To deepen the understanding of Bagua, I would like to share with you an anecdote of precision and care from my recent trip to the Apache reservation in Arizona, where I had the honor to be invited to a Sunrise Ceremony; the rite of passage into womanhood of an Apache young lady.
Martial arts, like earth wisdom, has a deep message for the way of conducting intention in our lives. Precision is a main quality that spiritual warriors are taught to master. These teachings have to do with the way we carry ourselves and relate as full sentient beings to the earth and to the cosmos. It is how we can understand our shadows and not give away our lives to self destructive endeavors.
The Sunrise Ceremony as a rite of passage for girls, was put back into play by Apache sages and warriors who knew their people were on the verge of being exterminated by the US government and by the effects of colonial violence on their generations. To protect the spirit of Apache girls meant saving their whole tribe.
Apache creation story says that the first Apache of all was a powerful woman named, Changing Woman. In the Sunrise Ceremony, the Apache girl dances for four days during which she acquires in her dance trance the spirit of Changing Woman (White Painted Woman). The dance is a personal voyage into herself to mold the image she wishes to become. At the end of the ceremony she is painted in a sacred clay mixture as a facsimile of White Painted Woman. Once painted she is then pulled back into “this world” by her godfather realizing her entry into womanhood. Her community and godparents help by supporting her with prayers which will live within her for the rest of her life.
It is the most beautiful way I could ever imagine celebrating the onset of my menstrual cycle and its implications.
Throughout her journey, a group of men of all ages play drums and sing for her while the community, including relatives from other tribes, come to join a circle surrounding the young girl and dance with her. Even the cars placed in a circle surrounding the dancing circle are part of the celebration.
On the third night, five Apache crown dancers come to help guide the girl in her trance. This is a powerful and beautiful moment since the crown dancers are warriors and sacred dancers who are connected with the elements in the mountains. When they come down from the mountains to the dance, they come as spirits, not as men.
White Painted Woman and the Bagua connection
The ceremony is a process of unity with many mirrors. It is not only the community uniting with the girl and the girl meeting her womanhood, but it is also Changing Woman (White Painted Woman) meeting herself at all those moments. The story is that Changing Woman walks as an old woman from the east back to the west where she originated and meets herself in her youth, where she fuses into one and becomes young repeatedly throughout her generations to come.
There are many sacred moments in the ceremony and everything has an order.
The songs also have an order and inside them are a myriad of codes placed as prayers that become.
Like this ceremony, Bagua is a practice that becomes.
A way to fulfill and surpass your destiny by returning to the original instructions as human-spirits.
Bagua is a way to garner life with precision of the self, correcting the bad habits of your body, of the mind and of the cut off spirit. It is a ceremony to become one with your spirit, a meeting point in an endless time frame.
Bagua gives place to each moment, to each breath, and step. It teaches to be each second with intention and full sprit.
Rituals that preserve the integrity of growth in unity are a beautiful way to walk on the earth.
I wish to have at least touched a fiber inside you so that you may recognize what words cannot describe.
I wish to continue to coincide and learn with you about Baguazhang as a training for life.