Letter from the Cuyamungue Institute’s President
by Paul Robear
When we look at shamanic practices worldwide. we can clearly see that our original relationship to dancing with ceremonial masks had a deeper and more significant purpose of connecting with an altered state of consciousness. “Trance Dancing” entering non-ordinary states of reality, can be found in cultures around the world: in the native Navajo Fire Dance and Grass Dance, in masked Balinese dancing, in the Hindu Lord of the Dance, Shiva with his many arms and legs, in Tai Chi, the spiritual dance of martial art, and in the whirling dance of the Sufi.
Historically, the geographical areas where spiritual Trance Dancing were found most frequently include sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean and eastern Eurasia. Some cultures noted for their spiritual Trance Dancing include the North American Inuit, the Yoruba of Western Africa, the Umbanda of Brazil, the Sioux of North America, the Shamans of Siberia, the Voodoo of Haiti, the Shango of Trinidad, the Coastal Salish of Canada, the Santeria of Cuba, the Sami of Scandinavia and the Huichol of Mexico. There is evidence that dancing for purpose of altering consciousness dates back 35,000 years or more, in different forms. It persisted in Western culture until about 600 years ago, buy which time we had eliminated most rituals from our lives.
In the western culture this lack of ritual in our culture has created a disconnection to world around us. Most of our young people today have no idea what stage of development they are passing through. We have removed all of the rites of passage and traditions from our culture in the name of being modern and contemporary.
Joseph Campbell, The famous mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion shared the following story:
“In Japan for an international conference on religion, I overheard another American delegate, a social philosopher from New York, say to a Shinto priest, “We’ve been now to a good many ceremonies and have seen quite a few of your shrines. But I don’t get your ideology. I don’t get your theology.” The Japanese [Shinto priest] paused as though in deep thought and then slowly shook his head. “I think we don’t have ideology,” he said. “We don’t have theology. We dance.”
For more than 35 years our Masked Trance Dance has been an annual culmination of the events and activities at the Cuyamungue Institute. It was instigated by one of Dr. Goodman’s students who wanted to revive and adapt an ancient rite and celebration of Nature that took place in the small villages of the Swiss countryside. We wear masks to lead us beyond our earth-bound reality and allow us to experience an alter world view. We follow the promptings of our visionary journeys and weave them into a single story, brought to life in a ritual dance. For me personally, it was the experiences from the Masked Trance Dances that I attended over the last 20 years that inspired me to volunteer and support this profound work. That first MTD experience in the Kiva, led by Felicitas, threw open a door of a new world of priorities for my life.
In This Issue
We continue to look at the history of masks. We also have a first hand experience from the Masked Trance Dance last year:
——– A Natural History of Masked Trance Dance by Laura Lee
——– Becoming Tribal: My Ecstatic Trance Dance Experience by Dori Smith
——– Volunteer Week starts on Saturday the 23rd – Ask me how to participate
——– Maypole Celebration – Join us on May 1st – details below
—— Scroll down for links to articles.
Once again, thank you for your continued support of the Cuyamungue Institute!
President / Executive Director
Cuyamungue: The Felicitas D. Goodman Institute
A Natural History of Masked Trance Dance
by Laura Lee
The Masked Trance Dance has a surprisingly long history. Go looking for it, and you find it clearly writ on our oldest surviving “tablets” — cave walls — in the records left by our first artists, in our earliest cultures.
Among the most famous images from Europe’s painted caves, notable for the rarity of human figures, we find three fine example of Masked Dancers.
They wear the head, horns, and tail of bison and reindeer. They stand upright on human legs and feet, one leg raised mid-way in a half-step. That is not a bow the bison-headed figure holds, but is thought to be a nose flute, popular in some cultures today. The horns make quite the impressive headdress, the skins a ready cape, one that leaves the legs free for dancing. These figures look to me like ancient “snapshots” of shamans in a Masked Trance Dance! ———–> Full Article
Editors Note: Dori attended the 2015 Masked Trance Dance at the Cuyamungue Institute. Here is her story.
The eight of us have gathered at the stone spiral labyrinth overlooking the wide valley below the eastern Sangre de Cristo mountains, in the chill just before dawn. Silently moving around the labyrinth to a drumbeat, we wait at the center for the sun to emerge over the mountains. As it peers out, we sing the ancient welcoming songs to the radiant orb that sustains our tribe’s life. A hawk cries overhead – a good sign. We end with a warm group embrace, and then carry the precious gift of our connection back around the labyrinth.
Still in silence, we arrive at Thunderbird Hall, receive purifying smudge, and take our places on mats around the ceremonial circle. We prepare ourselves for the ritual trance posture with prayers and meditation.
————–> Full Article
Maypole Celebration at Cuyamungue
May 1st 2016
For those within driving distance, we will celebrate on May 1st, Sunday afternoon – 2 pm
- First we will begin in the kiva for a posture ritual.
- We will then go to perform the Maypole ritual as a group.
- We will end with a dinner celebration. We provide the basics but potluck contributions are welcome.
- This is a no fee event. Donations are always welcome but not required.
We should have no problem being done by 6pm. Of course people are welcome to stay and socialize as long as they want.
Keeping in mind that the week prior to the Maypole celebration is our volunteer week, people who want to come early and help out can stay at CI overnight on Saturday. So we welcome “one day” volunteers to spend Saturday with us and join those who are spending multiply days volunteering.
To better prepare we need to have an idea of how many people are committed to the participate in the Maypole so please email me directly to confirm. I can email out updates about the event and provide driving directions.
Look forward to seeing you soon!
Each workshop contains a specifically designed series of ritual postures to provide the context for a journey of self-discovery. We go deep within utilizing the Cuyamungue Method – which includes a established ritual journey method. Introductory workshops are are prerequisites for advanced classes.
Here is the workshops and events for 2016 at the Cuyamungue Institute, so you can get the jump-start on making your plans to join us this season. future. Feel free to ask questions.
April 23rd – 29th – Volunteer Week at CI – If interested, ask us for details
April 30th / May 1st – Maypole Celebration
May 26 – 29 – Board of Directors Meeting
June 17th – 21st – Initiatory Training
July 27th – 31st – Initiatory Training
August 3 – 7 – Initiatory Training – Advanced Course
August 16 – 21 – Instructor Training – Contact us
August 23 – 28 –Men’s Conclave Contact us
September 20th – 25th – Masked Trance Dance – Contact us
The Cuyamungue Institute, like many non-profit organizations, has limited resources. We are proud of the scope of work we have already accomplished. However, there is much more to do, and we depend upon your support. We always use our all resources with great care. Our focus and key priority to continue to ensure the financial stability of CI for the future.
There are several ways to participate:
- Attend workshops at the Institute – Bless yourself and the Institute! Workshop fees directly support the land and buildings.
- Be a Volunteer – Ask about existing, on-going projects you can help with. Or suggest projects that you can work on, fund, or both!
- Personal Donations – 100% of your donations and gifts go directly to the Institute, and are tax deductible.
- Corporate Donations – Your company can have a tremendous impact. Also ask us how we can bring our work to your company!
- Planned Giving – Including the Cuyamungue Institute in your estate plans can help you accomplish a charitable goal while realizing potential significant tax savings and supporting the future of the Cuyamungue Institute. More Information
Please consider making a donation by clicking here. Ongoing research and new applications of this work with Ritual Postures is only possible because of donations made by people like you. Laura Lee, our Director of Outreach and Development, is available to answer your questions and to provide more information. Contact her at [email protected]
How to Submit an Article: As part of expanding our Cuyamungue Institute community, you are invited and encouraged to participate. Share how you use the Cuyamungue Method in your chosen field. We are also open to other topics, with the emphasis on the posture work, and research and or experience. More information
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Email me directly at [email protected] .
President / Executive Director
Cuyamungue – The Felicitas D. Goodman Institute