Martha Graham’s provocative dance, Errand into the Maze
In the mid-1940s, legendary dance choreographer Martha Graham was on a flight to Iran that got caught in a brutal snowstorm. As the plane was tossed about, everyone onboard went into a panic – terrified that they were going to die.
Everyone, that is, except for Graham. “For me,” she said later, “the escape has always been the dance. So I began dancing – in my head, that is. As I took my first steps, I was still conscious of the nightmare situation in which I was trapped. But as I took my next steps, my concentration shifted to the dance.”
And that’s how Errand into the Maze, Graham’s bold depiction of the Greek myth of Ariadne and the Minotaur, was created – step by step. Often considered her definitive work, the surrealistic dance explores, from a woman’s point of view, the theme of conquering one’s inner demons and fears.
“Just as I completed it,” Graham recalled, “we came safely out of the snowstorm. Though they were relieved to be safe, most of the people had had a terrifying, traumatic experience. I felt wonderfully elated because there is nothing more thrilling than creating something out of yourself.”
There may be plenty to fear these days, from global warming and super-volcanos to out-of-control dictators and artificial intelligence. But it’s also important to remember that we have innate creative super-powers which are geared toward helping us triumph over challenges.
The upcoming Leo Full Moon (Jan. 25, 9:53 a.m. PST) brings these powers to the fore. The most creative Full Moon of the year, it’s a time for fiery self-expression, having fun and doing your own thing. Yet this lunation also closely follows a momentous occurrence in Aquarius, sign of the collective. On Jan. 20, the Sun and Pluto both entered this airy sign. The last time Pluto was in Aquarius, in the late 1700s, we had the American, French and Haitian revolutions. Expect a revolutionary spirit to come alive once more – especially around this Full Moon, because rule-breaker Uranus (the modern ruler of Aquarius) turns direct the next day. This catalyzes an unpredictable energy, which could precipitate the collapse of outmoded institutions and social norms, as well as trigger a backlash from those who are resistant to change.
At this Full Moon, Pluto conjuncts the Aquarius Sun and opposes the Leo Moon, as Jupiter in Taurus squares them both. Things are apt to be over-the-top, whether in the world at large or your personal life. Pluto is connected to the deep unconscious, that which is hidden from view. During its stay in Capricorn (now complete except for a brief return to the 29th degree from Sept. to mid-Nov.), it has been exposing the dark side of power. Now that it’s in Aquarius, Pluto wants to empower the collective and help us take steps toward creating a new future. Maybe you’ll find the courage to break some old habit or connection that’s been holding you back, or do something scary that you’ve longed to do.
To see what Pluto in Aquarius for the next twenty years might bring, look to events around this Full Moon and over the next few months. After Uranus turns direct on Jan. 26, we’ll have 66 days during which all planets will be moving forward. That’s over two retrograde-free months in which many things can be successfully launched – and it especially favors ventures that improve society.
So, let’s not focus overmuch on what (and who) are passing away. Author and historian Howard Zinn reminds us that not all humans are cruel and selfish. “If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something,” he said. “If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”
The energy to act is abundant at the Leo Full Moon – along with the power to create. And as Martha Graham demonstrated during that long-ago snowstorm, the thrill of creation can conquer any fears.