One of the main activities at the Sweet Beautiful Waters Peace Sound Chamber are the dances gifted to us by Grandfather Joseph Rael who is the inspiration for all we do. We do regular ceremonies in order to remind ourselves of our place in the world. We gather seasonally and monthly to drum, chant, vision, make drums, and dance! This piece of writing was written post dance. Enjoy. If you have questions about this path, please be in touch.
We have a small arbor, small but potent, as it is surrounded by the great Saguaro cactus that only grow here in the Sonoran Desert. We completed our seventh dance on this land this year, and we had seven new dancers and fifteen total – we were supposed to have 17 dancers but two of them had Covid and could not come. The Arbor can hold between 18-20 depending on how much space we give the supporters, drummers and the chief and moon mothers, and I’ve got a feeling it will be full next year!
Usually, it takes a little time for the full energy of the dance to cook the dancers but not this time. By Friday morning I could feel the work of the dancers rising and growing. It’s a sight to see/feel for sure and I was keeping a good eye on my dancers as their prayers and steps got more and more potent.
We had one dancer “go to the Tree” as we say on Friday, she is my gateway, she is almost always my first dancer to surrender at the Tree. She seems to open the doorway for all the dancers even though she is not always happy to be “first.” There is a tension within the new dancers especially…like how should I to “go to the Tree” or let go at the Tree. Do I want to put down my burdens, they have become so familiar. What does that look like, when do I let go, there are too many people watching me, will they be able to pick me up and carry me, why do I have to? So many things can go through the heads of the dancers, even when they clearly surrender to Great Spirit. Personally, as a dancer I did not “fall” at the Tree till my fifth dance but I still had my surrender to God….which is why I say it can look different for each dancer.
Here’s the good news! There is no “right way” to meet God, we just get to that place where it happens and sometimes – we fall down and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we lay down at the tree and sometimes we keep dancing with our tears and full heart.
This is the beauty of the dance. We can come together and create this marvelous container that Grandfather has gifted us with – so that all of us, Dancers, Chief, Moon Mother(s), Drummers and every single Dog Soldier, Supporter, and Kitchen Angel can meet God in ourselves and in each other. It is a holy encounter. I get chills when I think of it.
For four days we get to see what it might be like if we could walk in that Beauty every single day and maybe we even get to do that for a period of time after the dance. Maybe the period of time gets longer each year and we can maintain our connection for longer.
I had the blessing of having Valerie Eagle Heart Meyer (California dance chief and chamber keeper) sit the drum this year. Carrie Bissmeyer is my Drum Chief (also from California) and between the two of them I received so many teachings, it was a blessing to have their wisdom and many years of experience to draw on. We grow in beauty as we share teachings with one another, and we are always learning.
We don’t get spiritual movement, spiritual water, spiritual food without effort, without sacrifice. There is a giveaway and maybe travel expenses too, so you make decisions each month and you put that money aside or you send it to the dance chief each month so that the way is clear, and you can do your dance. But as Joseph says, like a clock, we wind down until we are ready to dance the next year. Then we step into the Arbor once again.
It is worth any amount of money to get to a Dance, ANY amount of money to have that opportunity to step into an Arbor. These dances are beyond words and precious beyond measure.
It is my greatest joy to be able to Chief this dance and I thank my teacher Joseph Rael with all my heart for his generosity in bringing these Visions to us so that All the People May Live.