Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance:
Awakening Spirituality Through Movement and Ritual
A Book by Iris J. Stewart




Grapevine Magazine, England


When this book arrived in the post I thought it must be my birthday: a beautifully illustrated 'coffee table'book about women's dance and spirituality. Although a wealth of research lies behind the text, it is conveyed in a very digestible form. Myths, history, symbolism together with ancient and modern forms of dance from all cultures are drawn together to uncover the meaning behind the dance.

It starts with the history of dance with chapters entitled The Goddess Danced, The Priestess Danced, Dancing Through Theology, WomanDance, The Costume: Symbolic and Glorious. The second part covers modern sacred dance with chapters on The Dance of Eternity, Moon Dance, Sacred Circle, the Serpent Dance, Lamentation Dance, Universal Rhythms: the Drum Dance, The Ecstatic and the Transcendental, Dance of the Elements, Mirror Dance, Keys to Accessing Spirituality through the Sacred Dance. Each chapter ends with some suggestions to experiment with the dance. The text is written in a very personal style as Iris Stewart shares with us her personal journey in the dance. And as I stated earlier, the illustrations are beautiful - many photographs of women alone and in groups, some modern and some taken from old paintings and texts. There is a stunning photo of a line of women doing a harvest dance in one of Laura's workshops. The end result is a sense of continuity - of the link with our dancing grandmothers. As the author says women's history has often been hidden or denied. There are inserts such as 'Was Mary a dancing Priestess'. Were the Amazons Dancing Priestesses? And yes, circle dance does get a brief mention.

I didn't know that I was in need of such a book. For me it is a synthesis of both my own journey in the dance, i.e. the discovery of how essential dance is to my well being, and what has been explored here in the west over the past thirty or so years as the importance of dance has been rediscovered. It gives me in a handy reference text for the symbolism that I have felt in the dance and makes all those connections which I knew were there.

Frances Fawkes, Editor

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