Looking at the women in our dance circle, I took a slightly trembling bow to signal my willingness to embody a Goddess for them. A little nervous, I set my intention to simply hold witness to the wisdom of the energy and if nothing else arises, to the wisdom of body in movement.
For my Goddess, we had chosen (or been chosen by?) Dakini, a Tibetan Buddhist deity known as the sky goer, the space dancer and the energetic form of feminine wisdom.
We began our dance for life itself.
As I invited the energy of the Dakini, I wandered lightly in her presence at first, allowing her to take my measure. Together, we explored the flow of my feelings, the shape of the floor under my feet, the skin on my bones and soft places.
Snap! My hands went up as if she had decided. A force took hold of my movement, spun me around as laughing whispers shimmered through my body, forming a single sentence in my mind.
’Do you think a woman was created to be pretty?’
My whole identity staggered as that question hit my societal programming. Inside, something screamed of course! The Goddess, as if catching me on that lie, had no patience for argument. Relentlessly, she moved my legs across the floor and twisted my arms into intricate shapes, streaming images through my head.
My mind scattered over hundreds of women, all standing their ground in the center of life’s turmoil. Women in all colours, shapes, sizes, situations. Women amidst wars, famine, tears, blood and gore. Each holding the fort in the storm. Each possessing a key to life itself.
It felt as if I was torn to pieces while remaining perfectly intact. I was all those women, and I was still right there in my body, on the dance-floor, taking steps and shapes for the Goddess. For women.
‘Life-bringers.’ The words appeared in my mind. Seeds sprouted where we walked, babies were born from eggs, from animals and women alike. Growing up to be adults, living, continuing. My belly throbbed with knowing. Life can grow through me.
‘Life-keepers.’ Together we moved the winds and the mountains. All of earthly existence was touched by our hands, hearts and mouths. From the planet, we carved space for more cities, for more people, more plants to cultivate. With our breath and the words it carried, we banished illnesses of the mind and the body. We soothed the soul of mankind, promising a better tomorrow. We danced away the clouds of fear. Each step we took, changed things again and again. Nothing ever remained the same.
‘Life is change, woman. No fear.’
The words were offered as a bridge for transformation. Preparing me for…
‘Death-bringers!’ The goddess slammed those words into me and I flinched. Me? A death-bringer? My legs kneeled down to the wooden floor, helping, or guiding me to surrender. Not to death itself, not yet. To the knowledge that I can bring it. Us, women can bring it. We can choose who lives and who dies. Our belly-wisdom knows which babies will be healthy and which will be not. Which plants we will water and which we will not. Which mouths we will feed and which we can not.
A woman who truly accepts death, is a woman who always knows when time and space ripens for transformation. This woman can accept life’s totality. In full.
Her final words arrived as a soft caress. ‘Death is yours.’
As my head touched the floor, I saw myself an old woman, a true crone of the village. Knowing exactly which weeds to pluck and which to soothe and nurture. Which trees to cut and where and when. Which illnesses should be treated and which accepted, integrated. That knowing didn’t come from judging whether one was more useful or more likeable or richer than the other. The knowing was in my bones and in my soft places and I was filled with trust for its cruel wisdom.
That crone knew how to prepare for birth as well as for death. She knew that if anything mattered in these first and last moments, then it would be the quality of preparation. She had become the gatekeeper for all transformation. Death-bringer was her name, spoken in reverent gratitude.
Simplicity. No more words, I just knew that my time was up. Felt it in my bones. One last time, I lifted a weary hand, in gratitude and in farewell. Ready now. Thump. I fell over, hitting the floor.
For a long minute, I couldn’t move a finger or a toe. The movement of my breath an only indication that it wasn’t over yet. My curiosity flared along with an inkling of worry for my immobile state. I called towards the Goddess with an age-old question. ’Is there a rebirth? A life-after-death?’
In response, my body twitched and I rose up as if lifted by a beam of light. I was light, unburdened, complete. As if my soul was free and ready for the next adventure. My hands flowed up again, this time dancing my own dance. The Goddess watched.
The music changed and this dance, this journey was complete. In shocked awe, I bowed again to the Dakini before returning to my circle. Just before I left the floor to take my seat, I felt her move off, and was certain that she kept dancing.
She may be dancing still.