Tonight Canada had a moment kind of like the moon landing or Woodstock or JFK's assassination. Years from now we'll be telling our grandchildren where we were when we watched The Tragically Hip's farewell concert.
Yeah, you probably don't even know who they are, do you? At the most you're scratching your heads and muttering, "Yeah, that's some Canadian band, right?" Yeah, okay, you're right, and you're horribly wrong too. For about thirty years the Hip has been writing Canada's soundtrack for life. We often wondered why they never seemed to catch anywhere outside of our big-but-small country, especially since they would fill every stadium to standing room only when they played in any major Canadian city. But now we know the answer. It's because they're as Canadian as mounties, beavers and inukshuks; as Montreal steak and poutine; as curling and lacrosse and hockey. Probably it's just that no one else but us could fully appreciate them.
In support of Gaia Gathering: the Canadian National Pagan Conference, thirteen artists have come together to create an anthology of Canadian Pagan music and spoken word. Only available online, this album spans thirty years and includes some of the best of out-of-print Pagan classics as well as some up-and-comers. All artists have donated the use of their work: all profits from the sale of the album go directly to support the Conference.
Huh? The music that is in you — where is it? How do you tap into it?
If you're asking me, belly queen as I am, I'll say we tap into our music — into every expression of our life force — by deepening into our body's center, the sourcepoint of our creative energy. We cultivate our relationship with this soul-power as we honor, rather than shame, our bellies. We activate it with movement and breath.
Sitting comfortably, enter into the Centering Breath. Notice any images and sensations that come into your awareness as you focus your attention within your body’s center.
Consider your arm to be an extension of your belly, a pipeline ready to carry information from your body’s center through to your hand and out onto paper. Maintaining your awareness in your belly, take the colored markers that appeal to you. Let your arm and hand move across the paper, spilling out colors, shapes, and lines.
Give yourself all the permission you need to make your marks freely, without judgment or restriction.
These same guidelines apply when I'm at the piano, improvising — letting music arrive without planning, without thinking. Just as with drawing, my arms serve as pipelines, allowing the flow of energy and information from body's center to keyboard.
The music that emerges in this way is so heart- and soul-satisfying. As one of my mentors, Mark Kelso of Muddy Angel Music, likes to say: The fun isn't so much in playing music; it's in being played by the music.
There's a delicate balance between improvisation and composition. Certainly, each can inspire the other.
By my lights, as improvisation offers sensory experience of the life force concentrated in the body center, it expresses the energy of the Sacred Feminine.
Composition can likewise convey the sense of the Sacred Feminine. In this clip from Ethan Hawke's magnificent film, "Seymour: An Introduction," hear what virtuoso pianist Seymour Bernstein says about Beethoven's expression of — and ambivalent relationship with — the feminine:
I thought I'd get the jump on Beltane and talk about everyone's favourite May Day song (even if you're not on Summer Isle) as it is a great piece of history. 'Sumer is icumen in' also known as the 'cuckoo song' embodies that glorious sense of happiness that the first real warm days offer us. Here in the north we still can't quite believe that summer is a-coming, which makes me want to sing it even more.
This is the earliest secular song recorded in English in the Middle Ages and appears in a 13th century manuscript along with a Latin version. Here's the original lyrics:
Ok i won't say the whole thing, but you know what I mean! It's been half a year since I posted, and let me tell you, my life has been good! I got a beautiful new job that I love with all my heart, and I just wrapped up a weekend of paying singing gigs that was exhausting but magical, for all that I had to sit through one of the most ridiculous sermons i can remember.
As with every year, this year’s Pantheacon offered too rich a menu of workshops and performances for any of us to see all we wanted. This year I was lucky. Several of my favorite Pagan singers (and wonderful people as well) offered back-to-back performances, and I was able to see them all. Ruth Barrett and Holly Tannenwere prominent Pagan minstrels and bards when I first entered our community back in 1984.
It's hard to believe that Mama Gina is still a relatively new artist in the world of Pagan music. With her third album, Solitaire, due to be released very soon, she is soon to be no longer be known as the new kid on the block, but rather take her place in the pantheon of Pagan music royalty.
Solitaire has depth and character. Gina'a soulful voice shines in this well mixed and engineered album. The addition of backup players and singers brings a 1970's pop feel to her song "Goddess Walking". I honestly was reminded of the band America. Since they are one of my favorites, that's a good thing. "Old Ways" takes an intimate look at the spirituality in modern times. "Weed" shows off her bluesy side while telling a great tale. She gets to her tribal roots with the powerful "Old Snake Woman" and gives the listener a smile with "Mama Gaia's Going Through Menopause".