Hehehe. Almost there. Let’s see if I can’t finish 2012 (a year late) along with 2013.
When I say “zone”, I mean “in the zone”, and what I’m talking about is “flow”.
I went to a workshop a little over a year ago (so, by the standards of this being a “2012” post, “two and a half months ago”) that talked about “flow arts” – stuff like hooping or poi or flogging or improvisational dance/music or… all sorts of stuff – and how “flow” is the point you hit (that place, to paraphrase Ursula K LeGuin, where “the words cannot be wrong”) that is the balance between skill and challenge.
For me, because I’m fairly low-skill and high-challenge when it comes to hooping, I hit “flow” somewhere just north of keeping the hula hoop moving and not falling down. For someone like Lisa Lottie, flow involves something a lot more complicated, just because her skill level is that much higher.
So why am I bringing this up in a Pagan blog post?
Because I think that energywork and the kind of “running energy” that one does during extatic dance or ecstatic singing are their own type of “flow”. When you’re In The Zone and the energy is flowing through you, cycling through you, and you can keep going for ever (the gals who wrote Radical Ecstasy talk about the Forever Place, and that’s… related, I think, though maybe not exactly the same thing)… that’s what I think of as “flow”. It’s also a situation where I – and, I assume, lots of other people – have a much easier time directing that energy to where it needs to go, whether that’s throwing sound the length of a city block or two, refueling one’s dancing body, or pouring energy into someone else: To ease their aches and pains, as in massage; or as a way of intuiting(?) where best to hit them next and how hard and with what.
Flow has a meaning in ritual, as well. I’m thinking particularly of group rituals where whoever is leading them has to pay attention to the arc and movement of the ritual, but also to the level of focus and ability in the group they’re leading. Which is where “flow” as in “narrative flow” entwines and intersects with “flow” as in “challenge/skill flow”.
It’s why ritual chants that are essentially sung in monotone are (a) a good idea for most open-attendence rituals, and also (b) a bloody piss-off for someone like me who will get seriously bored and disinterested with something that doesn’t have nearly enough notes to make a real tune. (My favourite Goddess Chant is actually the chorus from Hymn to Her. 4/4 time, easy-to-grasp tune & lyrics, but also easy-to-harmonize tune that’s complicated enough to be just-challenging-enough for most folks who don’t want to be improvising harmonies all the time.
Flow is, I think, why repetitive tasks (like spinning or knitting or chopping apples) or art forms that rely on improvised combinations of base forms/techniques (various types of dance and song) are so useful for getting into Trance. Getting your body into one Zone helps you shift your brain/mind/spirit into another.
I am starting (as in: the past couple of days) to incorporate more ritual into my life, specifically:
I tried doing tantric (or possibly “trantric”) breathing with my wife the other day… I got light headed, she got really, really relaxed, but we did not manage to syncronize anything and my chakras stayed well and truely tamped down, much to my dismay. Still, we’re going to try it again.
I’ve recently been invited to attend some Reclaiming-esque rituals in my neighbourhood that a sister-femme artist is looking to start running. I’m really happy about this, as I kinda miss “church” and appreciate the opportunity to attend a regular ritual that I don’t have to be in charge of.
I’m looking forward to seeing how these new additions to my life/practice play into how (and how easily) I move in and out of trance space; run, manipulate, and transfer energy; and develope my personal Zone.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
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