by Belinda Gore
This was my fourth visit to Chile and we have just completed a beautiful Masked Trance Dance at the retreat center known as Tremonhue in the Maipo Canyon region outside of the capital city of Santiago. Many people here learned the Cuyamungue Method from Margaret O’Rourke, an American woman who served in Chile for over 30 years as a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet. She learned the Cuyamungue Method from Felicitas during several “home visits” to the United States, and returned to teach a variety of workshops in Chile. She had invited Felicitas to come to Chile in the early 2000‘s but by then such a long trip was no longer possible for her, so decided that I would come in her place.
There were thirty of us who gathered at Tremonhue: some from Argentina, some from the north of Chile – Arica and Iquique – and some from the south. And of course there were people from Santiago, especially from the Ecstatic Postures Circle that meets every Monday evening.
One special occasion during the workshop was awarding Coca Trillini of Buenos Aires her certificate as a facilitator as well as designating her as coordinator of Argentina. She joins Paula Olivares who is the coordinator for Chile.
The theme of our Dance was renewal and restoration of vitality for the elements of the earth and for the animals. We began the Dance with a metamorphosis posture, to bring us in alignment with the animal spirit masks and to invite the masks to come alive. Before putting on our masks, Yasmin danced on behalf of the indigenous people of the world and we chanted with her. Then, during a standing “dance” for giving and receiving, led by Milena, we put on our masks. Lucia led us in a dance to bring together the Above and the Below, then we danced for the Birds and then for the Serpents who seemed to activate the Kundalini energy for the Earth. FInally, Marita sowed seeds into the Earth and we danced to fertilize them, first individually then in a long spiral dance, making our way to the center and turning to come back out again into the world. At last the animal spirits danced in metamorphosis.
As we returned to the original circle, having taken off our masks and now holding them in front of us, we each spoke on behalf of animal spirit of our mask, saying “I am Black Swan” (for instance) and then shared a message of what we had learned by dancing for and with that animal spirit. It is usual for us to sing “Mother, make us strong” at the end of a Masked Dance and we were able to translate the song into Spanish so the words would fit the tune. We asked from the strength of microbes, reptiles, birds, large cats, other animals and insects. And together we spoke the final blessing, again beautifully translated. In Beauty it was finished.
Monday evening I attended the weekly gathering of the Ecstatic Postures Circle in Santiago and afterwards twelve of us went out for sangria and food to celebrate a birthday and to also celebrate being together. This group has been so generous and enthusiastic, and many of them are in the process of submitting their applications to become facilitators. As our Latin American community grows we are exploring having our newsletter translated into Spanish to unite us all.
As part of my trip three of us journeyed north to the Atacama Desert, around 10,000 feet altitude and the driest place on the planet. In some ways it seemed desolate and yet after a few days there was a special grandeur to the stark mountains and plains. We found a Bolivian guide in San Pedro de Atacama who took us to an ancient petroglyph site, known as Herbas Buenas because of the healing plants that grow in the protected area of boulders in the middle of a vast plain. Among the petroglyphs was a remote site that was known as “the Shamans.” Our guide Jimi and I climbed to the spot where we discovered the incredible panel of petroglyphs that included at least twelve images of shamans in ritual postures. Last night the central Ohio circle worked with one, beginning the research for my next book.
As the research comes in, I will be sharing more about these new postures that we found at Herbas Buenas. As you can tell, I have been inspired by this trip and the enthusiasm of our community in Chile and Argentina. So stay tuned for more news.
All best wishes,