I’m delighted to be one of the speakers at the Magickal Women Conference in London this June, where I’ll present a paper on the intersection of dance, trance, possession, mediumship and female sexuality; a subject which has fascinated me since discovering the dances of yoginis, dakinis and apsaras, and their human avatars, whilst a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the nineties. At the conference I will focus on an aspect of my practice, the embodied experience of the divine, which I first touched upon in the essay ‘Outside the temple’ in the Devoted anthology (Scarlet Imprint 2008). I’ll explore this work from a more practical perspective, in light of my research into the nymph, which I approach in her myriad forms, veiled, as elemental divinity, as nubile woman, as immature mantis, and as the clitoris, the flower of sex. This research informs the creation of a dance cycle, Apocalyptería, the first dance of which, The decollation of flowers, is pictured below, and the second and third of which are currently in progress. Elucidating a specific element of my working, the entranced or engodded state, I show how public performance, emerging from the confluence of creative process and private devotional, mantic and magical practices, can manifest or materialise the sacred.
Flower on fire (Dance. Sex. Heresy.)
As a dancer, choreographer and practitioner of magic, I have invariably oriented my work towards an enquiry into the body and its mysteries, its environs, what I have termed the occulted body. Beginning with a brief explanation of my conception of the body, its inherent potentials and vulnerabilities – by which we can decipher its self-making and self-unmaking – I will address why I believe it is central to a radically transformative magic, and its techne is imperative to the bodily apprehension of an apocalyptic mysticism.
To this end I will give an insight into my practice, specifically in relation to trance states. I will describe embodied techniques which I employ to alter consciousness, to move and be moved within such states; and explore the resonances and tensions between the states of consciousness one experiences in dance and performance, and those of sexual trance. To conclude, I show how my practice, both performance and private ritual, is grounded in an erotic eschatology which I connect with Babalon, ‘the mother of harlots and abominations’ – in my understanding a post- or anti-Christian incarnation of the feminine divine.
The conference, which has been organised by Sue Terry and Erzebet Barthold, is a truly momentous and ambitious event, which will bring together many women and present a plenitude of experiences and perspectives. Its aim, as stated by the organisers:
The Magickal Women Conference pays homage to the women of the past who challenged the status quo by embracing mysticism, esotericism, and occult teachings, and to the women who continue those rich traditions through lived practice, performance, and adeptship.