Sunday, March 21, 2010

grandmother ocean's wrath butoh

"All creatures, be they human, animal, or other, come into this world mentally equipped to confront the various difficulties life will cast in their way. Moreover, we share our bodies with the secret voice that will heal whatever sufferings we endure." Kazuo Ohno, Momo's sensei, from "Kazuo Ohno's World from Without and Within."

Another step back before the updated daily dance practice blogs begin again...

In December of 2008 while in Mexico, my beloved and I spent time in an open-air casita surrounded by a lush jungle perched a few hundred feet above the ocean. The beauty of living in that environment was that we felt connected to nature and in no way felt apart from it. There were no boundaries that kept the natural world out, so we shared our home with giant spiders, geckos, snakes, moths, butterflies, ants and even a scorpion. Every morning the bird's song was so present as there were no window's or insulation to muffle the sound. I loved this feeling of interconnectedness, that we were not superior beings, but living in communion with all the beings. Any fear was not present - we coexisted and didn't try to define our territory and exert our power over these creatures in any way. Even the scorpion was escorted from our space with a blessing to find a new home...

For me the challenge, however, of living in this paradise was the continual sound of the roaring ocean crashing against the shore below us from which there was no reprieve - all day and all night it echoed up the cliff to us. This was not the calming, gentle lapping of waves that lulls you into tranquility. Grandmother Ocean's crashing often sounded like perpetual canons being fired. As I have tinnitus, a perpetual hissing / buzzing in my ears, the sound of the crashing ocean was not soothing to my soul as it also increased the intensity of the inner sound. As I already have one sound that I can find no reprieve from, this new addition being created by Grandmother was almost unbearable.

Also, at that time, my senior mother (a grandmother in human form) was being once again challenged by a life-long battle with mental health disease. She had recently moved to a nursing home and her inner demons were surfacing with a vengeance. Some of her symptoms are paranoia and delusion - seeing and hearing evil entities that no one else can see or hear. No matter how much one tries to convince her there is no bomb that is going to explode in the nursing home, not to listen to the voice that tells her so, and that there is no threatening large man in the elevator, for example, what she sees and hears are real to her and she is filled with a feeling of helpless anxiety that only medication can help to assuage.

I was also at the time very aware of the condition of the pollution in it's various forms deep beneath the surface of Grandmother Ocean (previous blog) and the booming of the waves felt like a reflection of her anger at how she was being treated. I love the idea of a 'Grandmother' being that LOUD and that POWERFUL, not at all the image of a disabled, frail being in her old age.

So, the strength of the ocean brought up a desire to dance in honor of the strength of Grandmother, and also my mom's lifelong battle with mental health disease. In truth, she was the kindest woman I have known, and life seems unfair, as it often does, to lay such an affliction on someone so loving and kind. What a raging battle she has fought from the time she was a teen with her inner demons hidden deep beneath the surface of her gentle surface.

What I love about this form of dance is that although I had strong inner feelings connected to roaring Grandmother and had taken some thrift shop dresses and fabrics as costume options, I had no idea where this dance journey was going to go... As the sun was setting and the moon was rising, down at the ocean just before the dance began, I found a large shell that normally inhabits the inner depths of the ocean (again - the listening, the hearing of the ocean sound inside this shell / inside me, and the question of what is she saying?), and from there I took a deep breath and began...
Initially, it felt like a more of a personal journey of listening to the meaning behind my inner sounds, like the ocean's perpetual sound, but then it felt more like a deeper listening to the depths of the ocean... Then the dance began to feel like I was my mother's and Grandmother Ocean's grief, and then it transformed and began to feel like I was the ocean's anger at the human-beings and how we continue to pollute and abuse her... Although feeling only small and human, anger nonetheless took on a feeling of monumental strength and power with a desire to fight against that which was challenging (the ocean's loud roaring) at which point I was yelling to the ocean - "C'mon! Just try and break me down! I can fight your strength! Bring it on!!"
The symbolism behind this fight against the roaring power of the ocean felt multi-faceted - my mom's strength in her struggle with mental health disease, my challenge with tinnitus, and also what surfaced was my lifelong struggle against the IDEA that I could possibly follow my mom's path of mental illness. It is so fascinating to me how the dance mutated moment to moment, as it then felt like I was Grandmother Ocean herself, feeling her power and her strength within me, like a precious gift bestowed, a feeling of being able to handle future challenges from a place of inner power and resounding peace.
I love the image of the Hindu goddess Kali and her other manifestation Durga who are all powerful and whose rage is necessary in order to bring about positive changes within us as individuals and also within the largess of the world - by meeting demons face on in order for us to release them, to let our demons surface and acknowledge them with all our strength and then eradicate them for good.

"There is always fear in everything. But we must face the fear, fight the fear, and finish it forever." Baba Hari Dass, my yoga guru now approaching 90 years of age.

This dance was very cathartic for me and I would highly recommend using the power of Grandmother Ocean to transmute any demons you may be challenged with in your life :~) I believe it is important to acknowledge and share our inner dark as much as our inner light, and I love how Drew Dellinger reminds us, that even the moon has a dark-side.

luminous moon,
heavenly pearl,
circumnavigate the heartbroke cosmos -
reflect the lonely stars verbatim

curvature caressing
the sensate night

you can't hide your halo from me

like the moon,
we hide half of ourselves

beautiful moon,
show me your dark side

come to me shimmering, luminous

come to me cradled in darkness

wait until the sunset
lights a path across the ocean;
walk to me

she who hears the cries of the world

the church of no return,
the fiery flesh of the original moment

dark madonna,
the beyond within us


even the full moon hides half of herself

luminous moon,
show me your dark side

Honoring Grandmother, with gratitude... Thank you viewing / reading. I hope this blog may inspire you in some way. I always appreciate comments you would like to share.

Visit my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

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