In the modern age, the term trance is often associated with the music genre which was bestowed this name due to the drawn out nature of the songs, DJ sets and the hours and hours of dancing that it typically generates. Yet long before this modern interpretation, forms of trance dance have been used to create connections between humans and the divine for thousands of years.
The !Kung people who reside along the border junctions of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are known for their extended dances that entrain and empower their Shamans with healing powers. A strong presence of animal and human spirits, neutral, benign or malignant in nature, forever remain infused in their communities. Between the countless patterns and rhythms in the music and dance, the spirits merge and bestow their nuanced gifts to the healers for the sake of healing the sick members of their groups. Future healers are also selected through these trance dances and once they are determined, the present Shamans begin to endow the initiates with their powers.
Also known for their prolonged dances, are the Sufi, in particular, the Mawlaw’īyya / Mevlevi Order who are largely recognized for how they practice their dhikr (remembrance of God) in a continued state of revolving. You might know them as Whirling Dervishes and this practice or Sama, entrances them into a deep journey within, past the mind and through love to the “Perfect.” It is meant to grow one’s love, dissolve the ego, and expose pure truth as they meet the “Perfect.” After completing this ritual, it is said that one is mature, reaches greater perfection, and is now, “able to love and to be of service to the whole of creation.” Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, who we’ve come to know simply as Rumi, began this order of Sufism in the 13th century. Poetically born, it captures an enhanced awareness that takes shape in the dance and brings its followers to a deep state of love and service.
Both practices engender a beautiful quality of dance and the expansive quality of the heart. We all can find peace, love and healing through music and dance if we let go of trying to understand them. Giving in to the true nature of the body as it is imbued with the pulsations of sound and music can restore us and bring us back to what we once were. Like children, we do not need to question what it is that moves us, simply feel the beat and dance ourselves into the heavens.
Healing Dance Music of the Kalahari San
!Kung Healing Dance Botswana Africa