(2017), ‘The Tree of Life and the Forest of Friendship: Circle Dance to Restore our Hope’, May 6 2017.

On May 6 2017. Here is an excerpt:

Yes, times are tough. But a better understanding of our interconnectedness can help us move beyond the cynicism, frustration, and despair we may be feeling in the modern world. A closer look at trees, and at women’s traditional circle dances, can offer valuable lessons about friendship, community, and the interconnectedness of all life.

The sacred Tree is found in virtually all cultures, often identified with the life-giving figure of the Goddess. Both motifs appear abundantly in archaeological finds dating back to the early Neolithic era. Dance archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel affirms that humans have been dancing in circles since then and probably for far longer. 

The Tree of Life is central to the women’s traditional circle dances of the Balkans and the Near East, which I have been researching for over thirty years.  The pattern of the Tree of Life is encoded in the steps of dances, many dance songs refer to women as sacred or magical trees, people often dance around or under sacred trees, and Tree and Goddess motifs are featured on the textiles worn while dancing.  Furthermore, each dancer resembles a tree, with her ‘trunk’ upright and centred, arms symmetrically extended like branches, and hands joined so that we support each other in the circle.  

As we dance, we learn to integrate and internalize the image of the sacred Tree. This helps us develop valuable skills: quiet strength, inner calm, a deep-rooted sense of being at home on the earth and in the body, and the upright and majestic posture of the dancer. Through practice in the dance, we learn ultimately to embody these qualities in daily life...

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