The Dance of Spring
If you refuse to dance and sing with others; or mock or suppress dancing and singing with others in the groups you belong to – will Spring come, and the Earth be Green again? Our ancestors going back hundreds of thousands of years weren’t taking any chances on getting the answer to that question wrong. They modelled their behaviour on the animals they saw around them, and doubled down on their dancing and singing for and to the coming season of new life. The re-greening of trees and grasses, the mating songs and dances of birds, and the chirping of new chicks.
Throughout history there have been repeated attempts to suppress the earthy songs and dances which celebrate nature and fertility. They are seen as a threat to established religion and government. But in Western(ised) societies they suffered their biggest blow when farming and manufacturing were industrialised, separating people from the land and the cycle of the seasons.
With the loss of the dances of spring came the loss of Spring itself. One of the most famous books about Spring, which arguably galvanised the environmental movement of the second half of the twentieth century, was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in September 1962. It documents the death and maiming of birdlife by the pesticides used in industrial agriculture. After decades of fighting between environmentalist Davids and corporate industrial Goliaths the pesticides doing the most damage to birds were phased out – only to be replaced by others which are even more toxic to insects, including bees, butterflies and thousands of other beneficial and beautiful species.
Will dancing Morris and circle dances, and singing songs of the seasons, make a difference? Not without taking political action as well, of course – but singing and dancing will strengthen such actions, and the activists as well. Activist Emma Goldman knew this and shared her insights in the mid twentieth-century; but it seems it is a lesson we have to re-learn with each new generation. The amazing 12th century abbess Hildegarde of Bingen was also a composer, artist and herbalist. She is alleged to have said that those who suppressed music in the here and now would go to a place in the hereafter where there was none. I’m not taking any chances – I’m staying clear of the suppressors and affirming the creators in my garden.