In Times of Trouble, It’s Time to Dance

Our world is still fraught with anxieties and health concerns centering around the ever-morphing pandemic. Social Distancing is in constant flux, throwing folks back on themselves into isolated clusters when we most need to be reaching for community. Our native ancestors taught us that in times of trouble, it is time to dance. Current circumstances call for us to broaden the range of our spiritual faculties, and to broaden how we connect with one another and in dance community.  Wherever you are there are ways to connect to the dance circle and make a difference…

Join Us Around the Tree

Folks have been connecting with the Tree and dancing in place for many years, pre-pandemic. When the dance circle has felt especially full to you, with many more people dancing than were visible, it was full, and not only from the Other Side Camp. A number of people have experienced the feeling of being present at the Tree when they were hundreds/thousands of miles away, with their prayers swelling our ranks, tapping into the power of the sacred songs. This is something that can be achieved with practice, intention, and focus; it is powerful, effective, and creatively ideal for the era we are in.

Dancing In Place Guidelines:

Remember that as a returning dancer you already have a living connection to the ceremony no matter where it takes place from the moment you formally commit to dance again with your gatekeeper. That thread is the reason folks sometimes experience sensitivity or a sense of displacement while the dance is running —  others say they feel like they have ‘tuned in’. However, you are responsible for consciously reactivating and nourishing that thread of connectivity at every dance. Creating a safe space and grounding yourself as you begin this work will anchor that energetic thread for you, and allow you to move your prayers along the thread with intent directly to our circle and the Tree. Every conscious connection amplifies the power of your prayers, and how it ripples out into the world.

The ability to be present at a dance from wherever you are is a tool that deepens with practice. It will continue to unfold and blossom, strengthening your connection with Spirit as you follow these guidelines:

  • Gatekeeping (formerly called Intention Guiding) is required for all new dancers.  It is highly encouraged for returning dancers whether required by a specific dance or not. This process deepens and enriches your preparation and connection, focusing your intentions and allowing a compassionate witnessing of your work before and after your dance. Making a vision arrow or prayer ties to place on your altar is an additional way to focus more deeply.

  • Reach out to your local dance bundlekeeper with tobacco, prayer ties or other offerings. Your community bundle and buffalo skull are there to hold them and you.

  • Consider having a buddy — an experienced dancer — is a wonderful and heartfelt way to reflect and ground your experiences before and after your dance.

  • Commit to joining us for the duration of the ceremony as you would at an in-person dance. 

  • Preparing in advance:  Choose your physical space with care — a quiet, uninterrupted environment; phone turned off; a vacation from social media; a drug-free environment & honoring the Dancer Agreements — all of these can support you in creating a safe circle in which to activate your energetic connection to the Tree.

  • Double check your time zone for the correct start time. 

  • If you are gathering with other community members, organize your prayer time together while observing the current social distancing and facemask guidelines of the moment. Keep in mind you do not have permission to sing the Dance songs. 

  • Create a safe circle for yourself: visualize this as you draw it around yourself and the altar you create for yourself. You may use tobacco, cedar, cornmeal, sea salt or all of the above. Smoke yourself down with sage or cedar inside the circle. You may “brush yourself off” in this way as often as you need to. NEW: CREATING SACRED SPACE FOR CEREMONY >>

  • Once inside the circle: slow down & be in present time. Settle your body comfortably for the duration, being well-fed beforehand; feet or buttocks on the ground, a chair if you need it. Tune into the spirit of the ceremony. Smudging; breathing; hydration; staying warm; and focusing on the Tree & your intentions will support you in maintaining your energetic connections. Feel yourself reach out and hold hands with your fellow dancers; feel your connection to the folks who may be at the Tree; you may reach out to the Bundle for support as well.

  • Again, you do not have permission to sing the sacred songs. Allow the medicine of the songs being sung at the Tree to flow over you. If you feel strongly moved to sing, you may sing something which has personal meaning to you.

  • You participate by being in prayerful meditation with your intention focused on the Tree. For your safety and protection, clearly understand that you are responsible to stay grounded and present. You want to be listening with purposeful intent to receive the messages and the blessings of Creator and the dance.

  • As you pray during your dancing in place:

    1. Be gentle with yourself.
    2. Wrap yourself in gratitude for your life —  everything around you and in it.
    3. Don’t be surprised if you feel things, see things, start laughing or crying for no apparent reason — let it flow.
    4. Pay attention to thoughts and impressions that come to you.
  • Following your dance:

    1. Use the feeding of your ancestors and yourself to reground.
    2. Let self-care and kindness guide the days that follow.
    3. Keep listening. Give yourself the room to reground yourself and let the lessons of the dance clarify themselves.
    4. Allow all those gifts to settle over you for the next four days.
  • Determine in advance who will receive you after your dance. Once you have been deeply connected to the Tree, the ceremony, and the other dancers, it will take some time to come home to yourself. Choose your support with care. Reach out and complete the circle of connection with your gatekeeper and buddy if you had one. This provides conscious structure for your experience, and a kindhearted reentry to daily life. With whom will you reflect on your dance?