It is so exciting to read this post because one of the threads in Magdalene A.D., my novel about Mary Magdalene’s life after the death of Jesus, was inspired by, and incorporates and expands on Maria Gimbutas’ ideas about the wisdom embedded in women’s dance. In my book “Mary” is a title bestowed on the teachers of the Dance of the Seven Veils passed down from Miriam, the sister of Moses. The dance steps and movements include information about women’s physical work in the world, the onset of menses, sensuality, birth, menopause, the slowing of old age, the ritual preparation of a body after death, etc. Women learn the dance as little girls and go through seven initiations as they age, to learn new steps appropriate to the progression of their lives.
It was so much fun to work with this idea and it developed so clearly in my mind that I could sense the veils swirling around me as I wrote. (Magdalene’s Middle Eastern dance is more like a belly dance than a Balkan circle dance – hence the veils, but the basic concept is exactly the same.)
I’m thrilled to read Laura Shannon’s account and so happy to share it my readers. She’ll be writing more about this soon, so look for it on her blog. If you want to read my book, you can find it on Amazon.
In the first part of this article, I looked at how Carol P Christ’s Nine Touchstones of Goddess Spirituality are related to traditional women’s ritual dances of the Balkans. After more than thirty years of researching and teaching these dances and the way that they pass on information in encoded symbolic ways, I have come to see them as an educational system, a women’s mystery school. The main message which the dances convey is an ethic of community, partnership, mutual support, and other life-enhancing values aligned with the Nine Touchstones, which can be directly experienced in the dance.
We know from the research of Marija Gimbutas that these values were central to the Old European civilizations which honoured the Goddess, while Yosef Garfinkel and Elizabeth Wayland Barber show that circle dances have their roots in these same early Neolithic cultures of Eastern Europe and the Near East. This leads…
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