Essays

dragon dancing (5)

Dragon Dancing

 

[Excerpt from 1000 Days Log, Day 1, 045]

I did some dragon dancing on deck today. First, I had to sew up an appropriate loin cloth. I couldn’t wear a dragon mask and shorts or go completely naked if I was going to video tape it. I found some appropriate material and a string to sew into it to hold it in place. It is about as simple, but efficient covering that I could make. Then I got out the seven colors of the rainbow in acrylic paint and painted my body all over like a rainbow. By this time I was ready, transformed and in the mood. I got out the tripod and the digital camera first to get some still shots, then I set up the video camera. It was a very hot day and I normally do my best to stay out of the burning tropical sun, but I was eager to dance in the dragon mask. I pointed the camera so I could dance right on top of the cargo hatch with the sail and the sea in the background. There were some big mahi and some very big tuna that were chasing fish around the schooner and the water was clear. As I was videoing I could see the fish eat fish action going on.

 

I danced until my feet were sore and I was utterly exhausted and sunburned. I reviewed some of the video and parts of it are quite funny because I had my iPod hanging on my loin cloth string and dragon dancing to rock music at sea is quite absurd. However, special insight does come from outrageous absurdity.  I was in a swoon of heat exhaustion so I bathed with buckets of sea water, washed the paint off and rinsed with fresh water. Then I laid down in my shady bed under the soft glow of the rainbow skylight and did my afternoon OM chanting……..

 

A Lifetime of Dragon Dancing   12/22/10

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If I said I’d been dragon dancing for most of my life, I wouldn’t be exaggerating. Nor would I be unique among the people of the world. Have a look at the history of man. From the very beginning people have been dancing even before we became what is now called human. Perhaps our deep archaic memories surface as we remember the elaborate mating dances we did when our ancient spirit resided in the reptiles, birds, insects, and sea creatures before we crawled out of the eternal abyss. These are the feelings that come to me as I dance.  Even as children we danced like animals, roared and made noises. I dance like all these creatures and in my imagination colors flicker phosphorescent in kaleidoscope patterns as my cosmic opposite and I trade moves. I think anybody who has danced into a heat can relate to what I’m saying. Mysterious things happen to our psyche even on a sawdust cowboy dance floor. But imagine what it is like to wear a dragon mask and dance naked on the wide open eternal seas far from all of civilization after not having seen another person for years. This is real dragon dancing in a shamanistic, ritualistic, ecstatic sense very similar to dance that still goes on today. I think people the world over dancing in a night club for hours to loud amplified music are experiencing a form of transcendence that all people long for deep in their psyches.

 

What I call Dragon Dancing is close in spirit to the shaking practiced in shaker churches. I’ve done that too. Many years ago, Son Mitchell, the Prime Minister of the Grenadines took me to the shakers church overlooking the Caribbean Sea. When the church members started shaking, a chill ran up my spine and I started shaking and quivering all over. I felt an uplifting sensation, a separation from my body, and a religious feeling of oneness with the people. When we walked out of the church, all the people reached over and touched me. The next day Son Mitchell told me that the church goers told him that I had the spirit.

 

I have also whirled with Whirling Dervishes, a Sufi sect that spins around and around together experiencing ecstatic bliss. I still spin when I can conjure up the inspiration. In Brazil, I have seen and been inspired by Condomble  dancing in which certain “trance mediums” speak in voices other than their own when they loose themselves in the frenzy of throbbing music. Carnival dancing is also a mix of ancient and modern religion. Hours of dancing in masses of tight pressed people transforms their consciousnesses. Tribal and ritualistic dancing is still practiced all over the world.

 

When I make my own masks with reverent hands and holy motives then dance into ecstatic bliss I merge into that common consciousness of man that is still alive and connected through time. It is a colorful, patterned, beautiful and mysterious energy I entreat to help me stay alive and exist on the very fringes of human experience. I have used this energy to help me accomplish the physical and technical feat of sailing and departing the touch of the solid earth for much longer than any other human in history. Dragon dancing can be done by anyone who dances vigorously and lets their fantasies free and focuses on a goal.