Where to begin…
The Circle has always been an object of man’s reverence. Hailed as our first invention, pre-dating history itself. It cannot have been long after its discovery that man sought to develop an explicit connection with this absolute form of geometry, and Lo, the Circle Dance was born.
Hands on another’s shoulders, the sense of touch deepening the connection with the group and the vector of movement. Participants sought an equality of interaction that did not exist in other forms of dance.
This communal sense of self often manifested in a resonant spirituality; a oneness with the very idea of life and the circularity that exists at its very core. The Wheel of Existence; The Buddhist Samsara; The cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth essentially being a glorious Circle Pit of Conciousness; where bodies matter not and unity is ubiquity.
Ever lost yourself so utterly in a CP that you felt consumed within the music? Me too. There is an explanation for this, to be found in the world of Mathematics.
For millennia, starting with the ancient Greeks, people sought to “square the circle” – that is drawing a square with the same area of a given circle, without measuring the circle but purely by geometric substitution.
For thousands of years man butted heads against this problem, seeking a way of defying the principle power of the circle. They failed. All of them. It was only in 1888 that Maths bro Ferdinand Lindemann proved that π was Transcendental. So anytime your adventures in Metal lead you to a Pit that changes your life, it is this eminence you are feeling.
So much for infinity.
Both pagan and modern spiritual codes have special ways of honouring the power of the CP.
The Native American Ghost Dance was used as a way of contacting the ancestral spirits. With dancers falling into traces and exclaiming wildly as they clashed bodies. The dancers would move to their left with a side-shuffle step to reflect the long-short pattern of the drumbeat, and they would bend their knees and fan their arms to emphasize the beat pattern. The worlds first example of a Beatdown-Breakdown.
The whirling Dervishes of Sufi tradition engage in one man CP’s in an effort to gain enhanced communion with a higher power.
The harvest-time rite of dancing round the Maypole; has often been described a fertility ritual but its true identity as violence replacement therapy has now been outed. Intertwining ribbons as the dancers weave in and out of each other, drawing them inexorably closer to each other as the ribbons shorten – the build up to a Pit inspiring riff writ large.
But the true zenith of death and destruction ensuing from an cyclio-religious observance is Tawaf; the Muslim devotional practice of walking 7 times around the Kaaba. So many people engage in this activity simultaneously that the momentum of movement is so powerful, that should anyone fall down while walking, they are crushed to Death by the irresistible tide of humanity.
Hypnotic flow, dangerous though!
But less of this planet and its paltry inhabitants…
Celestial Circle Pits might seem a far fetched notion but here are just a few examples of their existence:
1) The Van Allen Belt. A huge amount of highly energised, ultra magnetised particles that rush around the globe protecting you, me and both our Mothers from destruction at the hands of an infinite storm of solar radiation.
2) The Great Red Spot on Jupiter. An anti-cyclonic storm some 20-000 kilometres in diameter. There is no definitive theory as to what causes this anomaly, so until science gets its act in order I’m hereby claiming it for Metal. But it seems to be diminishing in size, suggesting that our Brothers and Sisters on Jupiter need some help! Inter-Planetery Pit assistance anyone?
3) The Kuiper Belt – is 200 times bigger than our local Asteroid belt and orbits the entire solar system. Trapping us inside its perpetual motion. I guess we’ll watch the rest of the set from here then! I discovered it consists largely of Icy ‘Volatiles’ – We’ve all been at shows like that!
Meanwhile, back on Earth.
Inspired by the perpetual rough-and-tumble of kittens fighting, Moshing or Slam Dancing, explodes in popularity among the fans of Metal and Hardcore punk in the late 70’s. The rise of thrash metal over its Glam predecessor is a commonly cited reason for this evolution.
The physical contact that naturally happens while moshing must have triggered a collective or morphic memory inside Metal Fans. Back to a time beyond their own remembrance, to the celebration of unity, to the memories of Stone Circles of Avebury and Stone Henge or the Mayim Mayim of Jewish tradition. This mental throwback shifted the focus of movement away from bouncing and shoving to circulating with intent.
And thus the Modern Circle Pit is born.