‘Sacred’ dances bring local dancer full circle

Shelly Frome
Special to BMN

When Maggie Moon and her husband moved to Black Mountain from their home in Richmond, Virginia a year ago, they fully expected to spend their retirement years with their son and his family.

However, upon arrival they discovered that their son’s circumstances had changed, and they would have to go through a period of adjustment. Needless to say, Moon could no longer fall back on her previous job as a social work teacher at Virginia Commonwealth University.

A Quaker, she came upon a thriving Quaker meeting house in Black Mountain, the Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting nestled in a shady grove by a rippling stream. She was equally as delighted to discover that the house overlooking Lake Tomahawk that she and her husband bought from their son featured a backdrop of the Seven Sisters mountain range. Moon’s mother was one of seven sisters, a factor Moon took as a positive sign, given her lifelong affinity with the divine feminine.

“It all began to feel so magical,” she said recently. “The weather, the mountains. The feeling of being surrounded and held by the Seven Sisters. The lake, the wildlife, the ducks and the geese. The people. I loved everything about it. And I also loved being able to walk to town.”

In due course, it came time for Moon to consider what to do with herself.

“You see,” she said, “even though I had a career as an educator, I’ve been a dancer all my life, since the age of three.”

Moon recalled her first experience with Sacred Circle Dances, in the ’90s at a Quaker annual gathering on an eastern college campus. During one of the morning workshops, she learned that these traditional celebratory dances were brought to the Findhorn community in Scotland in 1970 by Bernhard Wosien.

Several of the Eastern European variations Wosien gathered spread to England and other English-speaking countries. In effect, the dances were a ritual means of being together, connecting hand to hand. They are meant to engender joy and healing.

Based on her experiences as a participant and a teacher over the years, Moon thought the dances might very well be viable here, in view of the openness to art forms she found in the Swannanoa Valley. She teaches Sacred Circle Dances at Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting (e-mail oneill.maggie9@gmail.com to learn times and dates; donations cover expenses and gifts to charity).

“After all,” Moon said, “the movements are simple and effortless, the music comes from all over the world. People can do them even in their wheelchairs. It’s the kind of thing you can do all through your life.”

Moon sees dance as a mindfulness practice that can help people let go of anxieties and evolve into a state of peace and connectedness. She has found that participants naturally feel their bodies gliding after being told “there are no mistakes, only variations.”

Moon is going to Scotland and Ireland in September to expand her repertoire of Sacred Circle Dances and to include Celtic dances in her class schedule at the Meeting House this October.

“What I envision is that people will want to do a variety of universal dances with me for the rest of my life,” she said. “One of my favorites is based on the Navajo chant, ‘Walk the Beauty Way,’ which has become a mantra for my life. ‘I walk with Beauty before me ... behind me ... above me ... below me.’

“Thoughts, words and actions become beautiful as we move in this way. Living here in Black Mountain, surrounded by the amazing beauty of these mountains, I intuitively feel connected to the native peoples who once lived here.”