The first is to illuminate the mythic roots and shoots, the forces and purposes, that create and evolve SA events. This is important so that people drawn to SA can have an idea of the guiding paradigm, and can, from a more informed place, choose to ally with those of us, seen and unseen, who work to protect and cultivate these ‘Ways’. For example, though there is plenty of festivity @ SA, it is not a festival, at least in the conventional sense. The behaviors associated with the usual festival is a default setting to many people who have never experienced anything otherwise, and when they project festival expectations onto SA, it can muddy the waters of what we are intending to create. It is therefore useful to lay out, and discuss, the paradigm that inspires SA. One way this is approached, is via an ongoing treatise, ‘The Gaian Dreamtime Song Village’, the latest version of which can be found below. It is concerned with songs as living beings, and the cosmology they inhabit. From this perspective, we explore the particular genre of songs that tend to populate SA, the circumstances that help birth them into this world, and the potentials for personal and planetary evolution offered to us when we engage with them in co-creative ways.
The second intent is to discuss individual songs, via some form of song biographies. We can then ask such questions as: where did a song come from, where has it travelled, and how has it have evolved (or not) in word and melody? If you are CURIOUS about such things, then we should be able to collectively shine some light on such matters. People can send audio versions of songs to the contact email for Singing Alive thru file transfer services such as We Transfer, to aid in the compare and contrast endeavors.
The third intent is to air out feelings, suggestions, comments, and such, as well as updated news and information, on Singing Alive events, and the communal singing experience in general. Much of this has been happening in other social social media spheres already. This blog therefore offers itself as an alternative to those, as another forum for such discussion.
The Gaian Dreamtime Song Village
What follows is a discussion of songs as living beings, as life forms. This includes the cosmology they inhabit, their teleologies (ends, goals), and the potentials offered to us humans when we engage with them in co-creative ways.
Songs, as beings highly transparent to their defining vibration, arrange themselves in clusters of resonance, of shared affinities, in what can be understood as song . . villages. The more primordial of these villages exist deep in the ancestral realms of the collective imagination, in the Gaian Dreamtime. .
Far inside lies a mystical island
There lives a village of songs evermore
Welcoming humans to sing forth their stories
Surrender to the flow of the magical lore
Can you feel the rhythm of the heartsongs
Beating in time with the drumbeat of life
Fly away on the wings of this moment
Meeting, becoming, the song village people.
From the Gaian Dreamtime, songs emerge as paths of creation. They need humans to sing them, to fulfill their purposes, much as flowers need bees to gather their pollen. And just as honey is created from that union, so the harmonic sweetness between songs and singers fuels an art of manifestation. It is a poetic art, one long obscured by the ascendency of analytical science and its divisive ways. It operates by principles of similarity, of analogy, metaphor, and the power of creative visualization.
We will address the reclamation of this art, and its responsible use. Of significance in this is the great number of songs now incarnating from the Gaian Dreamtime into the physical human realm. They carry the vision of their origins, rooted in the self-organizing intelligence of Nature, of this planet, in their structure, itself mutable to meet the shifting needs of the world in which they now find themselves. To sing them allows the vision to ripple out into the material plane. This helps crystallize the harmonics of the next octave into form, into wonderous new ‘growth rings’ for planet earth. These songs are especially attracted to communities that are working to fulfill purposes similar to their own. Such communities are supportive of those of us that wish to live the future healed earth now, as in: ‘we are the ones we’ve been waiting for’. We will conclude with suggestions for the care and feeding of such songs, and in so doing, nourish ourselves and others.
Distinguishing between Imaginal Realms
To explore the world of song villages, it is helpful to distinguish between songs that exist on opposite ends of an imaginal spectrum. From the deeper levels of the psyche, from the transpersonal, come songs that are received, that arrive, or are birthed; from the surface levels of the mind, where we find the contemporary egoic culture we live in, come songs that are written, formulated, or crafted. The former rise largely from the mysterious depths of inspiration; the latter are created, or assembled, from traditional structures, or the latest fashions in rhythms, pop hooks, and so on.
The boundaries between these two types of songs are as blurred and interwoven as those between right and left sides of the brain, between intuitive knowing and intellectual understanding. Just as a handy lyric and melody are useful to catch a rising feeling, so are language and conceptual frameworks useful to embody a surfacing idea. This is how we bridge the worlds of spirit and form. However, when lyric and melody, language and concept, become ends in and of themselves, the bridge to spirit is not crossed. We then get the schlocky art and soulless science that permeate much of the modern experience. And in turn, if lyric and melody, language and concept are undeveloped, inspirations and insights may slip away, and we lose the fertility they bring to the physical plane. Such imbalances are failures of right use of the imagination!
We are defining imagination as the creative matrix of nature, the universal medium thru which worlds arise and dissolve. From this point of view, at your least effective use of the imagination, you are a sovereign maker of ideas operating within the contractive forcefield of the ego; at your most effective, you are both a receiver tuned to endlessly more encompassing ‘conversations’, all echoing the source message of the Creator, and a discerning enactor of what you’ve received.
We can illuminate this topography of the imagination with examples of correspondence. We can compare it to an ocean, where there exists the still depths, containing the secrets of the deep, contrasted with the often choppy surface water, prone to the effects of changing weather; or to a meditative mind transparent to more unified and spontaneous states of being, contrasted with the ever shifting concerns of the ‘monkey’ mind. Likewise it is comparable to the mythic origins (myths as preexisting natural phenomena, like Mt ranges in the landscape of the psyche) behind the weak brew of reality defined by facts (the solidification of beliefs); or to the realm of verbs, processes and relationships, that ‘thicken’ into nouns, static states that foster materialism, and its greedy offspring, consumerism. It is the difference between primary colors, and the mixing and arrangement of these colors in the production of a painting; between the timeless now, and the psychological time that projects into past and future; between a circle and a straight line.
There is a healthy / unhealthy dimension to this spectrum of the imagination as well. Just as a tree connected to its roots is a healthy happy tree, so one severed from its roots is sick and suffering. Similarly, there is the imagination of ‘use your imagination’, that taps into the source-waters of inherent wholeness, and, in contrast, the imagination of fantasy and delusion that comes from a scatteredness or splintering of the mind (choppy waves, monkey mind, 10,000 facts . . . ). A healthy imagination therefore is fed by what things do have in common. To focus on connections between things has a unifying, embodying effect. An unhealthy imagination lives off a diet of what things do not have in common, that only sees separations. This then has a fragmenting, disembodying effect.
The Imaginal Commons
Assuming we wish to be, as in the above analogy, a healthy happy tree, it is useful to explore the deeper reaches of our roots, the more embracive stratums of the imagination. Such primordial, ancestral levels define a bandwidth, which can be called the Gaian Dreamtime. It is an imaginal commons. It is called a ‘commons’, because at this more unified level of existence, there is ontological equivalency, meaning that all beings can be considered as ‘people’.
As such, all can communicate with one another, just as all the cells in our body, though different, ‘speak’ the language of the body. Examples include the stone people employed in Native American sweat lodges, the plant people of shamanic traditions, such as grandfather peyote or mother ayahuasca, and the brother sun and sister moon of St Francis of Assisi. In Western academic parlance, this is referred to as ‘animism’, a term that originated to describe the supposedly illusory and therefore unfortunate projection of human traits onto nature by primitive peoples. However, we might instead look at the term as describing simply this: the recognition of the imaginal commons by peoples more culturally attuned to that level of the collective psyche.
The imaginal commons is also home to all forces of nature, all qualities and characteristics. For example, perseverance, purification, courage, nurturance, and such are ‘people’ as well, often in the form of deities. Examples include the Yoruba water Goddess Yemanja, patroness of oceanic and female energies, the Vedic Hanuman, who signifies devotion and the courage born of that steadfastness, and various patron saints and immortals, such as Saint Christopher embodying protection, and the Taoist Han Hsiang-tzu, representing the muse in music.
The imaginal commons is where the Doctrine of Signatures has its origins. This is a traditional way to read the ‘book of nature’. It connects observation of signatures in the material world, such as color, shape, smell, location, habits, and texture, with intuitive understandings of their sources in the subtler dimensions. It’s a little like looking at a computer screen and being able to trace all of its activity back to the originating programs. Affinity groups, defined as ‘families’ of shared traits, are revealed thru this kind of deep associative thinking. These then organize pattern languages that ‘speak’ into being the primordial sciences we know as astrology, divination practices, vitalistic medicines, whole-plant herbalism, alchemy, geomancy, and so on.
In many ways our inherent wholeness (health), and with it our well-being, is found in the imaginal commons, for it is all inclusive. This wholeness is compromised when certain archetypes are deemed unacceptable (e.g., death), or even the validation to exist (e.g., fairies). When this happens, it creates dynamic tensions between the archetypes seeking to surface themselves, and the suppression of that surfacing. Without going into all the distortions, neuroses, wars, legal issues, and suffering this has caused humanity, it is enough to know that transparency in the psyche fosters wholeness. To allow the unconscious to become conscious creates, eventually! – as sometimes in the surfacing and clearing process things get worse before they get better – health and spiritual illumination.
The imaginal commons is also carried in our body-mind as our evolutionary heritage, our bio-lineage. For example, we carry the stone people in the mountains of our bones. We carry the plant people in the root-like web of our nervous system, in the leaves of our lungs, in the coiled and uncoiling stalk of our kundalini, and in the buds and blossoms of our chakras. We carry brother sun in our hearts, sister moon in our mind. These all inspire and animate us with their source qualities. The stones help solidify our bones, ground our spirit, build our fortitude. The plant people impart to us the power of the green, able to break thru all that blocks the light of love. Brother sun helps us radiate out acts of selfless service and wishes of well being for others. Sister moon helps us remember that the mind is not self-radiant, that it is brightest when it fully accepts and reflects the sunlight of the heart.
At the surface level of existence, i.e. the vibrational harmonic which defines the material world, all the ‘people’, all the tribes of creation, have two aspects: their signatures, or frequencies, in form, and the effects of these signatures upon the world. The former indicates pattern of vibration, (form), the second pattern of relationship (story). As we move into imaginal cognitions (dreams, visions, meditations . .) that attune us to the subtleties of existence, these two aspects, frequency and story, are united in an inseparable unit of info-energy. They are in essence songs. Creation-songs.
Where then do these songs come from? All songs are sourced in the mother of all sounds: Om / Aum. This ‘Ah’ sound, the first letter in most alphabets, is understandably found in many names for God, including Allah (Arabic), and Adonai (Hebrew). It is the seed vibration of divinity, the first syllable in the language of creation.
‘As veins pervade all leaves, so Aum pervades all sound.’ ~~ Chandogya Upanishad (II, xxiii, 3)
As the universe unfurls (the ‘Big Bloom’) before the primordial sound of Divine intent it casts fields of radiant energy, patterned arrays of sound frequencies. These polarize into opposites, and like the mitosis of a cosmic egg, the message of the Source, often known as Dreamer or Creator, is replicated in the appearance of myriad worlds. These worlds reflect back to one another in infinite expressions of interdependence and interconnectivity; they echo with hymns of praise for the beauty of diversity artfully harmonized with underlying unity. This fertile interplay precipitates countless chrysalis seeds of existence. These open and sprout before the ever surging will to manifest, before what the Celts call the ‘oran mor’, the great spiraling strain of eternal Melody. They individuate as songs, and grow as harmonics of intent that flow and weave and branch out like rivers.
Every so often a spontaneous burst of attraction (LOVE!), will interrupt this flow and create vortexes of heightened resonance, swirlings of affinity. These coalesce and settle along the banks of these melodic rivers as . . . villages. Such villages hold the character of their founding harmonic, established as pattern and archetype. Here beyond time and space, these percolate as expectant energy, as unmanifested potentials; they exist as events without beginning or end. These pregnant settlements ever yield before the out blowing winds of Divine breath, and in so doing radiate their vital force out as paths of creation.
In such ways the Dreamtime landscape is a kind of mythic muck, out of which countless beings rise like lotus stalks before flowering into form. There are midwives who attend to those emerging from the muck-womb. One is the Hopi spider woman, who sings to each budding being its refrain of the great Melody, its creation-song. As the midwife sings, each begins to sing, to echo her song, finding that it is their song. Their heart stirs and begins to beat with hers, with the heartbeat of creation. Their song joins an ongoing chorus of songs across the universe, and a power upwells from the great Mystery.
This power articulates each being. It defines and gives voice to each its unique medicine, its force of inspiration. To fulfill the purposes of this gift, each are draw to the densities of the surface world. There, the paths of creation are enfolded into the innumerable designs, densities, and geometries of physicality: light freezes into matter, sound slows into formations, energy goes dormant into mass, and in the case of humans, awareness self-limits into ego, myths are rationalized into literalness, and our remembrance of the great Melody is lulled into forgetfulness.
However, the paradox of the 3-D world and its great bundle of boundaries, is that these very fixations and the challenges they present provide the means to be free of them. A poison creates its own antidote. The abrasive actions between our will for liberation and that which ~ apparently ~ obstructs our freedom, creates a friction, a passion, a fervor, an evolutionary heat. The ensuring crisis softens the surface layers of the psyche, allowing, even compelling us to draw from our deepest resources to break thru the impasse, to then be born anew. We return from such journeys with an awakened purpose, with our medicine, our creation-song, our ‘gift’. It is thru such resolutions that we re-integrate ourselves at a higher vibration. We then no longer ‘live a life’, but allow life to live thru us.
When we share the gift to help others as it has helped ourselves, we run the power of the Mystery. It passes thru us to reach others, and we become a link in the chain of Happiness. Illusions of form and separation lose their grip, and shed away. Life becomes aware of itself thru our individuated form, and once again. . . the eternal Melody becomes audible. Though we are then consciously merged with the universe, we retain enough individuality so we can enjoy both worlds, the part and the whole, reflector and reflected, lover and beloved. . From this place we offer the Source, the Eternal Now, the de-light of having its Love sung back to it in yet another unique way, one of ‘a 1000 ways to kneel and kiss the ground’.
Dreamtime and Evolution
Somewhere in the middle currents of unity moving into diversity and back again, of the tidal flow of light becoming life, and then again light, exists the Gaian Dreamtime. It is located in the subtle stratas of a planet orbiting a sun in a galaxy of 250 or so billion stars, itself one of a 200+ billion galaxies in the observable universe.
The planet earth formed of the melodic intent of the sacred elements, the consciousness beings we know as fire, air, earth, and water. Their service, their gift to us, was to jointly create the physical plane as an artful arena for evolution. As the earth formed, the feedback relationship between these generative forces and their ‘out-picturing’ into form complexified. The increasing diversity ‘above’ was a result of the growing cooperation of the elemental intelligences ‘below’. This gave space for further expansions of the Divine outbreath. This pulsed to the surface world as a quickening of life currents, activating yet more beauty and earthly wonders. The heightened unity of forces below continued to be mirrored in the world above, until a rising crescendo of synergy sounded a new story, a new energetic. Physicality yielded before this octave, allowing more energy to penetrate and excite the molecular substrates of the developing earth. This rising harmonic sung the biosphere, the world of animate organisms, into existence. The planet now hummed with a new chorus of creation-songs.
This octave could carry upwellings of energy that were more expansive and direct in their expressions of origin. These include instincts and feelings, as well as the transparencies to deeper orders of design that we find with crystals, flowers, and butterflies. This fed more of the Divine intent to the surface, and with it more cohesive ordering principles. Increasingly, this next level synergy ‘possessed’ the growing diversity of life with yet deeper acts of unification. From these marriages of form issued expressions of being far beyond the sum of their parts. Like 1 + 1 = 3, this is how wetness emerged from hydrogen and oxygen, how lichen arose from algae and fungi, how a heart beats when enough cells get together, and how humans arose from the biosphere. It is how self-reflective awareness, with its attendant insights and intuitions arose from humans, and with it a planetary sphere of mind, a proto-telepathy, now exteriorized in increasingly interactive communication technologies.
This sphere of mental activity, sometimes called ‘noosphere’, contains all the dramas of history, the gifts and sufferings of ego-mind, the crises it begets, as well as the exhaustion of all that has created them. Thru the widening cracks in the faltering collective self-image, in the addictive needs for status, endless material gain, and power over others, shines a light of inherent wholeness. As we move towards and metabolize this light in acts of self surrender, we reclaim our heritage, and the Dreamtime thereby surfaces as our now living existence. As conscious expressions of wholeness, we abide in the gravity of Union, aka as Love. It appears then that we are in the early phases of synergizing a sphere of heart-centered activity across the planet to outshine that of mental activity, a ‘Bhaktisphere’. The Bhaktisphere provides the fertile soil we need to sprout as seeds of Gaian self-aware consciousness. All of our evolutionary inheritance (planetary DNA) is within us, waiting for the daybreak of the heart to put the burgeoning creativity to work, to grow new possibilities, cultivate new worlds.
“Our task is to make the hidden life of God shine in this lower world, the world of matter” ~ Martin Buber.
Dreamtime Song Villages
We have discussed how everything in the universe is a song in its deep design, a refrain from the great Melody. We have also touched on how the theater of evolution is orchestrated from a priori levels of consciousness, from the Dreamtime and beyond. In both we have described an evolutionary process in which sparks of consciousness (beings) forget their Divine origins (itself essentialized in their creation-song), which then sets into motion an initiatory ordeal, which catalyzes a remembrance, and with it a renewed, and expanded, awareness of the great symphony of the universe and their contribution to it. It seems humans are on the cusp of such remembering, which brings with it the living existence of the Bhaktisphere. What then is the role of Gaian Dreamtime song villages in this process? What ARE these song villages?
Bearing in mind the challenges of describing a hyperdimensional phenomena using a language modeled on and by a 3-D world, we begin by again noting that in the ‘as above so below’ axiom, all the self-organizing activity we see in earthly ecosystems, including bacterial colonies, algae blooms, multi-celled plants and animals, forests, and human cities, all dot the landscape of the Dreamtime as confluences of affinity. These can be understood as countless hamlets, villages, towns, and cities, fluctuating in configuration, and sometimes existence, depending on the ever unfurling course of planetary changes. There is a capital city of Nature that oversees the entire planet, that manages hierarchies of incrementally distinct fields of association that have counterparts in earthly landscapes, weather patterns, societies of all kinds, traits, human values, and such. These include, e.g., an abundance village, sometimes called ‘cornucopia’, where we find Lakshmi mantras, fertility songs, and thanksgiving prayers, all ruled by Jupiter. Or villages that hold the creation-songs, the source identities of particular types of plants or animals. For example, hunting and gathering traditions among many of the worlds indigenous peoples invoke the ‘owners’ (oversouls) of a species thru meditations, spells, songs, and dances, that tap into and recount the origin story of the animal or plant being sought, to then broker ‘deals’ with them.
All human societies have their signature Dreamtime villages, some at deeper, some at more shallow levels. Psychic access to these ancestral villages serve to fertilize and strengthen many a surface dwelling people with mythic renewal. The Huichol Indians, e.g., have no written language, and so depend on the ‘heart memory’ of shamans and elders to transmit cultural teachings down thru the generations. This is often done by singing during all night ceremonies, with updates happening thru messages received via dreams or visions. Similar imaginal cognitions, ways of accessing guidance for individual and society, were universal among humans before the advent of writing, books, and more modern, exteriorized, information technologies.
In recent centuries people have been educated in principles and worldviews that ignore, mute. or scramble signals from the deeper, nonphysical wellsprings of existence. This acts to separate us from all beings (elements, plants, animals, many indigenous peoples) that ARE tuned to the Dreamtime as a commons of origin, communication, and culture. The effects of this disconnection is at the root of the precipitous imbalances we experience in the world within and without. Hence, as a function of the Gaian immune system, as acts of benevolence by beings who wish us well, and as gestures of grace, song villages have formed specifically attuned to the vibration humanity must move into to reunify with the family of creation at a deeper level of engagement, to bloom the Bhaktisphere. The songs that inhabit these villages are songs of ceremony, for the Bhaktisphere is all about life lived as ceremony in a temple universe. Ceremonies offer safe passage for our deaths and rebirths, help midwife us out of our sticky cocoon of ignorance, and give refuge for self-transformation. Such songs hold sacred space for our maturation as a species. They act to purify, bless, celebrate, move with devotion, call into creation, disperse or metabolize negative energies, honor and invoke all manner of helpful Beings, give guidance, give thanks. These songs come from profound places of pain and suffering, from Divine ecstasy and grace, the depths and heights of the hells and heavens that turn the wheels of karma for this world. They are born into the surface world with a mission of spiritual healing, and go thru any number of changes in melody and word as they adapt to their life’s journey.
Such songs appear all over the world, and in many eras. They are found anywhere that the longing to shed the outworn armoring of egoic life is answered with the balm of melodic medicine. This includes spiritual traditions of the past, many of which, like first flowers thru the snow, were running this frequency long before it surfaced to the extent it has now. These forbearers offered their prayers, their lives, in service to the coming dawn of higher consciousness. Hence, we find vibrant neighborhoods of Vedic mantras and slokas, Sufi poems, Sikh shabads, Essene prayers, and Gnostic hymns in these ‘next octave’ villages. In this globalized context, they gain a new relevance, as growing numbers of humans are now able to receive the vibration they hold. Ancestral songs of nature honoring peoples, many with a history of persecution, find refuge in these villages, and new purposes thru reaching and teaching those reclaiming their birthright of indigeneity to the planet.
The urgency of the planetwide crisis is causing a rapid rise in the population of Dreamtime song beings. They are arriving in all manner of earth and body conscious venues, and from there percolating thru the cracks and fissures of the collective egoic mind and its fascinations. Such social vortexes include intentional communities, organic farms, healing sanctuaries, meditation venues, social justice organizations, yoga schools, eco-festivals, permaculture workshops, tribal revivals, vision quests, and so on. We find revitalized and newly received songs among devotees of contemporary spiritual masters, such as Osho, Amma, and Prem Baba. Songs from the plant world are (re)appearing as the contemporary herbal renaissance comes of age, and shamanic medicine circles reach broader circles of initiates. Community choirs are likewise increasing in popularity in many parts of the world, usually fueled by songs of peace and positive affirmation. All these are part of an emerging global culture of compassion and earth-conscious living. All are, to degrees, working the frequency of the Bhaktisphere, surrendering their differences before the call to surrender into another order of unity, into one harmonic, one Song.
On Birthing Dreamtime Songs
How to best prepare to receive these songs? Much depends on the state of one’s imagination. Is it a busy buzzy hive of thought bees fixated on the plastic flowers of samsara?, or is it a garden with space for the deeper reaches of creativity to rise, grow, and bloom, free of weedy resistances to life, to death, to what is? A further discussion of ‘imaginal hygiene’ can be pursued in an article of the same name. Some of the points touched upon, and others, are summarized below:
Cultivation of the senses
The usual ego-based culture we live in tends to prioritize the visual, and secondarily the auditory, leaving the other senses, taste, touch, smell, and intuition, to play minor roles in assessing the world around us. Added to this imbalance in the utilized ratio of our senses, is their usual numbing via various overloading influences, such video games, junk foods, duty-free perfumes, loud music, etc. . Like operating with a corroded and miscalibrated instrument panel, we lose accurate feedback on the world within and without, and so make misinformed, and often dangerous decisions. The cure is to restore an even ratio of senses with which to read the world, and to cultivate the subtleties of their use. Conscious time spent in nature is the best (and cheapest) way to do this, in addition to the practice of artforms that develop more refined perceptions of beauty (music, painting, gardening, massage, culinary arts, etc.). It is also of great value to both acknowledge and integrate imaginal cognitions into one’s perceptual understanding of the world. These include the nonrational, nonlinear modes of dreams, visions, suggestive feelings, and synchronicities. All these give space for the senses to more easily open and receive the currents of creation which carry Dreamtime insights and songs to the surface.
Attention and Focus
Attention is energy. Where it is placed results in some sort of outcome. How it is focused plays a role in this outcome. For the purposes of creating a setting into which high vibration Dreamtime songs are invited to birth, place attention on seeing the potentials for greatness, for best outcome, for whatever is to happen in this world. While acknowledging problems and failings, focus is on the inherently compassionate, helpful, and altruistic nature of all beings. We in a sense become ‘health-seers’. We see and visualize what is right in the world, to coax it into greater expression. If one’s focus has been exercised and developed to maintain stability, to hold a fixed awareness, then one’s perceptions and visualizations are deepened and strengthened, and with its one’s capacity to effect transformation. This sets up a resonance which draws songs that are attuned to creating positive outcomes, up and out into the world. We can then vocalize what we visualize, chanting the changes we wish to see. The high arts of focused attention include sitting meditation, the more meditative forms of movement arts such as yoga and tai chi chuan, the merging of awareness and action in the present moment known as ‘flow’, and the energized concentration of unselfconscious creative activity. All these help us cultivate a cohesive vibration, for dissipated energies can only hold lower frequencies. .
Songs of ceremony naturally appear in ceremonial circumstances. It follows that the more one cultivates the sacred in one’s life, the more transparent life becomes to foundational orders of reality. New sensibilities awaken to perceive these dimensions of the psyche, including the ability to tune into the songs that reside there. Among the more potent intersections of song and ceremony are spiritual healing practices associated with ‘teacher’ plants and fungi, often called ‘medicine circles’. Such plants and fungi, replete with neurotransmitters (communication molecules) as activating constituents, are yet another line of defense in the Gaian immune system. Humans entranced by the dream of separation act out sufferings in unconscious, destructive ways. We are then a disordered element in the planetary ecosystem, threatening the integrity of the whole. These plants and fungi can help humans metamorphose out of our dramas and traumas, and point the way home to the ecosystemic fold.
Medicine ceremonies not only thin the veils between stratas of the imagination, allowing such songs to more easily surface, but these particular plants and fungi are themselves exemplars of the frequency they seek to cultivate in us. Though they can communicate telepathically, thru songs they can ‘talk’. Such vocalizations externalize meaning, allowing the healing forces of the plants more agency in the world. It is not uncommon for participants to feel as though songs are being sung thru them, suggesting that other beings (ancestors? plants? the songs themselves? ones higher Self?) are invested in having these songs sung, and sung in certain ways. The Santo Daime, an eco-Christian religion originating in Brazil, uses the teacher plant ‘daime’ (B. Caapi), as a sacrament, and receives its entire doctrine thru hymns from the astral, perceived as ‘singing murmurs’. These hymns touch on a wide variety of subjects relating to harmonious living, to creating and stabilizing a culture of peace. All plant and fungi inspired religions and spiritual practices have similar, though stylistically distinct, songs associated with them. Like all good teachers, these vegetative beings wish for the initiates to learn their lessons so that the teacher is no longer needed. The teacher can then become . . a colleague. When we internalize these lessons as a way of life, then we live life as ceremony.
Life as Ceremony
What is life as ceremony? One way to approach this is to imagine the universe as a great temple, with successively smaller scaled temples nested within it. The nation-state in which one lives is therefore a temple, as well as the local ecosystem, your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances, your place of residence, your body, your mind, and so on. Then ask, how does one conduct oneself in a temple, in a sanctuary? This is for each of us to answer, and the reply is thru one’s actions. Here are a few suggestions. Start with purifying one’s intent. Are you in service to your individuated self, or of service to life, of the greater good? Paradoxically, serving the great good is the best way to serve oneself, though not at the level of ego-mind. And life as ceremony is all about repositioning the ego-mind from master to servant, i.e., servant of the Vibe one is working to cultivate. Everyday life provides endless opportunities to practice, for every day one is given choices to act from a place of openness and love, or armoring and fear. Do you extend or contract? Do you look into the eyes of checkout stand person and acknowledge their amazingness, or do you simply hand over your $ to get on with your day? When you come into a room, is it about ‘here I am’, or about ‘there you are’? As every new situation confronts us with such questions, we can recast, and therefore appreciate, our difficulties and challenges as initiatory tests, guidance on the Path of self-inquiry.
While we might understand the attitude of constant service to life as the most radiant jewel on the altar of ceremonial life, the altar itself, constructed of time and space, is another area to attend to. The tick tick tick of incremental clock time, and the Gregorian calendar, have their, quite limited, usefulness. However to live solely by their influences restricts perceptions of the world to the linear and unidimensional. One might occasionally ‘lose the clock’, and open to more nature-based sense of time brings in biological rhythms, such as the aging process, seasons, element transformations, fertility cycles, sleep and wakefulness, breathing, heartbeats, and so on. All these to degrees coordinate with lunar time, the new and full moons, 13 of which pass in roughly a year. To recognize these more organic passages of time, including solstices, equinoxes, and the regular transit of stars across the sky, is an education in expansive perception of the universe. It is said that space given meaning becomes a ‘place’. Our task as ceremonialists is to see physical space as sacred place, and to attend to it as such. There are many ways to do this, including sweeping, clearing, smudging, arranging objects such as rocks, flowers, and tree boughs (the decorative possibilities are endless!), honoring directions, offering prayers, or food, to the spirits of the land, to the ancestors, chanting mantras, and singing of the world we long to live in, singing in such a world. Anyone familiar with Gaian Dreamtime songs knows that sacred time and place provide not only subject matter and themes for such songs, but the ideal set and setting for them to appear. .
From Dreamtime to Machinetime
To contrast with our discussion so far, we will now explore the denser (surface) realms of the imagination and the songs that inhabit them. To review: in previous chapters of the human story, we lived much closer to Nature, and learned from its rhythms. This was reflected in our cultural ways, which, to degrees, replicated the ways (teachings, or ‘dharma’) of natural ecosystem into social forms and practices. Such teachings, on subjects as varied as reciprocity, respect for species domains, relationships between head and heart, death and rebirth, were often taught thru the recounting of myths, often in ceremonial circumstances involving dance, poetry, visual arts, and/or song. The resulting culture in turn educated the imagination, keeping it transparent to Dreamtime influences.
The ascendency the modern mind, with its fixations on the physical level of reality to the exclusion of all others, clouded over access to these influences. This ‘progressed’ into suppression of such access, mirrored in such varied examples as Freudian neuroses, the demotion of shamanic wisdom tales into nursery rhymes, the devaluation, if not banishment, of goddess figures, and the colonization (‘improvement’) of all that could be bent before the will of the materialist paradigm, including the imagination.
As previously mentioned, attention is energy, and if you do not take the responsibility to manage your own, then someone(s) will step in and manage it for you, with their interests taking precedence over your own. While all humans need a cultural script to navigate thru life, a mark of maturity is to free oneself from elements of the script that impede development of one’s own talent, gift, power, and purpose. This is how one claims inner authority, and with it true self confidence. As a global economy has been built around selling all the things that a disempowered person needs to think s/he is empowered without actually being so, there are great forces at work to keep the colonized imagination placated, to keep it from rebelling. Hence a quite intricate and seductive world has developed out of the promise of purchased rewards in an advertised reality.
For those normalized to such a world, there are songs that affirm it lifestyles and ways. These live in the suburbs, shopping malls, urban highrises, and ghettos of the imagination. They tell tales of drama wrought from humans divided from nature, split from spirit, from each other. They run the concerns of reaction to events, of romantic (selfish) love, of social status, gained or lost; of shifting identities in the egoic spectrum, from self-pity to self-inflation. In this fractured environment, the capacity of songs to unify, to create social cohesion, takes on an us vs. them dynamic. You then need an ‘other’, like an enemy, a competing product, another nation, race, gender, or age group, to bond people in service to a cause. Hence, countries have their anthems, sports teams their fight songs, corporations their jingles, etc. We likewise hear these songs on media sponsored by the various political, social, and economic agencies that have an investment in the status quo, in target groups being defined, maintained, and ‘farmed’. No matter that these songs, having no root in the nourishing soil of the sacred, are short-lived. Consumerist culture LOVES things with short lifespans, such as top 10 songs, disposable diapers, and celebrity politicians, as it provides a rapid turnover of reasons to buy new things, to use up things rather than just use them.
The cumulative effects of serial unsustainabilites have led not only to shallow, hook-laden songs, but the gradual deterioration of the materialist worldviews that have propped up our 3-D empire. This to the point where the lost treasures of the imagination, the exiled archetypes, the forgotten deities, are starting to swell up thru the cracks. These include Goddesses of all sorts, the Green Man, Nature devas and fairies, oversouls of plants, animals, and minerals, as well as the midwife, kitchen gardner, intuitive healer, yogi, shaman, diviner, mediator, peaceful warrior, and bard. These rise in power surges of creativity, for they carry with them the momentum of Nature seeking to rebalance itself. These forces of renewal are surfacing like lotuses in the cultural waters of the planet. Among these, sent from their villages, are the next octave Gaian Dreamtime songs. In the interest of being of service to these melodic missionaries, let us now explore how one might create an ideal event to collectively receive and work with such songs, i.e., create a song- catcher gathering. .
On Creating a Gaian Dreamtime Song-catcher Event
Among Native American sweat lodge traditions, there circulates an image of a lodge that exists in spirit world ‘underneath’ the ceremony happening topside on the earth. Complete with participants, fire, stones, poured water, and rising (or falling!) steam, this spirit lodge mirrors the one on the physical plane, and the two mutual feed each other with songs, prayers, and offerings. A similar scenario is at work in the design of a song-catcher event. The task is to replicate the dreamtime song village in earthly form and function. This works thru resonance, cultivating the flow between the ‘as above’, and the ‘so below’. Ideally, one would hold such an event in a place of untrammeled beauty, with intact natural ecosystems. Infrastructure should be minimal, with just enough amenities to meet basic human requirements for comfort. Privacy, and clear boundaries with the outside world are needed to hold space for the event, to create a container of focus and safety.
Spreading the word (promotion) happens thru circles of people who are either already running a frequency harmonious w/ the next octave village, or are on the verge of being so triggered. The natural tribal connectivity of such a ‘soul family’ forms the seed DNA of the event. This connectivity is carefully tended as the event grows. This means quality (an atmosphere of trust and intimacy) over quantity as a guiding principle. A Jerry Garcia quote speaks to this perspective, in a comment he made about his first solo album, ‘my friends liked it, and thats all that really matters to me’. The familial quality is more easily maintained when great numbers don’t have to be attracted to make the event financially viable. This means overhead is kept low. Over time the inherent vigor of the gathering will create its own support system. Thus strengthened, further outreach can be made into the greater world to those hungry for the experience. This vigor comes thru living the teachings of the songs, thereby ‘incarnating’ them, and giving them, and ourselves as singers, more power and presence in the world. This then naturally radiates out in acts of ‘seva’, of selfless service.
Living the teachings, is of course, living life as ceremony. Though we may ‘learn’ to invoke ceremonial time and space, it is really a remembering of what we do naturally when snapped out of the dream of separation. It then follows that a song-catcher event should be careful to not replicate the usual culture of separation and its ways any more than necessary, no matter how familiar or normative such ways may seem. For example, the tendency of the industrial-growth paradigm is to professionalize and commoditize inborn human abilities. This runs contrary to foundational assumptions of a song-catcher event: that we are a singing species, and are all born to sing in our various ways, for as the African proverb goes, ‘if you can talk, you can sing’.
Where one draws the lines between an event, and the outside world, to degrees distinguishes between a conventional festival, and a consciousness raising gathering. For example, the former generally has vendors, and so one is never far away from the consumerist experience, and all that comes with it: shopping as a leisure activity, instant gratifications, games of wariness between buyer and seller, competition, status symbols, the pecking order of disparate income levels, the tendency to seek for satisfactions outside oneself, the general numbing of the feeling body before the addictive hunger for ever more goods and distractive experiences, and so on. Such cultural elements tend to displace those that foster feelings of community, personal integrity, feelings of safety, transparency, and ecological awareness. A gathering would give the whole ‘spending money’ thing a rest thru most if not all the event. A marketplace could happen at the end, in which everyone could participate in egalitarian circumstances. The focus would be on sharing and socializing, with choices given between cash exchanges and bartering.
Without vendors, the eating experience can be a communal one. Eating together is a simple and enjoyable way to foster community cohesion. As the food sources back to the kitchen, it becomes a hub of communal activity, and provides ample opportunity for attendees to practice participation. This can happen by bringing fruits, produce, or homemade edibles to share from one’s own household, by helping receive foods, or prepare, serve, or clean up a meal. Participation extends to all the other tasks needed to make the ‘village’ life run smoothly, such as registration, circle recording, attending the children’s space, potty perusal, altar tending, cleaning up, running errands, etc.
There is a DIY (do it yourself) ethic to a gathering, a propensity to volunteer, which tends to empower people by letting them experience and share the results of their labors. It also fosters interpersonal relations as you often need help and/or advice to accomplish tasks. This contrasts with the usual festivals that have paid ‘professionals’ (e.g., performers, speakers, and staff . . ), which tends to narrow the scope of participation by an attendee into that of a consumer. One is then set up with expectations to receive, rather than give, or at least not give anything more than the high admission price that one has paid for such services. When name-recognized personalities are advertised to draw attendees, it also touches into the culture of celebrity, with its various ‘us and them’ dynamics. Such advertising, like that for any product, also creates knowns so that one can make more informed decisions on whether to purchase a ticket. Gatherings are more dependent on word of mouth, on reputation, to attract attendees. They set up another kind of expectation, one more mysterious, rising from the possibilities of the soul tribe coming together to make it all happen, to create the magic. The feeling is more like that found in an employee-run company, rather than a top-down corporation.
Song Narratives of Mythic Renewal
Singing Alive is intended to be such a song-catcher gathering. It attracts those who have the skills, or at least openness, to receive and, if needed, ‘work’ Gaian dreamtime songs into tangibility, and from there into circulation among the human family. Singing Alive is designed to invoke, and maintain, ceremonial space and time. Into this atmosphere are brought all manner of songs called to serve the awakening of humanity from the dream of separation, to assist with our conscious engagement in the great Game of evolution. This is the common field of vibration from which these songs ‘sprout’, and which they seek to re-create on the physical plane. For this reason, all songs ‘recognize’ each other, as do, at some level, those who sing them. Each song is a thread of a yet greater story, a vast tapestry of teaching. To communally sing these songs is to activate the story, the template of next octave planet earth. This story can then ripen in our bodies and grow thru our lives. As we choose to become the story, we become an offering to the temple universe.
Clues to this narrative of mythic renewal can be found in a survey of songs sung at Singing Alive events. These can be grouped into themes, which strung together, progress the archetypal journey of spiritual evolution, of: forgetfulness of one’s origins and its attendant sufferings, the beginnings of remembrance, identity crisis, transformation, and re-emergence into an expansive awareness, a maturity.
Any gesture towards renewal must begin with dissatisfaction with the ways things are, discontent with the status quo. Songs at Singing Alive often express this as a longing for what has been lost or forgotten, and prophetic visions of a better future. This understands the ecological crisis as essentially a spiritual crisis, as a great homesickness for ourselves as whole, interconnected beings. Singing from the heart connects us to an innate bodily intelligence, inseparable from Gaian intelligence, that can break through habits of denial, surface the wound, and clear it from the system. This then re-actives the feeling body, long suppressed by the historical dominance of the rational mind, and with it more conscious communication with the greater ‘society of Nature’. These songs include slave-era spirituals, gospels, and bhakti devotionals. Examples: Carry Me Home; I Call to You; Sanctuary; White Buffalo Woman
The Inbody Experience
This recognizes that the human body and the earth are the same, and that to engage the life processes of one is to engage those of the other. This identification with the body as an extension of the earth, or the greater cosmos, is attended by songs of remembering. These include: those that honor the sacred elements, that correspond elemental qualities to human traits, that invoke the fertility circuit, cycles and seasons that the elements (and we humans) move in, and our genetic and karmic lineages. The cultivation of the inbody experience allows us to be more fully embodied, which opens easier access to ecstatic well-being. The ecstatic body is a vehicle for expansive consciousness, and this is reflected in the many songs at Singing Alive from ecstatic and trance traditions, such as those that accompany Dervish dancing, and Vedic mantra chanting. Examples: Breathing the Earth; Grandmother Ocean; I Come from the Spirit; Sufi Healing Song; Tumbling Stone; Twameva
The expansion of self necessitates a shedding of previous, outworn identities. This brings us to the importance of rites of passage, occasions which – ideally in a held space of trust – allow identity fixations to melt away and new self-perceptions to emerge into form and function. The genre of ‘medicine songs’ is specifically created to work with the ASC (altered states of consciousness) that attend such transitions. These songs work with the catalytic effects of such ‘medicines’, to help midwife consciousness through its contractions and releases. As the journey of initiation is universal, there are songs from many ceremonial traditions that attend to, a) letting go of attachments, b) engagement with the shadow and, c) tempering of the soul through crisis. The gesture of opening our hearts in song to heal wounds and disharmonies, opens the possibility that we may create these same disorders in order to learn to open our hearts. This perspective allows a dissolution of the all to prevalent judgments about ourselves, others, and Empire. This creates space for songs of forgiveness, crucial to any healing and subsequent regeneration. Examples: I Release Control; Letting Go; Medicine Hymn; Mother I Surrender; Never Shaken; Teqsimuyu;
The natural connectivity that asserts itself when the ego defenses relax has a tribalizing effect, and renews our identity as spiritual beings. This re-membering of the many possible constituents of self can result in a kind of ‘soul gain’, the opposite of the ‘soul loss’ that marks the fragmented self. Its not that anything is ‘added’ to you, but that you become more transparent to archetypal aspects of yourself, your inherent ‘bigness’. The resulting personal power comes from careful inspection and management of the self, of the reclamation of our evolutionary heritage, and entrainment with the ever surging creative forces of nature. These forces, ultimately, put you in service to them, to your higher self, to the awakening of all beings. . This contrasts with the power that comes of control over others, the ‘might makes right’ ethos of dominator cultures. Soul gain songs include those that celebrate community, honor our inherent spirituality, merge us with the diversity of life, including shapeshifting, and strengthen us with the power of love. Examples: Burn Fire Burn Bright; Butterfly People; Freedom; Guidance; My body is a Living Temple; The Power of Creation; We are the Rising Sun
Culture of Peace
The re-ecologicalizing of the self that results in soul gain, recreates us at a higher magnitude of awareness. We then become an ‘emergent property’ of life becoming more aware of itself, ourSelf, through the human vehicle. This is, in essence, spirituality. Many songs tell of this emergence, often describe it as an awakening. Others give gratitude for the role of nature, or to various benevolent forces, in bestowing these realizations. The equation of a loving heart, and a peaceful world is ubiquitous to the songs at Singing Alive. This suggests a pro-active culture of peace that emerges from within, and then externalizes itself in the world. Such a peace cannot be sought outside of self-understanding, cannot be ‘created’, as it is inherent to our humanity, and can only be revealed by letting go of all that stands in the way of it. The ‘home’ analogy appears in these songs, no longer as a longing, or an asking of guidance, but as a reconciliation, a homecoming. This is not a going ‘back’ to nature, to Spirit, as much as it is a spiraling away, going thru transformations (initiation), and reengaging at another level, the level of the bhaktisphere. This is our new home, the frontierland of our humanness, and the songs are calling us to settle and explore. . Examples: Deep Within My Heart; Gaia Peace; I Find My Joy; May the Love We Share; Starlight Vision;
There is, lastly, an underlying urgency to their calling, for we are in hazardous, transitional times. As Rumi advises:
Sit, be still, and listen,
Because you’re drunk,
And we’re at the edge of the roof
The Care and Feeding of Songs
Once a song has been birthed or learned, you thereafter live in a state of co-existence with it. In the early stages of a songs’ life, or its relationship to you, it is useful to hold it as a parent-child relationship. While honoring yourself for having been chosen as a song carrier, your task is to give the song strength thru practice, and guidance thru conscious sharing. However, just as you don’t ‘own’ a child, you cannot keep a song from changing in melody and lyric as it embarks on its life’s journey. To do so is like trying to stop teen dating. Impossible! It is also an act of hubris, for who are we to know the profound web of intentions and destinies that call a song to creation?
There is otherwise much that can be done to help a song fulfill it purposes. An obvious place to begin is your own health. The stronger and more flexible you are in body, mind, and spirit, the more vigor is imparted to the song. It is also good to start a free-form voice practice. This means spending time doing breathing exercises, and pushing the limits of the sounds you are capable of making. Experiment with creating a primordial broth of sounds, of melismatic syllables, languages twists, melodic thoughts, audible breaths, animal utterances, plant whisperings, and elemental fluctuations. On the physical level, this develops the vocal apparatus, allowing more ease in the navigation of consonants and vowels, giving more polish and presence to their expression. On the imaginal level, it excavates deeper layers of coding in language and culture, surfaces intuitions and bodily understandings, clears blocks, cleanses the vibrational palette, and can get you on the ‘felt’ wavelength of the Gaian Dreamtime song villages.
Songs can be charged, much like crystals. Therefore recognize and take advantage of situations in which you can raise the vibrations of the songs you carry. Here are song examples. You have climbed to a mountain top with an expansive view, and are filled with awe at the beauty around you. Bring some songs out and sing the beauty thru them. Go to a waterfall, stand near or under it, and sing to clean and clarify your songs in the cascading energies. You are in the presence of a high or self-realized being, maybe receiving darshan. Run your songs thru this vibration, even if you have to do it under your breath, or silently. Songs sung in medicine circles likewise carry the healing effects of the ceremonies, and sung outside of such circles, they allow the medicine to do yet further work, and naturally create an ambience of life as ceremony.
The great advantage of caring for your songs in these ways, is that you to, as a singer, are likewise charged and elevated. This deep symbiosis empowers us to go into the shadow places, of ourselves, of society, to heal the past with harmonics of compassion for what has been, and vision for what can come. In such ways we sing in the dawn of a new day, a new era.