I originally wrote this article in November of 2012. It was picked as a featured article on WitchVox.com and was also published in several pagan based magazines in Europe. 5 years later and it still is relevant!
Dance As Magick
Author: Zehara Nachash
Posted: November 4th. 2012
Times Viewed: 3,065
I am a dancer by nature. I have been dancing since childhood. I have studied various forms of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, Russian Gypsy, African and Belly Dance. Dancing is what I do when I am happy, sad, stressed, anxious, chipper—its also what I do when I am feeling a need for a deep spiritual connection.
I have been a practicing Pagan since I was 17. So its no surprise that dance started to creep into my spiritual practice. I started integrating dance into my magickal work during a Beltane ritual in which I felt this sudden "urge" to move. It was almost as if my brain had completely shut off and the only noise I heard was the pulsing rhythms of the drums. I was completely taken over my spirit. That was the moment that I realized that dance and magick could be used together to create something so primal and pure--the true essence of the human spirit.
Dancing has been used for thousands of years as a means of communication to Deity or in reverence of a higher power. There are many various styles of “ritualistic” dance: the Middle Eastern “zar” dance, Morris dance, Long Sword dance, Circle dance and most notably, the Sema or “Whirling Dervish” in which dancers whose continuous spin forms a deep spiritual mind set much like the peaceful state induced during meditation. One can look at ancient cave paintings and Egyptian art to see paintings of temple dancers, honoring their Gods via movement and expression.
As a dancer, my dance has always had spiritual roots. I fell in love with gypsy dance because of the passionate and magickal sound of the violin-the music invoked a sense of magickal mysticism and my body moved with the violin as if I were apart of it. I fell in love with belly dance because of its complex earthy rhythms and the ability to connect to the Mother Goddess. My new love of African and Aboriginal dance has come from the primal earthbound roots I feel when performing it. When I am performing, some aspect of my spirituality is invoked.
To me, dancing is magick–a spell. If I want to banish something I will do a sword or fire dance. When I want to manifest something I perform with my snakes. Like the symbols of the Tarot, I am connecting to the elements via dance. There is so much music out there--and so much to connect to. There have been moments when I have been compelled to create a choreography solely inhabiting an aspect of an element. I created a "Dust Storm" dance in which I combined aspects of Aboriginal dance and the usage of a veil--all to invoke the power of the element of Air. It’s at those moments where I feel connected to the power of nature through movement.
One aspect of dancing that I love is when I feel inspired–or more like-taken over-by the spirit of a Deity or Higher Being. I feel inspired to create and perform either a number dedicated to them or as them as a form of invocation. For the past three months I have felt strongly connected to Pan. This coming from a gal who is typically "all Goddess" energy. How odd that I suddenly felt this strong masculine energy overtake me. Perhaps I was being reminded of the balance I needed!
Pan's playful mischievous energy kept popping up around me and I would feel constant urges to want to "frolick". I also started finding without thinking, that I was purchasing more and more jovial flute music! Pan also invoked a deep emotional feeling of happiness and joy that I would call upon whenever I felt down or anxious. Over the past month, I began forming a dance around His energy and eventually performed as Pan at the Samhain Festival hosted by Laurie Cabot and the Cabot Kent Hermetic Temple in Salem. It was for me, a magickal moment. Throughout the performance, I felt Pan’s energy flow through me, and when Laurie exclaimed, “we had Pan here among us!” after my performance, I think I did a good job invoking the ancient God of the woods.
I have invoked many Gods and Goddesses over the course of my dance career–including Mami Wata, Pythia and a few fairies, demons, angels and sprites. It’s deeply moving when I am able to transmit their energy through my performances–its almost like being an acolyte to their mysteries and having them coach me along the way. It’s more meaningful for me. It’s also a lot more work–costuming, music and make up all have to be just perfect. It’s a lot more powerful to when the audience understands who I am without me having to even announce it!
Using dance as a magick is an ancient and old power. It can be as simple as turning on music and dancing around your room to create high levels of energy before spell or ritual work. Sometimes invoking that primal energy can help release any anxiety that you are feeling prior to spell work and ritual–help cleanse your mind and prepare yourself for the work ahead. It can also help to induce a meditative trance inducing state, much like the Dervish or Zar. Dance in itself is cathartic. Creating an atmosphere where you can dance out your feelings. The best part is you don’t have to be a trained dancer to let your body move to the rhythm--it’s allowing yourself to be moved physically by the music--and being able to let go.
During ritual, one can even create a small performance as the particular Deity to help call Their power into the circle (hmm, now I am thinking Brigid dancing with a candle tray for Candelmas!) .
Dance is a powerful form of energy work. Its why its been used as a form of ritual for thousands of years. Besides, the Gods and Goddesses love when you sing and dance and be merry in their name!