Shamans, Music & Me….part 2.
I was beginning to enter a new Universe with a set of ancient values, approaches to learning and thinking and ways to live that were different from what I’d learnt growing up in the western world. I’d realised that the western world view, for all its benefits, did not have a mortgage on reality. And for me, the world was becoming a better place. I was beginning to feel empowered.
Rule No.3: Keep learning…the Shamanic way.
The doctorate studies had become as much a personal journey as they were academic. I was making links between the psychologist Carl Jung and shamanic states of consciousness. I was reading as many academic books and papers as I was “alternative” healing books, many of which seemed to embrace principles and practices of the shamans. The books of Carlos Castenada became truly fascinating.
I’d learnt about my Higher Self, the human spirit and the collective unconsciousness of Jung. I’d learnt how to dream and I’d learnt how to interpret my dreams. I think I became pretty good at that because my interpretations certainly helped to put my life onto a pathway that is now full of joy and where, at times, I do brilliant things. They’re not quite as brilliant as Dr Who but check out my song “The Great Food Gatsby”.
This song will most likely never enter any music chart but I know it re-affirms to a lot of people what they believe might just be a better way. It’s my way of planting a seed of hope. I sincerely hope that particular song can make a difference. There is a Youtube clip for this song using a few of my sketches. If you agree with the sentiments please remember to press “share”.
I began writing poetry and songs about 1/2 way through my PhD. One of the first poems that I wrote was a version of what became my song called “Gun”. Awoken from a dream early one morning I wrote most of the lyrics very quickly whilst still lying in bed. Later that day I picked up my guitar and the rhythm and chords just “happened”. I found the process easy and realised that it was simple for me to access a different state of consciousness. I’d done this change of state of consciousness thingo many times during my life but under completely different circumstances. And during those times I didn’t become aware of it. This time, words and chord progressions would simply “flow” out of me. It was a little bit like being able to “click a switch” in my head. I’d found my gift!
As I mentioned in my first blog, what was an exceptionally scary thing for me at the time, was the realisation that I had to actually perform my songs. Shamanism had taught me that using my natural abilities was part of the key to a meaningful and happy life. Which is of course what I desired. Overcoming the fear to use those gifts was the other part. It sounds quite a trivial thing now but singing a song on stage was one of my greatest fears. Especially a song like “Gun”!
You see, I was also acutely aware of the pro-gun lobby groups and immediately realised the potency of this song. I’d always listened to the poets of rock like Dylan, John Lennon and Lou Reed and bands like The Clash and Nirvana. They had taught me just how powerful and far reaching a song could be.
To be able to write a song of such satire that takes aim at the pro-gun lobby groups (no pun intended) was a powerful thing indeed! Rule No.4: Face your fears. It ends up being fun.
An early and musically raw version of “Gun” is on my 1st album “The Arrow Is Drawn”. You can listen to it by clicking the link.
Shamanism had also taught me to look at the signs to help me find the best pathway for my life – the pathway through this world that I was meant to travel. It taught me to listen to the birds and the winds, to meditate, to take special note of what people said in conversation – especially those little things that take you by surprise and seem to stick with you when that person, or rather “spirit”, vanishes. I’d learnt to observe who and what enters my life, to keep a diary of my dreams and importantly, to follow my bliss. Rule No.5: Jewish proverb “You can either accept your fate or be dragged along by it”.
And so, I’d arrived at a nexus. Should I continue the doctorate or should I choose the path of songwriter? Undertaking my own version of what the North American Indians and Carlos Castenada called a “vision quest”, I went to the magical Bruny Island in the south of Tasmania and emerged having decided that I would write and perform my songs for the remainder of my life. It was an exceptionally exciting and scary decision. At the very least I knew how to be me. Rule No.6: It’s better to live a dream than to dream of a life.
I was certainly becoming a much happier person. The new age therapists call it “finding your soul”; western psychologists call it “the completion of the psychological states of human growth”. It was an unexpected consequence of undertaking a PhD but one I now realise my Higher Self had planned for me for many years. Once I’d found my soul, I wasn’t going to lose it again.
Rule No.7: Own your soul. Same as Rule No.1 really.
My journey still amazes me. And I feel humbled that you have given some of your time to read about it.
Perhaps one day we will meet – again, if that is the case. And perhaps I might even be able to play you a few songs. Whatever the case I would love for us to continue to share our journeys. Thanks for staying with me so far.
Below is a view of Tasmania taken from atop a mountain on Bruny Island.