Top Ten Three Months Running!
My original song “In The Hole” from my most recent album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames is in Ourstage’s Top Ten for the past three months! Check it out here: https://kathleendunbar.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-hole-2
Top Ten Three Months Running!
My original song “In The Hole” from my most recent album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames is in Ourstage’s Top Ten for the past three months! Check it out here: https://kathleendunbar.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-hole-2
DATE: Saturday, April 6
TIME: Doors open 6:45pm and Show at 7pm
WHERE: Heart Tribe 7 Bolinas Road Fairfax, CA 94930
COST: $20 Advance, $25 at the Door
TICKETS: Purchase Tickets Here
Please come join Kathleen Dunbar for this intimate limited seating engagement. Advance tickets recommended to reserve your seat! Purchase Tickets Here
• This will be a celebration of specially selected songs from her musical catalog.
• You’ll hear songs from her first three albums, including her most recently released album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames. Plus a sneak peek into songs from her upcoming fourth album of love songs, Smoochy Smoo.
• Let her beguile and bewitch you, inspire you, break your heart, and make you laugh! Her songs are vignettes into our very-human temptations and redemptions, with a good dose of humor whilst the angels and devils bet which way we go at the crossroads.
• You can listen to Kathleen here: kathleendunbar.com
“Kathleen Dunbar and her literally amazing band of talented Better Devils, achieves a rare and utterly unique blend of musical and lyrical symmetry. Highly recommended!”—Russell David“Kathleen Dunbar has just renewed my appreciation for story-telling songs. The genres mix beautifully to form a potent eye of the storm into which you’ll gladly be swept.”—Music Emissions
This will be an intimate evening with Kathleen–Advanced Tickets recommended. Purchase Tickets Here
Kathleen Dunbar San Francisco Singer-Songwriter Kathleen Dunbar performs her blend of rootsy, humorous, and spellbinding storytelling about tragedy and redemption through her original song compositions in the Americana tradition. Join her on a musical journey into the darkness of the heart, love, betrayal, steamy romance, and the transformation of the spirit after passing through the flames. These are stories about us as we face the circumstances we humans get ourselves into and the choices that we ultimately make—some of them funky, some of them ending in the dark, others rising into the light of morning.
For this intimate evening Kathleen will be joined by her guitarist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Gawain Mathews and stand up bass player Ben Levine.
Gawain Mathews gigs with Kathleen Dunbar as her guitarist and banjo player. His magic thread runs all through the music you hear. Gawain is Kathleen’s arranger and producer. On her CDs he plays guitar, mandola, banjo, keyboards, pedal steel, accordion and percussion. Gawain hails from the wilds of Wales and the hot deserts of Utah (he prefers clouds to sun). He brings multiple skills as producer and arranger and years of musicianship in a wide range of styles. He’s toured as guitarist for Mickey Hart. Gawain has had his original music featured on Fox’s American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. Currently he’s a music producer in the San Francisco Bay Area working with a diverse roster of clients and styles.
Ben Levine is a bassist whose performing career has taken him to all 50 States, Europe, China, Canada, and Central America. He has performed as a sideman with some of the top recording stars in country music including multi-platinum artists Neal McCoy and Mark Wills, as well as former American Idol Josh Gracin. Ben is also a founding member of the groundbreaking bluegrass tribute band “Honeywagon” whose 2003 album “Green Day Blue Grass” spent over a year in the top 10 of Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Chart reaching as high as the #3 position. Ben was also a featured performer on the Grammy winning classical album “Guitar Heroes” by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. An active musician in the Bay Area, Ben teaches at Diablo Valley College and performs with several popular local groups including, The Boombox, Bell and Co., Haulin’ Oats, and The Urban Outlaws. Visit Ben’s bluegrass site at: http://honeywagonmusic.com
This will be an intimate evening with Kathleen. Advance Tickets recommended.
FREE DOWNLOAD of “Circus”
For a limited time get a FREE DOWNLOAD of my song Circus from my just released album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames. Here’s the link:
THE BACK STORY BEHIND MY SONG “Circus”
Where do my songs come from? I feel they might be playing in some other universe and I receive a transmission right into my radio heart-brain. Somehow I “hear” them and out they flow from my voice and pen! The original impetus for the song “Circus” on my brand new album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames is a dream I had one night! In the dream I was laying in a large bed on a mezzanine with the various wild acts of a circus happening on every level of the oddly shaped building. Suddenly a knife thrower appeared and threw his knifes with lightning speed all around my body, outlining me! He was almost completely accurate. One of the knives gave a papercut graze to my cheek. In the dream I wondered, “Hm, I wonder if it’s a good idea or not to date him?” Ha! I woke up and thought, “My god! This is a song!” and proceeded to tell the story of the knifethrower. You will hear in the instrumental section a theramin, an instrument I love, which renders so well the tight-rope drama of the circus. My producer-multi-instrumentalist Gawain Mathews perfectly arranged the song with an organ carrying forward the larger than life pulse of the circus, and plays the idiosyncratic voices of an accordion, mandola, banjo and guitar. We got a big virtual “Piatti” symbol crash. And BIG thanks to Nicholas Daniel Wlodarszyk for his completely awesome comic trombone. Here’s the opening lyrics:
a freak as a boy on the far side of hell
he lived by his wits in a crumbling motel
with the eyes of a gunner, a rock steady aim
all that he lacked was a good looking dame
charm won the girl and the damage was done
his prospects weren’t much but it sounded like fun
when the call comes for you and you step in the ring
inside the big tent you get to be king!
. . . for the rest of the lyrics click here: https://kathleendunbar.bandcamp.com/track/circus
HOW TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE CD: You can listen to complete tracks of the entire album at this link on my Store page: https://www.kathleendunbarmusic.com/store
You can listen to all of the songs on the album three times for free before being prompted to purchase. You can purchase the album via Itunes, Amazon, etc. simply by visiting the links on my website Store page. In addition to offering a digital download, you can also order a physical CD from CDBaby—again, right there on my Store page.
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD: Please feel free to forward this to anyone who you feel would like to accompany me on this musical journey. Thank you in advance for your support, my dears!
Photography by Joseph Feusi
All songs copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar
RADIO INTERVIEW: Kathleen will be interviewed on Blue Lew’s SFCR Radio show this Monday, May 25!
WHEN: Monday, May 25, Labor Day
TIME: Somewhere between 3:30 and 5:30!
SHOW: The Blue Lew Show
INTERNET RADIO: To listen to the interview and music from my current and my upcoming CDs here’s how ya do it:
1) Go to this link: http://savekusf.org/shows
2) On the right side under the banner entitled Listen to SFCR click on the link that says, Launch Live365 Player. You can see what it looks like in the picture at the top here.
3) A screen will appear and you’ll immediately be tuned in! You can see what it looks like on the picture below.
Thanks to everyone who helped make the gig at Bill Cook’s Barn an amazing show! Bill says, “Kathleen’s music and her band are top class. Wow! Her songs are diverse, sensitive, powerful and spellbinding.”
Thanks to my smokin’ hot band: The Better Devils, an amazing trio of topnotch touring and studio musicians:
Gawain Mathews, most recently he’s been the touring guitarist for Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart.
Kevin Hayes, drummer for Robert Cray, including on Cray’s Emmy-award winning album Take Your Shoes Off.
Paul Olguin, bass player for the likes of Bob Weir, Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Huey Lewis, and more.
Bill Cook is hosting me, Kathleen Dunbar,
and my band The Better Devils in his “Barn”
I’m putting on a really cool show down just South of Pescadero in
Bill Cook’s Barn. Bill has turned his barn into a premier venue showcase. It has a state of the art sound system. Plenty of room for dancing. A fire pit outside to talk to friends and cook marshmallows. Lots of parking. Beautiful countryside. And this show comes with a free turkey dinner prepared by Bill with all the fixin’s!!!
4pm dinner; 6pm showtime!
Go this link for all the info: Info For Kathleen’s Saturday May 16th Show
Or, let me tell ya about it right now:
DATE: SATURDAY MAY 16th
TIME: 4pm/dinner 6pm/show
WHERE: 10350 Cabrillo Hwy, Pescadero ½ mile south of Bean Hollow Beach, East Side, American Flag marks the driveway
DINNER: Is DONATED by Bill!— TURKEY DINNER with FRESH LOCAL VEGETABLES And you are invited to bring a small potluck fav to share
COST: $20 donation to the band suggested, but if it’s not in your budget… Please come! Your attendance is the best contribution!!!
VENUE: Plenty of comfortable seating, room to dance, great sound! Outdoor fire pit to toast marshmallows in! The sunset over the Pacific Ocean! Beautiful countryside!
ABOUT BILL’S “BARN”: Bill has transformed his “Barn” into · A beautiful large premier performance & dance space with a great sound system · Bill’s Barn sits on a beautiful piece of property where you can dance & listen inside · Hang outside in the glorious countryside & watch the sun go down along Highway 1 · Sit around the fire pit in the evening · Partake of his famous Turkey dinner with all the trimmings · Plenty of free parking · Feel free to bring family, friends and a bit of food or drink to share! · KIDS WELCOME! No RSVP necessary
ABOUT ME: San Francisco Singer-Songwriter Kathleen Dunbar Webpage: http://www.kathleendunbarmusic.com
Hear me on Pandora! My band and I have delighted audiences at Peri’s, The Uptown, Rudramandir, Underground SF, Mutiny Radio and numerous local house concerts. I’ll be performing original songs in the Americana tradition from my first two CDs as well as my upcoming CD Liars, Cutthroats and Dames, all produced by multi-instrumentalist and recently touring guitarist for Mickey Hart, Gawain Mathews.
ABOUT MY BAND: I’ll be accompanied by my smokin’ hot band The Better Devils: An amazing trio of topnotch touring and studio musicians:
GAWAIN MATHEWS Most recently he’s been the touring guitarist for Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart
KEVIN HAYES Drummer for Robert Cray, including on Cray’s Emmy-award winning album Take Your Shoes Off
PAUL OLGUIN Bass player for the likes of Bob Weir, Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Huey Lewis, & more
DIRECTIONS FROM SF–THREE DIFFERENT WAYS:
To Take Hwy 1: Take a relaxing scenic drive along the coast of California on Hwy 1 down from SF
To Take 280 + Hwy 1: Zip down 280 to the cutover on 92 then down Hwy 1
To Take Skyline: Take Skyline/35 down to Alice’s restaurant and cut over on 84 past La Honda to Hwy 1
DIRECTIONS FROM SANTA CRUZ:
From Santa Cruz Come on up Hwy 1
What Did You Dream Last Night?
The rain was coming. I was soon to marry a man. However, an attractive woman appeared in the crowd at the coffee shop, and I thought, hm, I’ll marry her! Both the man and the woman were shining creatures, like small bright airplanes ready to take off, or scarves flying loose and high in the wind.
The window of the coffee shop took up an entire wall. Outside was a narrow street and buildings of old gray stone. There was a view to a woodland. The first drops of rain fell upon the street and in the woods. In my own body I felt the delicious holding-in before the release. I could feel the trees out on the wood’s verge also holding very still in the last moment of anticipation before opening to drink the rain.
The door of the coffee shop rang its bell and I turned to see a bewildered individual enter and make his way inside. He wore a coat softened with wear and the beginnings of the rain. His thin straight hair hadn’t been combed. It took me a moment to realize that he was presenting himself to me: his soft coat and his eyes, and something else: He held out his hands to me, both of them, palms downward. At first I didn’t understand.
The shop was crowded with people talking and waiting for their coffee drinks, faces and bodies expectantly turned towards the espresso machine. He’d threaded his way through the people and stood looking sideways between two energetic types. He looked up at me, being slightly shorter than my own six feet.
Something about this fellow, and all my thoughts of marriage—which seemed like a fun dash through life—fell out of my head. I knew without asking that he’d found me through a kind of physical intuition, like following the furtherest tendril of a plant back along to its root, and here, he had come to that vigorous source—me—as though we were kin.
He smiled, and waited for me to look at his hands.
The thing that shifted me, that took me from the world of the air to the ground around me, were his eyes. They showed me his inward world, and what I saw gave me a frisson of fear—here was a weary angel sad for the need for a coat in a town of stone and damp, and also a human creature given eyes to see who had used those eyes for all they were worth and found them wanting. He was on the knife edge of something momentous, and he had come to show me. He had an air of shock about him, but also relief. And he seemed to offer kindness, if I wanted to take it.
I looked closely at his hands, out-held, palm down, and by that reflex we have to mirror another’s gestures, I held out my own hands and looked at them. I gasped! Out of the ends of my left middle and index fingers something protruded. Tough little stems growing right out of my finger ends. Without a word he gave a little gesture, a “me too” of emphasis with his hands, and I saw that the both of us were sending out green shoots.
I was horrified. What was happening to me? With an instinct for the worst, before I knew it I’d taken off my shoes. My feet, normally pale with their unsunned days, had gone red—the veins, bright and swirling, showed clearly through the skin. My feet looked like pot-bound plants, when the gardener has at last struck off the pots to find them a larger home to root.
I know I panicked at first. I don’t even remember leaving the coffee shop, or the hours afterwards. While I could still walk and get about, before I was completely transformed into a tree—for surely that was what was happening—I had to find the place I wanted to root, to remain. Losing the ability to move my body, I still wanted to move my eyes—I actually believed it mattered what I would look out and see. In short, I wanted to have a view. I didn’t remember seeing in the face of my kindly friend that he knew, and was trying to show me, that soon the eyes wouldn’t matter either.
I stood still on the street at the edge of town. The rain had paused, but the cool wet of it went deeply and refreshingly into me as I breathed. I thought of a beautiful country I’d seen in dreams: large old spreading trees tucked in a narrow valley, where a river poured itself over huge stones. Then immediately I was drawn to the mountains of another dream-place, where the pines stood and sighed out of the old sand of risen seabeds. I was searching my mind madly for the right place, when the still small voice said, no, none of those—you must go to—Colorado! I was an aspen, don’t you know. Colorado has miles of them.
My rational mind didn’t want to go to somewhere as “commonplace” as Colorado if I could go anywhere of my own imagining. But the wise voice knew better. I saw a little ridge that fell down at its end into a canyon. Across the way the wall of the mountain rose to a great height. The air was full of unrained rain, the clouds as yet not letting down their water, but as full as they could be before letting all of it go.
I am sorry to say that I was unkind to my tree-kin man. Caring only about my own fear, I ran off and left him. It makes sense to me now that he didn’t speak—perhaps he’d already lost the ability to do so, or if he hadn’t, what words could possibly express this change! I had been terrified when faced with no choice in the matter. But as the dream ended the scrambling terrified energy of my mind began to lift up and off me as I settled down onto the mountain ridge, and the rain began to fall gently upon me. I woke and began to retell the tale to myself, as one does with dreams, bringing it from the depths of the magic land, like a rough gem unearthed which points to the mystery of the whole treasure. And I began to wonder: the tree man had been excited to see me, and kind, and I’d missed that in my panic. I realized he knew enough to surrender, and to invite me into the mystery, a real zen koan of a place. An enigma . . .
. . . out of sorts, but curious, I got out of bed, opened my computer, and looked up a place I’d once travelled to, in Colorado, a place called Crested Butte. I’d hiked near there—all this in the waking world mind you—on the top of the world one late spring. I’d walked through meadows of blue lupine, and stopped to drink water near a patch of white albino lupine that tumbled over both sides of the path. Tired out after miles of walking, and needing to get to my next destination to sleep, that long evening I’d driven through an aspen grove that lasted miles upon miles, and remembered what I’d read in the guide-book: That such large stands of western aspens are a single individual grown from one seedling. One such forest in neighboring Utah is estimated to be 80,000 years old and among the oldest known living organisms on earth, and is the heaviest living organism at 13 million pounds. The roots send up shoots that live up to a hundred and thirty years, when they die and are absorbed in the forest soil to nourish the roots, and other shoots are sent up. Fires may destroy the surface trees, but the roots send up new growth and the forest lives both under the ground and in the living air once again.
We are individual raindrops in a storm of melted air that is eventually taken to the sea, where we are both the drops and the whole. We are, too, the trees upon the mountain in a fling of color and trembling and white bodies full of birds, and we are the one root that holds them all, and we are the mystery out of which all this beauty comes. So, it is good to drink coffee, to marry and to fall apart if that’s what helps us learn, to desire and wonder, and walk where our feet take us and talk madly and quietly and angrily and kindly and sometimes not at all and to use our limbs and hands to live this incredible thing that is life. And in the end to fall back into the earth after the wild beautiful riot of the body is finished.
We are the rain and the rained on. The body and the source. And so, I think, I was visited with an angel in my dream, with wild shoots growing out of his finger ends, kindly pointing the way.
Photos by Kathleen Dunbar
I had a great time performing at Peri’s in Fairfax on 11/24/13 with my awesome band, The Better Devils: Thanks and Big Hugs to Gawain Mathews on Guitar, Paul Olguin on Bass, Jon Arkin on Drums, Joseph Feusi as Sound Tech and Videographer, Tamarind Free Jones for her love and Album Photography, and Jennifer Cortright for her love and a fab Green Room! Rock on! Here’s my original song, Lilah!
Please have a listen to me on this video!
Imagine being taken on a journey in the dream language of a medicine woman, with luscious percussion, backwards guitar, a whale’s voice, a thunderstorm . . . and that’s just the first song!
Let Blue Lilah take you with her through sea deeps, windy deserts and wild jungles. She casts her enchanting spell for you from the healing dreamtime! Her magical vocals ride on the rhythms of ancestral drums, gorgeous guitar tendrils and big-heart-beat bass. Your invitation is awaiting . . . join her in an adventure in her wild world! Blue Lilah—enchanting, entrancing: new age-ambient-trance-journey music.
Blue Lilah’s music is my offering to you to celebrate yourself in the dance that is the connection of all life. It is a gifting of my music, voice, energy, and sounds for your pleasure. It is my invitation to you, my listeners, to dive into a healing journey. Please use it in whatever forms “move” you!—Dance, meditation, journeying, relaxation, movement exploration, yoga, birthing, healing!
The inspiration for Blue Lilah arises out of my many years of exploration in healing work as both practitioner and recipient, as well as being a recording and performing musical artist. By healing, I mean those practices that transform us through awareness into more whole beings. Healing, for me, is the idiosyncratic and courageous willingness to entertain with as much compassion as we can muster all the guests that visit us daily: joy, fear, pain, love, boredom, anger. We heal when we are able to sit at the banquet and honor it all: Savor what is wonderful, weep for what is sad, laugh with delight and then clean up the plates and glasses and get up in the morning and do it all over again: cook, wash the dishes, play, create, work, dream, love—experiencing all of this makes us alive!
To fully participate in one’s lived life, I believe that consciousness asks us to simultaneously open heart-and-mind to wider perceptions while at the same time grounding the wide-flung doors to the awesome in divinely practical and magnificently ordinary acts of our bodies: being with the sensations of our bodies, using our hands to help and hold and express, using our legs, arms, muscles and hearts to dance, work, laugh, kiss, and joyously sing.
Some of the ways I’ve personally explored healing and transformation as a recipient and as a guide are: shamanic practices, biodynamic cranial-sacral work, Jungian and archetypal exploration, energy work, dance, experiential psychotherapy, trauma work, Mind-Body Integration, sand tray, wilderness quests, Continuum movement practices, and lots and lots of Music! I honor the riches I’ve received from all my teachers and all my lineages. They are present in the music I make and I thank them!
A “word” about my language in the songs you hear! I am a storyteller. I’ve made poems since I could speak—please check out my blog at kathleendunbarblog.com. In the Blue Lilah project, instead of telling a story with English words, I was drawn to listen in to what tones, vibrations, emotions, and expressions wanted to be sung, and to channel the Sounds themselves into the story they wanted to tell. Using such a “language” you are free to intuit your own meanings and bring your own associations. I want you, my listeners, to make up your own stories to what you hear, so that you are drawn in to your own discoveries and explorations. The songs are deliberately long enough for a hearty journey.
The “songs” came to me in a variety of ways. There were nights at home at 1:00 A.M. pouring out my numerous voices into Garageband as a rough draft, later working it out and practicing with my little Oxygen keyboard, and finally polishing it up in the studio. Other sections are inspired live jams in the studio with my awesome multi-instrumentalist producer and guitarist, Gawain Mathews. His creative hand is, literally, in all the instruments you hear: guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, shakers. In this particular album he makes his debut at professionally whistling into bottles—he enthusiastically granted my whim, filled up a root beer and a fancy water bottle with the right amount of liquid to get two perfectly pitched notes, and “played” the thus-made instrument superbly as accompaniment to my singing. Such inventiveness and humor inform our creative adventures. Being a good sport, before embarking on one new track, Gawain agreed to let me lead him on a guided meditation. He lay comfortably under a soft blanket on the rug in his cozy kitchen as I drummed on my hand drum (which you will hear in the song) and his journey washed him up on a mythical shore where some tribal acoustic folk welcomed him into their musical circle. He was happy to join them, provided they allowed him to play his electric guitar, and do it his way. It is our good fortune that they agreed. At the end of Gawain’s journey we had a proper cup of tea (he is British, and so are my grandparents) and embarked on the song, Medicine Journey. Go spirits! Gawain and I have known one another through many years of musical adventures in another genre. This album is my dive into my inner world to manifest it for you all and take you with me on my musical adventure. Gawain is a prolific producer, multi-instrumentalist, dear friend, amazing musician, and not surprisingly, the current guitarist for the touring Mickey Hart Band.
Another “back story.” The few words I use in “English” that begin Who Holds The Power were given to me in a dream when I was in my mid-twenties—I awoke remembering the words, and also the invitation that came with them—I knew the verses were a riddle and an answer to the riddle, though the meaning was deliciously elusive and has been a guide to me to dive further into myself to understand it. The riddle for me has pointed to a way of life, a work in progress, a trajectory for Kathleen! I invite you to dive into your own riddle and all the wonderful messiness, high artistry, and joy of living that is wonderfully, idiosyncratically you.
who hold the power
to turn the key
that opens the three stones
who holds the power?
standing in the shadow
my cupped hand holds darkness
turning to the east
I bend my shadow low
Why Blue? My ancestors were The Blue People—the Picts and Scots who painted themselves blue. I have been known to be blue from head to toe, inviting my friends to celebrations at Ocean Beach. I did this “back when”—I was blue way before The Blue Man Group and Avatar got popular.
The smile on my mouth right now is the beautiful flower of the feeling I have in gifting you with these songs. It is the expression of my beating heart, my breathing lungs, my outstretched hand. It is strengthened by love, watered by tears, nurtured by touch, deepened with receiving, and widened by giving. Here, my loves, is an offering of my songs for you to journey with into the ever-creative expression of yourself in this wild life!
Here’s a peek into my “Day Job” (which I love!) as an experiential psychotherapist!
I came upon this extraordinary piece of “medicine” in Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces. This “poem” is an utter gem from a longer healing work and very sacred story of the Dinee (Navajo) People. I began to use it as part of my spiritual practice. I’d do my usual going inside into a meditative state while listening to music (I am, after all, a musician, and music is a main vehicle for me to meditate). And then I’d ever-so-slowly inwardly repeat the medicine poem. From the first time I’ve done this, I’ve always had extraordinary experiences—profound expansion, groundedness, peace, awe at life, delight, love. My body released its aches as I felt nourished by a deep sense of aliveness flowing through me.
I began applying my experience as an offering for the clients in my psychotherapy practice. When a client expresses a longing for a greater experience of Self, a transpersonal thirst, an awakening of personal and universal truth, I suggest an exploration: “I have an idea! How about a visualization! It’s based on a poem from the Dinee people. First I’ll introduce you to one of the words they use, so you can bring your own experience to it. Then I’ll recite the poem several times and you can see where it takes you!”
With the client’s agreement, I ask them to close their eyes and send them inside to their best poem-listening-to place. First I invoke their response to the word “pollen” as the Dinee use it:
I begin, “In this poem the Dinee use the word ‘pollen.’ For them, pollen isn’t the make-you-sneeze stuff. For them, pollen is the life source, and the pollen path is the path to the center. Pollen for them is corn pollen, and it has a very sacred story. . .
“. . . Let yourself imagine a field of corn, tended by the people of the village. When the people see the corn, they see an amazing story, for corn is one plant that needs human hands to help it grow. In fact, corn will die without humans to help it. If a corn cob falls into a field the kernels cannot make it through the tough husk to resprout—they need to be taken by human hands and planted. Long ago corn did not have the shape it does today, it was small and wild, and in order to feed the people, they learned how to bring the corn to the form we know now. The Dinee people see the growing of corn as a pact between the human and the divine. The source of life shows up in the corn, but it must be tended to by human hands in order to be used . . .
“. . . So the people of the village are alive with this amazing gift. In the corn they find the magical bridge between oneness and diversity, between the sublime extraordinary and the magnificent ordinary. It’s the story of the connection of infinite and finite. It’s the sacred dance of oneness and duality. For the Dinee, the life source gives the people the food to feed them, and the people receive it and use their hands and wisdom to plant and harvest. But it’s much more than that—it’s the story of the creation and life, and a way of right relationship with all things. It’s a lived acknowledgement of the kind of partnership that makes a deeply lived life possible. The symbol of this partnership is the pollen of the corn, where it all happens. The Dinee always save the corn pollen and use it in ceremony . . .
“. . . Let yourself see the people of the village gathering the corn pollen, and how in their hands they gather the meeting of the divine and the human. They celebrate a sacred event where life force manifests its connection with the earthly. The divine and the human come together, not only to feed the people of the village, but to nourish their spirits with the great sacred story of life. . .
“. . . So that is a little of what the word pollen signifies in this medicine poem. And now let yourself feel into that word pollen, and feel into the experiences from your own life that resonate—how you are longing for that sacred dance, or the times in your life that you have experienced the meeting of the two, and the sacred story. And like all good stories, let it be beyond your mind to understand, let the understanding come from your heart.”
Then I invite the client to take a few deep breaths, settle into their chair, and give me a nod when they are ready. I then, really slowly, recite the poem several times . . . and wait.
Put your feet down with pollen.
Put your hands down with pollen.
Put your head down with pollen.
Then your feet are pollen;
your hands are pollen;
your body is pollen;
your mind is pollen;
your voice is pollen.
The trail is beautiful.
I am always astonished at the response this poem evokes! Clients experience a profound, grounding, uplifting, expanding access to the Self connected to the Web of Life. It is always extraordinary and lasting—something we often refer to in future sessions. For one client it was a deep turning point in the therapy.
As a variation, after I speak about the pollen, I put on some trippy music, let the client listen for a while, and begin to repeat the poem several times while the music is playing, letting the effects of the poem and the music take the listener on a journey.
Of course I am giving only a very abbreviated version of what pollen holds for the Dinee, a little sketch of a great spiritual treasury. I honor their wonderful ways. I thank the Dinee and their medicine people for their wisdom and generosity in gifting us with these sacred words. Here is a good resource to learn more about The Pollen Path: Source of the Sacred: Navajo Corn Pollen
For some trippy music to journey by, please listen to my just released Blue Lilah trance-journey-new age CD Medicine Songs. I’m happy to share my music. Find it at bluelilah.com
Photos by Kathleen Dunbar, Mono Lake Area