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Metaphysical Dance in African Tradition

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No one can fully appreciate African Dance without knowing the richness of its history. No outsiders can fully relate to African Dance without hearing/feeling its rhythms or understanding, connecting with, and enjoying its Metaphysical aspects. All natural Cosmic processes possess the basic quality of two opposite and essential phases. Thus, they are Dualities (pairs of natural dance partners) which must obey Binary Laws. Light/dark are opposites for to know light there must be dark and to know dark there must be light because light and dark are complimentary equals--neither standing alone. Awareness of this Ancient African Principle (or Law) of Opposites gives insight into the underlying factors of Cosmic Life. One African Creation Myth explains its beginning when "The Great Mother" produced the first elements of existence—Water, Darkness, Night, and Eternity--by her magic dance over the Waters of Chaos (or Great Deep or The Abyss). A Dogon (Mali, Africa) Myth says the one universal high God Amen, also called Amma, designed the universe out of these Waters before creating it. The figures of the Cosmos were traced in space and were represented by an egg divided into four quadrants--each containing eight master signs--consisting of Four Elements (Air, Water, Earth, Fire) and Four Qualities (Hot, Dry, Cold, Wet)--each producing eight more. The resultant 256 signs are the “complete signs of the world” and represent the direct expression of Amma’s thoughts. Within the Ifa religion of the Yoruba (mostly from South Western Nigeria), these 256 signs were embraced and used to devise a system of Classification and Order out of Amma's thoughts. They were capable of being represented through (among others) numerical (ordinal or binary) symbols. Such a Binary Number system represents numbers having two as its base and using the digits 0 and 1. Yes/no, on/off, and positive/negative are all encounters of a binary nature. This System--persisting in what the Chinese called the I-Ching (Bynum, African Unconscious p182)--contains symbols dating to 20,000 BC--symbols used for forecasting--symbols subsequently becoming the basis of the machine language of today's complex computers. Chandler (Ancient Future p86) says it was introduced into China by the cultural hero Hwang-Ti (2697-2597 BC) as Yin/Yang. Of course, later it was plagiarized by the Greeks.

When Duality is integrated within a higher context, its Binary System is based on the counterbalanced forces of two opposite poles--forces either symmetrical (i.e. identical in extent and intensity) or asymmetrical--either successive (day/night) or simultaneous (e.g. masculine/feminine in each human). Complementary (Yin/Yang) opposites mean both components are real; are identical in nature; and with both being equally significant but in different ways--like ocean waves. These criteria are the essentials to qualify as Polar Opposites. A profound effect of this awareness--i.e. the realization that things which appear to be different can actually be the same in their most essential aspects--is what allowed the Law of Correspondence to come into effect as a Circumstantial Truth--Correspondence confirmed by African Sages' revelations; by astro-mathematics; and by observations between "Like-Kind" things in Earth and Celestial realms. Correspondence of Complementary opposites thereafter became a fundamental concept in Classification of anything. The two natures of the Law of Organic Opposites (e.g. chicken/egg, bees/flowers) behave independently to interdependently work together in a connected net to bring self-regulating Order, Truth, and Justice.

Complementary Opposites are a Dance--not one leading and another following--but together they flow in mutual support, as in swimming or flying. A stream is a flow of water (or other fluid) arising out of a source. Its channel is its bed as well as the course in which the stream flows while moving along towards its point of discharge into a larger body of water (e.g. a lake or the ocean). Dancers in harmony--zigging and zagging together in the same space, at the same time, and in the same direction--cannot be strangers to each other because they are inseparable, like two sides of a coin. Incidentally, that is a major point taught by Ancient Africans when they originated Martial Arts c10,000 BC (a movement has it opposite) and, by way of African Buddhism, it spread into the Far East. From there it went on to become a major teaching of Japanese Zen.


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