Have you ever wondered how certain combinations of sounds, in a voice, a song, even a written phrase can bring such deep pleasure that all of life seems somehow so much better, more alive, and more harmonious?
In Celtic shamanic studies women and men learn the power inherent in words, in the ancient poetry and songs, in the repetitive beat of the drum, the spangle of the rattles and the call of the spirit animals. Some have been surprised to hear of the high degree of influence held in Ireland during ancient times by the migrant poet/bards for they could sway public opinion to or from the ruling monarch/ leaders of the scattered clans. Daily life circled through simple prayers of greeting the morning light, for lighting the hearth fires, for safe passage through to evening return. In the Celtic world view all of life was intertwined and sacred sounds wove through from beginning to end and then to start again, like a refrain sweet high and low.
Chanting, singing and the resonance of musical instruments can be found in spiritual ceremonies throughout human history, continuing to our present time. Cultural traditions and paraphernalia continue to migrate along with traveling people. In North America we enjoy open and easy access to Tibetan singing bowls, Irish bodhran drums, and a seemingly endless variety of music-making tools. Certain sounds open and expand our most inner core, alter our perceptions, and sometimes enable us to walk a lighter path.
The following is a variant of The Kalevala, a compilation of folklore poetry/ songs collected by Elias Lonnrot in the 19th century. Previous to the effort of Lonnrot and many other history gatherers Finnish poetry was primarily an oral tradition. The poems were often performed by two people, singing alternatively, chanting and replying in a form of verbal dancing.
Kalevala Day is celebrated in Finland on February 28 to honour Elias Lonnrot's first version of The Kalevala in 1835.
I am thinking I am wanting
To arise and go forth singing
Sing my songs and say my sayings hymns ancestral harmonizing
Magic verses we have gathered kindled by wild inspirations
There are other words of magic variations I have learned
Claimed in passing from the wayside when the frost was singing verses
Many a rhyme the rain recited with the drumming in the leaves
Other poems the wind delivered through the saplings songs came drifting
Magic charms the birds have added and the treetops incantations
There are still other songs magic words learned in silence
Plucked from the wayside broken off from the bracken
Torn from thickets dragged from saplings
Rubbed off the top of hay ripped from verges
The cold recited me verses the rain kept bringing me songs
The winds brought me many whispers lake waves drove some to me
The birds added harmonies the trees magic sayings
These I wound up in a ball arranged in a circle
I put it up in the granary loft safe in a round metal tin
For a long time my songs have been in the cold housed in darkness
Shall I pull my songs out of the cold? Draw the verses out of the frost?
Bring my box into the quiet house? At the end of the long bench?
Shall I open my chest of words? Unlock my song box?
Clip the frayed end of the tangled ball? Undo the knot in the string?
I will sing from a leaner mouth intone over water
To gladden this twilight to honour this memorable day
Or to delight the morrow to begin a new day
In honour of all the individuals who find magical power in sounds and do the sacred work of gathering and translating the old words and music, making them available for others