Patron Saint of Bellydance

Duvet

Member
Who would you make the patron saint of bellydance, and why? Or if you don't like the idea of a patron saint, who would you make your bellydance mascot? Alive or dead, historical or fiction. Or is there one already?

My choice - St.Wulfric of Haselbury (d.1154). Solely because when he was given a new chainmail shirt by his patron, it was too long and impeeded his kneeling to prayer. So he took a pair of wool shears, and by a miracle, was able to cut the bottom of it off. So what did he have in his hands afterwards - the first metal coin belt! :cool:
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Bastet, Hathor, and Bes (a guy god) are related to music/dance in the Egyptian pantheon. In Catholic mythology, Vitus, Philemon, and Genesius are patron saints of dance and entertainers.

Not being Catholic or Egyptian, I'd opt for honoring Terpsichore, one of the nine Greek Muses. Her name means "delight in dance." Of course, I'm not Greek, either, but I've always loved the mythology. :D
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
I think I'd choose Hathor although Terpsichore sounds pretty good anyone who delights in dance is pretty cool in my book:D
~Mosaic
 

khanjar

New member
I don't particularly like the idea of a patron saint for this dance, because that implies the church gets involved and that leads to redefinition and control as the church has a very strong history of that.

But if anything to be associated with this dance, then for me, it is the earth, gaia, earth mother whatever name is used by whatever culture past or present as I see bd as an earthy dance.
 

Duvet

Member
I jokingly suggested Beli Mawr as a patron of Bellydance, based on the pun Beli= Belly. Then I thought -what if? And how far will the idea run? So here’s the resulting twaddle, a product of having too much time, too much imagination, and way too much experience in reading pseudo-history. Perhaps my energies would have been better spent elsewhere, but I've been unable to leave the house for the last two days, so my creativity has probably needed an outlet. It might give you a smile, get you irritated, or just make you sigh heavily.
NB This is the Games section, so academics and other seekers after truth, please look away now.

The Real Origins of Belly-Dance; an ancient Celtic custom?

Bellydance, or Beli-Dance is named after the ancient Celtic God Beli, or Belinus, god of light and the sun. The Romans identified Beli with their sun god Apollo, and he can also be linked to the Norse god Baldur, as they share the word element bel/bal- meaning ‘light’. To the Romans Apollo was also the god of healing, prophecy, music, and was known as ‘the Dancer’. It is likely that Beli shared these attributes too. Apollo is often associated with the Muses, especially Terpsichore the Muse of dance. Beli’s wife was called Don or Anna, and Baldur’s wife was called Nana. Anna and Nana are possibly derived from the Babylonian goddess Inanna, whose descent into the underworld, with her archetypal (but absent) dance of the seven veils, has been noted elsewhere.

Beli was a sun and fertility god, the son of Manogan (the Old Man of the Sea), and was the husband of Don, an earth goddess. As the sun, Beli arose each morning out of the sea (his father), climbed across the sky, and in the evening sank beneath the horizon to join his wife in the underworld, until the next morning when he would arise from the sea again. His daily cycle symbolised the yearly cycle and life cycle of birth and death, growth and decay.

Beli-Dancing was performed at Beltaine, (meaning ‘fire of Beli’) the May festival that heralded the end of winter and the stirring of new life. Bonfires would be lit, and over them Beltaine cakes would be cooked and consumed. These were often unpalatable, and the stomach cramps they caused were known as ‘Beli-cakes’, from which our modern word ‘bellyaches’ is derived. People would also perform a fertility dance around an upright post symbolising the ancient world tree, or world mountain, upon which the great sun god was enthroned. As a phallic symbol, this May-pole also represented the sun god penetrating the earth and giving her new life. Just as Baldur descended into Hel and danced with his wife Nana, so the sun god descended onto the earth, and men onto women, to dance and fill them with the generative seeds that culminated in the fruits of summer and autumn.

As a dance of the loins that celebrated the cycles of the seasons, the Beli-Dance involved much hip swaying and circling. The arch of the sun God as he crossed the sky was represented in the men performing hip and chest crescents, and the Old Man of the Sea, from whom Beli arises, was portrayed by undulating movements that symbolised the waves. As a dance of masculine virility it also involved an element of male confrontation, so chest expansions and lifts were used to make the body look bigger.

Dancing around a May-pole has been recorded in Wales, Ireland and Scotland (areas of the ancient Celts) from before the 1400s, and is still carried on today. There is even an old Welsh tune known from the 17th Century as the Belly-jerk (‘Beli-jump’), possibly originating from this old Celtic dance.

It is imagined that the dance was carried from Europe into Islamic countries during the times of the Crusades, in the 12th and 13th centuries, when many of the rural men of Britain were taken to the Holy Land, carrying their old peasant customs with them. They travelled to Turkey, Egypt and throughout the Middle East, places where modern Bellydance can now be found. It is likely that the English knights had their troops perform the Beli-Dance as a war-dance in preparation for combat. The moves would not only strengthen a sense of brotherhood and psych up the warriors before battle, but it also aided in keeping the fighters’ bodies strong and lithe; a necessary advantage in close combat. In lieu of a May-pole, they may have used a sword or spear stuck into the ground around which the soldiers would have danced. If the ground was too hard or sandy to allow a secure hold, the sword would fall over. Maybe a second sword would be used, but that too falling over it would require the men to leap the fallen obstacles. This is the origin of sword dancing over crossed blades. If a spear was used, and that too was unstable, one of the men might move forward from the circle and hold it upright as he continued to Beli-Dance. This is the origin of pole dancing.

The Moslem warriors might have adopted the moves into their own dances, and then taken them home with them. As Moslem law allowed a man to have many wives it became customary for the man to be within a circle of women; he representing the masculine May-pole, and his harem the Beli-Dancers. As Islamic custom changed, the man too was replaced by a woman, and, due to the hot weather and overexertion, the encircling women would either stand or sit, while the central dancer performed. Hence we get the development of the solo Bellydancer within a circle of observers, so well attested in 19th and 20th century travel accounts.

Vestiges of the Crusader knight’s armour can still be seen in the attempts at representing chain mail through the use of coin belts and coin bras. The use of canes or blunt swords, and of veils or the clashing of miniature metal disks, represent the real swords and shields used in those battles of long ago.

The Crusaders returned to England, still performing their original Beli-Dance. However the Black Death in the mid-14th Century brought a great deal of mortality throughout Europe. Plague victims were required to wear bells or wave white handkerchiefs before them in order to warn unsuspecting and healthy members of the public that pestilential victims were approaching. At the time of Beltaine, these bells and handkerchiefs were adopted into the Beli-dance. They would be shaken vigorously over the Beltaine fires, and the men, dressed in white to symbolise their shrouds, would leap over the flames in an attempt to purify themselves. When the church forced a ban on these ancient dances during the 17th Century, they were still performed in secret, although the fires were abandoned and the performers would dance in secret rooms, where, due to lack of space, the dancers would line up against the walls and face each other. In this way the modern Morris-Dance, evolved; the name Morris coming from the word morose, as it was a dance with a sad origin and originally performed with morose actions. These secret rooms were called Morose Halls, which is the origin of our word ‘mouse holes’, meaning somewhere small and secret.

Despite the Church ban, ancient customs survived, and the Morose part of the Beli-Dance began to grow in its importance at times of festivities. The once virile and energetic May-pole part of the dance, however, eventually became relegated to a step and skipping-dance for children. Even the name Beli-Dance was superseded by the name Morris; the term Morris Dance first appearing in documents in the mid15th Century, while the term Beli-dance is completely absent. The word Beli-dance however survived in the Middle East, where it was corrupted into the word Beledi.
 

khanjar

New member
Very creative, and what's worse, I can actually believe that there are some who would actually believe this if they read it. But now it's out on the internet, it will be there forever, let's hope someone doesn't believe it.

But why is the moon god; Sin depicted with a crescent moon ?
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
As Khanjar said very creative - you should be dubbed chief fairytale/myth creator:lol::lol:
~Mosaic
 

Duvet

Member
Cheers Khanjar & Mosaic. At least you'll know where this wishtory comes from.

But why is the moon god; Sin depicted with a crescent moon ?
I think the crescent symbolised both the horns of the sky bull/sky cow, and the cycles of the moon. It was also an easy shape to distinguishh from the solar disk.
 
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Duvet

Member
St.Shimyon - Christian Bellydance saint who achieved deliverance from sin through stage fright and knee shimmies.

As St.Paul says in the Letter to the Philippians, Chapter 2 verse 12 "…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,"
 

khanjar

New member
You Duvet to continue with this, on your own, have an unusual sense of humour and a true sense of let the past be the past.

Perhaps you and people like you are the way forward ?
 

RaqsAda

New member
Our Lady of Egypt can be considered as Patron of Raqs Baladi since She is the Queen of Egypt !!!
St. Catherine of Alexandria is also a good option though !
 

Duvet

Member
St.Catherine - a princess and scholar who refused to marry any man beneath her intellect, and so remained a virgin all her life. So far, so good. But then she was tortured on a spiked wheel and beheaded. Not so good for inspiring a performance piece. But she did give us the Catherine Wheel firework.

Another Egyptian saint - Menas. Patron saint of camels. Someone to call upon during choreography crises, maybe?

 
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Duvet

Member
Maybe for some, but for others less Christian there is Nataraja, the Hindu Lord Shiva as the Cosmic King of the Dance. His dance is the source of all movement in the universe; bringing the creation, sustainment and destruction of all things. Dancing encompasses the universe, but is at the centre of the heart. Dance connects the dancer with the oneness of God and creation, releasing the soul from illusion.

 

Duvet

Member
Crotus, inventor of the hunting bow and the rhythmic beat of music. He was a son of the god Pan (himself a great dancer), and accompanied the Muses on Mount Helicon in their sport and play. On his death he became the constellation Sagittarius, the archer in the form of a centaur.
If you’re into latromathematics (that’s posh for medical astrology) Sagittarius rules the thighs and hips.
So, rhythmic beats with thighs and hips - sounds like the start of a choreography. Although as a centaur he did have two left feet!

Who knew that centaurs bellydanced? Painting by Kerry Lynn Nelson

 
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Duvet

Member
Ever watched a choreo-manic performance where you prayed it would end? Well, you’re in good historical company.
During the Middles Ages in Europe there were sporadic outbreaks of uncontrollable dancing in the populace, the cause of which is still debated today. These ‘dance-manias’ were later known as St. Vitus Dance, but an earlier reference to them was as St. John’s Dance, and prayers were given to St. John the Baptist to cure participants of this affliction. St. John the Baptist was not himself the patron saint of dance, but he was closely associated with it in the minds of many, for not only was he a protector against epilepsy (and hence all uncontrollable body movements) but he was also beheaded as a consequence of the dancing of Herodias’ daughter, and so was quite likely to be conducive to seeing any dancing stopped.

St. John the Baptist is coincidentally the patron saint of the Roman Catholic Diocese of ‘Charleston’, South Carolina, which gave its name to the 1920s dance craze.

Looks great fun; wish I’d been there. :)
 

Duvet

Member
Bes - Egyptian god of dance.
He was also a god of war, in that he was a protector of the Pharaoh and the people, and protector of the home, of pregnant women, and of young children. If a baby laughed or smiled for no reason, it was said that Bes was pulling faces at the infant. He was also the god of humour and music, portrayed as a bow legged bearded dwarf with his tongue stuck out. He would also be shown playing various musical instrument, or dancing. The island of Ibiza, known for its nightlife and nightclub dancing, is, appropriately enough, named after him. Bes would certainly get your dance party going!



Although associated with the goddess Hathor (due to her similar attributes of childbirth, music and dance), Bes' wife was often identified as the goddess Taweret, who, like Bes, was a protector of pregnancy and childbirth. She was depicted as a hippopotamus with a crocodile on her back, or as a hippo/croc composite.

 

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khanjar

New member
Maybe for some, but for others less Christian there is Nataraja, the Hindu Lord Shiva as the Cosmic King of the Dance. His dance is the source of all movement in the universe; bringing the creation, sustainment and destruction of all things. Dancing encompasses the universe, but is at the centre of the heart. Dance connects the dancer with the oneness of God and creation, releasing the soul from illusion.


Years ago to help me with my dancing I purchased a silver Sri Nataraja and still wear it when I am dancing and because I am used to it I wear it most of the time now, it strung on a Indian silver snake chain I have worn for years, well, since '98.

Shiva Nataraja danced the world into existence- Lord of the dance.
 
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