More on the Cosmic Mass and Dance

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We continue our meditations on Ritual and Ceremony…

Physicist Werner Heisenberg observed that a big obstacle to resolving controversies is that “ordinary language is based upon the old concepts of space and time.”  Substitute “ordinary patterns of worship” and you have an understanding of why so may people today have grown restless and bored by the mechanistic rituals we usually associate with institutional worship.  

Matthew Fox clip from a lecture on 21st Century Spirituality. Originally posted to YouTube by justmultimedia.

Suppositions about mass, density, and solidity do not hold any more.  Gravity gets redefined in the paintings of Monet, for example, whose subjects “are invested with weightlessness and a certain sense of airiness.”  So too with Marc Chagall.  

How does ritual wrestle with gravity?  By way of dance.  

How make ritual real again?  I think young people have an absolute role of leadership to play, because in my lifetime new languages have grown up out of youth culture that are totally practical for reinventing worship and ritual and ceremony.  Among them are technological advances of VJing and DJing and other new art forms like rap and even B-boy dancing and more.  

Young ethiopian man dancing. Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

All this needs to be and can be integrated into worship today.  It’s today’s language–it’s postmodern language, which, of course, is closer to premodern language, because all of our ancestors danced when they prayed.  It is only in the modern era that you sit in a pew and are read to,  and call it prayer—or you are fumbling through a book to find the right page.  We have other chakras besides our eyes that want to worship, and they’re not allowed to.  What did the poet Rilke say over a century ago?  “The work of the eyes is finished/ Go now and release all the images inside you.”

The very essence of the Cosmic Mass is dancing our prayers.  Together.  In this way, everyone is truly a participant and truly a priest, that is a midwife of grace.  No one dances for you.  In dancing together to the same music and responding to the same images,  you dance your truth, the truth of your feelings in the context of the images that are projected on screens, all of which unite to the theme of the Mass.

Chanting and spiral dancing lead by witch and eco-activist, Starhawk. Posted to YouTube by The Goddess Conference Glastonbury UK.

I remember at a Mass on “The Return of the Divine Feminine,” we had hundreds of images of the goddess from all the world’s spiritual traditions on screens while we were dancing, and I had a powerful mystical experience that we were indeed bringing the Divine Feminine back to the altar, to the center of consciousness.  As so often happens at such times, the experience went beyond words.

When you worship by dancing, first of all you’re connecting to the earth again, and you’re getting into your lower chakras, and that’s where the beginning energies really are. Kundalini begins there—it doesn’t begin with the head or the eyes.  It begins with the feet, the genitals, your guts, which is where your anger and your grief reside, among other things.  All three lower chakras deserve to be stirred up in authentic ritual.  

Adapted from Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation, pp. 141f. 

Adapted also from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 261f.

Banner Image: Cosmic Mass participants dancing in spiral dance.

How do you engage your lower chakras when you pray and celebrate and worship? 

How does your prayer life “wrestle with gravity”?

Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation

Authors Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox encourage us to use our talents in service of compassion and justice and to move beyond our broken systems–economic, political, educational, and religious–discovering a spirituality that not only helps us to get along, but also encourages us to reevaluate our traditions, transforming them and in the process building a more sacred and just world. Incorporating the words of young activist leaders culled from interviews and surveys, the book provides a framework that is deliberately interfaith and speaks to our profound yearning for a life with spiritual purpose and for a better world.
Occupy Spirituality is a powerful, inspiring, and vital call to embodied awareness and enlightened actions.”
~~ Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist and author of The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science 
by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

Natural Grace, a 208 page inspired dialogue between theologian Matthew Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake, unites wisdom and knowledge from unconventional angles. Considering themselves heretics in their own fields, Matthew and Rupert engage the conversation from postmodern and post-postmodern perspectives, deconstructing both religion and science—while setting the foundation for a new emerging worldview. Having outgrown the paradigms in which they were raised, both Fox and Sheldrake see it as part of their life missions to share the natural synthesis of spirituality and science rooted in a paradigm of evolutionary cosmology.

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7 thoughts on “More on the Cosmic Mass and Dance”

  1. Avatar

    How does ritual dance include people who are limited by their physical condition – paralyzed, perhaps, or sitting in a wheelchair, or using a walker to ambulate? There HAS to be a place for them in the ritual!

  2. Avatar

    Of course there does. We put them in the center of the circle so they receive the highest energy from the group prayer AND we receive theirs. This is a common practice among indigenous peoples who call such people the “treasured ones.”
    In addition, people can dance even in wheelchairs. Our instructor in movement as meditation, Robert Rice, actually choreographed a dance with a paraplegic in a wheelchair at a summer event Friends of Creation Spirituality sponsored in North Carolina several years ago. It was one of the most beautiful and moving experiences of my life. All the other summer school students and staff formed a large circle around the two of them as they danced. Unfortunately, no one thought of filming the special moment (it was before i phone videos).

    1. Avatar

      Thank you for that image of wheelchairs dancing. It is very painful for me as a seriously disabled and wheelchair bound old woman to be excluded in every contemplative meditation involving embodiment practices. It is rare to find even the caveat “for those who are able”. Thank you for the affirmation and inclusion on the occasion of the summer event. As you know, disabled people are not and have not been universally respected in culture or religion. Churches are not always accessible. In ancient times, disabled people were not allowed into the Temple itself. I also wonder about the place of those who cannot see or hear well in the mystic-contemplative world. Since we are in the minority, I suspect there is not any specific place or acknowledgement but am glad to be wrong. Despite these complaints, I am one of your biggest fans and found “Original Blessing” most inspiring. I love these Daily Meditations and wish you would have a FB page for more extended comments and interactions. Thank you! Bless you in your work.

  3. Avatar

    The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva has symbolizes fivefold aspects of Divine control of the universe namely; creation, preservation, destruction, illusion and grace. When he dances, matter, energy and sound are sorted out through the vibration of His drum and such as are created by His moves. The triple qualities of created matter manifest themselves and all spheres with their atomic energy begin operating rhythmically along with the movement of His body. (Wikipedia)

    On June 18, 2004, an unusual new landmark was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva — a 2m tall statue of the Indian deity Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. The statue, symbolizing Shiva’s cosmic dance of creation and destruction, was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center’s long association with India.

    1. Rev. Dr. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Rev. Dr. Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Ron, Thank you for reminding us of the “Dance of Shiva” as well as the statue of Shiva that then now have at the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva!

  4. Avatar

    Some Christian Evangelicals dance during church services. Many Sufi orders use music and dance as a form of worship. Most Hasidic Jews dance often. Dance is fundamental in Shinto services. The cham dance of Tibetan Buddhist monks is very colorful.

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