Movement is an ideal method of exploring the realm of pure feeling. When we can’t find a way to put our most obscure and subconscious feelings into words, the movement of our bodies can stand in as an ideal language for the obscure, the subtle and the mutable. As such, the language of the body is ideal for the pursuit of magical investigation. Investigating the reality of the body can provide experience that may help in the pursuit of healing, self-integration and self-actualization as well as investing power and purpose into ritual structures.

The body is an incredible tool. It is the seat of the soul, a material emanation and a link between the physical and the astral. As such, the body can act as the site of magical transformation, both as a site of knowing and a means of working out and expressing non-linear modes of wisdom.

Bodily movements lack the material specificity of words. Movement and dance is fleeting; one moment flows into the next, seamlessly as each takes on and delves into new and deeper shades of the unfolding process. The body itself is a capsule of stories, as levels of meaning are built upon the foundation of sensation. We attach meaning to these sensations, and these meanings become woven into a matrix of understanding. As each emotion flows and transforms, a complex network of symbols are evoked, that can then be established into a narrative structure which establishes the foundation of our identities. Each feeling plays a part in a greater narrative, the narrative of self as well as the narrative of self within the world. By elevating these sensations in their own right, we can witness the story of our bodies unfolding and transforming before us.

Movement can empower a person to accept these energies through testing and strengthening their connection to their body. It is important to use the body not just for utilitarian purposes, but for pleasure and joy. The body thrives when it is allowed to move within its own rhythms, and the practice of sacred movement can give the body a forum for doing just that, outside of the judgement of those who would trap the body within prescribes modes of embodiment.

Bearing witness is a vital part in activating the latent pathways of energy as well as the healing essence of the body, by acknowledging and allowing the body to take up its own shape without shame or reproach, and allowing it to exist on its own terms. By developing a practice that cultivates a process of flow within the body, we can become witnesses to our narratives, as well as our truest natures, as conduits of divine energy.

Movement as investigation

Awareness is one of the beginning exercises in developing a movement practice. Many of us are habituated towards using our bodies towards a particular function and do not know what to do when tasked with allowing the body to simply “be.” Developing the ability to “allow” is what facilitates the body to open up and succumb to latent channels of energetic flow.

The simple practice of becoming aware of the body-getting to know what it likes and doesn’t like, how it moves, what it’s limitations are-allows a person to remain rooted within the body’s experience, and thus become more capable of translating that experience into action.

Movement as celebration

In those rare moments when we feel at one with our bodies, fully rooted and pulsing with ease and pleasure, movement can become an immensely powerful means of celebrating the nature of being. Indulging in these moments of bliss can allow us to deepen our connection with the physical, while firmly rooting the experience of pleasure within our flesh. It is important to celebrate because it is important to raise energy towards those states that complete our desire. It is important to be an ally to pleasure and to act it out when we are graced with it’s presence within.

Dance, photo by Akiko Photography

Movement as healing

On the opposite side of the spectrum, movement can also be profoundly healing when used during moments of struggle and pain. In my own life, I use movement as a means of exploring my pain, of sinking into it and embracing the ways in which life has touched and twisted my body. I thank my body for the wounds that it has taken on my behalf, of the ways in which is has withstood the pain of my life and the ways in which it continues to carry and support me despite all of this.

Movement can be a means of working through bodily pain and trauma trapped within the tissues of the body. Unprocessed traumas becomes trapped within our bodies, latent, waiting for the time where it will be safe to be unleashed. If you are in a good place in your life, with a system of support, it might be helpful to use movement to nudge those wounded places within you, to slowly massage them back into living softness.

After an especially powerful burst of healing dance, I sometimes feel the need to retreat back inside myself and practice self-care to help to soothe feelings that are brought up during my practice. Often times, these feelings are wordless experiences of terror, sadness or agony and thus are difficult to name. The act of embracing my body and seeking to deepen my grounding within it allows me to sit with the pain, allows it to exist as a nameless and desperate thing, and to release it even if I may never fully comprehend its meaning.

Movement as promise

My devotional movement practice allows me to engage with the person I may become. In moments of ecstasy, where I am able to more fully embrace my sensuality, my power, my sacred abandon, I sometimes look at myself in the mirror and my eyes are alive with energy. In these moments, I see the woman that I want to become as well as the woman that I know myself to be. I see the promise of all of my work, all of my striving and development. I see the person that I become when I am able to get out of my own way.

Movement as story

My body, as the house for my spirit, plays a role within the narrative of my life. Moments of intensity within my body become indelibly burned into my story. The act of magick itself is an act of feeling; it is embracing energy as it reaches its pinnacle of intensity and meaning. To be rooted within the body is to use it as the tool that it is and can be. In becoming seated within my physical nature, I can begin to engage in the story as a willing participant. I can witness my alchemical nature unfolding in the felt sequence of my days. My spellwork has become more grounded in reality rather than in affect and mimicry.

Where I began as a novice, stuttering and nervous, I now feel the magick as it flows through me. I can see myself as a player within a play, a body within a scene, a felt reality within a sea of narrative perspectives. While I engage with my body I deepen my magick, just as I deepen my connection to myself.

Ritual movement

Relax your judgement and breathe. Notice what is happening within you without attempting to shape it. Allow yourself to move, in whatever subtle or bold ways you like. Don’t move at all if you don’t feel it. Allow yourself to notice the spark of impulse as it erupts within you. Notice your comfort and your discomfort, and allow yourself to be pleased. Allow your body to feel both good and bad. Attend to your needs like a priest/ess worshiping at the altar.

At first, you may feel the desire to dance, so try to allow the dance to dance you. Allow your body to be a vessel for your spirit, a tool of feeling and expression. You may feel strange, shy, awkward or ugly; try to be brave enough to do the dance of the shy and the ugly. Try to allow dance to become an expression of your experience.

Dance if you want to, but don’t just dance, move. Allow yourself to move in ways that surprise you. Be strange, be otherworldly if it calls to you, but remember to be. You may dance your fingers and your toes, you may make a story. Look in the mirror while you do this, or don’t. You may light candles and dance in the dark. You may play music or dance to the subtle sounds of your home. You may dance softly or violently, you may lie on your bed, thrashing like a person possessed or flit around like a spirit. Stick out your tongue, make faces, twist and bend but take care of yourself and your limits.

Allow yourself to let go of meaning. Allow yourself to transcend the spectrum of good and bad, right and wrong. Be free, be fettered, be whatever you are. Lose yourself in the movement, become a dumb beast feeling the heat of the sun. Allow yourself to be the divine emanation of the universe. Allow the explosive energy of your body to become unshackled.

Take care of yourself, ground, bathe, soothe your fever.

Centre at the heart of everything

Engaging with the body as a site of exploration, ritual, and meaning is only acknowledging the pillar that holds up the sky. Everything that we have is felt through and on the body, and as such, it deserves examination on its own terms. There is only one way to be centred, and it is through our seated experience within the physical body. Our physical selves are the pathways of our souls reaching for heaven, the yellow brick road to the city at the centre of our being. We are not limited, but rather rooted in this place.

Image credit: Florent Chretien and Akiko Photography