THE FIRE PRAYER STORY
I was living in Nashville, TN at the time. I was writing, recording and performing on the country/pop scene. But facing life or death in a deeply challenging personal life situation put me in touch with the more important questions of life. Why am I here? What is the greater reason I have been given the gifts that I have and how can I use them for a greater good?
In asking these questions, the world of Spirit surrounded me, and music began to flow like never before. I remember I had bought my first hand drum, but a few days later (because of financial challenges) I was going to return it. Well, the store wouldn't accept returns! How fortunate that was in that the hand drum turned out to be instrumental (no pun intended 😊 ) in the birth of many of the songs on "Fire Prayer".
These songs were flowing like water from some place deep within me that I had never touched before. Though I don't talk about it much, it seems the energy of my native roots surfaced profoundly in the expression of this music.
My voice also underwent a transformation. I completely lost my voice for over a month. I couldn't even squeak! I kept getting the message from Spirit that a "re-calibration" was taking place and that the vibrational frequency was being adjusted for the purpose of healing and opening hearts. I didn't want to claim anything in regards to what I was being told, but in time it revealed itself to be the truth.
Of course, with songs like these, I wasn't exactly fitting into the Nashville scene anymore! I had a country deal at the time, with a label out of Memphis. But my path in music was taking a profound turn. As a new label was presenting itself, giving me the opportunity to express this new music, I asked to be release from the Memphis label deal. They graciously honored my request.
The spirit world was making itself very present in my life at this time. Because my life truly was in danger as I navigated my way out of an abusive marriage, Spirit was letting me know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I was protected. I have to say that at times this was quite challenging for my psyche to accept. It was like living in two dimensions or two worlds at the same time. It stretched me spiritually in a way I simply do not know how to describe. I guess the best description is the energy of musical expression in "Fire Prayer".
The internal conviction to this new path was such that it didn't matter whether there was a record deal or not. All I knew was that I would send my voice whether it be from a mountain top, to one person, or to many. I would do it because it was the Creator's calling. My job was simply to "show up" and let it flow through me, allowing the energy of this new music to do whatever it was intended to do.
The creative process in the creation of "Fire Prayer" was much the same way. It wasn't about "developing a concept for an album". It was about showing up creatively and allowing Spirit to flow into expression. The form of the album called "Fire Prayer" manifested as a natural movement of simply being willing to stay present with the Divine and be the "hollow-bone" Spirit asked me to be.
The chant "Passage to the Earth Mother" began as an instrumental piece. When I went into the studio to record it, I had only the chord structure in mind for the instrumental. It's final form took place while recording. We finished recording the music. Then the producer asked me to chant. I hadn't done that before and had no idea what would come out of my mouth as I stepped up to the microphone. It was first take, absolutely guided and directed by Spirit as it unfolded. I simply stepped into the Presence and let the energy flow through me. The process itself was truly a blessing! It was unrehearsed and pure prayer. I don't think it could have been "rehearsed" and carry the same energy that it did in that spontaneous expression of prayer.
Many of the other songs on "Fire Prayer" came spontaneously as well, as I would walk and commune with nature. There was an amazing connection with Grandmother that was taking place through all of this. My hands were buzzing with energy and I felt expanded far beyond my physical body. It was the call of my own heart to heal: a calling from some primal place as though this music had always been. I was just revealing it.
"There is a Dream" was actually written a little earlier than some of the others. I was in the midst of profound changes in my life, which were also changing the music I was writing. This song was originally a part of the Memphis deal as a somewhat country/pop arrangement. It was originally done with more piano accompaniment and a faster driving rhythm. One evening at an outdoor prayer circle someone asked me to sing it. I wasn't sure I could without the piano, but decided to be creative and try it slower with just the vocal and a drum. Well, the rest of that story is what you hear on "Fire Prayer".
As One. There is a famous quote attributed to Chief Seattle which says, "The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth." How very true it is. Just like the tiny organisms in the soil that naturally do their part to restore balance, when we stand back far enough, our perspective changes and we can see that we too are tiny organisms that are just a thread in the tapestry of the whole, and we need to do our part as well. What happens to the Earth Mother, happens to us. It is so critical that we come to understand how connected we truly are. It is time to find our way back to a relationship with her that restores balance and harmony. We truly are "As One".
Since recording "As One" many years ago, I have come to understand that thinking we are healing the Earth Mother is a bit arrogant. She is going to take care of herself, shaking her back or whatever she needs to do. She is a sovereign. It is humanity that truly needs the healing and it is humanity that is facing the demise of its own making. Earth Mother knows what to do to balance herself and she is doing it. As a human being, your protection is to align with her, to align with the Creator and connect with your heart, as one. I now sing this song with a simple lyric change that makes a huge difference. Rather than "As one we heal her", I now sing it as "As one we heal with her". For those of you who sing this song in healing circles, I hope you will make that change with me as you sing it.
Song to the Mother. I remember when this song came. I was walking by a beautiful river and I just started singing to Grandmother. Fire Prayer being my first album on this healing path, those times were filled with such vibrantly potent healing energies. I was in a great life transition so I certainly was in need of the healing. Mni (Lakota word for water which means "my life, my breath") was speaking to me even then.
The Tree. This is a song very dear to my heart in that I have such a special relationship with trees. This story is taken from an earlier newsletter article and I have chosen to leave the story intact even though some things I have said here might be repeated:
The particular oak tree referred to in this song was located at a very special place that was on the same land as a healing center I was frequenting at the time. It was a crisis threshold point in my life, dealing with matters of life and death. A time where the decisions I was about to make would impact the rest of my life as well as the music I was to create for the future (I was making headway in the country/pop scene in Nashville at the time). This was the turning point of realization regarding my true purpose and the meaning behind the musical gifts I had been given and what they were really meant to be used for.
At a particular low point, actually I can say the lowest point of my life, I went to this tree, which was my favorite place. As I prayed and the tears fell, I asked for the strength to stand tall like that tree and the ability to surrender completely the past I was to leave behind. I asked for the ability to be rooted and centered like that tree. As I prayed, there were very real "invisible arms" that surrounded me and embraced me in the most beautiful and unconditional love I have ever experienced. I really have no words to adequately describe this experience.
Some time later, I was called by Spirit to return there. As I began walking up to the place where the tree had stood, my heart sank. My beautiful tree had been cut down. I was in shock to say the least. As I cried for my friend, I was guided to stand upon its trunk. So I did. I stood, with my arms wide open and just allowed the Creator and the tree to speak to me. The message was that the tree had given its life to me. It gave me the strength, the courage, the lessons of complete surrender. All for me to take out into the world and share through the music that I was destined to create. The tree said it was immobile and could not move from its place, but that I could. It heard the deep yearnings of my soul. It gave itself to me and I know in my heart that it helped me to live and to make it through those deeply challenging times (Note: I later learned from a friend, who went back to investigate the circumstances behind why this tree was cut down, that it truly was dying. That is why it was being cut down.) Added Note: Looking back now, understanding the relationship of trees to the Lakota sun dance ceremony, I truly believe this was my first sun dance. It brings tears to my eyes even as I write this.
The friend who brought me the news about the tree also brought me a piece of the heart wood from this tree. Some time later, after moving to Colorado, this heart wood became the stem to my canunpa (Lakota word for peace pipe) which I carried for many years.
There finally came a time however, that I chose to give this particular pipe back to the earth. In Lakota tradition, you do this by burying the pipe. I buried this pipe in another favorite place up on a mountain within a circle of grandmother trees.
Walk in Balance. Another song oh so dear to my heart. What a gift from Spirit! Though I recorded "Walk In Balance" with instrumentation, Spirit has guided me to perform it a capello in most situations, in a prayerful space. I have used this song countless times as the opening song to "set the tone" in public gatherings.
Anzara at one time was a healing center in Tennessee (US). I had many wonderful spiritual experiences there at the beginning of my path of healing music. It was a period of my life where I was walking between dimensions, something I really have no words as to how to explain. The name "Anzara" means "center of the light". For me it had a dual meaning since I was having profound experiences there which were also taking me deeper into that center of light within my own being.
As you can see in this story of Fire Prayer, it was medicine of great healing for me. May this music medicine bring you healing too. It was written with the intention for you to sing along so don't be shy!
Much love and healing to you,