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Dance of the Seven Veils

 

We have all heard of the Dance of the Seven Veils - just look at any of those old Hollywood movies and we know what people in the east used to wear and what they did, don’t we? Bellydancing, in sheer fabrics with midriffs bared and bouncing jewellery, if not breasts. Sure, my belly dancing friend says that dancing with one veil is hard enough, let alone seven!

So is it just a Hollywood myth or is it based on an actual dance? Maybe at some point of history it was OK for Persian or Arabic women to bellydance … they may have done so with only women present, but certainly not in the striptease format of today.So where does the legend come from? Is it a dance at all? In many different ancient eastern religions the number seven is significant, usually with seven lords or ladies representing the planetary powers. The legend of Ishtar’s descent to the underworld refers to her giving up 7 items.

The Merkabah Mystics (the precursors of the medieval Qabalists) believed there were seven veils of mystical experience, each associated with a planetary power or ray. Their spiritual techniques involved traveling through each of these veils in succession and learning  about each “heaven” through direct experience.

 

The seven rays:

Lunar Ray (Imagination): natural influence – the tides, the months, cycles, moods; spiritual influence – dreams, psychic phenomena; gift – life; colour - silver

Mercurial Ray (Reason): natural influence – physical laws, DNA, communication; spiritual influence – ritual magic, learning, teaching; gift – wisdom; colour- light blue.

Venusian Ray (Passion): natural influence – sexual selection, diversity, evolution; spiritual influence – music, art, ectasy, inspiration; gift – fertility; colour – pink

Solar Ray (Bliss): natural influence – light, growth, warmth, day; spiritual influence – enlightenment, love, harmony; gift – beauty; colour – yellow.

Martian Ray (Divine Courage): natural influence – fire, drought, hunting, war, sacrifice; spiritual influence – self-discipline, courage, justice; gift – dominion; colour – red.

Jovial Ray (Divine Compassion): natural influence –rain, eating, abundance, friendship; spiritual influence – mercy, generosity, compassion; gift – wealth; colour – sky blue.

Saturnine Ray (Divine Knowledge - Gnosis): natural influence – experience, rest, renewal, the night, time; spiritual influence – liberation, freedom, gnosis; gift – peace; colour purple.

 

It is said that out of 4 Merkabah Mystics who attempted to pass through the seven veils, one died, one succeeded, one went mad and one turned agnostic.

 So then if women dancing with the seven veils is a myth, why make a sculpture? I guess I have a bone to pick… why are women never allowed to aspire to a spiritual path of enlightenment?

 This woman is metaphorically on her way… the seven gates open and ready to be experienced should she dare. Even the mosaic vibrates with ray energy as butterflies are about to take wing, symbols of transformation. Her feet are fully grounded in her culture and her being even as she reaches towards the heavens.

 Maybe the statistics of success would have been better if there were female aspirants?

 

 

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Contact Sue Stack at sue.stack 'at' bigpond.com   (replace 'at' with @)         Available for commission