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Thugamar Féin am Samhradh Linn May 1, 2015

Tulips in Boulder, 2012***

Today is May 1, and the flowers are blooming, sometimes even through the snow so you know they are serious and not about to back down anymore.

Happy Beltaine! Here’s a festive Maypole (earth-fertility symbol) and an old song in Irish to celebrate.

Maypole erection at New College of CA's Permaculture Intensive, 2007

Maypole erection at New College of CA’s Permaculture Intensive, 2007

According to An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa, this traditional Irish song Thugamar Fein an Samhradh Linn, sung on May Day (Beltaine), dates back a ways: “Edward Bunting—a 19th century music collector—said this song “is probably extremely ancient” and was sung in the Dublin area around 1633. Even so, Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin says it dates back to 1745, yet Mary Devlin (author of The Lost Music of Ireland) claims it was 1726, so the origin is rather vague.”

Want to hear it? Here’s the magnificent soprano Nóirín ní Riain singing it. I learned this song from listening to her CD, Celtic Soul.

There are of course numerous versions, as with all old folk songs. Check the bottom of this post for a second version that for some reason also involves herring.

It’s fun to honor the changing seasons in creative ways like singing. You too can sing in Irish!

This song is presented in three ways to  make it relatively easy for you to learn. The first line is in Gaeilge (Irish), the second is phoneticized pronounciation for native English-speakers (Foghraíocht), and the third is Béarla, a rough English translation. (Apologies to all native speakers and my relevant distant ancestors for any mistakes here: I grew up in an American desert region where Irish is rarely, if ever, spoken, and still don’t know much so must rely on others. Just doing my best to keep it alive and spreading, at least in song.)

***

THUGAMAR FÉIN AN SAMHRADH LINN

Gorgeous Maypole top from Buddha's Birthday celebration, northern CA. Photo by Tina Fields

Gorgeous Maypole top from Buddha’s Birthday celebration, northern CA. Photo by Tina Fields

   (We Brought the Summer With Us)

Véarsa 1 (Verse 1):
Babóg na Bealtaine, Maighdean an tSamhraidh,
(BA-bohg nuh BAL-tin-yeh, MY-jen uh TOW-ree)
Doll of May Day, Maiden of Summer,

Suas gach cnoc is síos gach gleann,
(SOO-uss gakh cruk iss SHEE-uss gakh glyan)
Up every hill and down every glen,

Cailíní maisithe, bán-ghéala gléasta,
(KAL-yee-nee MASH-ih-heh, bahn YAL-uh GLAY-sstuh)

Beautiful girls, radiant and shining in dress,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn
(HUG-uh-mar hayn un SOW-roo lin)
We brought the summer with us.

Curfá (Chorus):

Samhradh, samhradh, bainne na ngamhna,
(SOW-roo, SOW-roo, BA-nyeh nuh NGOW-nuh)
Summer, summer, milk of the calves,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the summer with us,

Samhradh buí ná nóinín gléigeal,
(SOW-roo bwee nah NOH-ih-neen GLAY-gyal)
Yellow summer of glistening daisies,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the summer with us.

Véarsa 2 (Verse 2) 

Thugamar linn é ón gcoill chraobhaigh,
Hug-a-mar lin ay oo-n gill khreev-ee,
We brought it in from the leafy woods,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the Summer in.

Samhradh buí ó luí na gréine,
Sa-u-roo bwee o lee na grayn-ya,
Yellow Summer from the time of the sunset,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the Summer in.   (sing CHORUS)

Kendall & me Permy 07

With Kendall Dunnigan, wild queen of OAEC, 2007. Flowers can be worn anywhere!

Véarsa 3 (Verse 3)

Tá an fhuiseog ag seinm ‘s ag luascadh sna spéartha,
(Tahn ISH-yohg egg SHEN-yim segg lOOS-koo snuh SPAYR-huh)
The lark is singing and soaring in the skies,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.

Tá an chuach is na héanlaith ag seinm le pléisiúr,
(Tahn KHOO-ukh snuh HAYN-lee egg SHEN-yim leh PLAY-shoor)
The cuckoo and the lark are singing with pleasure,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We brought the summer with us.
[Sing Curfá (CHORUS) again.]

Singing to welcome in the vibrant Spring spirits as we erect the maypole, 2007

According to the folks of An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa , “…“féin” can be pronounced “hayn” or “fayn”, and “thugamar” can be “hugamar” or “hoogamar” depending on the speaker. Same with “Samhradh”, which can be “Sau-roo” or “Sau-rah”.”

***

Here are a couple more verses found on the most excellent folksong-nerd site Mudcat Cafe, posted by Malcolm Douglas on 7 July 2001, after he found it appearing as song #502 in George Petrie’s Complete Collection of Irish Music (ed. C. S. Villiers, 1903):

Of all the fish that’s in the sea
The herring is king, the herring is king.
Sing thugamur fein an samhra linn
‘Tis we have brought the summer in

The storm is o’er ’tis calm again;
We’re safe on shore from the raging main,
Sing thugamar fein an samhra linn,
‘Tis we have brought the summer in.

**

If you would like to learn how to sing more songs in Irish, check out Mary McLaughlin’s very user-friendly intro book/CD combo, Singing in Irish Gaelic (Mel Bay Publishing). It contains some great material, including a bouncy little childrens’ ditty about “Phillip’s little boat with Phillip in it” drowning in the sea.

Yep, pretty authentic Irish material, singing cheerily about death. Enjoy being alive right now to see another Spring!

***

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Farewell, Pete – and thanks January 28, 2014

Filed under: Announcements,Arts,Singing — BrujaHa @ 10:50 am
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Pete Seeger's banjo

*

“To my old brown earth, and to my old blue sky
I now give these last few molecules of ‘I;’
And you who weep, and you who stand nearby,
I do charge you not to cry:
Guard well our human chain–
Watch well you keep it strong
As long as sun will shine.
And this, our home, keep pure and sweet and green,
For now I’m yours, and you are also mine.”

—Pete Seeger

*

Pete Seeger young singout

*

R.I.P. and deep thanks to our elder Pete Seeger, who just passed on at age 94, in late January of 2014. They say he was chopping wood just 10 days before he died.

Pete Seeger wielded folk music as a guerrilla tool to create a better world. His legacy spreads around campfires and along picket lines still, and on the sloop Clearwater (where a number of my students did environmental education internships). His powerful banjo inscription: “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” is, in my opinion, a sign of wisdom, showing a way to make deep and lasting change from a place of positive, inviting joy rather than from angry confrontation.

What an example of a life well lived.

Sing on, sir – sing on.  And we will too.

*

pete seeger walking banjo rr

 

Happy Birthday, Tom Lehrer April 10, 2012

Filed under: Arts,Singing — BrujaHa @ 12:18 am
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  This post is a celebration of irreverent creativity.

Harvard mathematician Tom Lehrer had the chutzpah to make a song out of every tabu subject you can think of: the arms race leading to death by atomic bomb (“We Will All Go Together When We Go”), BDSM sex (“The Masochist Tango”), the Catholic church (“The Vatican Rag”), racism (“National Brotherhood Week”), Nazi scientists (“Wernher von Braun”), the Boy Scouts (“Be Prepared”), herpes (“I Got It From Agnes”), and the composition that must win the Nerd’s World Cup hands-down,  the Periodic Table of Elements set to music.

Tom Lehrer’s music became quite popular during the 1950s, but by 1965 he stopped performing because he allegedly grew bored of singing the same songs again and again.

Singing two of former the good doctor’s songs at a high school assembly got me, an honor student, sent to the Principal’s office and put on probation. This had the opposite effect of what the administration likely hoped.

I love his smart, irreverent humor still. If you aren’t yet familiar with it, I’m very pleased to be the person who’s about to ruin you. (Grateful thank-yous involving chocolate or bad puns always accepted.)

Happy 84th birthday, Prof. Dr. Lehrer.*

And thank you.

Click on the following links for videos or audios of TL performing:

Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

Masochism Tango

I Hold Your Hand In Mine

Be Prepared

We Will All Go Together When We Go

The Vatican Rag

Here are a bunch more lyrics.

NOTES:

1) *His dual career was surely fated: Lehrer means “teacher” in German.

2) I have no idea why WordPress won’t let the links appear as embedded videos. I’ve scoured the forums and done everything they suggested, but no luck. I guess I’m still a technopeasant. Or perhaps Coyote is in charge of the cybergods. WordPress gurus, consider this the Bat Signal for help! Sigh.

3) Thank you to the fabulous Julie James for making me aware of this most auspicious day.


 

Merrie Christmas December 25, 2010

Filed under: Singing,Spiritual Ecopsychology,The Wheel of the Year — BrujaHa @ 3:41 pm
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Cover of the wonderful book Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy

When I was little, I remember thinking of Christmas Eve as the most wonderful time of year. I enjoyed the lights shining in the darkness, the neighbors coming by with little homemade gifts of cookies on festive plates festooned with brightly colored ribbons, my mother’s pin with green holly and red bells on it, and the idea of magical reindeer needing a plateful of my cookies to get through their long night’s journey. But it was the carolers with their frosty breaths emerging from woolly wraps that got to me most, lustily singing on our stoop of “Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Having no sense of cultural relativity, natch, I thought the entire world celebrated Christmas – which meant that for that one evening at least, everyone everywhere on the planet was trying to be peaceful. The guns were put down; wars were put on hold; songs were being sung and tales of wisdom repeated on TV by the cartoon Linus; hot spiced drinks were passed around; people were being kind to animals; strangers were invited to share good meals. Peace on Earth; Good Will to All Beings. And nothing seemed more wonderful or precious.

I’d lay down in my bed after a good-night hug from my adoptive parents, snuggled down beneath the quilts made by the grandmother I’d never met from scraps of her childrens’ clothing, look out the window at the cold stars shining high above the trees, and imagine that for this one night at least, the entire world was breathing in peace.

I also fervently prayed to whatever Holy Mystery was out there that this peace would get deep into peoples’ cells and transform us forever, like a flower whose stem is put in colored water sucks it up all the way, thus changing the color of its petals.

This was the message of Christmas: angels, peace, wonder, generosity, abundance, love, miracles. Ignoring the consumerist vulture aspect in favor of these, what’s not to like? I don’t care if it sounds sappy – that’s far better than cynical and shrivel-hearted. The world will be far better off if more of us dare to make idiots of ourselves at least once a day in service of Beauty. And how wonderful we get to hear these stories again and again, reminding us when we most need it, at the darkest time of year.

To all of you – whether Christian, Pagan, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Orisha worshipper, Taoist, Buddhist, Animist, Discordian, Frisbetarian, et al; whether human or other:

Merrie Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

 

 


The lovely photo at the top is from Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy.

 

Xmas Crankiness December 3, 2010

Filed under: Cranky Rants,Singing — BrujaHa @ 4:43 pm
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OK, I’m about to admit to something un-PC: at the bare onset of December, I’m already sick of Xmas.

This feeling is actually not unreasonable: in some stores, the tinsel came out before Halloween! Ruddy-cheeked Santas vied for shelf space with witches and half-eaten zombie corpses. That imagery alone is enough to drive a child to future therapy.

Is this grumpiness a symptom of middle age? I remember my parents’ contrasting response to my childhood Christmas excitement: “Again? Already?!”

They admitted that the holiday just didn’t do it for them anymore like it used to. Instead of a peaceful respite in the dark of winter, it felt like work. A burden. Cards and untangling lights and decorations and frosted cookies and what on earth shall we give the mailman? And now this story is mine too. It hasn’t even started, yet I already feel exhausted and even a bit revulsed. I feel like boycotting the whole affair. Hanukkah started yesterday and that feels like a burden too. Already?! It just doesn’t feel like winter yet. Bah humbug.

And yet I love to give gifts; love the smell of balsam fir, kisses under the mistletoe, red berries on white tablecloths and their promise of feasting. I love all of this return-of-the-light celebratory stuff: my friend Burnie’s holiday glogg, all those little lights glittering on houses and trees in the earlier-darkening eve. I still tear up over Burl Ives’ voice in that patched-up Rudolph claymation movie. I’m even a sucker for some of the…

Wait, that’s it.

I know what turns me sour (besides the commercial frenzy aspect, of course that’s a given, especially now when money is tight and the planet’s in peril from overconsumption) – it’s the songs.

You can’t get away from them. Xmas muzak is everywhere you go, loud and also so familiar you can’t really ignore it; it’s laying its eggs in your head, the gestalt earworm from hell.

You know what it’s like to be hounded by a mosquito who’s set her sights on YOUR BLOOD AND NO OTHER, zzzzeeeeeeeeee!!! all night long, and no matter how hard you jam your ear down into your pillow or how far you burrow under the blankets, you can still hear it there, buzzing around, looking for an opening to get you? Christmas muzak is like that. But unfortunately you can’t swat it. It doesn’t respond to a rolled-up newspaper, although that’s not a bad idea, now that I think about it. Maybe if hordes of us ran around in these stores, howling from the madness that hideous sound instills and brandishing rolled-up newspapers to swat at their speakers, they’d get the hint.

Ah, sweet fantasy. It’s often fun in Tinaland.

On December 1, I had lunch at a Thai restaurant new to me. The food was excellent and the décor was lovely – deep red walls, tasteful tall sprays of flowers on each table, muted lighting – plus three white glittery triangular treelike objects on the front counter, surrounded by frolicking snowmen and candy canes. This I could take. But the music! Arrrgh! Solo female vocalists doing sickly sweet Xmas carols to synthesizer accompaniment do not go well with Thai food, especially when diners like me are still recovering from Thanksgiving.

Here in Sonoma County, leaves are still turning red & golden. Many are still green on the tree. The weather feels crisp, like late autumn, just after Halloween. I am not ready for this Christmas stuff.

So is it me? Am I out of sync with time? Or is time speeding up? Or is it just that the overlap for holiday dollars is really sickening? I’m worried that I’m turning into a curmudgeon before my time.

But if so, at least I’m in good company. I was delighted to find this comment by no less a figure than George Bernard Shaw:

I am sorry to have to introduce the subject of Christmas. It is an indecent subject; a cruel, gluttonous subject; a drunken, disorderly subject; a wasteful, disastrous subject; a wicked, cadging, lying, filthy, blasphemous, and demoralising subject. Christmas is forced on a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press: on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred; and anyone who looked back to it would be turned into a pillar of greasy sausages.

Ha!  Since Xmas is not likely to go away soon, having loads of big corporate pools for breeding, maybe we should just focus here and now on changing one small thing (no, not our expectations of gift-giving – although this worthy subject might appear in a future post).

Let’s take on the songs.

Some holiday songs are truly beautiful and/or joy-inducing. In my  mind, these include Silent Night, Deck the Halls, & Lullay. These need no changing, just less secular airtime. They’re worth listening to; it’s rude to twist such beauty into passive background noise.

Others? Yikes. Have you ever listened to the whole Joy to the World? Personally, I have a hard time singing joyfully about sins and curses and nations proving righteousness. Aside from the death-of-the-old-god aspect, songs with retributive smiting in them have little to do with the return of the light (outer and inner) that is, imho, what these holidays that occur around the winter solstice are really all about.

Revisions Ho.

Here are two of my favorite postmodern carols (gleaned in 1999 from a site now long defunct):

Consumer Wonderland
By Erica Avery, 1977.  Tune: Winter Wonderland.

The TV’s on / are you watching?
Another product / that they’re hawking
one more thing you need
to make life complete
Welcome to Consumer Wonderland

In the stores / you will hear it
Pricey gifts / show holiday spirit
That’s what they call it to get to your wallet
Welcome to Consumer Wonderland

At the mall we can go out shopping
and buy lots of stuff we can’t afford
we’ll have lots of fun with our new toys
until we realize that we’re still bored

When you shop / ain’t it thrilling
until / you get the billing
the money you still owe
the stuff broke long ago
Welcome to Consumer Wonderland

The next one is dated. Feel free to change the toys to more recent greed inducers.

Carol of the Toys
By Erica Avery.  Tune: Carol of the Bells

High voices: Barbie Dream House Mickey Mouse
Beanie Babies Tamagotchis

Low voices: Too       Much       Stu-       Uff

High voices: Cabbage Patch Dolls Ninja Turtles
Super Nintendo Tickle-me-Elmo

Low voices: Too       Much       Stu-       Uff

One could also substitute alternative filk versions, such as this anthem for modern pagans by my old friend Nan Sorbets:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Solstice
By Nan Lancaster Sorbets, ~1980.   Tune: [isn’t it obvious?]

Have Yourself a Merry Little Solstice,
Let your heart be light
Someday soon
The winter will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry Saturnalia,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
Someday soon,
Our troubles will be far away…

Here we are as in olden days,
With our olden ways galore,
Christian monks came to change our ways,
Now it’s Pagan Days once more.

OMNI says the movement’s getting stronger,
Erica the Jong
Says New York will be Pagan before very long –
So sing yourself a merrie little Solstice song.

Here we are as in olden days,
Really olden days of yore
Ancient gods who are dear to us
Will appear to us once more.

Someday soon we all will rise together,
Show those Christians how:
We’ll take back our mistletoe and holly bough!
So have yourself a merry little solstice now.

Finally, the hard-core language nerds amongst you can sing an alt in Old English! Philip Chapman-Bell offers this wonderful version of a Xmas classic (reprinted here with his permission):

Hrodulf Hrandeor
by Philip Chapman-Bell

Incipit gestis Rudolphi rangifer tarandus

Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor —
Næfde þæt nieten unsciende næsðyrlas!
Glitenode and gladode godlice nosgrisele.
Ða hofberendas mid huscwordum hine gehefigodon;
Nolden þa geneatas Hrodulf næftig
To gomene hraniscum geador ætsomne.
Þa in Cristesmæsseæfne stormigum clommum,
Halga Claus þæt gemunde to him maðelode:
“Neahfreond nihteage nosubeorhtende!…
Min hroden hrædwæn gelæd ðu, Hrodulf!”
Ða gelufodon hira laddeor þa lyftflogan –
Wæs glædnes and gliwdream; hornede sum gegieddode
“Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor,
Brad springð þin blæd: breme eart þu!”

Hrodulf the Red-Nosed Reindeer  (Modern English translation)

Here begins the deeds of Rudolph, Tundra-Wanderer

Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer —
That beast didn’t have unshiny nostrils!
The goodly nose-cartilage glittered and glowed.
The hoof-bearers taunted him with proud words;
The comrades wouldn’t allow wretched Hrodulf
To join the reindeer games.
Then, on Christmas Eve bound in storms
Santa Claus remembered that, spoke formally to him:
“Dear night-sighted friend, nose-bright one!
You, Hrodulf, shall lead my adorned rapid-wagon!”
Then the sky-flyers praised their lead-deer —
There was gladness and music; one of the horned ones sang
“Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer,
Your fame spreads broadly, you are renowned!”

Inspired by these creations, here follows an idea to take care of the Xmas song problem: Let’s start a rebellion by participating even more fully.

What?

Improvisational theater invites us to say “yes, and…” to any bit that’s offered. Not “no, but” but “yes, and.” Say you’re starting a skit about a couple having a tiff and you have something in mind – say, a grocery store scene — but your co-actor opens with a line about the laundry taking a long time to dry. It’s bad form to say “What? NO! You doofus, we’re not in a laundromat; I say we’re in a grocery store!” Instead, you take the offer and then turn it. “Yes, these machines sure are slow. That’s probably why this laundromat sells groceries on the side, so folks won’t die of hunger while waiting for their jeans to dry!” Then you’re open to create a whole new scene about the embarrassment of dining in your Horsie underwear, the only thing that isn’t currently in the dryer.

Back to our current real-life scenario.

Muzak is the offer? Okay.

Ms. Grinch begone.

Here’s the response:
YES. Sing along with it, loudly and lustily. That’ll show ‘em!

AND – Options:
Those who love the current songs can sing the official words. Preferably all 12 verses – that leads to surprise and delight or dismay as well, depending on what the verses say.

Or, whenever you hear a trad Xmas song that makes your teeth ache and your hair stand on end, substitute your own words. Sing softly, but with enough volume to be clearly audible to those nearby. Let ‘em hear the alternative words. Delighted laughter cures many ills; some claim it can have a positive effect against cancer, so maybe it can even combat holiday muzak.

Recent research (plus common sense observation of experience) also tells us that singing makes us feel better. No matter how we undertake it, this plot involves us actively singing. For those moments, at least our mouths will be open too far for prolonged teeth-grating to occur.

Yes, welcome Yule. It is good to remember that here in the northern hemisphere, from December 21st on, all roads lead –however slowly– to warmth and light.

 

Music of the Spheres July 3, 2010

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “music of the spheres.” This originated for us with the Greek mathematician/philosopher Pythagoras, who proposed that proportions in the movements of celestial bodies can be interpreted as music. He viewed this “musica universalis” not as literally audible, but as a concept about harmonics, mathematics, and the divine.

In A Little Book of Coincidence, John Martineau tracks the ways in which these proportions make up gorgeous geometries. Remember “Spirograph,” that addictive drawing toy you might have had as a kid that involves toothed cogs with holes in different places to stick your pencil through in order to draw repeating geometric patterns? Turns out our universe’s movements look a lot like those patterns. No wonder we found them fascinating.

Contemporary geomancer Richard Feather Anderson claims that the entire universe is made up of only a very few geometric proportions. Feeling fascinated but skeptical, I asked him whether this was not a rather bloatedly arrogant claim, as we puny humans could not possibly know about the entire universe. I mean really, we understand only a tiny bit about the workings of our own bodies! We could speculate on what limited bits we’ve learned about our own planet, our moon, and the observable planets in our own immediate solar system, but the universe? Feather’s response was that the proportions observed by ancient philosophers have now been repeatedly noted by scientists with excellent modern telescopes and computers, and have been proven to (my memory is likely not exact here) something around 97% accuracy. Hearing this, I now had leave to go into spasms of awe.

It is not difficult to see how these proportional relationships might echo musical intervals and harmonics. Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle opined:

“All deep things are songs. It seems somehow the very central essence of us, Song; as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls! … See deep enough, and you see musically; the heart of Nature being everywhere music if you can only reach it.”

If we consider that life energy can be interpreted as vibration, and vibration can be interpreted via sensory organs and machines in many ways that include sound and light, it can be argued that in a way, the entire universe is continually singing.

This poetic opinion is now backed up by research scientists in solar physics at the University of Sheffield, U.K., who have for the first time managed to make recordings of the magnetic field in the sun’s outer atmosphere.

According to The Telegraph’s science correspondent Richard Grey, “They found that huge magnetic loops that have been observed coiling away from the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere, known as coronal loops, vibrate like strings on a musical instrument. In other cases they behave more like soundwaves as they travel through a wind instrument. Using satellite images of these loops, which can be over 60,000 miles long, the scientists were able to recreate the sound by turning the visible vibrations into noises and speeding up the frequency so it is audible to the human ear.” (June 19, 2010)

The head of the research group, Robertus von Fáy-Siebenbürgen, is cited as saying, “It was strangely beautiful… It is a sort of music as it has harmonics.” As the Bard said, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

I find the Telegraph an excellent layperson’s news briefing source for scientific topics. The best thing about this particular article is that they provide actual video of the sun’s singing. I can’t figure out how to embed it in this post like you can with a YouTube video, being basically an upgraded technopeasant. But you can

click here for the video where you can listen to the Sun “sing!”

How cool is that?!

(All this longwindedness, in fact, sprang from my discovering this video and wanting to share it. Took me long enough to get to it, eh?)

The Aboriginal people of Australia believe that the world as we know it was originally sung into existence. Further, people must continue to repeat these songs if the places we live in and its beings are to continue. I find it a refreshing view to see our species as needed, instead of being a cancer to everyone else. So the people walk these “songlines” every year, literally singing the world back into being. They sing the original birth songs of their neighbors like stones and lizards. Perhaps they learned these songs from the beings themselves.

Five Dreamings. painter - Michael Nelson Jakamarra, assisted by Marjorie Napaljarri, Papunya, Central Australia.

Go outside after you see this video and sing with the Sun. Sing her back into being each year; each day, if you can. Welcome her with whatever comes to you as her own song, reminding her she is beautiful and needed and loved. And at night, don’t forget the Moon. And stars. And oh yes, anytime, all the trees and flowers and rocks and winds and…  Who cares what the human neighbors think? Their cells are all singing too, whether they know it or not.

 

Power of Raven (Good Wish) May 21, 2010

Alexander Carmichael 1900“Good Wish” is one of the many lovely blessings and magical invocations collected in the Scottish Highlands by Alexander Carmichael (pictured here in 1900) and compiled into his 6 volumes entitled Ortha nan Gaidheal or Carmina Gadelica.  (“Good Wish” appears on page 282 of the edited single mass market volume. No, I don’t currently own a full set: only the first two of six. My birthday is in December… 🙂 )

I like that “Good Wish” starts out by conferring “power of raven.” Ravens so often get a bad rap – in fact, all of the Corvidae do: ravens, crows, magpies, and jays. Those smart, big-mouthed birds are the avian equivalent of theater people, anarchists, feminists, culture jammers – a bit trickstery with their sense of humor, a bit wiser than you might expect, unafraid of death or gory weirdness, with one eye out for anything flamboyant and interesting; not subtle business-suited or cute-plumaged boop-boop Paris Hilton-type chirpers at all. Viva la Raven!

This invocation attempts to confer the great powers and riches (“goodness”) of nature on its recipient. Along with these, it also confers the blessings of two great human leaders, Christ and Fionn; and to top it off, it confers three valued internal qualities: honor, compassion, and love. There is evidence that in pre-Christian Irish society, maintaining one’s personal honor, including integrity of word and deed, was extremely important. Ah, for the good old days.

My favorite part of this Wish, though, is “death on pillow.” This is not something we ordinarily think of as a positive prayer since we’re so alienated from the realities of death in this culture, but by considering the many hideous alternatives, we can understand how it truly is.

By request, I like to sing an original variation of this poem to participants in my open singing group EnChantMent! while they collectively hold a single drone note, like a sung bagpipe; in this way to end our sessions with a blessing for them.

May it likewise bless all reading this now.

Drawing Down the Moon (painting by Tina Fields)

Drawing Down the Moon (painting by Tina Fields)

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Power of raven be thine

Power of eagle be thine

Power of the Fiann.

Power of storm be thine

Power of moon be thine

Power of sun.

Power of sea be thine

Power of land be thine

Power of heaven.

Goodness of sea be thine

Goodness of earth be thine

Goodness of heaven.

Each day be joyous to thee

No day be grievous to thee

Honour and compassion.

Love of each face be thine

Death on pillow be thine

Thy Saviour’s presence.

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I made the watercoloured drawing on the right a looong time ago!  It’s very fun to be letting these old pieces fly into the world now, here.