The Dance of Souls is a closing ritual and ecstatic dance held at the end of the conference on Sunday afternoon. The Dance is about people bringing their focus and energies together for good intention. This modern primitive celebration is uniquely created through the energies of the voluntary participants present within a scaffolding of cross-cultural spiritual traditions that involve temporary piercing, drumming, chanting and dancing. The ritual is a closed private ceremony offering all Dance of Souls attendees the opportunity to participate in a variety of roles including pierced dancer, non-pierced dancer, drummer, etc. All activities are voluntary and there is no requirement to be pierced.
This event was inspired by the work of Fakir Musafar, who from roots as a 3,000-year-old Savite Hindu practice honoring archetypes (deities), introduced the Ball Dance and Energy Pull to our Western culture in community group rituals beginning in 1998. Fakir’s first Ball Dance took place in 1987, and his first Ball Dancer was Cléo Dubois. For a historical perspective on SWLC’s Dance of the Souls please read “Spirit + Flesh”.
Our piercers are trained to offer you a smooth experience with minimal pain. Together, both of you can decide which type of piercings, how many, and the locations of the piercings you wish to receive.
12-gauge steel hooks are placed in the upper chest and/or upper back. Dancers with hooks may choose to be tethered together in a large “energy pull” circle of other dancers, join with a smaller group or pair with another single person, dance freely, or they may simply choose to be tethered to a stationary post. Any one or all of these activities can help you achieve an altered state.
BALLS AND BELLS
Ball Dancers may receive temporary piercings with 18-gauge needles. Monofilament is then threaded through the pierced skin and the participant may adorn their body with bells or other decorations that are brought to the dance. When dancing, the balls, bells, and other decorations tug on the flesh in a rhythmic manner and support transition to an altered state. Participants must bring their own balls, bells, or other body adornments (i.e. feathers, shells, medicine bags, lucky charms, etc.) as these items will not be provided at the event. For best results, we recommend 8 to 12 bells/balls, and that the items weigh about 1 to 3.5 ounces each (which is the weight of an egg or a lime, items that are traditionally used in the Hindu Thaipusam festival). Dancers with decorations are free to dance about the ceremony and are not tethered to other dancers.
Every Dance of Souls attendee is a participant in the ritual whether you choose to be pierced or not, but any additional participation is voluntary. Non-pierced participants are integral to the success of the Dance and we encourage you to make an active contribution. Participation can be achieved by simply being present and holding space for the dancers or piercees, by engaging the pierced dancers, or by providing spiritual support with prayers or chanting. All participants, pierced or not, are welcome to accompany the professional drummers with their own instruments. Drums, rattles, flutes, and zills are common.
Kaseekas are Mandan tribe members who are elders, initiates, or medicine who have been on the trip before, who have used some kind of technique to get from ordinary states of consciousness to a shamanic state of consciousness. The Dance Of Souls ritual team includes a number of trained Journey Guides who can provide this assistance on your journey. They also serve the function of on-the-floor health and safety for the dancers. Journey Guides can be identified by a golden yellow stole.
EVENT TIMELINE (subject to change)
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Dance Of Souls check-in at Registration in the Leather Mall. All participants will be given special identification for entrance to the Dance.
11:45 AM – 1:00 PM
Leather Tribal Revival! Celebrate the Dance of Souls with a joyful gathering of leather folk in celebration of all of our spiritual practices ….Hindu~Jewish~ Christian~ Druid~ Buddhist~Islamic~Wiccan….whatever! Bring it on! During this highly charged spiritual service, we will hold a special blessing ritual for all Dance of Souls participants.
Doors open for Dance Of Souls. Use this time to check your bags, to place any items on the altar, and for meditation. Sage cleansing will be offered on the Patio. No sage will be used in the Ballroom during the Dance Of Souls.
NOTE: You may bring in a SMALL bag into the dance to hold bells, instruments, snacks, and perhaps a small lap blanket. Please do not bring large blankets, shoes, boots, suitcases, and other items. Space is at a premium and these items need to be left at the bag check.
Doors to the Dance Of Souls closed to new entrants. An opening ritual and breath cleansing will formally mark the beginning of the Dance Of Souls. This will be followed by drumming and piercing. All participants must be present by 1:45 pm.
The drums will silence and all participants will be called back to take part in a Closing Ritual. As the event ends in the early evening, all participants should make accommodation and travel plans accordingly. Piercings will be removed and cleaned on site by our trained piercers. Please do not return to your hotel room with piercings still intact.
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Join us for a hearty buffet dinner after the Dance of Souls. Pre-purchase is strongly recommended as this dinner usually sells out, and on-site tickets may not be available.
FEES AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
$45 for all who attend (hooks or balls and bells or non-pierced participants)
Participation is limited. Participants must bring their own balls, bells, or other body adornments (i.e. feathers, shells, medicine bags, lucky charms, etc.) as these items will not be provided at the event.
Registration for the Dance is available as an optional event item through our RegOnline. Pending availability, additional registrations for Dance of Souls may be available on site. If you have any further questions regarding the ceremony, contact Dance Of Souls.