Last Friday morning, I woke at six-thirty to bike across South Minneapolis, to the school my niece attends, to watch her receive two awards, for her generosity to others, and for her focus in class. Through much of the ceremony, my stomach was reeling though empty, as I'd not been able to eat anything since waking, but a little kefir. I hadn't felt physically nervous prior to that, in anticipation of dancing at Patrick's Cabaret, mostly just the occasional foray into visions of utter failure. My niece didn't seem to notice. She was very proud to have her family there, including her mother, her step-father, and her infant brother.
I calmed down through the day, arriving at the venue early, setting up shop in the back dressing room, attempting to maintain a kind of meditative state. My rehearsal went poorly, as I hadn't warmed up properly, and my timing was disturbingly off in all three dances. Watching the women rehearse, all of them technically trained, life long dancers, I began to question the thinking that led me to that place, if perhaps I had once again slipped into delusion. I got over it, resolving to be the pole opposite their feminine, while balancing that polarity in myself.
I started the show, dancing with my wood swords to Ha Dias, by Luca Mundaca. I followed that with a dance I call Sun Worship, to Ali Farka Toure's N'Jarou. Anat Shinar, with three other dancers, followed me, in contrasting black to my white, quite impressively. A band, The Shakin' Babies, closed out the first half with a fun update of sock-hop oldies. I closed out the second half, after a frisky story by a beautiful old crone named Joan Calof; and a tribal trinity, one on guitar, one on djembe and a wood flute, led by the dancing of Laura Kirkeby, all three singing. I came out wearing costume animal pants, my upper-body bare painted green, dancing with deer horns in hand, to Rokia Traore's Kana Neni.
I felt good about my performance, and it was clear the dancing had moved people. Ten of the most important people in my life were in attendance, and I think I surprised them. It's not everyday you see someone channel the green man woodland god, consort to the Goddess. I thanked them all, honored that they had come. I introduced them to my niece, who didn't think the green man was me, and then I chased her around the building, wanting to model a bit more of the sacred masculine. Afterward, I went to Merlin's Rest with my good friend Keith, where we drank dark beers, ate appetizers and talked about the divine nature of existence.
Saturday I meditated in the sun, a little hung-over but feeling strong. The cards had been helpful the first night, so I sought their council again. I was warned I was expending an extreme amount of personal energy - I hadn't eaten much but those appetizers, in the previous 36 hours - but assured that the Goddess was present, that unity was at hand. I was reminded to dive in, by loving myself.
I opened again the second night, the moon in perigee, closer to the Earth than it has been in eighteen years. Half-way through the first dance, my consciousness intruded, whining, and I stabbed myself in the leg. I smiled, and let go. I was exceptionally happy with Sun Worship. As I raised the horns above my head, half-way through the third dance, I could feel myself teetering on the edge of blackout. I opened my eyes slightly to regain my bearings, and finished well. The applause was tepid, either stunned or indifferent, but it seemed everyone I talked to after was impressed with what I'd done.
Sunday afternoon, I took my niece to the park. I was at a low ebb, sitting down awhile, exhausted, unable to stand up. I started feeling like, while maybe the performance had been a kind of personal triumph, the response had been underwhelming in ways, and maybe I hadn't really made any impact at all, and maybe nothing would come of it, as I hoped something external would. I reminded myself to quit whining, it was only Sunday. I walked with my niece back to her house, where I slowly recovered my strength until I danced with her in a circle, holding hands in the living room, at 8:21, which the Farmer's Almanac said was the moment of the shift from winter to spring, singing, "Equinox! Equinox! It's Spring! It's Spring."
Later I was dancing again, for my sister and brother-in-law, in the kitchen, showing them what I'd done impromptu, in an upscale bowling alley, to the Black Eyed Peas Dirty Bit, on an empty dance floor in front of a bunch of drunk corporate white people. My sister said, "swear to me on Dad's life that you did that." I did, and she gave me a big hug and said she loved me, and that watching me dance Friday had been "a big deal" for her; which was a big deal for me.
Slowly as the night progressed, a path as clear as any I have ever seen was revealed, so perfect in so many ways, it could not be anything but a gift from the Divine, a gift from the Goddess. A path that would require me to let go of my desire to put my canoe in the Mississippi and paddle to the gulf, to sail to South America, but instead to make a long-term familial investment, to unite two clans so-to-speak, to make a deep and abiding commitment to community; and I realized, it was exactly what I wanted; and yet, it would not require me to forfeit the shamanic path I have chosen.
Today, the first day of Spring, feeling blessed, I planted the first vegetable and flower seeds of the season, prostrated on my knees in humility, before the soil flats sitting on the back step, smiling, thinking about family, calling out in service. The flats are in my living room now, in front of the vent; tomorrow I'll build the stand above the vent, so the seeds in their beds will be warm, and germinate well.
A new cycle begins.