Today I was cutting up a cactus, listening to Joseph Campbell talk about Love, the Goddess and religious mythology – how through rituals, indigenous people are still enacting out the death/rebirth of the soul and eating the flesh of God.
I was always fascinated by rituals. Not ceremonies – where the same formula is repeated and everyone follows a religious protocol. Rituals are the wild versions, where we envoke the Gods, we envoke the elements, we recognise the aliveness around and within us and WE PLAY IT OUT. Once the ritual space is open, anything can happen!
Play is a much better word than act, which implies a role. The dark goddess, Kali, Isis, whomever you wish to call her, often speaks through my poetry, and through my voice, but it is not me. I am not making it up either, it is coming through me. It is a cosmic play, in multiple dimensions – I am not attached to the outcome, though my psyche is curiously engaged in the process. Often, these archetypal forces act for the good of the planet.
So, I always knew rituals would be something I wanted to work with. Because ritual also implies transformation. You are not the same being going in as you are when we close. Something has been added, or sacrificed, often both. It is a death/rebirth.
The spiritual birth is a process of virgin conception of the spirit within us and its emergence from flesh as our own Christ self, who goes into his physical death dancing (or so told John). Joseph Campbell pointed this out saying: “When you go to your death that way as a God, you are going to your eternal life. What’s sad about that? Let’s make it great.” A dancing Jesus is a much nicer image than the one we are accustomed to. Dancing a last dance in physical form, dancing to one’s death, fully ecstatic about the limbs, the rhythm, the breathe… I tried to draw it. I might have to find that piece in the bible and resurrect it, enact it, bring it into a ritual. A truly ecstatic dance.
I also happened to discover the essence of a party, in the little village of Pakau Penku, where I spent months trying to absolve into the life of a simple farmer and mother of a big herd of hungry mouths. Whenever the local football team would win a match against the neighboring village, it was cause to celebrate: Buy some gasoline, start up the generator and let the local dj loose with the hit records. Everyone would come dance, the sand would rise like a little storm.
I found myself pulled into a spiralling vortex of women, clapping, shaking, yelping, beating the dust with their frivolous step. In the centre, two at a time were thrown to battle with some of the illest moves I’ve ever witnessed – the idea was to go crazy. Suddenly I was pushed to the centre, as well as another villager. All eyes upon us, all screams fuelling our flight, all hands and feet around us supporting with an intense rhythm, I gave up all self control and surrendered to the great collective beat and formed some intense duet with my counter part in the centre of the atom.
We probably only lasted for 30seconds or so, before the spiral shifted and a new pair was thrown into the central void. I staggered out of the circle and found a secluded space to sit, behind the music’s back. A serene ecstacy flowed inside me, every being in the village seemed to be part of this field of bliss and I felt love for them. I tried to speak to a brother about it, refusing his hand over beer. Through my history of psychedelics, dance floor mania on natural or artificial ecstacy and my extensive discoveries of my own body’s abilities to uplift into such states – I had never experienced such an efficient portal to bliss.
I realised the most profound aspects of ritual that night: the rhythm that brings us to trance, the collective that supports the individual (and vice versa) – the shaman, often the dj, who orchestrates the magic, steers the flow, holding consciousness for us all and an intention that enables the transformation.
Intention has often been a difficult concept for western spiritualists. When asked to make one before a strong medicine is served, many say ‘to feel it’ or ‘continue my path’ – which are profound statements implying a general disconnect and a sense of being lost. Many don’t have one at all, especially in the recreational drug scene, where most ‘rituals’ take place in our culture far removed from connection to nature. It’s the thing to do – go a party, take drugs, dance the night off, go home and drop into oblivion. I used to love doing this too. I noticed how the greatest dj’s really are shamans, and lift up the whole room into another, collective realm of that same ‘let go’ I felt with the ladies in the village. I describe this experience of letting all your limbs spasm on the dancefloor, with or without drugs, as ‘going apeshit’. And the aftermath of euphoria…is probably where we feel most connected to the universal love, or the closest we get to non-attachment, nirvana.
Now, we have this amazing capacity as human beings, and this amazing capacity is equal or better than orgasming(!). In fact, they are not far away from each other, brain chemically (and I would do the research now, had my academic brain half not given itself up for more space to blissgasm). So, what do we do with it?
I mean, why do we have this ability and what evolutionary purpose does it serve?
I was in a beautiful tribal gathering in the Swedish island of Gotland (God-land), dancing around the fire with about 50 people, drumming, chanting, breathing to the same rhythm. And I saw people looking around, wandering what to do next. What then, when we raise all this energy, and we do it consciously? Just feel it? How about aiming higher?
I started dancing with the stars above, imagining their photonic otherworldly energy spinning around me and me feeding it to another constellation, thus forming a conversation between different parts of the sky. This I did instinctively, following my inner calling in the moment. I am sure every creature in this circle did something similar, channelling this evoked energy into the spaces in and around that required that extra surge of energy.
But what about doing that together?
What if we made a group intention, to bring those star beings to dance amongst us, to speak through us, to show us some even-iller dance moves. Maybe we would learn to dance like Jesus, towards our blissful death?
This year, and the ones to come, I call for our collective intention. This moment, this life, this transition of humanity we are spiralling in, is a calling for more ritual, more group healing, more togetherness. And when we do get together, I pray we know what to do with our intention – with the energy we generate. Whether it be a circle of prayer, a Friday night dancefloor, a house building project – what ever involves the collaborate effort of individuals, I ask you to notice the presence of ritual components.
There is a beginning of coming together for a purpose.
There is that initial excitement, the vibrating energy.
There is a lift off, when the shaman/orchestrator begins to steer the action or states the intention.
There is a raising, a spiralling of energy up and up, rhythm guiding us all to move into a collective.
There is a revelation, the collective group ‘being’ that produces some shift, some transformation.
There is an integration of that back to our individual selves, the feeling of accomplishment and bliss.
There is the closing, the going home, the return from this sacred mountain.
If you look closely at the next ritual you partake in, maybe you notice the moment where an old you dies, gives up its routine expression and makes space for some new aspect to emerge.
If you listen intently, you may perceive the presence of the void-energy. The moment of no-thought.
And if you really surrender yourself to the flow of the collective, you may find yourself dancing with Jesus.
Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth – interviews with Bill Moyers 1988 (documentary series, I have it if you want it!)
Acts of John, read on from point 94: http://www.gnosis.org/library/actjohn.htm