Yalda Night Persian Winter Solstice Celebration
December 19, 2017
This is the time of year to slow down and gather with loved ones, reflecting on the past year and renewing hope for the coming one. Ancient celebrations revolved around the winter solstice, and many of these traditions continue into modern times. For Persians Shab-e Yalda (Yalda Night) marks the time when Mithra, the angel of Light, was born. On this longest night of the year Iranian families gather together and stay up late, savoring treats like pomegranate and watermelon (symbols of life and good health), and reading the mystical poetry of Hafiz.
There are so many beautiful traditions practiced around the world this time of year that interweave and inspire one another. Ultimately these traditions all point to the same essential truths of humanity and are not limited to any particular culture or creed. Together we reflect on our relationship with the seasons and passing of time, celebrate abundance and the gift of Life, and open our hearts to wish well for ourselves and others.
This winter solstice I’ve been asked to serve as Dance Priestess at Rest in the Arms of the Mother hosted by Seven Sisters Mystery School at Rudramandir in Berkeley December 20. I do hope you join us for a special evening of nourishment. In honor of the theme of this year’s event, and in rememberence of the cosmic Womb from which we all emerged, I want to share with you the following poem by Hafiz. My deepest wish for the coming year is that we can collectively move from a place of fear and distrust to a higher vibration of love. From this vantage every human being is a reflection of God, and there is no need to fear because we are being held in the great Mystery that knows all beyond our petty differences and insecurities. Blessed be.
Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions,
For your mother and my mother
I know the Innkeeper
In this part of the universe.
Get some rest tonight,
Come to my verse again tomorrow.
We’ll go speak to the Friend together.
I should not make any promises right now,
But I know if you
Somewhere in this world –
Something good will happen.
God wants to see
More love and playfulness in your eyes
For that is your greatest witness to Him.
Your soul and my soul
Once sat together in the Beloved’s womb
Your heart and my heart
Are very, very old
transl. by Daniel Ladinsky
from The Gift: Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master
Want to learn more about Shab-e-Yalda? Check out this video:
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I first saw Hannah dance Persian style at a party and was immediately in awe of her self-possessed beauty that comes through her style of dance. I wanted to learn that! I had gone through a tough 18 months of sorrow and grief after loosing my partner of 15 years and mom within six months of each other. Hannah choreographed a Persian dance specifically for me that would help open my heart. And she helped mend my heart and soul through private lessons and learning her dance. I would recommend h…
I just spent two days with Hannah and a diverse group of spirited women on the Spin, Shake, Sway workshop exploring whirling and the Moroccan Guedra, and the experience made me reconnect with dancing at a very deep and intense level. I felt so alive and free in the space where your body and your soul intersect, and beauty and healing naturally happen. The location was magical and the perfect setting for our group.
A week later and still relishing in the magical afterglow! Seriously, much to my surprise I am still reaping the benefits and riding the waves of such a weekend. Personally it was an end of an era, and what better way to initiate a new beginning, than to breathe in new life with ritual, spinning, baddass women, wonderful food, perfect location and gorgeous weather. Outstanding!
Hannah radiates an inner joy, a celebration of the divine, that glows and grows inside her audience. Dancing with Hannah, one is finds herself channeled into the timeless essence of feminine grace, connecting to all women past and present, freeing us to express our true innate beauty
For the past three years Hannah’s performance and teaching has been a highlight of my annual women’s weekend. She is a gifted, creative, expert dancer who engages and amazes the audience with her style and skill. It’s beautiful to watch her flow, bend, glide, and shimmy. Dancing with her is a blast! All my women friends loved it.
Hannah loves transmitting her knowledge of world dance to kids and they feel it. She engages them in both the movements and the understanding of the traditions of the dances. The kids learn to appreciate the pure joy of moving, the history of the dances and choreographing their own pieces. It’s great to see the kids enjoying the discipline of the different traditions while having a lot of fun.
The potency of sacred women’s spaces was made evident to me during this beautiful two day healing dance ritual. That experience of learning, of playing, and of connecting to our feminine power through community and the container held so humbly and graciously by Hannah will stay with me forever, and has become fuel for a new passion in my life to explore Sufi and Berber traditional, meditative dance. My deepest gratitude goes to all women of the dance, now, and throughout all of time.
Hannah’s workshop was exhilarating, joyful, and educational. I felt uplifted afterwards, and emerged with a positive feeling of lightness.