This year has been characterized by continuous routing and rerouting. By making plans and then by recalibrating these plans. Again and again. Where are we making music? Who are we making music with? Are we focusing on song development, performing or recording? Answers to these questions have changed several times over the course of the year. At times, there have been no answers at all, only silence.
In early September, Spiral Muse celebrated a long awaited reunion when Kathleen visited the west coast. It had been over two and a half years since the four of us had gathered together in song. For a few precious hours, we returned to the place we'd spent so much of our lives for the seven years before the pandemic. The place where music flowed like rivers of honey and light. It didn't matter that we were out of practice, that we forgot some of the words, timing, exactitude of instrumentation here and there. We felt the presence of the divine move through us and our souls were deeply nourished after drinking from this well of harmony.
The medicine encoded in these songs vibrated through our beings, through each cell and every tear shed. Tears of joy, of wonder, of grief releasing, of rebirthing. It was a gift to return to something old and familiar as the new beings we have become. Beings formed through the change, grief, trauma and uncertainty of the intervening years. Each of us alive on this planet now have these stories, many of them. Farewells, reunions and re-formings. The scarcity and separation of pandemic life has engendered more gratitude for moments of connection and for the new possibilities such moments spark.
A few days before our reunion, I dreamt of gold finches in cages. I rarely encounter or think of gold finches and the dream didn't really grab my attention initially. In the dream, the birds were distant, dim, as if behind a shroud of fog in addition to being caged. I couldn't feel them or really sense their presence, and yet they were still there in my visual field.
Later that day, walking on Montara Mountain, a gold finch flew across my path and landed in a eucalyptus tree. The bird's colors, movement and presence were bold and evoked an immediate emotional response as I remembered the dream I'd had hours before. The eucalyptus tree is not a natural home for this bird, nor is it natural for this tree to flourish in this region of the globe. Yet the goldfinch and the eucalyptus are finding their way together in spite of this. It may not be a "natural" path for either of them yet it feels natural and majestic to see them each express their unique essence and somehow create this harmony of color and vibrancy. Looking into the symbolism of the gold finch, optimism, abundance and joy are prevailing themes. These themes were the lasting gifts from the September reunion of Spiral Muse.
The caged gold finches have all of the potential of the birds flying through the trees on the mountain. Their magic is unmanifest, their joy nearly snuffed out, their songs muted. The spirit of the songbird flies in many places, just as we each continue to express our creativity, including musical expression, in whatever ways we can. Even ways that seem unnatural at first. We are being called to adapt our song to our present circumstances.
In the months following our reunion, it has become clear that our musical journey together is not complete. Although separated by thousands of miles, we are learning new ways to collaborate and create music together. Our focus for the coming year, maybe more, will be writing and developing new music across time and space. We've also begun experimenting with bi-coastal recording, having just finalized a simple test track, the song “Mother of the Water” by Alexa Sunshine Rose.
More than ever, Spiral Muse represents for me the mysterious power of creative collaboration. Both among humans and between humans and the unseen realms. The creative cycle is one of birthing, sustaining, destroying, and creating anew. Destruction and loss are a key part of this cycle. The muse is teaching us that nothing really dies, yet everything changes form. Loss is painful, at times excruciating. But it isn't the end of the story. The songbird is emerging from the cage and is ready to fly through the mountains and sing.