Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Lord of the Dance"

For Cat, with thanks for her latest series of blog posts, "Is There Still a Pagan in Quaker Pagan Reflections? Part 1 and Part 2" and "The God with Arms."

Since the early 1990s, this Robert Lentz icon, "Lord of the Dance" [see Note], has been on the wall above my God Altar.

It hangs to the right of a gray and black Huichol Ojo de Dios, a gift from my first lover George.

To the left of the ojo is a picture of the Eyes of Bodhnath.

The icon says more than I could possibly say.

And so it is.

Bless├Ęd Be.

Note: The following is from the website of Trinity Stores, which used to sell the icon:

"One of the most ancient masculine images of God in Europe is a benign antlered figure. This image predates Celtic civilization, but was embraced by the Celts for its beauty and truth. The Horned God was a protector of all animal life. He was especially linked with the masculine sexuality and spirituality. He was considered Lord of the Otherworld and guided souls to their destination after death. In Celtic art he is usually shown sitting cross-legged and wearing a torque -- the Celtic symbol of authority.

"Christian missionaries tried to stamp out the image of the horned god when they came to northern lands. Monastic scribes re-told ancient legends with an increasingly sinister twist. In time, the Horned God was pictured in the popular imagination as a demonic figure who rode through the night skies in search of damned souls. There are still places in England, however, where Christian men don stag antlers and dance for ancient feasts.

"In Celtic mythology, individuals like Merlin sometimes assume the personality of the Horned God. In this icon, the Horned God is connected with Christ. Christ sits before us in the posture of the Horned God, totally naked, but without shame. His confident nakedness emphasizes that what God has made is good. Behind him are ancient European petroglyphs of the Horned God. He bears the wounds of his crucifixion to signify that he has risen and has taken a more cosmic character than he had during his life in Palestine. He is beating a drum and inviting us to dance; reminiscent of a medieval English carol that describes him as the 'Lord of the Dance.' "

For more details on the Lord of the Dance and the Horned God, click here.


Jim M. said...

If you are thinking of the hymn "Lord of the Dance", the one that has a tune somewhat like the Shaker "tis a gift to be simple", it was composed by Sydney Carter in 1963.

Bright Crow said...

Hi, Jim.

I'm familiar with the hymn, though I don't know whether that is where Robert Lentz got the name for his icon.


MaryKali said...

The Lord of the Dance is also an image of Shiva, who is traditionally pictured sitting on a deerskin meditating. In the former he is standing on one foot, in the dance, encircled. I see him in the Horned One who also has the chaos within Him. Love your image. Was searching for a picture for a blog entry on women reclaiming their own dance when I came across it.

Bright Crow said...


Thanks for this information. I had forgotten about the Shiva connection. I agree with your comparisons.

Michael Bright Crow

MaryKali said...

Thank you. Please join the discussion at my own blog:

Bright Crow said...

MaryKali has a beautiful post, Dancing in the Temple on her blog.

Blessed Be,

Daniel Pierce said...

I have the same icon above my desk, but it is years old. I wanted to get a new one but they seem to be unavailable. Does anyone know where they still can be purchased?

Bright Crow said...

Friend Daniel,

Br. Robert Lentz, O.F.M. (born 1946), is an American Franciscan friar and religious icon painter. He is particularly known for incorporating contemporary social themes into his icon work. He belongs to the Order of Friars Minor, and is currently stationed in Holy Name Province.

“Lord of the Dance” is an example of a type of iconography by Lentz which was ultimately suppressed by his Church, because it blends both Christian and Pagan mythic imagery into a portrait of Jesus the Christ.

It used to be available from Trinity Stores, where his other works are still sold. However, I have not found another source for the printed work.

He also is, of course, not to speak about his being a gay man.