RITUAL ACTIONS OF THE MUSES
ParaTheatrical ReSearch Winter Lab 2010/2011
Dec. 20 - Feb. 10, Monday and Thursday nights
Ritual Journal by Antero Alli
SESSION 1; 12/20/2010.
Starting on the lunar eclipse Winter Solstice night set a tone of anticipation in me around our journey to meet the Muse. Of the eight of us, five had undergone the first Muses Lab (Spring 2010); the other three are seasoned newbies that I felt were ready to advance themselves. So far, this feels like a solid group. I decided to return to the two primary structures that did us well in the first Muses Lab: 1) working with charged trinities and 2) conducting our individual warm-up cycles in the same spot for all sixteen sessions.
The primary difference in this Muses Lab would be the advancement towards ritual actions, those movements motivated by the Muse Archetype that could somehow articulate its innate purpose through us. In other words, we are warming up to be used by the Muses as vessels and mediums to communicate their purpose through us via physical stillness, motion, sound, song, gesture, and ritual actions.
My trinity tonight was Sky, Human Being, and Earth. After passing through this trinity in my solo ritual, we all passed through our separate trinity of sources collectively while focusing on the Body As Unit technique, a process for engaging the whole body in motion as one piece. Kind of like the way a cat naturally moves across the ground, Body as Unit teaches us to move in ways that maintain a felt sense of unity in motion so that no part of our body remains isolated or divided from the rest. This technique also helps expand range of motion. We also explored the contact point of finding and giving expression to the purpose or function of each of our three sources.
Towards the end of our 3-hour session and after our collective trinity work, the room was set up for approaching the Muse Archetype. Passage towards the Muse realm involved first immersing ourselves in a preliminary ritual space dedicated to the integration of our trinity as one fluid moving whole. This integration area would also serve us as a base of familiarity to return to from the potentially more extreme, volatile, and unpredictable Muse realm. It gave a context to the Muse realm since we were entering it from a personal trinity zone, a place we had already immersed ourselves in earlier.
When I first entered the trinity integration zone, I felt lost. What was I doing here? I then began remembering the earlier movements expressing the function of each of my three sources: Human, Sky, and Earth. Doing these movements helped to orient myself until I felt ready to cross over into the Muse realm. After passing over into the Muse realm something in me immediately froze up. I felt locked inside my body. Immobilized! From this deep freeze I gradually yielded to slow, almost majestic physical motions and a low, piercing and sustained vocal -- visually, I was standing, adrift and suspended, inside a clear blue iceberg. Several very long moments later, I found my way back to the familiar trinity integration zone, now revealed as a zone of self-work. A sobering revelation. I needed far more integration time with my personal trinity before I could return to the Muse realm if I was to discover anything beyond the impersonal iceberg that held me captive.
I need more time in the trinity integration zone of self-work.
SESSION 2; 12/23/2010.
Tonight's session began with presence actions, a technique for increasing a palpable felt sense of one's own energy as a field or aura. This process was then challenged by limiting all our movements to walking backwards and then, sideways and then, forwards. The final transition of this cycle had us exploring an omnidirectional way of moving -- forwards, backwards, sideways -- while giving moment-to-moment expression to our felt presence. Doing this effectively expanded my range of motion while preparing me to meet the Physical Warm-up Cycle already warm.
After the Physical Warm-Up cycle, I felt compelled to return to the last session's trinity of SKY, HUMAN BEING, EARTH. This time, I didn't hold back; I gave myself fully to each source. In EARTH, I engaged a power of maximum density that concentrated my entire being. All I could do to not explode was begin singing this song of the Earth with my entire being, a song without words that buzzed my vocal chords like some possessed Tuuvan throat-singer.
Stepping into the HUMAN BEING source allowed a greater circulation of that EARTH force, opening my heart and extending my arms into a repeating pattern that shifted between fighting and seeding, between fighter and farmer, in an ongoing expression of HUMAN purpose acting through me now: fighting and farming. Stepping into the SKY source, my arms were gently lifted upwards in a gesture of giving everything away. Whatever I had achieved through fighting and farming, I was now giving up to the SKY.
MUSE APPROACHES. Standing in No-Form at the eastern wall, the western wall was designated as the edge of the MUSE realm and framed by three pillars with lit candles. Between east and west, each of us defined our own pathway, or lane, to approach the Muse three times, each pass incorporating one of our three trinity sources. On my first approach, I was alarmed by the sudden electric charge triggered between my SKY source and the MUSE. Like the synapse gap between neurons, the space between these two sources sparked an avalanche of kinetic energy. All I could do to stay intact was perform the upwards arm movements innate to my SKY source with all the commitment I could muster. This energy was not mine to keep but to give away to the SKY.
The second pass brought the fighting/farming patterns of the HUMAN BEING to the MUSE, whereupon it was made clear what I was fighting for and what I was seeding. I was fighting for the MUSE and seeding its influence wherever it could take root -- the HUMAN BEING was clearly in service to the MUSE. The third pass through the EARTH to the MUSE revealed a totally impersonal function for grounding the charge, much like how the Earth absorbs lightening strikes in an electrical storm.
The rest of the night found us integrating these three sources towards a fluid whole, or cohesion, an innate pattern that we would then bring into the MUSE realm, where the idea was to discover the purpose of our pattern there. Recalling last week's failure, I chose to commit more time and concentration in this integration self-work zone before crossing over to the MUSE realm. My patience paid off. I was able to navigate throughout the MUSE realm without becoming obliterated or losing touch with myself in the process. The purpose of my pattern? To be used by the MUSE in whatever way it dictated while maintaining my integrity. The artist in me found this insight very useful. Serve the Muse without destroying myself -- easier said than done. My self-work is clearly cut out for me.
SESSION 3; 12/27/2010.
Tonight, our group work began with an embodied voice technique inspired by Sylvi. This technique involves a a three-step process: 1) sourcing a given energy, 2) resonating a sound that matches its frequency and 3) allowing the vibration of that sound to dictate physical movement. Motivated sound as movement resource. With practice, sound and movement blend and become unified. This process was applied through each source of my trinity (EARTH/WATER/AIR) as an unbroken tone that underwent pitch shifts as it passed through each of them. On the second pass through our trinity of sources, we distilled our expressions by holding ourselves to only moving as far as the vibration of the tone dictated. This adjustment minimized the melodramatic noise we experienced in the first pass while producing more economy of movement.
Before entering the Muses realm, we designated a preliminary area to engage our foundation source through the embodied voice process explored earlier. The idea was to establish a sound/movement pattern to bring into the Muses realm. My source was FIRE. After establishing the presence of Fire in sound and movement, I entered the Muses realm. I was gently startled as my fire became, what's the word...dignified. My fire was not blown out or exaggerated but dignified by the Muses. A reminding thought surfaces. As the force of inspiration circulates and transmits through me, so then, do I inspire others. I often overlook my influence on others but if I am to be honest, I can see how many people have been inspired by my work or by my example. A humbling revelation: inspiration belongs to nobody yet touches all.
After that ritual we chose one source from our personal trinity that we felt might be most in harmony with the Muse realm we just experienced. Between Earth, Water, and Air, I chose Earth. After establishing its presence in sound and motion, I brought this process to the Muse. I found myself immediately gravitating to each of the four corners of the Muse area and making myself useful by articulating actions and gestures of containment. The Earth element was in harmony with the Muse by providing substance, form, and structure for its expression. I was left feeling deep gratitude for the simple act of being useful and was moved to prayer. I was not praying to anything or anyone as much as giving physical and spiritual form to my gratitude for being useful.
SESSION 4; 12/30/2010.
I initiated this session by calling a group circle to discuss the nature of the sources we are choosing to work with; more to the point, to ask whether these were actually sources at all. "What is the difference between a source and a force?", I asked. I offered the example of the physical body as a source unto itself that unleashes its own innate forces and responses when felt deeply; the body as a source, not a force. I also shared my experiences around the high potential of self-delusion in this work -- how easy to start mentally tripping out while thinking something is actually happening or that we're engaged in a vital source of energy beyond our mental constructs. My intent here was to encourage us all to question our choice of sources, to raise the bar by keeping our sources more real and less abstract.
Now it was my turn to put myself on the line. I chose the foundation source of "my relation with God" and rediscovered the infinite power and love where it has always been: within around above and below me. I included this source in my personal trinity, along with "the power of choice" and "the fallen" (who I was without God). When the group trinity work started, we applied the technique of sustaining care, effectively arousing a deeper emotional investment in each of my three sources and their corresponding patterns of motion. This stage offered profound revelations that I don't have words for. As the group trinity work progressed through the next pass, the Muse realm was added (in the upper half of this Masonic room) for the purpose of discovering the innate responses of each of our three sources to the presence of the Muse above. Again with the profound revelations I have no words for!
The final ritual had us approaching the Muse realm after a prelimimary realm of "sustaining care in our foundation source". Sustaining care for my relation with God was so fulfilling that it relieved me of any want or need for the Muse. Cradled in this Godlove, I entered the Muse realm wanting nothing. What happened next took me by surprise. Wanting nothing yielded a bounty of imagistic wealth -- golden-hued god forms and bird-like creatures languish throughout this Muse temple, all aglow from within. I sat crouched eyes closed, one arm raised with the other angling down to the floor. In the stillness of this repose, I witnessed a delicate unfolding of faintly luminous outlines of what seemed to be archetypal entities coming and going around me.
By wanting nothing, I was left alone. It felt as if I had temporarily become one of them or at least, invisible enough not to be bothered with. All this proved a bit much for me as I stood up, left the Muse realm and returned to No-Form.
Wanting nothing yields bounty of wealth.
SESSION 5; 1/3/2011.
This session began with exposing our personal movement cliches, those kinetic patterns typical and predictable to each of us. I asked the group to cut loose and bust our most clever-to-cute moves until we embarrassed ourselves and got it out of our systems; good liberating fun. The rest of the session incorporated the technique of service to our trinity of sources which then led to giving expression to the innate purpose or function of each source -- a preliminary technique for ritual actions (the technical goal of this lab).
My trinity tonight was Power, Love, and Vision. Each offered very different source points for their idiosyncatic patterns of motion and actions. In Love, I melted into the center of myself and could only spin softly, arms outstretched, serving Love as a conduit for its transmission. Upon entering Power, my body immediately contracted -- sprouting legs, thighs, feet, torso, arms, neck and a head! The shape of my human form was apparently obliterated by the power of Love and now reclaimed by the love of Power. The function of this Power source was to simply get things started, as ignition and combustion -- my movements served this as directly as possible. Passing through Vision, I suddenly dropped to the floor in a slump. Here, I rose slowly to a vertical stance of utter stillness where an omnidirectional perception passed through me. I resonated a singular low tone to this state as my sole reference of self.
MUSE APPROACHES. We approached the Muses three times, embodying each of our trinity sources as three separate offerings to the Muse. These offerings were based on two intentions: 1) find the ritual actions of each trinity source and 2) bring each action to the Muse as a basis for service there.
Entering the Muse realm with Power, I immediately felt more confidence to perform vocal and melodic intonations I had not experienced before. On returning to my trinity realm, I needed the Love source to heal a slight ravaging of my energetic body. Entering the Muse with Love, I was surprised to discover service as a magnanimous experience of balance; with Love, no hierarchy existed between myself and the Muse. Onward to Vision. As I entered with Vision source and action intact, I was "instructed" to perform the yoga corpse pose at the Muse altar and let my vision die. As I lay there motionless, a greater stillness overcame me and in that deep calm, another way of seeing took hold. I slowly rose and walked about the Muse realm remaining open to its vision passing through me; I felt like a medium or some oracle in training. I returned to no-form to reflect on these impressions.
We are feeding the Muses. Our various points of offering show me how the Muses help those who help themselves.
SESSIONS 6, 7 & 8; Jan. 6, 10, & 13, 2011.
No lab reports for these nights.
SESSION 9; Jan. 17, 2011.
Tonight's session began with presence actions and transitioned into banishing movements -- actions motivated by the intent to banish all foreign energy from our personal field -- a ritual that immediately raised the overall energy of the group. My foundation source was dreambody, which I included in my personal trinity with earthbody and reason. Our trinities were applied to approaching the Muse three times on three consecutive pathways, each one designated to a trinity source. The idea here was to discover how each of our three sources connected with and responded to the Muse.
I walked the dreambody path first. As I neared the Muse, it became obvious to me that, not only was the dreambody made of the same stuff as the Muse but, the dreambody was the child of the Muse. A lighthearted dance spontaneously erupted as I found myself hopping about with the seriousness of a child at play. As the dreambody walked back towards No-Form, a growing sense of safety followed me -- the Muse had the back of its child, the dreambody. Approaching the Muse through reason led to a detached yet fully commited offering of service. Revelation -- at best, reason serves the Muse. I was struck by the absence of emotion here and how utterly logical service to the Muse was.
The final earthbody path met with struggle. The animal was afraid, angry, anxious, and hostile, roaring and spitting around the growing awareness of its honest relation to the Muse as a slave. The Muse owned the earthbody which now bucked and heaved until it was finally broken and tamed. After the taming, the earthbody became a willing and even happy slave -- knowing its rightful place, not unlike a dog devoted to its master.
In the final ritual passes, four areas were designated to our trinity sources and the Muse realm. The idea was to pass through and embody each trinity source on the way to the Muse as a layering process. Once in the Muse realm, we were to remain open to vibrational shifts as a basis for resonating tones and maybe, Muse-influenced melodies. Starting in the dreambody, I then entered the earthbody which gave substance and form to the previous dreambody source. Entering reason immediately toned down my energetic body towards a point of service as I headed into the Muse realm where I soon discovered a slow, basso drone-like melody. My relation to the Muse became workman-like and all business, a refreshing break from previous immersions of unbridled ecstacy and the joyous noise of self-indulgence.
Leaving the Muse and returning to reason shocked me with epiphany. This transition from genius to intellect made the interpretive purpose of the latter crystal clear. Intellect could never be the genius; like the Scribe to the King, it was an interpretor at best. Another epiphany struck as I entered the earthbody where intellectual knowledge finally became instinctual and where actions were subconsciously informed by the Muse. The final return to the dreambody was a reminder of the circulating grace of the universe when these three sources were honestly aligned with the Muse.
The clarity of these revelations left me slightly frightened and with new respect for expanding the playing fields of muse approaches.
SESSION 10; Jan. 20, 2011.
I initiated tonight's session with a group circle question: can you offer a few words on your experience of the Muse archetype so far? After listening to everyone's Muse impressions, I suggested that we choose foundation sources as "allies", meaning, pick a source that supports or somehow lends itself to the Muse as we know it so far. I chose "commitment" as my foundation source which served my physical warm-up cycle very well and joined my personal trinity along with "entrapment" and "freedom".
We applied the technique of sustaining care to our trinities. After that, the group approached our most direct organic responses to the Muse through each of our trinity sources. Through entrapment, I scowled and cowered away from the Muse feeling small and unworthy due to my wretched state as a caged animal. Suddenly, I became aware of a subtle golden glow enveloping me and a compassionate voice without words telling me, "all god's creatures are blessed". I surrended to my state of entrapment in silent knowing that all was right with the world.
Responding to the Muse through commitment exposed an aimlessness, like being all dressed up with nowhere to go. After I asked the Muse for guidance, a simple melody swelled up through my chest and out my arms where my commitment found direction. Stepping into freedom surprised me with the sudden absence of the Muse and the revelation of freedom from the Muse -- a Muse-free zone. In the distance, I sensed the Muse's approval of my discovery. Being free of the Muse afforded more autonomy in my relation with the Muse.
The rest of the night involved different forms of Muse approaches engaging new opportunities for responding through our foundation sources and trinities. I am still processing the results of this and have no report yet. By the ending group circle, it was clear that the selection of foundation sources as allies proved fruitful for all.
SESSION 11; Jan. 24, 2011.
Tonight's session introduced some novel approaches to No-Form, source relations, and the Muse. The group started by finding a No-Form walk towards accessing our foundation sources while remaining within the form of walking. This compelled the need to locate this source of energy in the body itself. I chose "planetary", which for me refers to a state of indivisibility with the planet, as in, being a protruberance of the Earth. Staying true to the form of walking also contained the telluric current now coursing throughout my body. Afterwards, we returned to our No-Form walk and then exited the workspace to resume our No-Form practice standing in the dark hallway.
We designated the workspace, now dark save for five lit candles, to the realm of the Muses. Our aim was to use the first three or four steps into the workspace to access our foundation source and then, to navigate the remaining Muse realm while remaining true to our foundation source. Upon entering, the presence of the Muses imposed a pressure to ramp up my commitment to my planetary source or, risk being torn asunder by the impersonal archetype without protection. This commitment also significantly ramped up my physical warm-up.
Later into the night, we approached the Muse through a preliminary area designated to embodying our foundation source. The idea here was to enter the Muse realm after fully emodying our foundation source and to discover how to respond there through our own source. This ritual produced an uncommon stability and group unity in the Muse realm, where vocal harmonies spontaneously evolved. In the final ritual, the preliminary zone was designated to Impersonal No-Form -- in the Muse realm, we projected our foundation sources. We had never approached the Muse like this before.
On entering, an emotion of overwhelming beauty slowly rose in me enveloping my body as a field. Planetary source and Muse were wed in a royal marriage whose golden-red hues began to soften all that was hard...in me...quietly moaning, I wept tears of inner joy. I stayed in motion by serving this emotion, my arms cradling torso rocking slow swaying notes resonating from lips not entirely my own. Second attention opens to shapes of mythic creatures forming in rapid collisions of animal species -- griffins, sphynxes, phoenixes, underworld species without names all unfolding before me -- in infinitely molting visions, not unlike LSD several decades ago.
I was struck by the sustaining feeling that I could remain there forever. This spurred my return to Impersonal No-Form and then, back to my personal NoForm starting point. As beautiful as my Muses experience was, I also knew I could return there anytime if I showed enough integrity to let it go.
By dictate of the Muses, I have chosen not to report
on the remaining five sessions of this Lab. - A.A.
ANTERO'S RITUAL JOURNAL FROM "THE SPRING 2010 MUSES" LAB
BACK TO THE "RITUAL ACTIONS OF THE MUSES" LAB
PAST LAB THEMES AND RITUAL JOURNALS