Archive for pagan music

Heritage, Spirituality and the Land

Posted in art, cerri lee, damh the bard, paganism, spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by cerrilee

I am about to embark on two new pieces of art this month, one of which is for the Spirit of Albion film that will be coming out in May, which will be hopefully a groovy montage of God and Goddess faces (obviously the actors playing the said Gods and Goddesses in the film) along with appropriate symbolism. The other is  a little more complicated in idea as it is for the cover of a CD to be recorded in Australia by my partner Damh the Bard, specifically for a group of sponsor’s who have generously contributed to our next visit in May, all of this being organised by the amazing band members of  Spiral Dance.

The reason that the second piece will be more complicated is purely from my own point of view, it should in fact, be a simple piece considering it’s purpose (the majority of my friends will know that this is a pretty usual state of affairs with me though). Let me explain, the first time Damh and I went to Australia I was interested to see how Pagan people, with a relatively recent European heritage, worked with the land and how it shaped their spirituality. How different was the language of the land from Britain, Ireland or mainland Europe or any other continent who’s inhabitants moved there to find a different life for themselves? How did the Southern Hemisphere feel when working ritual? Seeing the Sun and Moon wax and wane across the sky in a mirrored fashion, from my point of view, was quite disconcerting and finding any sense of direction for me almost went away completely, generally I had quiet a good sense of direction.

One thing was very clear to me from that first and our subsequent visit was, that the land was undoubtedly in charge, without malice or agenda but definitely in charge. I know that seems an obvious thing to say, but coming from Britain where the land has practically no say in how it is dealt with, I felt the land in Australia has an enormous presence and it was both wonderful and awe inspiring. I wondered if that feeling could possibly have been a small inkling into how our ancient forebears felt about our lands before the ending of nomadic lives and the coming of farming in Europe.

So how then do you communicate with such an entity? The indigenous peoples have their bond by blood and bone, they are part of the land and it is part of them over many thousands of years, their stories, songs and artwork speak of their Dreamtime, their ancient and not so ancient ancestors, the shape of the land that sustained them and how it speaks to them.

But what of the Pagan people of European heritage I have met on the two journeys so far?  Those Pagan people (I can not speak about non-pagans as I didn’t really meet many) who were born there or have recently moved there feel passionate and connected with the land and all it is, they fight to protect its uniqueness from incoming plants and animals that upset the natural balance and they honour the indigenous peoples and their territories at every Pagan gathering. But they still have a wealth of heritage of their own blood and bone built over thousands of years that needs to be honoured also. How do you blend the two seemingly opposite lands, the stellar mirroring and cultures?

In truth they blend quiet successfully and in many diverse ways, for instance working with an ancient idea of tree lore such as the Ogham and finding the correlation within the local trees takes time but can be easily be done and is being done. The animals seem very alien at first and finding any similarity for a  newcomer like myself foxed me. But then I stopped and watch the kangaroos bouncing across the bush, shy and retiring if we got too close and they strongly reminded me of deer in the woodland. Finding a way to relate the European Pagan wheel of the year also can seem at odds with the Southern hemisphere, but again on closer inspection it seemed to me that the effects of  Summer in Australia are pretty similar to winter in Britain. The land, grasses and greens die down in the heat and become brown and crisp looking, whereas in the Winter everything picks up, it is the mirror effect again and maybe that is the root I have need to take with this piece of artwork. It is a case of learning to look in the mirror and see the true reflections.

The magic and wonder of a mirror image and the echos of history that are reflected back through the glass of time……

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The Cauldron is Born!

Posted in art, cauldron born, cerri lee, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, pagan music, paganism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2008 by cerrilee

p67web.jpgI have been a bit busy over the past few weeks trying to do my partner Damh the Bard’s new album cover, the album is called The Cauldron Born. I always start with such big ideas about the concepts for the covers and find that my technical abilities just do not come up to par when putting them into a Photoshop environment, thank the Gods for having a creative teenage daughter who is much more able on these fronts!

The process is an interesting one as the album has to be practically finished to get a real sense of how it is going to sound before you can have any idea of how the artwork should complement the energy, and then everything very quickly becomes time pressured in order to get everything out to press.

The whole album takes months to work on whilst having to fit it in with working, and the whole house takes on a air of creative tension. Damh works all hours on writing and recording in the front bedroom of our small bungalow, every now and then he will come out of the room either utterly frustrated or bouncing with child like glee depending on what he has achieved in the past couple of hours, at which point I become a sound board as we then go through various versions of the track to listen to the levels of each instrument and it is adjusted, deleted or sometimes new things added.

At these points I have to give an “honest” opinion, but also be the epitome of tack and diplomacy, neither of these two qualities are natural parts of my nature, I tend to be very straight forward with my opinion if I like something I am comfortable to say so, but equally if something does not work for me I will not say anything just to please, I really think that that is unfair and I would not be happy if someone was not honest with me. For me all opinion is subjective and personal and therefore should be taken with grace (if it is given with grace), whilst being comfortable enough to say thank you for your opinion I will consider the points you make, but still have the confidence to do what you feel is right for you.

And so it goes on over the months whilst I try to keep the noise to a minimum in the rest of the house, with phones ringing, people knocking at the door and the dog barking her head off at any little noise, it takes over your life and no mistake. So when it comes to the last stage which is the cover, Damh is champing at the bit to get the package out the door and to press – no pressure there then! 🙂

All of the fabulous and grand ideas of working with photos and line drawing which I started with at the beginning of the process are binned! There simply are not enough hours in the day to take the photos and work out how to turn them into the images in my head, it would take weeks and more dry weather than we have had for ages to get out into the woods and take the basic shots. Then I would have to find someone to teach me everything I need to know about Photoshop to transform them, and then do the extra artwork to overlay, so I go for simplicity.

The album has a very clean and clear feel to it and a good number of the song lyrics have strong feelings to them, so I felt that simple line drawings white on black dotted through the booklet would keep with that theme. So having worked out a simple image that hopefully best illustrated the feel of each song I set to work on drawing the images. I have to say that I work best with pencil sketching or clay so these images made me work outside of my comfort zone and I struggled with the idea that less is more, but in the end I hope I managed something acceptable.

I only used one photograph in the end and that was of a cauldron from a website (with the permission of the website owners of course www.jelldragon.com), and I have to say that with the technical help of my daughter Rosalie I have learned so much from this process and will be much more confident with the next one!