Embodying Ritual: The Magick & Metaphysics of Movement by Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Tempest Zakroff Pantheon article

(c) Laura Tempest Zakroff

[Laura Tempest Zakroff will be a leading a healing arts ritual at Life Force Arts Center entitled Stirring the Cauldron: A Ritual Exploration of Movement. The ritual will take place Tuesday, July 25, 2017 from 7-10 pm.]

We tend to associate movement with physical fitness, and scholarship and study with mental limberness. But movement can benefit us in far more metaphysical ways, helping us to connect in a deeper spiritual context, while also aiding emotional and mental well-being.

What can even the simplest, embodied movement bring to your personal practice? I took stock of the development of Neo-Pagan/P-Word culture over the last 60+ years and recent trends, fascinated by the swinging of the pendulum. Much of early Neo-Paganism was linked with a renewed exploration of the body and of nature – striving to reconnect with ourselves, embracing sexual revolution and new physical consciousness.  From appreciation of the divine feminine/redefined masculine and working skyclad, to chemical exploration and new family structures – we explored the body as a temple.

In recent years, I’ve noticed a shift to a lot more focus on the mind, from scholarship and related debates, to social issues and spiritual consciousness, almost with an intentional disconnect from the physical, the realm of the body. Neither far side of the swing is wrong, but there’s something to be said about finding the Golden Mean in the space between them.  Balance isn’t about keeping everything even always, but consciously knowing when the middle is ideal and when an extreme is best utilized.

Which is where the understanding the magick of movement comes in. Whether deliberate and precise or made while in trance, movement has the power to unite body, mind, and spirit.  Movement has the ability to unlock parts of ourselves that words and images alone cannot do.

The electricity that flows between our nerve cells, connecting our brains to the rest of bodies – it’s the ultimate expression of liminality, energy flowing in the space in between, touching but not touching.  When we take movement into ritual, use to express ourselves in addition to the words and symbols of the rite, we activate our whole being – body, mind, and spirit.  We connect deeper with our own intentions, and the focusing of will becomes easier, faster, and more effective.  One does not need to be a trained dancer or of a certain age, gender, or ability to harness movement and unlock its power.

Rather, we can learn to connect more physically and sensually with our own bodies, as well as recognizing the power of movement from others experienced within the same space.  We begin to physically feel and understand how directing our hands, arms, chests, torsos, legs, and feet can create patterns in space to activate energy.  All of this can done regardless of mobility, skill or flexibility – without the use of choreographed movement and structure – if we allow ourselves to truly inhabit our bodies.

Sacred dance is not a new concept, it’s one of our most ancient arts – but we’ve lost much of the appreciation of dance and what movement can do for us in terms of ritual and spellwork.  We’ve missed the power it has to connect us mind, body, and spirit – to ourselves and to each other.

I got into dance not long after I formalized my own path as a Witch, and nearly 20 years later, I’m still endlessly amazed and inspired by what movement can achieve.  It is my hope (and challenge) to share that magick with more of you.

Laura Tempest Zakroff can be described by many different labels: artist, author, blogger, dancer, designer, muse, teacher, witch- to name a few. Coming from a long line of diverging cultures, she is most at ease in blending her skills and inspiration throughout all of her work. You can find her web site here. Original posting of this article can be found on Patheos.

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