I have been to a lot of pow-wows in my time and seen a lot of indigenous dances. It’s always a moving experience for me. Though I wasn’t raised in a tribal family, I am part Lipan Apache and a member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. I was always reluctant to embrace that part of my heritage because I look ridiculously white, taking after the Irish and English parts of my family and was raised to feel shame about my mother’s Apache DNA. It wasn’t until I began regular shamanic practice that I understood that at the core we all have shamanism in our backgrounds, though for most of us it has been scrubbed out by various forms of organized religion, usually with violence and suppression of our and our ancestor’s true selves.
Shamanism is about connection to the natural world and to Spirit. In shamanism we see the sentience in all things: rocks, trees, water, plants, birds, air, mammals, reptiles, creepy crawlies, stars, fire, earth…. Everything has a spirit. Everything in the shamanic realms can work with us, help us, teach us, challenge us to grow, give us advice, and urge us to be in harmony with the universe.
This new filter of shamanic connection with and to all things gave me a new way to see the dances of indigenous peoples, appreciating the movements and expressions as the spiritual conversation that they are. A dancer in a jaguar costume, for instance, isn’t just a dancer. He or she has the opportunity to embody the Spirit of the archetype that is Jaguar, taking on those characteristics and giving Jaguar the ability to express its’ essence through the dance.
I once dressed as Durga, a pre-Hindi Indian goddess, for Halloween. I searched for a long time for the right sari, wrap, makeup, and accessories I needed to complete the costume. Halloween night I wrapped the sari and tied it in the customary fashion then applied the makeup to complete the look. I remember beginning to feel very different as I drew the big blue eye vertically between my own eyebrows – calmer, more present, more powerful. By the time I got to the Halloween party down the street I realized I was different. Conversation stopped when I walked in and the look on people’s faces was nothing short of awe. But it wasn’t the costume that held them in thrall for that moment. By allowing the Spirit of the Being I was dressing as to flow, not just through the costume of clothing and makeup, but also through my bodily offering, I did, for a time become that Being.
This is what indigenous dancers are doing by creating and wearing elaborate costumes and makeup when they dance: allowing Spirit to flow into this dimension and giving power and advice on how to heal this broken world.
Click the links below to see:
- More photos of the Indigenous Dancers
- The Festival de San Miguel
476th birthday of San Miguel and the feast day for our patron saint. Party!!
- The Blessing of the Horses
Caballeros and caballeras who flow into San Miguel to have their horses blessed in front of the Parrochia
- Quema de Monitos (coming soon)
The burning of the monkeys – not literal monkeys and not just fire. This is a fun display involving blowing stuff up in a show of the battle against evil