Tuesday, January 3, 2012

TURTLE DANCE, Taos Pueblo 2012

On New Year's morning we went to the Turtle Dance at the pueblo. After religiously attending every public dance at the Pueblo for many years I hadn't been to a turtle dance since Standing Deer's mother passed five years ago. Now I'm stepping back into that once familiar environment again feeling a bit like I'd returned from exile.
One of Pba-Quen-nee-e's Turtle Paintings

 It transports one to another reality beyond time, as if nothing at all had happened in the past 1,000 years. The adobe buildings of the village rise organically from the clay earthen skin of Mother Earth, completely unaffected by the town of Taos and 2012 just two miles away. The Pueblo blends like old furniture in the great room of Taos Mountain secure in its forever place against the sharp blue sky. The smell of wood smoke brings memories from ten years ago and lifetimes ago. This is life transcending the accustomed sectioning into years and culture. Even though there is a mixture of native and town people dressed in both contemporary and traditional styles it has no effect on the overriding ambiance.

During these ceremonies, this place cloaks everyone within range in timelessness. As soon as you step onto the reddish gold dust of the plaza, the spirit of the pueblo ancestors overtakes whatever you came with. The dimensional door opens and the Old Ones pour out onto the plaza mingling with their descendants and surrounding everyone in their medicine. The dancers who embody their spirit are bare chested except for their red body paint even though the temperature is below freezing. Their feet rhythmically, reverently tap the mother’s body. Gourd shakers send cascading shivers through our bodies. These songs awaken something absolutely primal and timeless even in visitors. This is why we are here.

According to native lore, the turtle carries all of our troubles on her back and that is why she moves so slowly. What does speed and time have to do with the real world? As I feel my body, vibrating subtly from the inside out with the rhythm of the dancers and the deep hum of their song I wonder if this isn’t a stronger more elemental world than the one existing just a few minutes down the road. How can we now believe there is only one world and it is the real one?

Could it be that this ancient world of golden tan clay and brilliant sky like the turtle carries our confused world on its back and subtly, simply transports us to the fundamental world, the one beneath all the other worlds, the original home of us all?