Thursday, December 18, 2008

The rush of time passing

So, how elated I felt after finally writing a new post for my blog, which had been languishing since March! hardly surprising I got carried away with the sensation of time rushing like a torrent under the proverbial bridge... The flow of my thoughts, which I hope may be of interest to some of my fellow-humans (hence the attempt to capture them in words and publish them in this way), continues to proceed with such exuberant speed that it is difficult to capture so much as a starting point. "Being in America" needed a bit of background: but I got trapped by the paradox: starting in the present by telling my life story in a nutshell! Not surprising, either, that I spent much of the night tossing and turning; not surprising either that now, the morning after, I'm not much closer to solving the difficulty. I don't want to start by writing my life story, though it's possible I do want to finish by telling quite a bit of it.

I'm a person with several homes: in Ireland, in upstate New York, in Pennsylvania, in London. I've taken a leave of absence from my home in Ireland, by renting out my home there to a friend for two years, so I am free to go wandering. The intention is to wander on foot; but I find myself spending the first of these years (I'm nearly six months into it now) going flyabout prior to going walkabout. And at the present moment I'm spending some weeks with my dear mother and father, both in their eighties, in the house I grew up in outside Philadelphia.

There! At least I got the context taken care of, in a fairly short paragraph. Now, of course, the momentum of my thoughts is pretty well stalled. Rather than force it, I'll see you later.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Being in America

So, back in the USA for an extended visit, from my long-time home in the rugged Irish countryside of West Cork. This country, the USA, has been very strange to me for a long time. I've been an ex-pat since 1981, when I moved from Boston to London to pursue my career as a viola da gamba player-- and also what I hoped was true love. Can I call the stormy decade and a half of musical and personal, painful and very productive struggle, true love? I have to ask myself in response, what love is not true love? Anyway that's behind me now. A tremendous amount of water under the bridge: let's stand here a moment and watch the roaring torrent, racing and foaming, merrily shouting and singing, water and stones and gravity and spray rising into mist and negative ions animating the air, energy to breathe in, inviting a blessing from whatever is the spirit of this stream, the stream of life, the stream of time. What is this bridge we're suddenly standing on together? Shall we parse this metaphor: it must be a bridge of words, and from this bridge as from every bridge I cross in the course of my travels, I pause for a brief prayer, a moment of communion with the water, the movement, the energy which inhabits the crossing point.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Why am I writing a blog? I want to explain to my friends, family, and colleagues what I am doing and why. I am partly doing this for myself as well, of course I am, to clarify what I am doing and why, and how it relates to the rest of my life, how it fits with what I've been doing all along. Clarifying the connection between early music and shamanism and also building the bridge between the non-rational work of shamanism, on one hand, and my cognitive, rational self, on the other.
Shamanism? What is that, actually? Travelling into non-ordinary reality to retrieve a lost part of someone's soul, and return it to their body? What can she mean?

A heron rises fron the reeds, its wings beating awkwardly, gracefully, its curved flight taking it to the island at the middle of the pond. What is my kinship to this bird? Or to the owl which hooted each night as I set up my tent, on my cold February pilgrimage around Loch Ness?
There were some obviously exotic and impressive parts of my shamanic studies: spending four days in complete darkness, blindfolded; digging a grave for myself and lying in it all night; travelling to Peru and drinking traditional mind-altering plant substances under the guidance and tutelage of the shamans there, with their unbroken connection to generations and generations of ancestors. There were inner journeys which require my belief system to shift radically to accommodate my own experience. There is the on-going process of letting the energies of the spiritual world flow into, and enrich, and heal, and change everyday reality.
“Drop”: my teachers first and most often repeated instruction. Drop: into another state of consciousness. Drop: my awareness from my head down to my heart, from seeing with my eyes to perceiving with all of myself. Drop: into that 90% or more of myself, like the iceberg below the waterline, that is purely animal. Drop: into the realm where I am not only connected to everything that exists: I am part of it and it is part of me. Drop: in full awareness of who I am, at the same in consciously releasing my ego and its needs to separate, explain, and control. Drop: into the present moment.