Gift of the Song and The Rhythm of Life
by John King, reposted from his Blog Muddy Feet: Meeting Nature on Nature’s Terms ~ A Blog about a Druid living in the Oak woods of Ardnamurchan
It was January and I was sitting in my meditation lodge as the rain battered down on the roof and the wind howled in the trees. I was journeying to the sound of my drum, flying high seeking the answer to a question that had been troubling me for some time.
There was a huge crash, at the time I could not ascertain if it was in the ‘other world’ in which I was travelling or the world which we think of as ‘conventional reality’. The sudden sound caused me to drop out of my altered state of consciousness and I was aware of being in the silence of my hut with the wood burning stove and the soft light of the oil lamp. It took a while for me to settle after such an abrupt end to the journey but then I thought that I should investigate. So donning a head torch I ventured out into the complete darkness of a remote Scottish night. It was pouring down and the air temperature was about 3ºC and my naked body skyclad winced at the sudden change. Looking around everything seemed in order so I went down the rocky track towards the river that thundered below.
There was the reason for the sound.
An Oak tree that was so old that it had rotted where it stood had finally given up and had crashed across the river with such force that when it landed on the enormous boulders that litter the river bed it had shattered into a number of parts. For the previous five years I had greeted it each morning as it had been by the pool in which I take my morning dip. I stood in silence whilst the rain sheeted down me and whilst I stood there paying respects to this fallen giant a song was gifted to me. An immediate download. no conscious thought, it spontaneously appeared in my mind, the tune and the lyric just there.
I went back up to the warmth of my hut and sat down on my meditation mat and played through the tune on a flute to commit it to memory and then wrote down the words that had been gifted to me. A few days later I sat with my guitar just working through the cords and without any conscious effort on my part further lyrics were added together with a title: The Rhythm of Life
To give you a taste of the lyrics here is the first verse:
I am part of the spirit of the woods and the water,
Part of the earth a dreaming.
Part of the sky above us shining
Part of all things breathing
I am the wind and the rain and the clouds a blowing
The sun and the stars and the moon a glowing
A babies breath an old man snoring
Part of the river of life in all things.
Here is a link to the actual song in its entirety
In July I had the chance to attend a body painting weekend and this song was the theme for my body paint.
I sat in circle with others and sang. Afterwards three women artists asked me if they could work with me to bring that song into artistic form. The following morning after dropping my dressing gown in the corner of the studio I was gifted with the artistic talents, love and attention of these wonderful painters.
I had not been in this situation before and had felt a little uncertain but as the morning progressed and with the banter and chat around the studio, together with cups of coffee and pieces of cake I started to understand what a special opportunity I was being given. The whole process was about them offering me a chance to further connect with myself and my place within the natural order of things. It was good natured and completely normal. In total it took ten hours of work to completely cover me with the song from my hair to my toes.
After a break for lunch I was invited to wander out into the surrounding woodlands, fields and river that form the property I had an entourage consisting of an artist to touch up any smudged bits of the painting and three excellent photographers. The previous evening I had chosen areas that had called to me and we visited each in turn with a chance for me to literally merge with the land. The time just flashed by and then it was time to disconnect and wash off .
Would I do it again? In a flash, it was the most remarkable opportunity. Would I do anything different? It was all over far too soon so if there is a next time, after the photographs are finished, I will take a couple of hours to go off by myself to sit undisturbed in the wild and process things.
I cannot end this blog without giving my heartfelt thanks to Rachéle Howard, Rachel Blackwell and Sarah Long the artists who treated me with such care and respect and to Elaine Gregory and all those at Wildways on the Boyle and the Wildways body painting project. All photos courtesy of and copyright to the photographers, Elaine Gregory and Maurita Van Droogenbroeck.
If you wish to see more of Rachel’s wonderful art work check out her website at https://rachelablackwell.co.uk/?fbclid=IwAR38gJ3LLjOA4-wIRhzonI0v3hJRrup7oiL-X2-DerpTlDdEBnPohiS_ArI