In Ancient Greece they told the story of Eurynome,
First Dancer on the Primal Waters of Creation.
In Tantric Buddhist tradition, Vajrayogini Leaps from the Manifest into Illumination.
In the Northern tradition, the name of the primal being ‘Ymir’ means ‘sound’.
Many, many of our deities make Song, Music and Dance.
This is a modern Pagan Myth of Creation, and also tells of the Origin of one of the most popular types of traditional Circle dance.
(Please note, it’s really meant to be told aloud – read slowly, stress the capitals).
Before All Things Were, The Drummer Stood Alone. As she stood, She felt a great swell of song deep in her belly. The Song rose within Her, and so She Raised Her Drum, and Struck the Song of Creation.
She Sang and She Drummed and All Things came into Being. Such a Song – and we have measured more than ten thousand million years since then – that its Echoes can still be heard today
Her First Children that the Song Called into Being were the Great Ones we call the Galaxies. They are Many – we can guess a hundred billion of them!
Well, they were their Mother’s children and so they Danced with Her, and they joined in the Song and they took up Drums of their own in new wider creation.
Their Children are the Ones we call the Stars. More than we can ever number. And they too took up the Dance, and the Song, and Drummed Creation yet deeper.
After a While, the Drummer Set Down Her Drum, the First Drum, and Listened. She Heard that it was Good.
By this Time, the Stars were Singing and Drumming Life into Creation. Each made Innumerable Small Beings, all Part of the Dance.
Now it so happens – not everyone knows this – that in every place where Life Dances, there is at least one Special Creature that Still Hears the First Song. You can tell which ones these are by the unique twitch of their large ears! Though the Drummer Loves All of Her Creation, these little ones are Her favourites.
Now with all this Life Created, the Drummer decided to go visit Her Grandchildren. She knew that this would take quite a while of course, but the Drummer Holds Time in Her Hands.
One day, She came to a grassy hillside where a Stone Circle stood. It was indeed the evening of the Spring Equinox. The Sun was westering, the Moon was a crescent a little to its east, and there were many bunnies feeding there – both the little bunnies that we call rabbits and also some of their elder siblings, the Hares. Bunnies always keep a lookout, and as the Drummer drew nearer, the watchbunny gave such a squeak of excitement that every one of her folk stopped eating and turned to see. Every pair of ears was focused on the visitor – there had never been One like this before!
The Drummer walked into the Circle, and it took Her a moment or two to realise. For within, was Silence. In all Her travels, in every place and time the Song of Creation had resounded. As She wondered, the greatest of the Stones moved, and bowed towards Her.
“Welcome, Great Drummer”, it said. “We have waited a long long time for you to return. For though the long years have changed us beyond all recognition, this is the Place where you first Stood. This is the Place where your Song of Creation began.”
The Drummer simply smiled, and said “Well then, must be time for a dance!”
So She reached to take the Drum from Her back, and raised Her hand to strike. The moment this took was enough! The Hares sped straight to the Circle at near light-speed, and the rabbits hared after. At the moment of Strike, every one of the bunnies had joined Her ready to Dance.
And of course they danced as we do today – some still call it “the Standing Stones and the Bunny-wunnies” where the stones stand and bow to their partners, and the bunnies scamper around them.
All was fun for a while, until the most lively and adventurous of all the Hares came to the End of the line of Stones. She was actually a bit puffed by this point, and so as she came to a halt, she sighed gently and let herself turn into a Stone. And at about the same moment, the last of the bunnies passed the beginning of the line of Stones. The stone twitched, made a shout, gave a great leap into the air, and was transformed into a bunny, and of course immediately set off a-scampering.
So the dance went on, Bunnies turning into Stone, and Stones turning into Bunnies, and back again, over and over again, until none of them could remember which they had been to start with!
At last, the Sun had set, followed by the Moon, and as the last of the Stars we call Lepus was setting too, the drumming stopped. Those who were now bunnies twitched their ears in happiness and touched their noses to the Drummer’s hand, and went slowly back to their supper. Those who were stones all bowed one last time, and went back to their standing.
The Drummer packed Her drum upon Her back, but before moving on, She said : “I will come to you again, my little ones”. “But until that day, each Spring Equinox, when Sun and Moon and Lepus are in the sky, then My Song will return to this place of silence and you may all Dance again, some of you bunnies will change into stone and watch for a while the long years, and some of you stones will scamper with the joys of life.
We humanfolk still dance as they did. And, strange to relate, at this point in Time, the Stones of Silence are still in this very land. You may find them one day. You won’t be able to count them, and don’t try to work out which ones used to be bunnies – they’ve all forgotten that, until it’s time to Dance again!
Notes and afterthoughts.
In Circle Dance usage, dances in this pattern include ‘Tiene’ and ‘Roah Veroah’. Everyone dances in the Circle during the first part of the music, then in the second part, alternate partners move on. In traditional context, these roles are assigned to men and women (the women do all the running around of course). More flexibly, and in a scenario where 80% of dancers are female, some like to call folk ‘suns’ and ‘moons’. I found ‘Standing Stones’ and ‘Bunnie-Wunnies’ was more memorable! In the usual forms, the roles are fixed – only a few are brave enough to swap, though the bunnies can sometimes get a bit dizzy. This does mean that any dancer only encounters half of those present. I often found I didn’t have enough dancers for a proper circle, so adopted the technique used in ‘contra-dance’, in which roles change when each end of the line is reached. Then everyone can meet everyone else, and they do indeed get mixed up!
I am indebted to Maria Kvilhaug’s work ‘The Seed of Yggrdrasil’ for the idea that Ymir is Sound. It seems plausible enough to me that shamans and visionaries have ‘scientifically accurate’ experiences of Creation – yet must express these in terms of their own life experiences.
Our stone circles do indeed have many interesting ‘anomalies’ with respect to ultrasound and various forms of electromagnetic radiation. You can read about the ‘Dragon Project’ research in ‘Circles of Silence’ by Don Robins. Sadly, funding for such work is hard to come by and I think there has been little progress in past couple of decades.
A slightly different version of this story was published in ‘Isis-Seshat’, vol 11, no. 1, (Spring 2015)