It’s the new moon and also the night of the week I meet with a group of chicks at a space up in the Oakland hills. All of us, for various reasons, are exploring and learning how to deepen our intuition through moving our bodies. Yes. I know it sounds gross.
I never knew how “outside” my body I was until I started exploring ecstatic dance. When I first witnessed the abandon and power that manifest when the body is allowed to speak its own language, I realized how disconnected I was and all I could do was cry. Looking back I now know that it was this disconnection that has ultimately led in one way or another to my life’s most major missteps — to putting myself in physical danger by distrusting and second-guessing my senses, to allowing access to my body to people who did not deserve it and finally, of course, to being totally unaware of the cancer which was growing inside me.
Every time I make the conscious decision to step into my body, to inhabit it fully, I learn something new. It has been difficult to overcome the yoke of shame and embarrassment of my physical self that I (like nearly every other woman I know) seemingly takes on at puberty. I’ve come across a few here and there that were effusive and expressive with their arms and legs and hips, but they always made me so, so uncomfortable. Those people were never my friends. Now, when I dance with intention, I get a taste of just how truly fucking great it feels to be alive — and then I go back to my normal slouching till the next time rolls around.
So anyway, ecstatic dance once a week wasn’t cutting it any longer, I wanted more so now on another day of the week I go and meet with these ladies and a teacher who makes us do horribly embarrassing, crazy sounding exercises which I hate to do, but afterwards make me feel unspeakably brave.
“Go stand in the middle of the room and introduce yourself to everybody using only your body and no words.” Shit like that. Ugh.
Last week she said, “Lie down on the floor. Get comfortable, I am taking you on a journey. You are going to meet your teacher. Your teacher in the feminine form.” I lay down on my back. In my mind I went walking into a forest. I saw a hole in the ground and I went down and down. Down a spiral of slippery, wet stone steps.
If you’ve never done any directed creative visualization, the idea just doesn’t make any sense. Most would think, “Well, you’re just making that shit up. How can you be surprised by something you’re imagining yourself?” But I’ve been surprised before, but not as surprised as I was this time.
She was very tall or maybe that was just her antlers. Try as I might, I couldn’t make out the form of her body, but it sure seemed female. Impression of a red dress. She very pointedly turned her head and looked directly into my face with one large, deep brown eye. I saw her brown fur and her big doe eye. For a deer, she certainly didn’t radiate what I would consider to be “deer energy.” I think of deer as timid and shy. She seemed haughty, imperious. Ancient and wise. Kinda scary, frankly. We stared at each other, me with two small eyes, her with one big shiny one. After a while someone started banging on a drum and it was time to stop our daydreaming or whatever. Then, later I did a little bit of research.
Within the eastern Woodlands and Central Plains tribes, Deer Woman is associated with fertility and love – a benign spirit who might help to conceive children. Among the Seminole, Cherokee and Chocktaw tribes, Deer Woman is a super bad omen, a dangerous being who can seduce men (especially adulterous or promiscuous ones) and lead them to their deaths, to pine away from lovesickness, or maybe just kick the shit out out of their furniture if being allowed into someone’s house.
So, my teacher is Deer Woman. She’s either a real sweetheart or she’ll fuck you up AND trash your house (especially if you deserve it.) I’ll let you know when I figure out which one she is. Maybe she’s both?