When one thinks of Valentine's Day, what usually comes to mind is heart-shaped cards and chocolates, bouquets of roses, a meal in a nice restaurant. This year 14th February became the largest day of mass action ever as women and men from 207 countries came together in a demonstration of solidarity to stop violence against women and girls. Built on the staggering UN statistic that one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime – amounting to one billion women – One Billion Rising was a call for the one billion women, and all the men who love them, to walk out of their jobs, schools, offices, homes and strike, rise and dance, demanding an end to violence against women.
Members of the Findhorn community and wider community accepted the invitation to join this V-Day global movement, by organising and participating in a dance-based celebration and fundraiser in the Universal Hall. Why dance? In the words of Eve Ensler, award-winning playwright and founder of V-Day, "Dancing insists we take up space, and though it has no set direction, we go there together. Dance is dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive, and contagious and it breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere, at anytime, with anyone and everyone, and it's free. Dance joins us and pushes us to go further and that is why it's at the centre of One Billion Rising."
The evening's event was pulled together through the passion and dedication of Daphne Francis and Deborah Jay-Lewin and our host for the evening, Lois Macdonald, kept things rolling with her own unique blend of energy and humour. We began together in stillness with the beautiful, deeply moving short film Man Prayer by Eve Ensler and Tony Stroebel, after which the lyrics and music of k.d. lang's Wash Me Clean invited us into a 5Rhythms®Wave with Deborah. Gabrielle Roth, the originator of this moving meditation practice, believed dance to be the fastest, most direct route to the truth. Thank you, Gabrielle and thank you, Deborah for bringing Gabrielle's work to Findhorn.
After the Wave, we were treated to other forms of dance — The Fannie McTartans giving us their hilarious version of Swan Lake, and Caroline Bury and Elaine Main offering us a glimpse of Tribal-style bellydance. Rose Millet recited Little Red Cap, a poem by Carol Ann Duffy in which a young woman makes the transition from childhood innocence to adult experience. Elle Johnson, Services Manager of Moray Women's Aid followed, speaking about the work they do to help empower women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. Then the 'rising' when we took to the floor to dance to Break the Chain, the One Billion Rising anthem. Women and men of all ages, dressed in black and red, moved as one body dancing to break the chains that keep us all bound up in suffering. To end the night, Carol Scorer and the Inner Rhythm drummers created a pulsating soundscape in which to stomp one's feet and move one's hips in whatever way they wanted to go.
We were 125 people, coming together to take part in creating change. An immediate outcome of the event was the raising of £385 for Moray Women's Aid, much needed income as they have seen a dramatic cut in their funding for this year. One Billion Rising is not the end, however. V-Day is asking that people take a simple pledge to do one thing in the next year to end violence against women. It can be large or small, personal or political — the idea is to pledge to do something and then do it. Imagine the world created by a billion activated pledges.
How did we celebrate the 1 Billion Rising event at Findhorn, Scotland? Click on the image below to view.