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19. How do you incorporate movement into your worship?
In the Vanic Conspiracy, most of our meetings involve sitting in a circle, passing a horn full of mead around, and whatever movement happens to accompany sharing a meal, talking, and other mellow social interaction. Not a lot of movement there.
For our more formal rituals, there are gestures the people handling priestly duties may attend to, like sprinkling people with water to cleanse, drawing boundaries for sacred space, carrying the aforementioned mead horn or other objects to everyone sitting in a circle, and hugs or other gestures to indicate hospitality. Other minor bits of movement may come up in these rituals, but again, movement is not a major part of the design for anyone other than the clergy. This is also often true of the rituals we help present at festivals.
Cara introduced us to a way of exploring the myths that involves getting up and acting them out and then pausing to discuss them at key points. That can involve a fair bit of movement, but while it’s potentially an aspect of worship, it’s not so much religious ceremony as improvisational theatre.
The annual ritual that involves the greatest amount of movement is definitely dancing the Midsommer Stangen, which is the same as dancing a Maypole, but the Swedish version is held at the summer solstice, which sets up some really nice echoes and cycles with Yule. There we get up and dance – or rather, skip and sing – in interweaving circles around the Stangen, while holding the ribbons. They form a woven sheath down the pole, which is made from the trunk of the previous Yule’s tree, and which will later be unwrapped and cut into Yule logs, thus completing the cycle. But I digress. As you can see, movement is very prominent in that particular ritual.
It’s the only ritual we hold each year where I have to post disclaimers for those of my congregation who are mobility challenged, and also ask my non-gender-binary members to please temporarily choose a binary sex for the duration of the ritual (everyone else is welcome to choose too, it’s just most folks stick with their usual answer for it.) It’s also one of two rituals where we gather money for charity (the other being – you guessed it – Yule). In other words, it’s the ritual in which I impinge the most on my congregants needs, because I see no effective way around it.
I’m not opposed to including more movement in our rituals – my Umbanda training involved quite a bit of dancing and singing, and I miss those aspects of Bembes very much. But I am wary of making it seem like the mobility-challenged members of our community are any less welcome, and as our meetings take place in small spaces, usually after dark, and on weeknights after most folks have had a long work day, it’s often not particularly convenient anyway.
On a more personal note, walking meditation (e.g. around a labyrinth), dancing, and enthusiastic singing are all potentially aspects of worship for me. There’s a particular form of trance meditation I use for establishing altered consciousness suitable for medium work that involves shifting back and forth from foot to foot while moving my head and shoulders in figure-8s with my eyes closed. It’s very effective, but I only use it occasionally because it’s a bit too easy to hurt myself, or knock things off nearby horizontal surfaces. If I have a student who is very somatic in their learning style, I will use these movement-based methods to help them with the work.
Then, also, sex involves a fair bit of movement, and given the gods I serve, is a common form of worship. ;}
Lon’s answer: Dance Like No One’s Watching