Rebuilding The Circle

animal spirit dance story

All dance is shapeshifting, that was the latest 4am baby-feeding gift. It completes the bridge from my childhood to now – from the world of dance that enchanted me so deeply, to my graduate degree focused on ritual performance, to my healing and spiritual work now. Completing that circle is what this crossing has been about.

From my thesis for JFK’s Art & Consciousness program:
“I came into this program secretly wanting to learn to dance with animal spirits. I wanted to become a shapeshifter.”

     That was when the Raven first came to me, though I called it Crow then. It came as a mask erupting from a void:
During a stressful day, … the darkness punched through. I sat on the ground for fear of falling over and felt inside the shadow. … . Immediately a mask appeared to me. It was uniquely devoid of any accentuated characteristics and completely black, as if a few edges had been added to a void so  that it could have presence in the physical world. It felt like a clear gift for me, something that I could relate to. I had found footing in the darkness that did not limit its presence. It was crow like, had no eye openings thus promoting journeying, and it was completely expressive of the shadow energy that I had been feeling.”
Raven Returns
     So began a dance process that lasts to this day. I’ve worked with the same mask throughout my training in Core Shamanism, though its been stored away for the last few years. I dusted it off and checked in with it just a few days ago.
Whenever any of us dance we are changing our consciousness, perhaps changing our own energy so much that we shapeshift. Dance is not only its own world, but is in reality a gateway to many worlds. My ancestors must truly have understood its extraordinary, miraculous powers.
All those years ago, when I first discovered the power of dance to fill us with radiant joy by watching Fred Astaire glow with glee, I was also beginning to court the art of shapeshifting. The child in me knows full well dance’s magic, it is now reunited with the adults training, discipline, and experience in other worlds.
     My graduate work and ongoing spiritual practice include a circle, a space to journey with the Raven or any other spirits I might be working with. The circle gives me a space to work in with no edges, a container that holds but does not restrict. Of course circles have been cast for eons when spiritual work is being performed. I believe we all carry the blueprint of these circles within us.

My first circle was portable and padded, suited to my life and work back then. The next circle was the concrete well pad we eventually built a cob house on. Now that I’ve come to the edge of this bridge its time to build a new one.
My recent spate of dreams putting me in touch with the joy of dance and performing have been received loud and clear. This next circle has to be not only a sacred space for my practice, but also a stage to perform on – a place to share this work. From my early Aikido training (in a round studio no less) I learned that “dojo” means literally “place of the way.” I have the way, this bridge has given it back to me, now its time to build the place.
I’ve been talking to Terry, we’ve decided on the location for our round stage. It will be suitable not only for my performance, but perhaps for other family, summer time adventures. This bridge brings so much of the last twenty years into relief. I have a beautiful, loving, maddening, exquisitely radiant family that is the real container for my life. My process with the Raven paused during my training in core shamanism and in becoming the husband and father I wanted to be. Now that we’ve all arrived, its time bring my Raven process to fruition. Its time for the shapeshifter to dance again.

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