Sticks of incense were slowly burning down—thin wisps diminishing into the air and emitting that strong scent, sending me a feeling of preternaturalness and mysticism.
At a corner, the woman named Lizette, sitting on a mat and her eyes closed, was silently making quick but graceful jolts, while Peter Gabriel’s Book of Love was softly playing in the background.
Eight other individuals, including I and a 17-year old Philosophy student of a high-end university in Davao , have assumed spots to eventually each become part of a huge circle--the burning incense, a brown-colored bottle of an aromatic oil, and a lighted red candle at the middle.
Outside, the drizzle has already ceased and the pitch dark space became the host to hundreds of insects, wild animals and other beings that owned the night. Inside the hall, I was starting to embark on a transcendental experience that has never crossed my mind before nor was prepared to—dancing a babaylan’s inner dance.
With legs crossing each other and feeling relaxed, I felt the urge to close my eyes as a strange feeling started to envelope me. Without the slightest idea of what must be done or what will happen, I allowed the feeling to overwhelm me for a moment while not forgetting skepticism on the other hand.
Moments later, someone came near me, touched my head and several parts of my back, including my spine and elbows. At that time, I felt like listening to someone talking to me, whispering something in a language I cannot understand.
It was the same moment when I felt like a voltage of electricity from a very strong powerhouse enter my spine and scattered all over my body, demanding it to escape dormancy from the present state, asking it to discover something within and around it.
Then followed the the spontaneity of the body that succumbed to the flow of the energy from somewhere and someone unknown, dancing to the music that shifts from something soft to cheerful then to fast and exciting. It was overwhelming to feel the fluidly of the body in creating forms and doing non-choreographed floor routines that would have been pretty challenging and scary had I been, say, “awake.”
Came also the flashes of colors and forms behind a black backdrop—yellow, blue, green and electric circles and the fingers caressing the wind, touching the water and the chest feeling the earth.
Had I been in control, I would have not chosen to tumble and fall—on my face and on my back so dangerously—for countless times.
For several times, too, I saw myself literally roll, crawl and rest in childlike curls that are quickly followed by elaborate flings and swishes of the arms and legs, the latter I can barely lift for lack of muscle flexibility training. For how can I also possibly explain my almost 10-minute self-beating of the legs and chest that created a rhythm so pleasant to listen to that I felt like I was a human percussion instrument.
While the body was spontaneously dancing, doubt was forgotten and fear was never felt. There was an overflowing feeling of bliss hile the unexplainable force was comforting and assuring that everything will be alright.
And I ended the almost three-hour dance with a strange feeling of lightness, surprisingly unscathed or hurt.
Inner dancing, according to Pompet Pi Villaraza, happen when a person becomes conscious of his or her own energy and that of the surrounding environment, and becoming the energy itself. It is, he added, bringing back a person’s kundalini, the feminine energy which can be accessed from a person’s spine.
“The dance makes you feel and experience that you are made up of energy. You find energy within and then the body spontaneously moves. The palm opens and you gather your energy and you become a powerhouse then you can do healing,” said Pi who rediscovered inner dancing in a Palawan island called Kalipay, a cebuano term for happiness, several years ago.
Pi, Villaraza’s “revealed name” for Mindanao, Visayas and Manila , said that the dance, allows a person to feel the ball of light on the palm and enables him or her to transfer that energy to other people, hence the snowballing effect. He cited how some kids who also experienced the dance were able to heal other people without them memorizing the basics of natural healing.
Now, inner dancing is attracting quite a number of different kinds of people from all over the country—from those who came from affluent families and well-paying jobs, farmers, natural healers, artists, among others. Pi and a couple of his colleagues have stationed themselves with a group of farmers practicing natural agriculture here, a village that is practically close to the majestic Mt. Apo .
Pi explained that for so long a time, the energy rediscovered because of inner dancing, was an experience that has been deprived of the Filipinos, especially when the “extinction” of the babaylan.
Also called Kali-Pi Mu (Your happiness), inner dancing was performed by Filipino indigenous priests and priestesses who held ancient secrets and wisdoms. When the Roman Catholic demonized these tribal shamas during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines , the healing ritual also vanished with them.
Troy Bernardo, in an article, described the term Kali-Pi Mu as a three-fold name.
“Kalipi Mu (also) means Our Tribe. Kali is taken from the word kalis, meaning blade. The syllable ka represents the word kaalaman, which means knowledge or wisdom, while Li refers to lihim or secret. Put this together and you find the source of the ritual—secret wisdom,” Bernardo said.
Bernardo also pointed that kali is also known as the Hindu diety “who had the frightening form of the mother goddess Durga, which represents the Benevolent Mother-Goddess, the Divine Feminine, as celebrated by the babaylan.”
He also pointed the seeming merry coincidence that the word Pi also represents the Philippine Islands. He also pointed how, as a mathematical symbol (Pi= 3.14159 or the ratio of a circle’s circumference), the Pi is “called the transcendental real number…it is also known as the divine number, since no man can ever calculate it precisely, thus putting the digits at the heart of the divine circle.”
Meanwhile, Bernando said that the word Mu represents the so-called vanished continent Lemuria “thought to have been located in the Pacific Ocean and believed by many psychics to have deep spiritual ties with The Philippines.”
In the same article, Bernardo also said that the “People, who have undergone Kali-Pi Mu gatherings, report an immediate sensation of bliss, intense happiness and spiritual ecstasy, and later on, rapid acceleration of spiritual evolution. Some go through an involuntary dance, mostly with heightened abandon in such elevated states.”
A corporate executive of a known a global technology provider company related in a blog post how after she went through inner dance, drove home “feeling light of heart and light of movement.”
“I usually get very tense driving (on EDSA, who doesn’t?) but this time I sat up without feeling the usual weight on my spine. It was as if I was being held up by a hundred balloons on a string! High na high ako pauwi…If I could sum up the experience in one word, it would be this: Happiness,” she said.
And there was Aika, the 11-year old girl who travels astrally to a river and meets with the mother. In one of her dances, though, Aika met two women: one that transforms into a flower and another who one who turns into a butterfly.
There was also Marwin of Cebu who drew circles on a piece of paper and wrote the names of the members of his family so well using his left hand when he is right-handed.
Pi said that his role is to initiate unleash the channels that people—those who attend the inner dance gatherings—to access their own energy and become the higher self.
“Scary, silly, or sublime forms of the dance, they are nonethless powerful moments that leaves us in awe of seeing the unreal turn into very real forms at the twirl of a finger, the crack of a wrist, or the swaying of your arms,” Pi said.
“We can pretend that there are aliens, diwatas, monsters speaking through us, but we all know that all parts are filters only, no matter how open we might be. Here are our true selves. The screams, the laughter, the tears are real. As real as those strange deities, ancients, nature spirits and alien forms you've seen,” Pi added.
*An edited version of this story also came out in today's issue (Sept. 16) of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
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