The Power of Story…

I was recently involved in a Swedish Radio English language recording about the Arthuriad, Glastonbury, and Tintagel. I was speaking from the view of one training in druidry and in particular about the power of stories in our lives. I am studying Ovate Grade with OBOD, am in my 15th year of membership, this is supported amongst other things by degree level training in Life Coaching (including CBT, counselling, NLP). 

Being alive is to me about growing and learning, when we stop growing and learning we stop being fully alive. One of the primary mistakes people make about story is to think it’s for children, in reality although they can be a great way for children to learn, they are also wonderful ways for adults to continue learning. It’s more accessible, enjoyable and comfortable to most adults than school environments ever could be. Sitting around with a drink and listening to entertainment, is usually more appealing than being lectured. It’s popular to consider the ways in which we grow emotionally, socially, and mentally; the ideas and rules which guide us, as internalised characters – familiar to many is the Inner Parent who cautions us not to do certain things. I like to consider another character: The Inner Storyteller, who understands the compelling power of a narrative flow; the attraction of archetypes; and their characteristic and typical behaviours. When we are faced with situations we find challenging he can lay out a guiding path for us based on his stories. The more traditional story, folktale, myth, and legend we feed him the better informed he can become. Often the work of feeding the Inner Storyteller, of learning from myth and legend, is done subconciously, whilst the concious mind is busy just having fun enjoying an adventure.

Stories let us test ourselves in new situations, safely, with pain limited to imagination, and sympathy, and with time to reflect on actions and consequences. We are able to explore relationships and their possibilities and their depths and correspondences. Some have very direct lessons, some are more generic.

Igraine’s tale, or that of the Loathley Lady teach us that all is not always what it seems. Many teach us to consider warnings when we are given them and take them onboard. Loathley lady tells us about good relations with our partner: The man is literally a monster, until he learns about treating women well. She, in her turn, becomes a thing of beauty when given her free will. Stories can teach us that though fear is sometimes useful, sometimes we have to face it down and go ahead in spite of it. Tales can teach us, very importantly of the path a situation might take and possible consequences of our actions, beyond those we intend to result. Even when we don’t conciously process these stories their lessons lodge in our subconcious and help guide us in new situations.

They are especially useful if we have things which are too scary to face directly, or too painful to deal with now. Bereavement especially can be supported with story. A story can start the processing of situations for us in our unconcious, letting it move through at it’s own pace, until it’s ready for bringing into conciousness. Sometimes we will hear a story later, when the work is part done, and clearly recognising the parallels to our lives.

Stories are again useful for the subconsious to use as material to work with when in denial, or if we haven’t realised the reality of the situation, even situations which are simply unusual to the subject.

Stories can help us understand that newness. Story helps us put a narrative frame on situations which are too overwhelming for us to deal with alone, when the story provides support. They can make sense of what seem to be scattered, random, experiences which are incoherent. With the recognition of patterns, and glimpses at the shape of narrative flow and the trends, the confusing and erratic events can start to make sense and become comprehensible. With better understanding we can make better choices.

Our Inner Storyteller has a sense of narrative built of the structure of all the stories they’ve been fed (so we have to be careful what stories we feed ourselves). Whether we intend it or not we tend to follow where we think the story goes, in the areas we have choice over. With the areas we don’t have concious choice about, more experience of story allows us to better project where our tale might go and gives us alternatives if we stop to consider all the possible outcomes, rather than just our intended goal. Iit is a classic wisdom that we go where we are looking, but though there is value in focussing on where we want to be that doesn’t mean there isn’t also value in being aware of the possible alternatives so we are prepared if it doesn’t turn out as we expect.

Many people make mistakes through focussing on a goal and committing simple solitary actions which they think are the single essential thing to achieve the goal. Better exploring story, the whole journey to the goal; the possible detours and challenges faced; the journey after the goal; what it is like. Thinking of that important gem of stories: detail, we get to consider more of the likely results of our actions and again are likely to make better choices. It equips us to not be easily deterred if we realise most journeys have challenges and detours, happily ever afters generally follow a number of committed quests followed with a passion, immediacy, and trust, rather than a single entitled step in the right direction.

So that is a part of how I think regular intake of stories keeps some very special parts of us alive and growing. How, in return, do we keep the stories alive and growing? Essentially by listening to tellings of them, and to many different tellings at that. By keeping their tellings alive, and growing, breathing and flexing. If we aren’t a performer ourselves (and not everyone is) then remember: an audience is still important to any storyteller, and attentive ones who value the stories especially so.

Stories grow of their own accord. As stories are told by people in a society they are subjected to changes. It’s like evolution, little changes happen, they grow. Some may say – so write them down to keep them pure. This is useful for recording one form of the story, but the living story is a changing thing, just like people. If they are told by a teller who has connection with the story then the changes are in keeping with it’s spirit and help keep it strong and fresh. Sometimes variations happen just for one telling, when this happens it will often turn out there was a member of the audience who needed to hear it told that way for their own growth. (Stories volunteer themselves unexpectedly into sets on these grounds too).

Writing down a story to record it does two main things: it nails it to one set telling, typical of it’s time and it’s teller, the subtle influences of the moment are made stronger. This need not be a problem so long as the reader reads many different versions of the story. More troublesome is that it records that version as a “True and Correct” version of a tale and some will inevitably then misunderstand and challenge that other versions cannot also be true. This is especially dangerous when it may have been conciously manipulated for political and personal ends. At this point a story can be soured or wounded, it can become less capable of healing, or even likely to do harm.

I know of at least one storyteller who objects to Lancelots inclusion in the tale of Arthur. Lancelot was added to a story of an English hero, by a French author, at a time when England and France were mostly at war. Lancelot is a Frenchman who cuckolds the English hero and shows his English woman to be faithless. Even his name is a crude joke on his prowess. His and Guineveres romance bears a strong resemblence to Tristan and Isolde, a far less political tale. It appears it may have been welded on for political effect, doing a disservice to both tales. Can you be sure Lancelot isn’t just a piece of propoganda rather than an original part of the tale?

This is where folk legends can really struggle with being written down.  With tales being spoken and passed from teller to teller variations happen and chinese whispers can impact singular tellings from time to time such that they are further from a typical telling of the tale. When this happens the core narrative and the archetypal roles, (the inner storytellers of the storytellers if you like), will pull the oral tradition back onto course. What is told is more likely to end up ringing true with our subconcious, more likely to reflect classic and typical challenges and roles. A living story becomes something which has many many different true versions, some similar, some more disparate. Any erratic extreme version of the story is likely to have less impact on the whole so long as there are many versions, as it is further from the psychological core of the story, just so long as it isn’t written down and consequently repeated more often than it’s siblings.

Not that I would want to stop people writing stories down, I would just urge everyone to remember that written down it’s a snapshot of a how a story was once upon a time; it is not in itself then a living growing tale; and remember that it takes many different snapshots to really get close to a proper idea of what the original looks like and moves like.

Living stories are likely to be far more powerful in connecting us to archtyes, speaking to the collective unconcious and awakening our own sense of narrative.

So I believe being fully alive is to be continually learning and growing, and that stories are a superbly fashioned tool to support this. I think of stories as something we all benefit from having in our lives more. In our modern lives we search for them in films and TV, and sometimes we find an outstanding show which somehow has more resonance than others, often this is because it is connecting in the way traditional storytelling does. Sometimes it can be less potent thanks to the processes of production and polish, creating distance from the teller and tale, but the best directors don’t let the distance show and produce very moving films. To my mind though a good storyteller and willing ears, and an imagination that is allowed to exercise itself fully with whole other worlds on a regular basis will always make for tales with more immediacy, connection and potency to heal us.

Through story we live wider lives than the practical surroundings allow, we practice for the rest of our existance and we inform our future, there is a simple caution for those keen to fill their heads with all and every story.

Since we tend to follow the paths we are most familiar with we also need to be careful of what stories we feed ourselves. As with food the modern world provides options which are not necessarily healthy or beneficial to us.
Too many tragic romance novels and a young woman is not only more likely to end up in abusive relationships, but once there her narrative will tell her that her role is normal and to stay and suffer. To many action films based on hostility and aggression: then that can become the default method of communication and response. But sit down and listen to a great telling of “The Maiden Wiser than the Tzar”, or “Black Bull of Norroway” and you are more likely to expect of yourself clever lateral thinking and a determination to strive honestly and skillfully to achieve your goals. From many traditional tales also comes the learning to love, appreciate and value what you already have even whilst you strive to improve your lot.

I love, appreciate and value the massive pool of stories our combined cultures have already produced, I hope I never run out of stories to feed to my Inner Storyteller, and that I never stop learning, after all what more is there. I am very lucky that my partner is a professional storyteller
(The Travelling Talesman*) but that aside I would still urge anyone and everyone to regularly give their time and energy over to listening to good storytellers telling great tales. Who knows how you’ll benefit from it, and if nothing else you’ll enjoy being entertained honestly and well.

* The Travelling Talesmans website is http://www.thetravellingtalesman.co.uk  and his blog, Folk Tales Corner is http://thetravellingtalesman.wordpress.com

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Book review of Crafts of a Kitchen Witch (Rachel Patterson)

Kitchen Witchcraft is a lovely little introduction to this area.

It covers the basics, such as cleansing a space; moon phases and energies; cycles of the year; and the elements and their correspondences. Many on pagan paths will be familiar with these ideas but since these correspondences vary and the aspects of an element which are significant in other paths may also differ it’s always useful to have it included, even if some of it is already familiar, otherwise inaccurate assumptions could happen. It also means it’s fully equipped as an introductory text on the subject.

I saw some reviews of this book mentioning recipes and I have to confess I was rather expecting some recipes for food with magical intention. Therefore I think I should mention, to save others from the disappointment, that most of the recipes referred to are what many of us would think of as spells, or recipes for incenses or herb baths rather than recipes for meals; though that said it wouldn’t take much to apply the principles and ideas contained in the book to your normal cooking to create your own magical meals.

There are a generous number of these recipes, along with meditations to practice and other Kitchen Witchcraft advise. It reads easily and smoothly and leaves the reader with a fairly clear insight into the authors practices and ideas.

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All in all a worthwhile read, which lays out the basics of Kitchen Witchcraft clearly and offers a great range of things for the reader to get on with trying.

And of course the extra bonus, that it’s printed on lovely soft paper like so many of the moonbooks titles are.

If you’re curious about this area, then this book will answer your questions and give you enough information to go crack on with your own kitchen witchcraft.

Book Review of A Druid’s Tale (Cat Treadwell)

A Druid’s Tale is an excellent collection of essays. That said there is still a coherence which runs through it.  Each chapter stands alone well as a thought provoking read, and yet the book still has the sense of being a whole, which many collected essays fail to achieve.

Cat Treadwell does a fine job of illustrating the values and principles held by many druids, whilst being clear that though her view is an honest reflection on druidry, that it is a very personal path, that the variations are actually typical of those following the druidic path.

Having followed training, read many books, and practiced druidry in my own life I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be taught new lessons by this book, which is as well because it doesn’t attempt to do that. It is neither a how to or a strict definition of druidry. It is more a compelling illustration with ideas and questions which challenge you to continue to grow for yourself.

I have in the past suggested people read Bobcat’s book on druidry to get a more detailed idea of what it means to some of us, I think any suggestions now will also include this one as between them they will give a far more comprehensive impression of what druidry is to many of us.

All in all it was an enjoyable read; one which I have every intention of revisiting every now and again as I found myself enjoying reading it sufficiently that I might have raced through it rather faster than would help me get the most from it. I’m looking forward to re-reading it and letting it inspire me to action and thought again sometime soon.

(link to the book on amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Druids-Tale-Cat-Treadwell/dp/1780991134/ref=cm_cr-mr-title )

A book review of Pathworking through Poetry (Fiona Tinker).

Fiona Tinker writes a very personable book. Although this book has structure and order and is packed with information, it feels like having a good chat with a very knowledgable lady about interesting ideas. Rather than try to cast her net too wide she keeps the examples to a few poems focussed on a couple of specific characters. As she explores in the book the poems meaning in this world, and the characters interactions in other worlds, you start to get a sense of how much more there is to explore in a pathworking. Worlds, just as soon as you put down the book and open your mind.

The author doesn’t waste time describing what 1001 other pagan “how to…” guides are more than happy to dictate to you, the casting of circles and the like, that is taken as read and left to the reader to sort out what they are doing, what their tradition or practice suggests. This book is all about the journey of exploration and learning that can be found on a good focussed pathworking and having quality poetry as the gateway into that journey.

Fiona’s knowledge of both poems and celtic mythology is strong (and this comes from someone who lives with a professional storyteller who has spent over 20 years studying mythologies of norther europe). I loved the way she is able to heap information about the mythologies, the characters and back stories into the text. This is delivered elegantly and smoothly, without it once departing from the sense of a relaxed conversation. At no point was there any sense of her showing this off or overloading, it was all palatably presented in the way to best stimulate your own knowledge and ideas.

This is not a text book nor an instructional, it is not a poetry book, or a book of literary criticism – what it is is something greater than all of these, and yet essentially combining elements of all, smoothly and with a clear purpose. An enjoyable read, filled with useful stimulating ideas and passages, built around a wonderfully sound concept, which seems so obviously of great value I wonder the book wasn’t already in existance. It seems like poetry as a basis for pathworking, and pathworking to better understand and engage with poetry should be a normal practice, a traditional one we have been at for years, something referred to in school even as one of the most powerful ways to interpret poetry; and yet I would bet that this will be a new concept to many, even those who already practice one part or the other.

As well as a lovely addition to your own shelves it would make a great gift for anyone who has an interest in either poetry, pathworkings (narrative based meditations) or paganism.

Basically – Buy it – you won’t be dissappointed.
🙂

Book Review of Grey Witches Grimoire (Amethyst Raine)

A grey witches grimoire does what it says on the tin. It is a fairly comprehensive but concise introduction to witchcraft from the viewpoint of the grey witch. (That is as opposed to a pure and good white witch who might be a little over fluffy at times and a dark and wicked black magic practitioner – a middle ground of a witch who recognises her own human quirks and is willing to take a few steps more into forcing her will on the world around her, sometimes over other people). As with any publication on witchcraft or paganism there are areas which individuals will disagree on, or feel were represented in a way one wouldn’t oneself, but here they are mostly not any great issue and don’t detract from the book as a whole or it’s usefulness. (Which is in itself quite an achievement).

The authors style is personal and readable and again moonbooks are printing on paper which is lovely and soft to the touch and is a pleasure to handle, making the pages easy to turn in more than one way.

Not every spell detailed is one that every reader will be comfortable with as it includes curses and spells to influence the will of another.
Many witches will shy away from such practices, either on ethical and moral grounds, or because of concern for the consequences and unexpected repercussions; not to mention the responsibility you bear when practicing such work is great; and some even avoid taking those steps because they consider there to be healthier approaches to problem solving with reduced personal cost. However for those who are happy with taking on full personal responsibility for these actions themselves who want materials to help them work along the shadowier areas of magic, this should prove to be a good and useful resource.

Personally I would have liked to see the reasons why others don’t go there examined a little more, there is a general impression that the author thinks of being focussed on good, light, positive work as being weak or fluffy-bunny (of which there is a lot around admittedly), missing the fact that it too can be fierce and powerful. That said, quite where white ends and grey begins is probably variable from person to person and subject to some degree of debate too. Either way it is addressed sufficently that the author could not be accused of maliciously leading the naieve astray without any warning. Even if that warning is brief. It is after all always our own responsibility to think carefully about what we do anyway, be it magical or mundane.

Anyone familiar with most mainstream witchcraft publications will find familiar ground in much of what is offered here, though it does address it all from the angle of grey witch in particular, which is bound to be refreshing to anyone who bucks at always being told what they must or must not do or anyone who dislikes someone else’s morals being superimposed on information. Even if you’re not planning on following through and exercising curses against others it could still be a useful read and definitely stimulates thought.

It is also nice and clear about being grey not black, although there is a fairly heavy curse or two and there are items on breaking up a couple and causing conflict in relationships. I personally find the relationship interference really quite unpleasantly malicious as an intention, I’m not sure where that is grey over just plain black and negative, and I expect it will be mostly used in totally selfish, and often inappropriate ways.
I’m sure some people will welcome it, and the learnings they get as a result will doubtless help them grow; I’m just not sure I’d want the authors karmic come-back for helping to enable those malicious savagings of the love of others over petty jealousy that are inevitable.  Given part of the target market of the author is likely to be teenagers with all the emotional turmoil that brings it’s bound to happen and when it comes down to it it will be her spell being used, there’s got to be some responsibility attached.

Thankfully keeping in the grey it doesn’t actually delve all the way into planning serious savage harm to anyone and much of the grey areas are bindings and are about protecting you and yours which to my mind generally sits in quite a white space really.

It wisely includes a little on self protection, however, given that like does attract like, both in general and on other planes, I would also recommend that anyone throwing malice and friction, hostility and harm, spite and vengence around; anyone aiming that at other people, whatever the targets offense, also learns about protecting themselves well and possibly also reads up on other titles such as Dorien Valiente’s Psychic Self-Defense and is ready to take her advice and abstain from any magical practices should they find themselves under any serious attack as a result of practicing the darker
aspects of grey magic, as naively escalating could get messy and I’m quite sure this book has more than enough in it to act as a potent springboard for anyone intent on destruction. The only question is of whom.

All in all a satisfactorily written and probably rather useful little publication, especially appealing to those who see themselves in the shadows rather than too squeaky clean. Also very unusual in that although it would appear to be american (from the spelling of gray and the mentions of hoodoo) there are no glaringly uncomfortable cultural conflicts.

Book review of Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living (Melusine Draco)

My first impressions of this book were good: inviting image on the cover, clear print, and most noticably pleasantly soft to the touch. That may seem an odd place to start but it was what first grabbed me. Not only do the pages not try to slice your fingers but it gently lies open at the page you ask it too which results in a more relaxed reading experience all round. No bracing against pages trying to close and loose your place.

The book itself is written in a very individual voice. It is, as the title suggests, a treatise on and an introduction to
practicing traditional witchcraft with the limitations of our towns and cities. It achieves this competently and characterfully
and much of it is very clearly drawn on the authors personal experience. It is not a training course and it is not an encyclopedia. Neither is it a clear and simple guide book or an instructional to lead you through every step.
Certainly there is information in here on festivals and of correspondences; a list of many types of divination and their names; and a run down of the major arcana of tarot; but it does not attempt to cover any of them in great depth. Throughout the information sections are mostly just sharing as much as is needed to keep everyone up to speed on the discussion and teachings as they continue.

It is broken into chapters by different areas, but they still have the feel of flowing one to another as a continuing conversation. The mention of a subject in one chapter doesn’t limit it to that spot, things naturally overflow a little and reflect back to earlier points as one does in conversation. This makes it readable as an extended essay and it takes you with it through the trains of thought, something carefully categorised reference texts can tend to lack. It is by no means a sterilised catalogue of witchcraft.

The first chapter encourages connection with the elements – where so ever we find them. Similarly the second and third look at countryside and creatures, with the admirable encouragement to work with what you know; to increase what you know and the great wisdom inherent in focussing on those whom might actually share your environment rather than just creatures of your hopes, dreams and fantasies.

The author then moves to areas many may think of as more typical of witchcraft and it’s urban challenges – the psychic environment and pollution faced by those towns and cities. Next to observance of festivals, including practical considerations designed to avoid arkward explanations to officials and concerned neighbours, cautionary tales to make you think twice. Here again there is some useful basic information, more importantly we hear an interesting voice challenging us to think for ourselves and craft something appropriate from our Craft, especially when faced with challenges such as rooms in modern hutches being smaller than a typical traditional circle is considered to be.
We are then onto chapters of seeing and being: that is scrying or divination and green sacred spaces which are addressed again with seed information, clearly designed not to bottle feed the audience pap but to encourage the interested reader to search for more information elsewhere. Throughout the book suggestions of starting points for those very elsewheres are offered in the form of occasional ideas for further reading and the back of the book has a reasonable list which will also help.

The next chapter has a mixed character, and is hard to summarise. Amongst other areas it looks at religion and talks about personal characteristics as well as ethics and our relationship with sacred spaces. Interestingly it suggests how different religions overlay their own glaze on sacred places and how to see through that. Finally the book is rounded off with a responsible pointer to some of the changes to be expected from such development and how they are exacerbated in the urban environment.

I personally differ from the author in that i feel that even if we cannot make ourselves anywhere near perfect and although knowing ourself properly is nigh on impossible, it is still a worthwhile pursuit. By attempting and achieving a part, if never the whole, then we stimulate our own growth and can at least address any major imbalances, or at least recognise them. Certainly the mirror is watery and easily disturbed and distorted, but we will still learn more by looking into it than we do by ignoring it. In proportion and balance that self knowledge is an important grounding which equips us to grow forward on healthy stable foundations. Skipping a stage because it is hard to do is seldom the best option in any path of learning, and since spiritual and magical development will often exagerate characteristics, personal damage and idiosyncracies I would have thought encouraging learning, about oneself (as well as ones environment) as a foundation gives the student the best chance of a healthy survival in society in general. However, each to their own, self knowledge is not criticised, simply excused from the syllabus as an intentional subject and left to be an inevitable unplanned learning.

On the whole the very individual voice is rather refreshing and personalises the whole piece in a very honest way, even in areas of differences.

In a world where many books are layed out in idiot proof bullet lists with clear sharp tables or logical sub-headings declaring the absolute laws of a subject, it does seem more appropriate that this very personal subject should be addressed in this distinctly personal way.

For me the only real weak points in the whole book were a couple of small and specific points when it occasionally got a little too personal and anecdotal and assumed that the authors attitude would be shared by the reader. But then it is a personal account and at no point does it pretend to be anything but and realistically over 20 years experience of traditional witchcraft (especially if much of it is in the sometimes oppressive  environment of the city centre) might understandably leave you with some strong views on some areas.

There is a slight risk that the rural or even suburban witch reading this might sometimes feel that she has somehow caused offense with her ready access to grass. She is (not always correctly) assumed to have automatic access to everything the urban witch misses, and no challenges of her own, but the author mostly manages to stay focussed on resolving the frustrations of the urban witch rather than perpetuating the myth that everything is perfect once you get to the countryside, and thus hopefully avoids feeding further dissatisfaction in the urban witch.

I found the implicit complaint about the nanny-state came across with an edge of a rant rather than the humour I think it was probably intended to have, which was a shame. It stood out enough as a sore spot that I wanted to address it:

I would like to kindly offer, if it is of any comfort to the author, or any other readers, that they might consider joining those of us who see Trick or Treating differently. We see it not as an offensive, greedy, materialistic American import, but as the echo of guising, a tradition which was recorded in Scotland in the 1800s, before any transatlantic export started. Certainly the kids don’t perform poems or songs for their rewards much nowadays, and on rare occasions the trick holds actual threat, but they do dress up in (dis)guise in the hope of rewards of sweet food or money which is leaves them at the core the same practice. So it really is just guising or galoshans after all, maybe a little updated and adapted to it’s modern mostly urban environment, but at it’s roots the same thing. In fact it has undergone very much the kind of adaptation which traditional witches are healthily encouraged to do in order to continue to practice in the urban environment in this very book. Guising has just acclimatised, then adapted and on top of that improvised with what is available in adopting Trick or Treat as the currently acceptable calling phrase in the same way that the ancient venerated pagan yew may sit happily in the christian churchyard. It’s still the same thing underneath.

All in all Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living made a generally enjoyable read, with the odd challenge to ideas here and there. It was usefully stimulating to turn to and interestingly individual in it’s voice. As a review of it’s earlier incarnation of “Mean Streets Witchcraft” suggested, it is certainly possible if not likely that experienced urban witches might have come to many of these ideas themselves, however, the same could be said for many books and their ideas without it diminishing the value of the book at all. It doesn’t claim to have groundbreaking or totally new ideas, just useful and practical, pragmatic ones. This it does.

Reading Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living has left me interested in picking up copies of the Melusine Draco’s other books. Which to me is the real tell-tale as to whether it was worth picking a book up in the first place. I very much hope they are all also printed on this very pleasant soft paper.

CD review of Beginner’s Guide To Bellydance: Oriental and Tribal Fusion

I enjoyed the last “beginners guide to bellydance” album(s), in fact the whole series is generally good value and a handy introduction, however as before this one goes way beyond being just a good introduction, and has a great selection of tracks, well grouped on the three, yes three, different cds.

I’m a dance teacher and I’m often looking for something a bit interesting which isn’t the same old bellydance pop to use in class and this is awesome for that.

The oriental CD snakes its way around some beautiful tracks, some strongly traditional in their sound, others moving more to the club area, tho nothing too cheesy/drab pop at all, it’s all classy in it’s own way. It’s evocative of sinuous, heavily scented nights, of ripples and tucks, some with a sleek cabaret mood, some more gently influenced by folk, but all fresh and up to date in the mood of the world of bellydance now and tomorrow. Just the ticket for the elegant bellydancer.

The Tribal Style CD has that more folk edge to it, more drums, more repetitive patterns and a hint of the slavic influence, which is so popular lately, slipping in and having a groove with the ladies. It is, as if the elegant bellydancer is dancing a duet with her Eastern European sister.

The Tribal Fusion CD takes a whole new journey stretching away from bellydance traditions but reflecting with class the current trends for burlesque and it’s often germanic tunes, or again other grooving sounds from neighbours and cousins. Klesmer shows it’s face but there’s also some new music from the UK (which is somewhere in the area of hiphop gone folk – an unusually beautiful breed) and some other varieties of high quality music which tend to defy shoving into a single dull box. What it all is is engaging and dancable, but interesting. It’s as if those two dancing sisters went off to party together and yes, had an awesome time at some surreal and alternative venues.

All in all there’s something great about every track on this, triple, yes, for a bit over a fiver, THREE whole albums. Thats 39 great tracks, at this price they’re less than 16p per track, and every one of them has very clearly been carefully hand picked.

Every one of them is going to be a useful new track introducing a newbie to new areas of bellydance music, or a rich addition to a pre-existing collection. As a clue though it isn’t the same old tracks. I have about 40 bellydance albums, many of them compilations and there are inevitably overlaps. The only overlap I’ve noticed so far in this one is that I already have a couple of versions of Bucovina on a balkan compilation CD.

I love this album and can see it being played just as often as the previous album, which is a lot, and incidentally if you don’t already have that one you should get it too as it’s only £4.99 and is again loaded with gems, just gems of three years ago, where as this one is for today and tomorrow, the zeitgeist of bellydance is shimmying on down on this lovely set.

Oh and it’s a nice looking box which is cool on your shelf too, which is a nice extra touch that someone bothered about the artwork really suiting the music.

All in all excellently good value if you want a variety of music.

Oh and as a last thought, non-dancers should really enjoy it all too, being a great flowing variety, but I dare them to listen to the whole thing and not find themselves moving along to it at some point 🙂

I look forward to Volume three in a couple of years time.

Intent.

There is an expectation of a statement of intent in this first post.
An expectation I can hopefully partially meet with a few simple details.

Mostly this is is a repository for thoughts and ideas; statements of views and reasoning. As an active member of OBOD (Order of Bards Ovates and Druids) the study path I follow often unearths interesting ideas, some of the writing which arises from this will be posted here.

In addition this blog will contain other pieces of writing:

I write reviews.  I review books, music, shows, products and events.  They may be posted here.  This is often done as part of BFI R&R (research and reviews). Sometimes other BFI R&R work (the research) will throw up interesting information which deserves publishing, that too could end up here.  Extracts of creative writing are likely to get posted here too. Samples from potential books too may get an airing.

I am trained to degree level as a life coach, this means I have studied, amongst other things, theories and techniques of how we function, these include CBT and NLP and other similar ideas.  Any of these may trigger a post or contribute to one in another area.

I am also a dance teacher (Bellydance and ShimmyFit), I run an entertainments booking agency for unusual and special performances (Catspaw Authentic Entertainment) and I jointly run a knit/crochet group and my cats are an important part of my life.  My partner is also a musician and storyteller (The Travelling Talesman).  I expect all of these will at some point unearth themes to be explored here.


If you want to find out more the web sites are:
* BFI R&R is http://www.bluefeatherinspiration.co.uk/Research/
* Catspaw is http://www.catspaw.uk.net/
* The Travelling Talesman http://www.thetravellingtalesman.co.uk/
* My dance site http://www.shimmyfitdevon.co.uk/