Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Teaching Folk Dance at the Moot part 2

I’m preparing to teach Basic Folk Dance at Southwest Frith Moot. My time slot between the other things on the schedule is a half hour, so I’ve selected two dances, Hora and Tot Ursi. Tot Ursi is a procession dance and the Hora is a round dance. Tot Ursi is so simple that I can teach it before I teach any actual dance basics, so I can teach Tot Ursi, do a short lecture teaching dance basics, and then teach the Hora. The dance basics I need to teach for the second dance include what “line of direction” means (move to the right, starting on the right foot), how to hold hands (dancing in a circle round, left hand up and the right one down,) and how to cut in.

My mom and I dance with the Ethnic Express Folk Dancers. We dance to bring people together—ourselves, most of all—and to preserve the world heritage of dance. I’m the only heathen in the dance group. Mom and I originally got into folk dance as an activity we could do together when I was in high school. Even when she can’t dance, our folk dance friends are a big part of our life.

This will be the first time I’ve taught folk dance by myself. Usually when the Ethnic Express teaches, performs, or has a dinner and dancing night at a local restaurant, one of the members of the dance group who owns one of the Folkdance Jukebox laptops brings it along and plugs it in to whatever sound system the venue has. One of the more experienced members of the group leads the instruction, and other members dance along with the students. The last time I participated in teaching folk dance, we taught local girl scouts at a school, and my mom and I just had to show up in our folkwear and dance.

This time it’s just going to be me, not the dance group, because I’m the only member of the group who is going to the heathen gathering. I don’t have one of the Jukeboxes, and if I did, there would be no sound system to plug it into at the campground. Planning ahead for this meant I had to think about how to get music where there’s no sound system and probably no electricity. One of the two dances I chose, the Hora (also called Horo,) has recorded music on tape, and I managed to locate an inexpensive retro style battery operated tape player. For the other dance, Tot Ursi, I’m bringing a drum, and written drumsong notes, and hoping I can get someone at the moot to play it for me. It is possible to drum and do this dance at the same time, and I’ve been practicing it, but it would be easier to teach if someone else was doing the drumming.

I could just choose a different dance, I suppose, but I really want to teach Tot Ursi, because one can dance it with no dance knowledge at all, because it has personal meaning for me (as I'll explain in part 3 of this post) and because it connects to holiday traditions rooted in distant pagan antiquity.

Image: sunprint Circle Dance by Erin Lale  

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.


  • Babatunde
    Babatunde Sunday, 25 June 2017

    can you teach me and where are you thanks??

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Sunday, 25 June 2017

    Babatunde, the moot is in Arizona, but the event is full. I'm in the Las Vegas, Nevada, area. I do plan to teach this dance at the dance group's weekly public meeting sometime, but have not yet scheduled a day to do so. If you're in the Las Vegas area, you can come learn the dance when I teach it at the dance group meeting. I'll post the day / time / place as a comment on this blog when it is arranged, and I'll also post it on my social media.

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Monday, 04 September 2017

    Babatunde, I will be teaching this Basic Folk Dancing class again at Las Vegas Pagan Pride Day 2017, Sept. 30, at 1pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 3616 E Lake Mead Blvd, Las Vegas, NV.

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Wednesday, 20 September 2017

    Schedule change for Pagan Pride Day 2017, I'll be teaching Folk Dance at 2pm instead of 1pm.

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