For the Monday group and an invitation to colleagues:


5.00-7.00 1WN 3.8 Monday 27/03/06.


Let's first catch up  with each others' news from the week. I'm hoping Anat is still celebrating her tenure in Oranim college. Moira's newsletter from China includes: "I am in regular correspondence with Claire (preferred name), an ex-student. You met her, Jack, when you came here. She challenged you to show what evidence you had that your ideas were valid and useful. Remember? It was a lovely moment, because that's the tack you usually take with others! It was rather nice to see it being reflected back to you so appropriately. Anyway, Claire is now teaching in a Middle School (secondary school)."  I remember this moment well!


Robyn is re-energised after several weeks of immersion with her new grandchild. Robyn it will be good to catch up with news of the groups you are working with. James' draft educational enquiry is now being reviewed by the Tuesday group and it could be submitted in a couple of weeks. It includes the expression of James' meaning, influenced by Buber, of the special humility of the educator. Marie has sent off a review of Action Research Living Theory to Gifted Education International. Moira's and Li Peidong's paper is due for publication in the April issue of Action Research.

Jean is back from South Africa and supporting action research programmes with staff and students at St. Mary's College.


After we've caught up with each others' news John Wadsworth will contribute to our educational conversation with the Dance of Venus. John is finishing has masters dissertation at Bath Spa on Astrological Symbolism. We should have time to review our experiences of the embodied expression of astrological symbolism in terms of their educational influences in our learning with love, harmony, beauty and proportion.


John writes:


The Dance of Venus


This is a piece of embodied, experiential astrology based upon the movement of Venus in terms of its apparent orbit of the earth.  The magical geometry that exists between the cycles of the planets has been a source of fascination and mystery for centuries. Lately, the adoption of the heliocentric viewpoint has caused many of these marvels to pass by the interest of astronomers.  The late realisation of the Venus mandala might serve to remind of a timeless mystery with which we might presently engage. 


Venus, astrologically, is traditionally associated with love, harmony, beauty and proportion.  Two of her most prominent symbols are the five-petalled rose and the heart.  It might be seen as an extraordinary piece of cosmic synchrony then that every eight years Venus return to an almost exact position in the sky that it was eight years previously, having performed the pattern of a 5-petalled rose in its apparent orbit when viewed from the geocentric position. Venus traces a pentagon shape in the sky over ten meetings with the Sun.  Five of those meetings (or conjunctions) occur at Venus's nearest approach to the Earth, when the Earth and Venus 'kiss' to form another petal of the rose.  Venus is the only planet that rotates on its axis, but each time this 'kiss' happens, Venus presents the same face to the Earth.  What is created is a beautiful mandala, which seems to communicate the meaning of Venus in a way that words cannot.


In recent years some experiential astrologers have taken to performing this pattern as a dance with groups in order to evoke an 'experience' of Venus' symbolism, so beautifully portrayed in this phenomenologically coherent movement.  I have conducted research with people who have facilitated this dance and they remark upon the elegance and beauty of the group synchrony.  One practitioner reports: 'One moves very much more slowly at the centre, than around the outside. The loops are done very slowly, by comparison with the movement around the outside. Two opposite moods are required, for doing this dance. On the outside it is one of ecstatic abandon as one whirls around, while on the inside there is a mood of caring concern for Mother Earth'. 


As far as I am aware this has only ever been done with astrologers.  My interest in performing this dance with the Monday group is to see if we can evoke a felt, embodied experience of Venus among non-astrologers and to self-reflexively report back upon that experience.


I should say that I have never conducted this dance with a group before, although I do understand the movements and choreography involved.  One of the challenges is that it is quite a difficult dance to enact, because of the synchrony involved.  However, if we can release our attachment to getting it right and just allow ourselves to be moved by the experience, I am hopeful that it might open up creative possibilities for us as a group.  Obviously dancing to a set pattern such as this might feel restrictive, as if we have to conform to a pre-ordained order.  My aim with this piece of work however, is to see enquire into the embodied responses that such a pattern evokes.  Does it feel restrictive, does it feel liberating, does it isolate us as individuals, or does it afford a group coherence.  If the latter, then is that coherence experienced as open/dynamic or closed/static.   My aim is not to do a proving of the astrological meaning of Venus!  Rather it is open up a dynamic engagement with a cosmic pattern and to enquire into the responses that might evoke.  


Please don't worry if the dance/pattern itself sounds difficult to grasp.  I will be able to demonstrate this via an animated software program on the projector screen and show the movements on a table top wheel before we attempt the dance.  You will find attached pictures of the Venus mandala in its different stages which I hope will give you a bit more of an idea.


I would be very grateful if someone would volunteer to video the experience.