Playing at the Rosicrucian Museum
I’m back from Hidden in Plain Sight, the Rosicrucian Museum’s lovely four-day conference on esotericism. Not only did I have a wonderfully mentally stimulating time, but I was thanked repeatedly for all my volunteer work during the con, which I’ll freely confess was really nice to hear. Further, after the conference was over we were able to all wander about in the beautiful grounds around the museum. At the same time as the conference — at least on the weekend — there was a festival the museum was hosting, called the Egyptian Epagomenal. From one of the entries on their Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum facebook page for last weekend:
In addition to the regular 360-day ancient Egyptian calendar were five days “out of time” that paid tribute to the birth of the goddesses Isis and Nephthys, and the gods Osiris, Seth and Horus. In honor of this ancient Egyptian tradition, we celebrate by hosting a festival weekend at Rosicrucian Park. Please join us in a variety of special gallery talks, guided tomb tours, planetarium shows, workshops and special children’s activities. Outdoor booths will be held during the weekend festival, and include hands-on activities such as henna, crafts and even an ancient Egyptian “photo booth.” Museum staff will be dressed in Egyptian costumes, and we encourage guests to dress up and join in all of the fun!
I got henna’d — for the first time! Quite fun; I shall have to try this again. Also participated in a sacred dance in the Garden of Peace, which made me happy despite the heat. I was interested to hear the explanation of sacred dance offered by the dance’s organizer, a Brazilian flautist, dancer, and Rosicrucian whose name I didn’t get. According to him, sacred dance was incredibly ancient and one of the first forms of both spiritualism and interpersonal communication, since it is believed to have occurred before the spoken word.
That, as far as I know, is true — but then he mentioned only two relatively recent and (according to him) strictly male dances as examples of sacred dance: the Shiva Nataraja, or Hindu Lord of the Dance, and one from the American Plains Indians. I found myself wondering: what about all the prehistoric shaman women and priestesses who lived, prayed, and danced for centuries before Hinduism and the American Indians came about? For that matter, if we’re discussing Hindu dances, what about the dancing Dakinis, or the dance of Kali? If we’re remembering we’re on the grounds of a museum dedicated to the Egyptian mysteries, then why not mention Bast, the goddess of music, dance, and sensual pleasure — or the famous dance initially developed by Egyptian women, called then raqs sharki, and now known as belly dancing?
However, modern erasure of historical women is a discussion for another time. At that particular moment I was still quite enjoying myself, especially as the first sacred dance we did was based on the Cherokee Ghost Dance, and very simple. The Brazilian musician either sang a simple, almost wordless tune while encouraging us to sing along; or played lovely haunting flute music as we danced. That part was lovely, and as he’d promised, the musician kept the dances and songs he taught us very simple and straightforward. However, I bowed out of the dance that came after that one, and ended up quietly departing during the song-teaching portion of the following dance, since they both had songs which were extraordinarily Christian. Since I don’t consider myself christian, and don’t care much for the androcentric focus of the religion and its deity, I felt a bit awkward in participating in its glorification. ;)
Having the music as a vague background hum while wandering about the various booths was much nicer for me. As I mentioned before, I had some henna painting done on one hand. It was funny later, glancing around and noticing all the people who were sitting in the shade, but with one hand (or other limb) stuck out into the sunshine so their henna would dry. I also ended up making a little beaded, protective-scarab-amulet bracelet; painting on papyrus precisely as the ancient Egyptians did — which was surprisingly easy and fun to do; admiring the cheerful and exotically dressed museum staff and volunteers; and generally wandering around the gardens in a tiredly happy daze. Considering the conference started on Thursday, after all, it was intellectually a rather long weekend. ;)
It was a truly gorgeous weekend, too. The Rosicrucian gardens are well-shaded by all the trees, and the big fountain in the center means you can hear running water almost everywhere on the grounds — which I remember reading was one of the definitions of paradise for some desert culture which I cannot now recall. All the various flowers were sweet-scented and blooming in a rainbow of colors, the kids scampering madly about were generally excited and happy, and it was one of those moments where I was sitting surrounded by beauty and thinking just how lucky I am. :)
Well, I have been told Brazil is an extremely, um… patriarchally based culture — maybe that was part of it? At least he didn’t mention any female dances that are specifically suggestive. ;-j
Why wouldn’t the Ghost Dance survive? For something like that to be lost you either have to kill *everyone* associated with it, or make it so shameful no one will dance it or speak of it any more. Neither is the case here.
Curious that he mentioned two male-only dances. What I found more curious is that the Ghost Dance survived; it was as much a political as a religious and cultural movement, but there was some severe attacks upon the Cherokee for promoting it, even though it was just a small subset of the overall Cherokee nation.
Oh, I don’t know if it did. From what little reading I’ve done on it, no one is exactly sure. I simply mentioned it as being associated with Egypt. ;)
And you are indeed, very lucky. For many reasons.
I had no idea that belly dancing came from the worshippers of Bast, though.