Dancing for Apollon

Since my life has broadened recently to reintroduce a focus and passion on dancing I have found that it has struck a rather profound note with me these days. I am not sure if it is because that in the last few years since my last attempt to engage myself with dance as a spiritual practice that I have learned more about the gods (particularly Apollon who is the god I most frequently dance for), but regardless I have found myself taking a far more serious interest in it as it has become a more important part of relationship with the gods in my daily worship life. So I find myself analyzing different videos of traditional dance, my eyes observing the nauces of movement and expression. How would I incorporate these things, how might I end up changing them.

Now I am not disregarding Hellenic dance. In fact I have found myself collecting photographs from vase paintings (though I confess that the more gymnastic moves are beyond my capability.. I have never in my life been able to do a handstand even at my best physical condition in my youth), and watching videos of folk dances. At the same time I am not limiting myself to these for artistic inspiration either, mainly because ultimately the dance comes from me. This means that often the largest sources of inspiration tends to come from bellydance and the dance forms from India, because it flows better into how I naturally move when I am freedancing. Also much of it can be danced in a solitary fashion, whereas Greek folkdancing, in the examples I have found, is always done in at least a pair as in samples of the knife dances, if not a small group that they dance in for most other dances. In short there is a great probability that my personal dance is going to be one that is a collection of different tradition types.

For my dance I am considering setting up a small shrine in my house, seperate from the main shrine of Apollon, for that of Apollon Musagetes. He who is the leader of the Muses, and also the form that I most associate with the dancing god. Of course it is not uncommon with thinking of spiritual dance that most would probably think more in terms of Dionysos. Indeed scenes of maenads dancing is not uncommon, so it is hardly surprising that Dionysos would be so strongly associated in the minds of worshipers as a god of the dance. However Apollon is equally, if not more so, a god of the dance..though in a different capacity. I would liken the dance of Apollon more to that of the Hindu Shiva…a cosmic dance more than anything else..a dance of beginnings and ends. This is fitting to the description of the domain of Apollon and his fundamental actions within nature; whereas the mystic and almost celebratory nature of Dionysos’ dance reminds me of the dancing of Ganesha. So both deities are undeniably linked to the art of dance, and we can recall this even from the Homeric Hymn to Apollon in which Apollon led his priests (the Cretans) to his temple as he danced and played the lyre…he is leading forth with his dance.

Therefore while I do dance for Dionysos in the winter months, celebrating the great power of Dionysos in the dead winter and the symbolism inherent in it representing the rejuvination and immortality of the soul as he leads forth to spring and rebirth, the dance for Apollon is the most prominent in my beliefs. So I dance for him who is the greatest of the dancers, and the lord of music, and in this I seek to incorporate more dance in my personal worship for him. Thus I am looking at the stamping dance of India to get inspired of how the Delian maidens may have stamped their feet to welcome Apollon back from Hyperborea, and on the same token I am enjoying examples of dancing with trays lit up with candles or lamps for such festivals too, though I know this will require considerable preperation before it can be performed. Dance is a perfrect was of honoring the expression of Apollin in our world…the coming and waning of light, his martial character by dancing with knives or swords, and so on. There are endless possibilities, because in the end he is dancing through all the cosmos, throughout all of our world.

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