Book Review: Grandmother's Secrets,
The Ancient Rituals & Healing Power of Belly Dancing
By Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi
Published in the MEDANZ newsletter, April 2000
Well, the title says it all! An interesting mix of personal memoir, history lesson and female human biology.
Rosina wanders down memory lane giving the reader sentimental accounts of her childhood and teenage years, bringing to life some rather colourful characters and episodes from her past. She then proceeds with the history lesson on women's dance spanning thousands of years to present day - all interesting stuff.
Next comes the "Head to Toe" section of the book where each body part (ie head, ears, nose, belly etc) and its relevance to "The Dance" is dissected & put under the microscope with some interesting results on the physical and metaphysical level. Exercises are suggested for each part mentioned to enhance and attune!!
Rosina also delves into the ritual and "Goddess" aspects of the dance; taking us through the veil, walking and whirling, trance, marriage, birth and mourning.
This book is laid out in an easy to follow fashion with headings on every other page for quick reference and plenty of charming black and white photographs to keep the reader involved. Also worth mentioning, at the back of the book are several pages on a new International Fiction series with cover graphics, a brief bio, price, and how to order. Titles I thought looked interesting were "Pillars of Salt", "Cages on Opposite Shores" and "War in the Land of Egypt".
Morocco's (Carolina Varga Dinicu,NY, USA) take:
Like another very popular book, which is totally the author's personal opinion and not proven fact, but is very worth having this is even more worth having, but with some very serious caveats:
- Her brief "historical" information is inaccurate chronologically and other wise in several places.
- The "how-to" part is flawed kinesiologically.
- She includes "veilwork", which I know for certain is not something she saw or learned from her Granny. Period. We invented "veilwork".
- She uses quotes from my articles and I am not given any credit as the source.
I still say get the book if you can.
I had difficulty in accepting what Rosina wrote after reading her choice of a version of the Ishtar myth which included "She dressed up in all her splendor, tied a girdle around her hips and donned seven veils to enter the netherworld through seven gates. The goddess of love danced seductively at each gate, each time leaving one veil to gain entrance. At the seventh gate, she removed the last veil."
Apart from a pathetic attempt to give veil dance 6 500 years of history which it lacks, Ishtar was the "Queen of Heaven", "Light of the World", "Righteous Judge", "Lawgiver". I have seen two versions of her descent. In one she discards her trappings of power and humbles herself; in another she threatens the gatekeepers with such phrases as "I will raise up the dead, eating the living". Why did Rosina make Ishtar a light and fluffy stripper? What is her agenda?
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