As Mother Day approaches, I reminisce about the ways my mother led me to belly dance. I still have a photograph of her in the 1950's decked out in an Egyptian costume with her sister friends. Her belly is bare, the belly that was to become my home for nine months. She is wearing a veil; she and her multi-hued friends look happy, peaceful, sensual and satisfied. It is so telling, the ways our mothers can shape us—teaching things about accepting our self, in relation to others.
Unlike my mother’s Egyptian influenced form, I was inspired to learn American Tribal Style (ATS) inspired by Carolena of Fat Chance Belly Dance. ATS is about feminine ascension, spirituality, strengthening from the core. ATS has taken me back to the beginning, to a personal epoch of inner genesis. This genesis enabled the reestablishment of what I love best about the dance—spiritual engagement with music, nature, the self and most importantly, others. I feel my woman spirit keenly. My womb is alive—no longer a cavernous receptacle or reservoir, but a space that ties me firmly to the center of the universe.
The power from my belly, that most sacred space, is transformed. The awesome force generated by the circle of women who gather informally as a tribe is amazing. The circular movements of our hips enhance this power—the undulations of our belly’s and the more belly the better, for this form of dance, mesmerize. In belly dance, our hips lead us on mystical journey. In unison, we match rhythms with tabla drums and our own zils, a type of finger cymbal that we use on counts of three.
We are not uniformed, cookie-cutter characters, whose bodies conform to an unwritten script. See us. We are plump, bony, busty, hippy, pony-tailed, gray-haired, short-haired, dread loced, curly topped, scarred, smooth, tattooed, pierced, and everything luscious all in between. There is a sanctum of tranquility, whether we move briskly or languish in the liquid movements of the goddess that I see in the taxem.
Taxem is one of my favorite movements in our repertoire. Slowly and sensually we raise our arms one at a time, with languid movements that we call “oozing” following the movement with our heads, all the while swiveling our hips as slowly as possible. Our hands never cross our bindi line—that line we all have through the center of our being. The bindi is sacred, a space that must be respected. Sometimes we taxem around an invisible cauldron building energy within ourselves, representing the goddess in the flesh and giving all of this to our audience. Other times, we taxem to the four directions; the energy of the north, east, south and west. Then, there is also a reverse taxem. In this movement, we imagine we are cupping rainwater caught from the sky, slowly bringing the cupped hand towards our hips. Once our hip touches the elbow, the other hand and hip slowly rise upwards, as we imagine ourselves spreading grains of rice from our outstretched hand.
Within our circle, healing traverses on the swells and undulations, of an awesome ocean wave of femininity. We exude power, unique to our sex, through our spiritual engagement with the divine. This is not greedy, egocentric power that could consume; it is something we mount to ride briefly, like a magickal broom, before turning it out and into the universe. The force moves onlookers and participants alike, in a way that includes sexuality yet we know there is much more to it—it is deeper and more primal than sex—imagine. The power enters and exists through the navel—caressing that rounded, earth-shaped belly we once despised. We become whole in a way that liposuction or other cosmetic altering surgeries would only disturb, negate or disrupt. The collective body of feminine energy and self are reclaimed—spirit is renewed. Back to square one. Each of these aspects of being opens-the-way to increased creativity, sharing and giving. This is celebration of life at the core.
Mother’s Day is not just once a year it occurs each time one does the dance of the Great Mother Goddess—belly dance. Thrilling, liberating, sensual, expressive, once involved, I am sure you will join our invisible circle from whatever point you are on the planet.