what to do

Should we insist everyone be vegan or they cannot play with us?

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  1. Delight Stone
    Posted November 11, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Though not a resident of the San Francisco and Bay Area, for close to 30 years I have been making an annual pilgrimage to the Spiral Dance. Prior to this correspondence, I have never provided “public” feedback. I had such a strong response to this year’s ritual I feel compelled.

    I admit to reticence. It was obvious that the Ritual Cell had invested much time and energy creating the ritual. Certainly choices were made based on information that I had not been privileged to, due to me not being involved in the organization of the ritual.

    Due to other obligations, not to mention distance, I am not in a position to support this annual ritual as the ritual comes together. Going forward, if the Spiral Dance budget (both the energetic budget and the financial budget) was transparent and a public appeal was made for specific items, I would be able to show my support beyond simply attending. Contribution would help me feel like part of the community and add to that which is being woven.

    Contributions, tied to specific pieces of the evening, may help the Ritual Cell know what the community believes is necessary.

    The reason I return to the SF Spiral Dance is that I have felt it to be one of the healthiest, vital, and magic rituals about. Anchored with firm roots in the Celtic tradition, structurally sound trance format, and decades of repetition and community involvement, the Spiral Dance has developed a momentum that has been a pleasure to be part of. Singing familiar songs, seeing old friends, and having others become familiar, gazing in one another’s eyes during the Spiral, all have added to the magical momentum.
    The magic has built upon itself year after year and appears to be in and of itself, it’s own piece of the kabab. It has been an honor to watch it grow.

    I was looking forward to the Spiral Dance this year. I found the people in the entry, selling tickets, and greeting us to be helpful and friendly. They set a relaxing and welcoming tone.

    The blessing and honoring of the directions by the Native Americans was powerful and heartwarming. The basket and expression of thanks for this had sincerity and dignity that was measurable. The musical piece by Alfonse was perfection. If we had started the journey to the Isle at that point in time, it would have been an excellent launch. However, the ritual proceeded to change, dramatically. I got thrown. Neither the website or emails describing the intention prepared me for the degree of change that I faced.

    To my memory, there appeared to be a lot of changes. Ritual pieces changed order, some pieces were dropped, and there seemed to be more than a typical number of new, or new this year for this ritual, songs. The lack of instruction was difficult. The technical support lagged or was missing.

    Being simply subjected to changes made me feel out of the groove. I had to struggle to keep in touch with what was happening. This kept me from adding energetically.

    I missed the trance, never caught the narrative for what was supposedly happening on the ship or on the Isle. Was the calling of the directions (out of order?) on the ship the trance piece? Was the trance abandoned? Was it me? I never missed the trance before but I did this year.

    The website collected the specific names of the dead and the names of the babies. This created an expectation, in me, that the names were going to be honored during the ritual, when I was present to hear.

    Reading the names of the dead in a cacophony format made it impossible for me to hear specific names of my dead. I found myself struggling to hear my dead’s names. It was futile and disappointing.

    What happened to the naming of the babies? This is one of the ways we celebrate and honor and weave in the new. Isn’t this our Happy New Year ritual? Did we honor the new? Did someone say, “Happy New Year?” If it was there, I missed it.

    This week I found myself wondering if I am growing old and persnickety. But, the progression of years has made me willing to risk exposure.

    The Spiral Dance magic has a structural skeleton both powerful and beautiful. Altering a ritual that has had such power and grows stronger every year makes me curious as to why the above changes were made?

    It seems that we collectively owe a strong allegiance to that which has gone before and what has been so intentionally magically crafted. I am not arguing for a blind allegiance, but for faith and an acknowledgement that what we have is good. It is a 35 year old magical practicing that links us with the past, the future, and binds us together, making us stronger than our individual parts.

    Delight Stone

  2. Dana
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Really appreciated the reinvention of the ritual this year — I think that the impulse to keep it fresh serves the idea that it’s a living expression of what is needed NOW.

    - For entry, I missed the sweet greeting and purification within the veils. Instead, the “greeters” just kind of herded us in and gave not-very-much info about what we needed to do (“sit on the bleachers, not the floor. Don’t put anything on the floor.”)
    - Altars were beautiful and moving. I was grateful to get inside with enough time to see and appreciate everything.
    - Thought it felt interesting to have the center of the space so open for the start of the evening/Star’s welcome etc.
    - Moving people back and forth for the grounding was a little confusing, and it wasn’t clear what space we were supposed to occupy (NOT the spaces marked out on the floor).
    - The early invocation of the “ship” by Bad Unkl Sista was beautiful, but also a little out of context. I think it would’ve been nice to have someone provide a little description of the shape of the entire evening before we were thrust into it — I found myself in my head wondering what was up vs. present for the experience.
    - I missed the familiar music, but really enjoyed listening to new words/new ideas and melodies etc. The Dirge and the procession of the chorus always really starts the evening off for me and helps create the sacred space. Hard to let go of that, but I think it’s possible to do it!
    - Ultimately moving people down into the circle on the floor was a nice idea, but I’m too old to sit on the cold floor without blanket/pillow/back support etc. (all the usual goodies I bring) for more than a brief period. Alas I found myself really taken out of being able to be present for much of the journey because I was just too physically uncomfortable. I totally respect the goal of being able to initiate the movement into the dance without a huge amount of clearing away everyone’s clutter first – but there needs to be some “middle path” if we’re going to be on the bare floor for a long time.
    - I also really liked the idea of bringing the invocations into the “story” of the journey, but doing it that way took me out of the trance-space each time. In the old process, we set the sacred space, called in the allies and the ancestors, and then were able to settle in to the journey in our own quiet way. With so much back-and-forth between public and private mental space, I never sank into that middle world-between-the-worlds; didn’t have the time to really connect with a space where an ancestor might step forth to greet me etc. I guess I’d say that the process felt like better storytelling, but not as effective sacred participatory ritual.
    - The experience of dancing the Spiral itself is always ecstatic, moving, crazy, profound, etc. etc. etc. Thank you for creating the space for that energy to move!
    - I wish that someone had invited the very many new people to make eye contact as part of the dance (and asked people not to leave until after the circle was broken — again, I guess that’s all part of setting expectations at the beginning).
    - Missed the sharing of the bounty of the harvest at the end — another little form of returning us to the world that always felt particularly sweet.
    - Loved having all the younger people participating in important ways. Watching the changing of the guard makes the swelling of the ranks of the beloved and mighty dead seem a little easier to accept.

    Thank you again for all the work so many people do for months and months to make this evening so special. All criticisms are meant to be constructive, in the spirit of creating the most powerful evening for us and for our beloved home.

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  • 2017 Intention

    Riding the knife's edge of history, we face the great challenge of this present moment; to step off the old path and weave futures of strength and joy with the dead and the generations to come.

  • Admission

    This ritual is Bay Area Reclaiming’s largest fundraiser for the year, and supports many of our other activities, courses, ritual, and resources.

    It takes about $15,000 to put on this community event, so we appreciate your support.

    Regular Admission – $25.00-$150.00

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  • When and where

    The Spiral Dance has moved to the East Bay and will be held at the Richmond Convention Center, Richmond California. We’re excited to open up to this new community.

    The Spiral Dance is Saturday, October 28th, 2017.

    Doors open for Altar viewing and the reading of the Names of The Beloved Dead at 6pm.

    Ritual begins promptly at 7pm

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