Saturday, June 05, 2004

I.A.O. or Lucy Goosey in the Sky with Diamonds and Other Minor Mysteries

So this morning I'm sitting at the hairdresser's at an unreasonably early hour. She leaves for Italy tomorrow. For my roots it's either today or another three weeks of getting more obvious. According to the dermatologist I was screwed over by Mother Nature who gave me the skin tones of a redhead and the hair color of a field mouse.

Meanwhile, racing out of the apartment, I left home a draft entry about why we should only present student shows in-house or at least out of the public view. It's on the coffeetable where it is doing none of us any good. So I'm using its absence as an opportunity to explain a bit about the perplexing graphic that replaced BDNY from February to April. I have a file of emails ranging from lovely to irate in which many of you expressed your lack of delight with the removal of this website. What was that? Did someone hack it off the net? Had something awful happened to me personally? Why didn't I give warning so you could have printed out your favorite pages? And what did I. A. O. mean, anyway? One wit did come up with "It's All Over!" and hats off to her.

I. A. O. has many meanings. In this instance I was using it in the classic Golden Dawn way as a formula for transformation and regeneration. For those of you working off a different reading list from mine, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was/is an influential occult group that flourished from approximately 1885 through the 1920s. The Golden Dawn still exists but is much less visible than in its heyday. Among its best known members were S. L. MacGregor Mathers, William Butler Yeats, Israel Regardie and Aleister Crowley. Much Golden Dawn symbolism relied on Egyptian god forms so in Golden Dawn terms this use of the formula I. A. O. translates as Isis-Apophis-Osiris. Isis here is Nature untouched, naive, unaware; Apophis is destruction, ruin, catastrophe, and Osiris is an evolved renewal. Isis is destroyed by Apophis and resurrected in Osiris. You and I aren't going to trouble ourselves here about who's a girl and who's a boy, who is or isn't as green as Kermit, or what our favorite form of the myth says. If some of you feel the need to write to me about Gnostic gods and other abstruse formulations feel free, but I probably won't answer.

When I took BDNY down I had no idea if it or I would emerge from the Apophis phase. I'd started the site out of some naive altruistic impulse toward community building combined with frustration about a lack of shared resources. Back then teachers carefully protected their students from the knowledge that other teachers existed and the only way you could find anyone was whispered word of mouth or the Yellow Pages. There was print--Arabesque, Habibi, Caravan and a few other magazines were around--but you had to know what you were looking for and newcomers rarely had that knowledge. Armed with a simple guide to HTML and a slow modem I stuck all the information I'd managed to glean from print and personal contacts up on the internet. Pretty soon things took off. People started calling, writing and eventually emailing in information. The website grew.

And there was synergy--the more information there was available the more stuff started happening. The web helped belly dance to explode. Suddenly there were classes everywhere and out of the blue dance venues sprang up. Workshops, vendors, recordings, costume makers, you name it, materialized all over the place. For the first few years this was thrilling. Something I loved was being discovered and loved by others. And then it got to be a bit on the more-so side heading off into a muchness of richness and texture and diversity; so many women finding themselves; what a burgeoning of spirituality, such a wealth of invention; and on and on, you know what I'm saying here...And the stuff just kept on coming, a belly dance cornucopia run amok spewing out more and more of everything in all kinds of weird permutations and combinations and fusions and fissions. Un-freaking-believable and there's still no stop to it.

What did stop, though, was me. Early on I'd made a promise to myself and to people using my site that if anyone could make a case for inclusion of an item, up that item would go regardless of whether I personally approved or agreed. This is the only fair way to handle information that can affect someone else's financial well being. For now let's say I was approving of less and less and being asked to report more and more. That brings us full circle on this blog back to late January and the matters described in the first entry. Enter Apophis, big time.

So what's the Osiris factor here? Why is this website back? And how, beyond sporting a less cutesy look, has it evolved? (Evolved?: Wow! And what, could that in the context of belly dance websites could that ever mean?) Well, I missed the site, first of all. It is a unique piece of weirdness that sort of maps my mind. And I realized that it's also a one of a kind tool for defining and maybe remedying some of what's gone astray in the last few years. What we need to do is really get down and talk about our dance in terms of love and greed and ambition and art and tradition and integrity and music and neediness and dare I say it, reality. I think this website is a good place to start. We've got a forum, we've got a blog, and we've got each other.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

testing the comment utility--Stella