death. But its an obsession of absolution. I know that someday I will be like those bones....that will be all that is left of me on this earthly realm. I have no fear in that.
Hand painted coyote skull by Snake & Bone; available in the shop
Hello Beautiful Souls! I am so sorry I have been incommunicado as of late! I have been busy looking at spaces for my new PRIMAL Dance (tm) classes and a place for in person Tarot Readings and Reiki Sessions. I am please to announce that a place has been found for all three! I do want to apologize to my Sundays with Snake & Bone followers—I have not forgotten you or your amazing topics that you have sent me—so I promise something real soon! Also, don't forget!! I am offering a FREE 10 minute phone Tarot Reading if you purchase a gift card from www.snakeandbone.com - good for jewelry, reiki session, tarot readings and of course dance classes! This is a great holiday gift! Now……my post! I get a lot of questions about what PRIMAL is exactly. To understand PRIMAL…its best to start with where it came from and how it evolved. In 2010 I created a (very successful!) theatrical dance show called “ANIMUS: A SHAMANIC JOURNEY THROUGH DANCE.” The show featured 10-12 performers (dancers, poi spinners, etc.) performing as various aspects in the natural world. It was narrated by me in the character of The Shaman. The show was amazing, but afterwards I felt that it was missing something. What is was missing was the HUMAN aspect within this mythological world that I created. Thus…HUNTRESS! In 2011, as I prepared for the next showing of ANIMUS, I decided to start a dance troupe specifically for ANIMUS called HUNTRESS or The Huntress Women. As I was a very active belly dance teacher and performer—most of the troupe consisted of belly dancers…The problem was…I needed something that was not just belly dance. As a student of African Dance and a forever student of shamanism, the occult, nature based religious studies and an avid history buff of all things ancient, I decided to mix those up in this new troupe.Huntress needed to encompass this extremely primitive/neolithic energy that I have never found within the scope of my 10+ years of belly dance.I literally had to tell these women that they needed to be prepared to come out of the box BIG TIME. Over the course of rehearsals I began to hear more and more of the troupe members telling me how during and after rehearsals they felt this very strong sense of peace. There was a catharsis occurring within Huntress that had never occurred with any of the other belly dance troupes I directed. Huntress had some essence to it. I started noticing the empowerment these women were gaining over the course of the 8 weeks we rehearsed. And it was amazing. At this point, I decided that whatever I was teaching needed a name since there was nothing out there like it. Then it came to me—-PRIMAL. Primal? Well to me, PRIMAL encompasses some raw powerful energy that has been long forgotten-specifically amongst women. Additionally, I felt that women were not bonded like we once were thousands of years ago. A sense of a tribe. In most indigenous cultures, women work together constantly. Whether its bringing up children, washing clothes, gathering food-or like the Pygmy culture-ritually dancing! I began to hash out ideas of how to make these rehearsals into a class. And it was really simple. I combined my love of ancient history, shamanism and indigenous cultures and my love of Middle Eastern, African, Aboriginal and Ecstatic dance into what is now PRIMAL Dance. I also added a sense of empowerment via the sisterhood of Huntress. ALL my PRIMAL Dance students become a Huntress. And once a Huntress, always a Huntress. All my classes start out with an intense warm up and the setting up of intentions. PRIMAL Dance is about letting go of your worries, your fears, your anger, your pain. Maybe you had a bad day work. Maybe you are having family issues, work issues, money issues. This class is your way of assisting you mind-body and spirit. We then learn some very PRIMAL inspired moves in which we then create a unique and powerful choreography. After our crazy primal energies are flowing and our catharsis is reached——-we end class with a group meditation (usually about 10 minutes) in which we ground ourselves. During the meditation I repeat 3x a mantra about letting go of energies that no longer serve us. We finally get rid of—once and for all-whatever is you need to release by pounding on the floor to solidify our intentions. And the music? You will hear everything from tablas, shamanic drums, djembes, conga drums, didgeridoo, rattles, zurnas and so much more! Did I mention drums? Yeah a lot of drums! Occasionally we will have live drummers and didge players—but for now its recorded music that I have collected from various artists from around the world. PRIMAL is about finding your fierce female energy. Your sensual and your powerful side. Its about being a Huntress in all aspects of your life. I can not wait to see you all in PRIMAL! Ashe, Zehara
My signifcant and other and I are huge fans of all things horror. We love horror movies (mostly the old ones), reading about the paranormal, cemetaries and the Halloween season. Our home is filled with skulls, bones, masks and all other oddities. While we love horror movies, we equally enjoy documentaries. So when a documentary called "SPOOKERS" came on Amazon Prime we were more than a little thrilled to get both of our favorites-- horror and a documentary--rolled into one. Of course we love fun houses (though my taste for them died out once I hit my twenties, but I appreciate the work that goes into them) and of course- we love haunted houses! You would think I would be excited for a documentary like this. But.....my taste and opinion changed the moment that they said the entire event is held in an old insane asylum. My trigger bell started dinging like there was a fire brewing--and there was. I was so pissed. The "fun house of horror" is located inside the Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital in Auckland New Zealand. Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital, was built in 1932 and at its peak housed 850 patients. It was so large it even had its own morgue. So whats the issue? I am all for ghost hunting and being a respectul paranormal investigator, and we all in the paranormal world know, that asylums are great places to start investigating. However, doing an investigation and starting an attraction inside in an aslyum are two different things. As someone who is psychic and works within a spiritual practice that venerates the dead, I was so offended and felt so terrible for the souls still stuck within the asylum. Believe it or not, these ghosts do not even know they are there. They had no self awareness (and those that did? I can only imagine how it felt!) of what was happening or why. No one asks to be mentally ill. Its sad and horrible. To me the worst part of having an attraction like this within an asylum is the kicking up the dust of the residual energy that is there. Do these ghosts feel they are still trapped in their mind when they attraction is going on? The whole time we watched before we ended it, all I kept saying was "these poor souls." You are the same in death as you are in life. Imagine being trapped, not only in your own mind but in a building -- that you had spent time, maybe died in--and people dressed as crazy sadistic doctors, evil clowns--things you probaply have seen during a hallucination while alive--happening night after night in the living world? There is no peace in this. It made me sad and it made me angry. And frankly it made me feel that these people who are a making profit for having the additional scare of a spook show in an asylum without respect or honor for the former patients and the dead--deserve whatever comes there way spiritually.
Alas, we come to a topic that is both controversial and feared. Hexing, crossing and cursing. Many years ago, when I first started walking the magickal path, I, like most, delved into WICCA. Of course, the lead idea in WICCA is “harm none do as ye will,” or as it says in the WICCAN Rede “Ever mind the rule of three, What ye send out comes back to thee.” The three fold law, much like the idea of the “Golden Rule,” is the idea that what you send out you get back. In WICCA’s case-three times. It’s essentially breaks down to “karma.” Now, before I go on, I am not saying anything negative towards WICCA. WICCA serves many pagans and has done so for a very long time. However, for me, WICCA was a stepping stone into spiritual exploration, that ultimately, landed me where I am now within in Voodoo practice. The idea of the Rule of Three was a concept I held to, but as I continued to grow and explore other avenues within the occult, I realized, at least for me, it was not a practical rule. I have never been a big fan of “turn the other cheek,” and certainly not the idea that you should just sit there and let karma “do its work” while you are being trampled on, treated poorly or being disrespected. So, as I started grow beyond the ideology of WICCA so did I grow into a thinking of “I can’t just sit by and wait.” “Zehara aren’t you worried about all the terrible things that will happen if you do that?” No, quite frankly. Why? It’s simple. To me a curse or a hex is giving that person their karma right then and not waiting around. Sometimes it can take a while before the hex or curse kicks in, but it does eventually. And while I don’t usually talk about it, hex and cursing are one of my stronger suits when it comes to spell work. If you feel that hexing and cursing are bad—and you feel guilty doing it—then don’t. If you are scared the “three fold law” is going to get you—then you shouldn’t meddle in hexing to begin with. Like all spell work, hexing and cursing needs to have the same energy and effort given to any other magickal workings. You need to firm, visualize and work the spell. If you don’t “feel” it—like any other work—the hex or curse will not come into fruition. When I do this work, it’s usually when I am super pissed off at the person—and continue to be. It takes A LOT to really get under my skin where I feel that I need to do this kind of work, so if I send out the bad juju it’s because that person or persons deserved it. Cursing and hexing shouldn’t be used for mundane irritants. If someone cut you off in traffic or was just nasty to you in a line-that is not a cause for a hex or curse. I am talking about the kinds of things are that are unforgivable. You need to have a legitimate reason for why you are doing this type of work. I will tell you, the spirits don’t give a damn about a hex for someone who just cut you in line. They know better—and you should to! So, what’s the difference between a curse and hex? Everyone has their own definition of the terms. For me, a hex is something that is carried out in a discreet way—putting a special powder in the door step so when the person walks over it, ill intent will be carried out. A curse is something that is more ritualized, a calling up certain spirits or Deities to send ill or bad luck to the person. There are other ways of sending out that bad juju to someone: bindings, crossings, jinxes. What works best? Like all magick, it depends on your preference. Some people are ok with a candle, a picture and a few words of ill intention. Others like more contact by putting powders near the person so they will walk through it or burying and hiding objects in their home without their knowledge and then kick starting them when the time is right. You can use dolls via sympathetic magick by filling it with hair or nail clippings from the intended. Everyone has their own ways of doing things. I am more of a ritual person. Candles, incantations and the calling upon spirits and energies to assist or do the work for me. I have had some fantastic results and some curses are waiting for the kick start. I am also a big fan of hiding cursed items in the persons house hold or outside their residence. So, if you feel like cursing and hexing are not a good thing—don’t do it! If you have a reason (a real reason) and feel in your heart that someone deserves their retribution a bit quicker-start delving into curses and hexes!!
I am often asked how one can communicate with spirits without using the Ouija Board. As stated in my last blog post, I am really against the use of spirit boards to contact spirits.
So, what are safe ways to not only respect the dead, but also to communicate? First, let me state that spirits should NEVER be contacted for FUN. Its disrespectful and ultimately, it can come and bite you on the ass if you don't watch out. I never take my work with the dead slightly.
1. Ancestor Altars: These can be placed in a special area of your home. It can be filled with photos of loved ones who have crossed. You can add their favorite things to the altar: drinks, cigarettes, flowers or even a favorite perfume. This is a place where you come to ask for guidance and advice from those who have crossed to the other side. It should be warm and welcoming and make you feel comfortable.
2. Automatic Writing: This is something that takes skill, but you can learn over time. I started doing automatic writing at a young age, mostly because I was experiencing spirit contact and didn't know any other way to communicate. Often when I do this type of work, my left arm will get very heavy and numb, and that is when I know that a spirit was nearby who needed to get me a message. Automatic writing is easy. Just relax in a comfortable chair and have a notebook and pen handy. When you get a "feeling" that someone is trying to reach you, pick up the pen, close your eyes and let your hand do all the writing. Your mind should be empty so as not to influence what comes onto the paper. After you are done, you can thank the spirit* and see what message was written. If names and dates were left, its always good to go investigate. If the message makes no sense, just hang on to it. It may later!
*If at any time you feel the spirit is being malicious or just "won't let go" - remember YOU ARE IN CHARGE. Tell the spirit you are done and to leave.
3. Pendulum: Again an easy way to communicate and one that I use a lot. Holding a pendulum spin it in a circle and say "YES" out loud. The spin in forward and back and say "NO" out loud. This helps the spirits know which direction to turn the pendulum when you are seeking guidance. Ask you question and see how the pendulum moves!
Remember, never just ask "is someone there"-- if someone is "there" and they want to communicate, they will let you know. You never want to invite in unwelcome guests!
Also, as someone who has worked with the dead for a very long time, I must remind you that you do not interrupt the dead just when you NEED something. Its like having a friend who only wants to hang out with you when they need money. It works for the same in spirit. Do not go to your ancestor altar only in times of need. Do not start using your pendulum when you only need advice relating to a certain problem. Working with the dead is the same as working with the living. There is a set line of rules and respect that must be passed along both ways. If you visit a cemetery, always remember to bring an offering- flowers and water are great. If you know the deceased, leave a bottle of their favorite rum next to their stone.
These are just some of the ways you can work with spirit. Of course, nothing beats a good old meditation where thoughts and messages can come through. The same goes with dream work! Spirits often visit us in our dreams because they can tap into the subconscious.
If you want to learn more ways of communicating with and honoring the dead, I highly recommend "The Witches Book of the Dead" by Christian Day. He does a great job of offering different ideas and ways that you can safely communicate and commemorate those who have passed over!
As a teenager, I was in love with the Quija Board (also known as Spirit Boards). I had some really interesting experiences, one of which, much later in my life, I was able to prove by going to the Salem library and Historical Society and combing through hundreds of newspaper articles, documents and family records. However, while I had one or two nice experiences, I also had about four or five bad ones. One was such experience is so bad that I put the board away and have never used it again. As I my education into the occult grew, so did my understanding of the spirit world. I soon began to be able to communicate with them using other means- including opening myself up psychically. Today, not only am I able to hear and see spirits, but when I am open, I become a beacon for those souls still wandering. Sometimes, I do need to tell them to leave me alone as I do not always want to deal with them. I am living, they are not. Quija boards, when they were first created, were meant to be a "toy" and were marketed as such. The issue here, is they are not a toy. They are means of spirit communication--and sometimes what gets brought in is not always what you want. I absolutely hate when I hear someone say "We did a seance last night with the Quija board." DONT DO THAT. "Well we cast a circle." Ahhhh. So here is the issue. Casting a circle, whether using an athame or a circle of salt means shit. You may think you are "safe" but here is the problem with Quija boards. Typically, low level entities or energies communicate using low level means- aka the Quija. You may *think* what is entering your circle is some spirit from the 1800's looking for guidance--when in fact, its a low level energy form ready to lie and cheat you and then eventually, attach itself to you. I am not saying, especially since I do not believe in the Devil, that this is Satan-but, the movie "The Excorcist" made a good point to make that "Captain Howdy" who was contacting little Linda Blair, made her think he was a good spirit. The other issue, is that typically the user of the Quija has no idea what they are doing and the very first question they ask is, "Is someone there?" or "Is anyone there?" BAD BAD BAD. Why? Would you walk outside in a busy area and say "does anyone want to come in?" No you wouldnt. Why? Because you have no idea WHO is going to take you up on that offer. Unless you have a specific spirit that you want to communicate with-dont use the Quija. Do not open up yourself upto energies that are taking advantage of a low level tool-whether you are in a circle or not.
I have been belly dancing for over 10 years. In the course of the 10+ years, I was always taught - by every single one of my teachers - about proper belly dance etiquette. Unfortunately, I am noticing a trend that both angers me and makes sad at the same time. To me, belly dance is a respected art form. While there are already negative stearotypes surrounding the art of belly dance, I have always (as have other dancers) made every effort to make sure that belly dance gets the respect it deserves. And it starts with covering up! What am I talking about? My teachers *always* enforced upon me the need to be covered BEFORE and AFTER a performance. Essentially, you wear a caftan or some other type of cover up (not a veil!) while you are waiting to go on stage and after your performance. Why is this important? For starters, it leaves a bit of mystery behind who you are. Second, it helps to elevate the dance by not making your costume "street wear." Last, its shows respect not only for yourself as a dancer, but also for the art itself. What makes it hard for me to swallow these days, and partially why I have stopped being involved with dance communities, is the fact that dancers - newbies and pro alike-- never seem to cover up anymore. To add to that, after a performance, they are often seen walking around in their costumes while drinking alcohol or smoking. That to me alone degrades the art. Back in my day--it was a serious faux pas to get off stage and start ordering beers from the bar. If you dont want to cover up after your performance-bring street clothes and get changed in the bathroom. Dont walk around in your costume. The beauty and mystery of bellydance is gone when that happens. Show respect for the art. Furthermore, I have noticed a complete lack of education amongst dancers now that is disheartening. They treat belly dance as a "thing" rather than an actual art form. I have met dancers who have been dancing for 5+ years and still do not know Middle Eastern rhythms or can even name a Middle Eastern instrument! To add to that, they do not even know about the history or the culture in which belly dance was "born." Isn't important to learn about the culture and history of dance you are essentially appropriating? Is this a teacher issue? Maybe. But one thing I have noticed as the new "generation" of belly dancers arise - there is a very large amount of "I know everything." Maybe its a millennial thing-- I don't know. But time and time again I have heard students of other teachers brag about xyz and yet still no nothing about the dance they are performing to. Its sad. Why? It puts all the hard work and education that dancers before us have put into elevating belly dance into an art. The lack of respect that is blossoming in dance communities is growing. Belly dance has become this "thing" that one brags about. The idea of performing, walking of stage in your costume, and sitting at bar shows that the world of belly dance has taken 5 steps back and not forward. What does the future hold? I have no idea, but I am doing my best to educate my students not only etiquette, but also on culture, history and music of the Middle East. I can only hope that that gets passed on for the future.