Bull-Dancing

We are linked to them, the old ones
Who walked the intricate path of preparation,
Moving in graceful arcs, approaching and receding,
Weaving the pattern of eagerness and reluctance
Toward the Encounter with Death and the Goddess.

And in the center the Dance, ecstasy and fear intermingled,
The youths and maidens leaping over the gilded horns,
The bull tossing his head and stamping at the agile figures
Weaving the pattern of joy and death over and around him.
Was the Lady pleased?  Did she delight in the dance,
Mourn her children who fell, or glory in the ecstasy
Of those who went dancing into death?

Oh, Christ, my dangerous one,
Desire of my heart and pattern of my soul,
I walk this labyrinth, my aged joints aching
Along the smooth arcs, the clear pattern,
And I am one with those children who went
Gaily or solemnly toward the potent beast.

When I reach that center,
The flowered heart of the labyrinth,
Shall I dance with you there?
Will you lift me up in joy,
Or shall I pour out my heart’s blood
On the impervious stone?
To you, oh my life and my death,
Are they not the same?

 

 

Note:  The myth of the Minotaur is thought to be founded on a ritual of ancient Crete in which youths and maidens performed acrobatic feats with a bull in honor of the Great Goddess.  This bull-dance was performed underground and accessed through a labyrinth, which provided a ceremonial path to the central dancing floor.  The word labyrinth comes from labrys, the double-bladed axe that was the holiest symbol of the Goddess in Minoan civilization.  Today, walking the labyrinth is used as a contemplative tool in Christian spirituality.

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