Waltzing into Ecstasy: Turning the Prayer Wheel in Mystical Vienna

by Bradford & Hillary von Keeney.

Brad was recently taken in vision to a spiritual classroom in Vienna where he was shown a new way to turn the mystical prayer wheel (for more on that, see our latest book). The dream came just as we were considering taking a short trip to Vienna to honor Hillary’s vision about Beethoven. Here is our report.

The First Dream: Waltzing a Prayer

I (Brad) was in Vienna walking around the Ringstrasse, the ring road that circumscribes its most famous historic district. Originally willed by Kaiser Franz Joseph in 1857, this tree-lined path is 5.3 kilometers long, 57 meters wide, and took 50 years to complete. Eight hundred buildings were built along the Ringstrasse that feature elements of Classical, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture—including a university, museums, opera houses, theatres, hotels, palaces, twenty-seven cafes, and a park. Here music flourished from the Strauss dynasty to the later sounds of Mahler and Schoenberg.

On this grand circular boulevard I was shown another means of turning the mystical prayer wheel. It begins with a simple three-word prayer such as, “Help me, Lord.” The words are expressed with different tones—a low note, middle note, and high note. I skipped along the Ringstrasse, voicing these words in a “1-2-3” waltz time. “Help-me-Lord, help-me-Lord, help-me-Lord, . . .” The prayer gained momentum and I was seized by the motion and emotion of this waltzing Viennese mystical wheel, spinning me round and round. The quick and lively pace of the prayer-waltz danced me effortlessly and ecstatically as I glided along the Ringstrasse like it was a vast, circular ballroom.

For most of us, the word “waltz” conjures images of long gowns and ballroom competitions – hardly the kind of music or dance we would associate with ecstatic fervor. But we invite you to join us on the dance floor in Vienna and take another look…

The Last Waltz by Vladimir Pervuninsky

The original Viennese waltz is actually a modification of its historical predecessor, the slower turning waltz that is said to have originated as a folk dance in Bavaria and Alpine regions of Austria. Etymology sources suggest that the term waltz comes from the Old High German word, Walzer, meaning “to turn.” Unlike the traditional upper-class dances of the time, the folk version involved two people dancing together in a relatively close embrace. Eventually, beginning in the late 18th century the waltz made its way to the cities. It started a social revolution and led to the first public dance halls. As National Geographic notes, “[i]n the spring of 1832. . .it is estimated that half the city’s population attended thousands of balls.”

The waltz was a far cry from the precise choreography of a dance like the minuet, which generally kept dancers at arms’ length from each other. The waltz allowed partners to be close and place their arms around one another as they spun around the floor. A scene from the 1774 novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J. W. von Goethe, describes a ball that begins with stuffy minuets until a new tune is struck: “When the waltz commenced, and the dancers whirled around each other in the giddy maze . . . Never did I dance more lightly. I felt myself more than mortal, holding this loveliest of creatures in my arms, flying, with her as rapidly as the wind, till I lost sight of every other object.”[1]

When the waltz arrived in Vienna, the tempo shifted from approximately 90 beats per minute with three beats to the bar to 180 beats per minute. The Viennese Walzer became a classic rotary dance that requires the dances to continuously turn either to the left or right, interspersed with what are called change steps to switch the direction of rotation.

The Ringstrasse spiritual classroom brought us a teaching on how to turn the prayer wheel in waltz time. We suggest you try it as soon as possible, whether in your living room, backyard, or in your mind while moving your inner body. “Help me, Lord, help me, Lord, help me, Lord . . .” Dance the Viennese waltz in order to catch how it feels to be turned by the mystical prayer wheel that lifts you up and down as it moves you round and round.

Jofi, dog of Sigmund Freud. Neither of them waltzed.

The Secret Viennese Ingredient

There is a special ingredient in the Viennese waltz that makes the music and the dance come alive.

A well-seasoned Austrian musician does not play an equal distribution of notes in the waltz but makes sure that the second beat arrives a bit early which creates a drag in the rhythm – the latter referred to as “das Schleppen” in German, or simply to schlep or drag. This rhythmic characteristic of the Viennese waltz has beats that feel like triplets but with the second beat syncopated. However, sometimes all three beats are equally paced with an emphasis on the first beat (for example, listen carefully to the recording of Blue Danube conducted by Herbert von Karajan). The Viennese secret is to infuse the waltz with unexpected rhythmic changes, especially adding some schlepp to the second beat (but not always). Johann Strauss II went further and would occasionally break up the 1-2-3 beat with a 1-2 beat that caused the dancers to insert a two-step waltz. Such rhythmic change gives the dance additional emotional spice and altered movement.

Brad demonstrating the 1-2-3 next to a statue of Uncle Strauss in Vienna

Alex Hauser, Viennese born professor of conducting at McGill University, emphasizes that the essential lilt of a Viennese waltz is not as simple as a straightforward 1-2-3 rhythm but depends on dragging or “schlepping” the second beat. It is no easy accomplishment to impart the right amount of schlepp. As Hauser notes, “if overdone — and the nuance is very small — it would become a caricature, missing the point. And, in my opinion, the point is to energize a stereotypical accompaniment figure that would appear boringly repetitive otherwise, while keeping a steady pulse.”[2] As we like to say about all expressive aspects of Sacred Ecstatics, “not too much and not too little.” George Tintner, another Viennese conductor, also was an expert on schlepping the Viennese waltz. He concluded that “if it [schlepp] isn’t in the blood you can’t teach it.”  As Bruno Tonioli adds, it requires exceptional talent and discipline where holding a beat for an “extra millisecond” is what “what makes it magical.”

The Viennese waltz rhythm.

Realize that the waltz was once said to be a kinetic mystery that released a contagion of excitation. Do Curzo described the people of Vienna as “…dancing mad . . .” The waltz noticeably took hold of the body of dancers and musicians. In 1833 Strauss Sr. conducted with body movements that were compared to those of Africans by writer Heinrich Laube: “Typically African, too, is the way he conducts his dances; his own limbs no longer belong to him when the desert-storm of his waltz is let loose; his fiddle-bow dances with his arms; the tempo animates his feet.”[3]

Johann Strauss

Viennese schlepp is what vitalizes the waltz in a truly magical way, providing that certain off-ness, drag, and lilt, versions of which are found in Flamenco, Mississippi blues, and Kalahari rhythms that bring duende, soul, and n/om, respectively. There is more to this Austrian visionary teaching than a prescription for waltzing the prayer wheel along the “Lord of the ring roads” in Vienna. You must make sure to schlepp in order to bring the desired weightless skip, glide, and lift into spirited ecstasy.

A Surprising Turn from Vienna to the Kalahari

At the end of the first dream I was shown something new for the spiritual engineering of Sacred Ecstatics. As soon as I was fully caught up in the ecstatic motion and emotion of the waltzing prayer wheel, I suddenly was shot out of the Ringstrasse and onto a straight and narrow road. My rhythm then shifted from a 1-2-3 waltz to a syncopated 4-4 march: 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4. At the same time the prayer changed to four words that caught the same beat: “Thy will be done, Thy will be done, Thy will be done . . .” The new and surprising turn is this: as you feel caught by the circular motion of the waltzing prayer wheel, quickly exit the circular road and turn onto a straight road where you shift to marching rather than waltzing. At this moment, the prayer shifts to four words to match the four-beat tempo.

A similar process happens in the Bushman n/om dance. At first, the dancers move around the outer circle, the Kalahari Ringstrasse. The moment a n/om-kxao heats the inner nails and feels n/om surging though the body, he steps out from the circle to move along a straight-line trajectory toward the fire. Here the doctor’s movements shift from the more aesthetically pleasing rim dance to the more amplified marching stomp of the heated nail carrier. It is during this heightened stomping when the inner n/om pump is most activated and healing— pulling “dirty nails” and replacing them with “clean” ones—takes place.

Original Bushman healing waltz around the Kalahari Ringstrasse depicted in ancient rock art.

Are you surprised to discover that the Viennese waltz is a form of ecstatic dance, bringing you another means of setting your soul on fire? The next time you hunger for a turn in the sacred ballroom, get the prayer-waltz-wheel turning and it will spin you into ecstatic burning. Once the sacred emotion and dancing commotion reach a fever pitch, you are made ready to change direction and find yourself marched along the road that leads straight to the hottest spiritual fire.

The Second Dream: Changing Rhythms

Shortly after being shot out of the Ringstrasse onto the straight road, I woke up and returned to myself, reviewing what had been taught until I thought I would remember it later in the morning. Then I fell back asleep and had another dream. Hillary and I were now teaching at a park bench in the Vienna Burggarten near the Ringstrasse. We demonstrated how to turn the mystical wheel. The surrounding students were extremely attentive and took detailed notes. Here we said something that was not emphasized in the previous dream: “All this must be done quickly. Form the wheel without haste and the moment you feel caught up in the momentum of the Viennese schlepping waltz, immediately change to the Kalahari or Caribbean stomping march.”

The changes of rhythm that bring the sought “soul” to sanctified gospel music often involve shifts from 3/4 waltz time to 4/4 march time, or from 9/8 time (called the gospel waltz) to another rhythm. N/om or spiritual power is not found in any particular rhythm but in the ongoing changes of one rhythm to another. These surprising rhythmic shifts are what drive the intensity of emotion and motion. Syncopation, off beats, and rhythmic seismic effects are what help release the infusion of soul, duende, seiki, the universal life force, the holy spirit, n/om, and the sacred vibration.

The human body is hungry for more than rhythmic entrainment. It wants to be shaken free of the same old monotony through newborn rhythms that enable you to be touched by the ineffable changing pulse of the life force. Once you get moving round and round the mystical prayer-song-dance-wheel, something will grab hold of your body and get you on board the main line soul track.

First Creation is the highest and vastest ballroom that holds the changing capable of changing lives, including helping a soul retrieve a lost body. These changes are what bring the needed change to every aspect of human experience—thoughts, oughts, nots, knots, tones, bones, temperature zones, rhythms, algorithms, crazy wisdoms, emotions, potions, and ecstatic explosions. Get on board the Viennese holy spirit train, the 1-2-3 waltz time whose 1/16 second difference between the first and second beat can trip you into musical mystical heaven.

You start at a Viennese music hall or dance floor and end up in the vast infinite space where Strauss may shapeshift into Beethoven, Chet Baker, Mahalia Jackson, Shirley Horn, or a Bushman chorale as the accompanying dance drops its initial form to launch the shake that bakes the soul. This transformative journey from the circle of anointed performing arts to the mystical power line only happens if you remember to start on the outer circle, the ring that helps bring you to the inner fire whenever you allow it to turn, churn, burn, and further turn you around.

To Stay On the Straight Path, You Must Keep Moving in a Circle

As a final note, we’d like to mention that one of our mentors, Professor Heinz von Foerster, was born and raised in Viennese high society. His grandmother, Marie Lang, hosted one of Vienna’s famous salons where mystic Rudolf Steiner along with other leading artists and philosophers came to converse. Heinz’s great-grandfather and grandfather were architects of the Ringstrasse where in its cafes Heinz would often enjoy a wine spritzer while discussing the ideas of Uncle Ludwig Wittgenstein. Heinz memorized the renowned dense prose found in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus whose most famous sentence was, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” Heinz was also a performing magician who specialized in stage illusions that made things seem to disappear, also a theme of his café conversations.

Later in his life Heinz became a founder of cybernetics and a masterful expositor of its most important idea—that a circle comes to life when it acts like the mythical Ouroborus snake that chases its tail. This whirling circle, in turn, enables a journey to reach its target destination. In other words, getting from here to anywhere along a straight-line trajectory requires moving in a circle. As the virtuous circle turns, you climb the sacred rope. Here what was solid before disappears as unspeakable mystery has its time to play, pray, and say what one cannot speak without the heat. At the end of the turning steps of change is also found the beginning of the Viennese waltz, that is, the 1-2-3 steps of the Sacred Ecstatics recipe that bring the sweet treats of the supreme dream café.

Brad and Heinz.

We hope this discussion has provided enough schlepp or just the right amount of delay that enables you to now hear this: Before you can climb the rope to God, you need to form, turn, and be turned by a wheel that gives you the sacred means of travel. Everything that changes must have exquisite timing—both in the beats and the offbeats that turn the circle and walk the line.


We wrote this dream report in July while living in Budapest and immediately afterwards traveled to Vienna to walk the Ringstrasse. We first went to Beethoven’s house to honor Hillary’s vision about his life and then took a long walk around the Innere Stadt (historic inner city). When we neared a park with an open bench we went and sat down for a rest. Within minutes a documentary film crew came up and asked if they could interview us. They were randomly chronicling stories of people’s work lives and thought we might be interesting. As they heard us describe Sacred Ecstatics, they became extremely fascinated and asked one question after another. We surprisingly found that we were actually speaking what had been said in the dream. Later we discovered that the park and place where we were sitting—the Burggarten—was the very location that I had dreamed. We had stepped into the circular vision of a Viennese mystery.

-Brad & Hillary von Keeney, August 1, 2018


[1] http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/history/the-elegant-waltz-was-once-viennas-forbidden-dance.aspx

[2] https://montrealgazette.com/entertainment/with-viennese-waltzes-its-never-as-simple-as-one-two-three

[3] cited in Derek B. Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis: The 19th-Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris, and Vienna. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 122.







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