Sunday, August 30
Yesterday, I bought a knife. I have never bought my own knife before, never wanted one as a child. I was at a fair and there was a witchcraft booth. I was raised christian, so I never would have gone before. But I broke up with the church a long time ago. The husband and wife who owned the booth wore black t-shirts, were heavy and smoked a lot. I think in high school they were probably goth geeks. I was a nerd myself, just a different kind. I took the silver blade in my hands and something about the knife felt true. My mind automatically began reciting mantras and I felt the power from my body extend through the blade. Like turning up the sound on a stereo. I wanted to dance with it. I felt the weight of the knife, it felt real in my hands. The knife wanted me to dance with it.
I bought the knife and found a place behind the bandstand where the musicians were playing, filling the warm, summer night with drums like persistent heartbeats. I unsheathed the blade from it's leather holder, it looked like a small sword. I began to dance. It is a dance I learned in india called tandava. There is no right way to dance, only that I must keep moving, to feel the spontaneous movement of energy currents through my limbs and I am given the strength and agility to dance the stories, the patterns of life. it is the dance of birth and destruction, the dance of the universe. It is a form of trance and meditation. I found that I was more flexible and graceful than I expected, and that my body moved like a snake and a bird. I would crouch low to the ground and then twirl and jump towards the sky. I would lift my ribcage and peel my heart open to the heavens with my fingers, like peeling a piece of fruit.
Sometimes I lifted the knife and felt like a warrior, noble and proud. Other times the knife danced anger and retribution and sometimes I felt as if I was stirring the dark waters of a sea before time with the point of the blade. People gathered and watched, they were unimportant to me. There was a part of me that liked being watched, that like the feeling of being exalted. But I did not change my dance with the knife for the people watching. I became more and more true to myself and the blade, which felt so much a part of me that it was like one of my own bones extending out of my body.
after some time passed, i dropped to my knees panting, and felt exaughsted but exilerated. i pushed the blade into the earth, it felt right, like that was where the blade wanted to go. and i kept my finger wrapped around the handle, i could feel the power running through my hand, and it did not want to let go.
I have read that witches dance the dance of chaos. And I know that tantriks like I study with in india have ritual daggers or dorjes, as the tibetans call them. I used to think doing rituals was a waste of a time, an attachment to earthly outcome. I used to think I could surrender so completely that my ego would disappear. I looked down on rituals people performed to “get” things. Rituals for wealth, abundance, health, love. I scorned asking god for things, I felt it was better to just lay everything down at god's feet. But maybe some part of me had become broken from childhood years of my prayers not being answered the way I wanted. Maybe that part of me stopped believing in prayer and only believed in surrender to a will I can never really understand.
“And that's the way it is". The Lakota native american people I get doctored by say this as they patiently sit smoking cigarettes in their front yard and watch the road. The knife dance was a ritual. Maybe ritual is less about trying to make things happen and more about accepting the way they are. I don't ask to understand, I ask to be.