The Seven Veils of Sensuality
Photo by Michael Baxter
By Ansuya, Bellydance Artist, www.ansuya.com
I like to rearrange the facts I hear to suit my imagination. As a Bellydance artist I give myself this license in order to let visualizations of my work evolve without limitation. The fun parts of this process for me are the unexpected sensual awakenings and the surprising expansions of my thoughts as I let go of the rules and party with my mind.
In a recent fantasy I watched myself in my mind's eye performing the notorious Dance of the Seven Veils. Associated with the biblical tale of the execution of John the Baptist, this dance intertwines violent revenge with seduction. Not a fan of combining Bellydance with violence, I considered how I might entertain myself more pleasantly with this visualization. So I dropped the "facts" and set off for a virgin voyage of The Dance of the Seven Veils in my irreverent mind.
Intrigued by the coincidence of there being seven veils in this story to there being seven chakras in Indian medicine, I allowed myself to ponder alternate possibilities.
I thought on the delicious connection between India and Bellydance. Not documented enough to be any more than one of many historical hypotheses, it never the less seemed like a fun idea for my creative mind to toy with. This sexy tale suggests that Bellydance may have begun in ancient India during matriarchal times when women were revered in temples as Goddesses. In these temples, these Goddesses would dance what was guessed to be the Bellydance for the express purpose of connecting with divine energy. Through an activation of sensual energy, the dancer would become a portal to the divine. Upon accessing the divine, the Goddess would allow a man to connect with her sexually in order for him to also connect to the divine. What a party! I love this story as it describes women's sensuality and sexuality as sacred and depicts Bellydance as a great celebration of this process.
Further pondering led me to remember that in the ancient Indian practice of Kundalini Yoga, the seven chakras are activated beginning at the base of the spine. Visualized as a coiled serpent, this energy unwinds upward through the body. The practice of Kundalini Yoga is meant to raise ones individual consciousness to the infinite consciousness of God.
More daydreaming reminded me that Tantra, another Indian process of spiritual development, evolved into Tantric sex, or "sacred sexuality" in the West in the 1960's and suggested that through sex, one could achieve an enlightened state of consciousness.
Now I feel I'm on to something. Fictional? Perhaps. Juicy? Definitely.
I relate all of this to Bellydance because when I teach Bellydance, I am careful to encourage students to dance in a certain body alignment that I feel, through experience, opens up my emotional pathways and allows the sacred energy of my being to flow from the base of my spine upward and radiate outward from each of my chakras along the way. I've often contemplated that this sensation must be similar to that of a Yoga practice. Bellydancing being an extremely empowering sensual experience for women has often made me think of its commonalities with tantric sex, especially considering its possible origins as a sacred dance of divine connection through sensuality in the temples of India.
And, it is in these loose ideas that I dress myself as I allow my mind to wonder into the fantastical Dance of the Seven Veils. Unencumbered by HIStory, I make up my own HERstory to exercise my freedom of thought to create a non-violent dance that celebrates the sensual divine.
I begin by wrapping my lower hips with a red veil and feel my vitality as I stand strongly on the Earth. I tuck smaller splashes of orange scarves at my upper hips and feel the life giving energy of my lower belly. I drape my torso with a yellow veil and sense my confidence. I tuck a green veil across my chest and feel my heart fill with love. I loop a blue veil about my neck and feel my expressive nature activate. I tie an indigo fabric around my brow and allow my psychic senses to heighten. Finally I decorate my hair with a flowing violet veil to open my mind to the universe. Then I begin to move. With my seven chakras highlighted with the seven colors associated with each subtle energy field, I engage my posture. Knees bent, tailbone relaxed, chest lifted, neck long, arms open I lean back and begin to sway. Side to side I create figure eights with my lower body. The serpent uncoiling, I create circles with my hips. Continuing the energy upward, I undulate through my spine. Now at my upper body, I create waves with my chest. The energy travelling out to my fingertips, my arms ripple like snakes. Arriving at my crown, my head slides from side to side like the head of a cobra, drunk on the energy of the ecstatic divine.
Ahhhh, now that I am done having my way with them, I shall one day check these facts for accuracy. But not too soon, for, in my mind, there is no greater use of the pragmatic facts than to create inspirational fiction.