The Bandana: Toward the Within in Trance Dance
by Gerry Starnes, M.Ed.

Among the most notable and significant aspects of Trance Dance is use of the bandanna or blindfold. While it is easy for any untrained individual to start his or her own "trance dance program," the use of the bandanna is not just a tool, but a vastly rich and important part of the Trance Dance ritual.

Providing Context
Most of our lives is experienced within the context of vision. For the most part, we experience life through the medium of our eyes. Vision plays an overwhelming role in how we interpret experience, how we learn, how we communicate. All other senses are secondary – they are slower in a very real sense that can be shown physiologically.

The bandanna presents the dancer with an impressive black screen upon which to project his or her own inner experience. Without vision to distract our attention and reinforce our assumptions, we are able to come into direct contact with our deeper thoughts, feelings, intuitions – wisdom.

Container for Intention
In the beginning of the Trance Dance ritual, participants spend a few moments holding their bandannas and focusing on their intention for the dance. They focus on the center of the bandanna – the part that will rest between their eyes – and put their intention into the fabric. When they are willing to begin, they cover their eyes and begin to move. Their focused intention becomes and intimate, integral part of their dance; the bandanna becomes an ally.

Over time, the bandanna becomes an important source of support, soaked as it is with the intention of many dances. Some choose not to wash their bandanna, as many martial artists never wash their belts. They are infused with the power of intention and the energetic glow of many dances.

When everyone is wearing bandannas, there is no need for egotistical dance movements. We are not dancing to be seen. We are dancing within. No one cares what anyone else looks like, or whether they can dance at all. All such concerns can be put aside. When Ego is allowed to step aside, Spirit is allowed to enter.

Reality changes...

Index of Articles

What is a Shaman?
Excerpt from interview with Martin Prechtel published by Sun Magazine.

Eight Characteristics of Shamanism
Edited by Gerry Starnes

Shamanism Q&A
Interview by Jennifer Robenalt, Soul Lab Media.

Ecstatic Body Postures
Figurines, carvings, and artwork from around the world suggest archetypal ways to produce and enhance ecstatic experience.

Urban Shamanism
How can people live a shamanic experience within the urban environment?

The Bandana: Toward the Within
The use of the bandanna in TranceDance

The Shamanic Journey
The shamanic (drumming) journey has been used for thousands of years for guidance and healing. Excerpt of material by Tom Cowan.

Power Animals & Helping Spirits
What are power animals and how does one work with them?

Spiritual Eldership
The role of Elders in an shamanic cultures can be applied to help save our own.

Copyright © 2005-2016 by Gerry Starnes • All rights reserved.
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