Friday, 18 September 2009

THE CAULDRON OF CROWS : A WINTER JOURNEY BY CAROLYN HILLYER AS TEMPLATE FOR THE PROSE,MUSIC AND WORKSHOPS OF HILLYER AND SHAW THE LIFE AND WORK OF CAROLYN HILLYER AND NIGEL SHAWAS A RITUAL PROGRESSION

The Voices of Carolyn Hillyer and Nigel Shaw

Most of the songs [in the landmark collection Carolyn Hillyer, Nameless Drum:Songs,Words and other Voices,a Comprehensive Collection of One Hundred Songs and Chants,Dartmoor: Seventh Wave Music,2004 ]    have been created over the last thirteen years,a potent number which in itself suggested that this was a good moment to gather together the  material of music albums,paintings,books and workshop texts into one cohesive entity.This also represented an opportunity for me to take stock,to review the journey so far,and to clear the decks before embarking on a  new phase of work that I was anticipating might carry me into unfamiliar and challenging territory,as well as accompany the maturing of middle years.
There is,in fact,one song in this book that was written twenty years ago,when my first experience of prolonged and deliberate isolation (in the Nepalese mountains) allowed me at last to uncover my own voice.I probably sang and drummed Tread Gently fifty times in my mountain hut before it felt that this first song  had truly arrived and it was time to return to the valley.During that same journey,I  started to draw,over and over again,an image that had inspired me from the dark and oily carvings of an old wooden forest temple.Months later,back in English woods,a second song heralded the approach of my first pregnancy but it was another four years before the many sketches transformed into my first full-size paintings of a spirit-woman.Then the paintings came quickly,an exhilarating succession of shadowy faces and half-glimpsed forms.Gradually the images were brought into greater focus and my pace slowed.Following my move to Dartmoor's bleak wilderness,the paintings immediately deepened.And,significantly,with these paintings I realised I had now created mouths from which to hear voices.And the voices sang me songs (7-8).




CAROLYN HILLYER

Carolyn Hillyer is a composer of strong beautiful songs and raw inspiring chants, and a powerful performer in concert. She sings of ancient spirit and hidden memory, of ancestral roots and the deep experience of women in the weaving of courageous life paths. She has released eleven albums of work to date, both solo projects and creative collaborations with Nigel Shaw. Her songs are renowned for their unique perspective and compelling voice. As well as playing many drums in her performances and recordings, Carolyn is a drum-maker, creating traditional frame drums from skins and other materials sourced both on Dartmoor and during her journeys to the Arctic. She makes many of the instruments that she uses in concert including red deer, horse, reindeer, elk, salmon, horned, paddle, death and other ceremonial drums.

Carolyn is an artist, a painter of life-size images of archetypal and mythological women, the mystery cycles of womanhood and the sacred landscape in human form. Her paintings are exhibited within installations that celebrate the deep magic and integrity of the ancestral land - as an artist she is continually fed by the raw energy of the wild hills in which she lives. Her most recent exhibition THE NORTHERN SISTERHOOD OF DRUMS drew closely on her journeys during several winters into the frozen Arctic landscape, combining a life-size council of ancestral grandmothers with ceremonial drums and other shamanic totems gathered around a sacred winter house or traditional northern lavo. Carolyn also writes powerful mythic stories that explain and expand on the symbolism in her paintings and songs: some of her writings have been published as collections and source books both within the UK and Europe.


For over thirteen years Carolyn has been leading an ever-evolving programme of workshop journeys based around the themes of her work. They range from large inclusive celebrations of ancestry and pagan spirit, to longer intensive weekends for women at her farm on Dartmoor that establish an environment in which women can be supported and inspired in the exploration of their own sacred landscape and spiritual creativity.

Her albums such as WEATHERED EDGE and HOUSE OF THE WEAVERS have become classics, with many of her songs sung by others in chanting groups and dancing circles. CAVE OF ELDERS represents a departure from the rich and complex lyrics of her other work, being an improvised series of wordless songs, whereas the most recent DRUM SONGS FROM THE HEATHEN HILLS concentrates on the powerful union of voice and drum. Her work with the bands RIVEN and GLOBAL, as well as her creative collaboration with Nigel in the ANCESTOR and EXILE projects demonstrates a wilder unleashed approach to both voice and lyrics.



NIGEL SHAW

Nigel Shaw is a long-established composer and musician whose journey with music began nearly twenty-five years ago. He is also a wood carver and traditional flute-maker, making many of the instruments with which he performs and records. The inspiration for most of his music stems from the spirit of the land, with its cycles of power, mystery and gentle beauty. In the creation of his albums Nigel uses many ancient instruments including handmade wooden and clay flutes, traditional whistles and recorders, smallpipes, dulcimer, psaltery, Eastern European overtone flutes (including the fujara and the koncovka), many types of drum (including djembe, cahon and darabuka) and percussion. He combines these with sound recordings gathered from nature and contemporary musical instruments such as piano, harmonium and synthesisers, in a powerful fusion of ancient and new to create his unique landscapes of sound and soul-filled melodies as well as the dynamic tribal rhythms of his dance music.



For many years he has been handcrafting flutes using woods indigenous to Britain, such as yew, holly, thorn, ash and oak. He carves large wooden masks and totems inspired by the wild landscape. His most ambitious project to date has been the building of a large ceremonial Neolithic/Bronze Age style roundhouse, constructed from granite, oak trees and rye grass thatch. This sacred house, and a series of flutes carved from thirteen trees native to this land, sit at the heart of his recent album DARTMOOR ROUNDHOUSE, a cycle of flute songs recorded at night around the hearth fire.

He has produced a renowned and diverse collection of recordings from the best-selling improvised meditation album, THE RIVER, to the classical voice and exquisite lament of REQUIEM: WELL OF SOULS. His work also encompasses wilder strands of dance music with the bands RIVEN and GLOBAL, including the exotic dub/reggae improvisations of his most recent band DUBBLEHEAD. In recent years Nigel has initiated and produced some unique and exciting sacred world music projects, such as the triad of Japanese/Tarascan/English flute players BAMBOO CEDAR OAK, the extraordinary album ANCESTORS based around forgotten songs of tribal people from the Siberian Arctic, and the most recent work EXILE which draws on many world and ancient folk music influences to create a cross-cultural experience of the deep bond between the human spirit and the land that is called home.



DARTMOOR


Dartmoor is an area of wild moorland in southwest England, a mist-veiled landscape of hidden valleys and bare tors where the stone circles and settlements of ancient people exist at the fringes of present time. Nigel and Carolyn have worked on Dartmoor for over fifteen years, living with their family in a traditional longhouse at the centre of the moor. They draw much inspiration for their work from the primordial landscape that surrounds them and in recent years both their music and art have been creatively influenced and expanded by their travels and work alongside musicians and instrument makers in other cultures and lands encompassing northern ice, desert sands, island mountains and western seas. Carolyn and Nigel are internationally known musicians and have performed concerts on many countries including Japan, USA, Russia, Australia, the Arctic, the Baltic States, Jamaica and Central America as well as throughout Europe and the UK. As well as concerts and exhibitions, every few years they organise RIVENSTONE, a unique and intimate festival of sacred world music and ancestral roots held on their farm in Dartmoor.





M: CAVE OF ELDERS - A Soul Journey for Women
Carolyn Hillyer

A powerful and profound journey into the Cave, an intimate underworld, a hidden landscape of the soul. A journey of music formed by voices alone, but without words, voices that give form and song to the ancient Elders, our primeval mothers, who guide and urge us down through the chambers of the Cave, through Blood and Bone and Ash and Night and Moon. A sacred meditation, a raw act of magic. A place where the traveller may experience the journey inward and the journey of return.


This album was recorded live and improvised, over four days and nights. In an unusual departure from the songs and chants for which she has become well known, Carolyn has created a work using voice as the only instrument. A music landscape of many voices interwoven in complex layers giving expression to the ancient women Elders who dwell within our mythic underworld, the territory of the soul, the Cave.

The map of this Cave describes six levels; BLOOD (the journey inward), BONE (the descent), ASH (a distant place), THE CAVE-BEYOND-THE-CAVE (the rising), MOON (the journey of returning) with a seventh piece entitled What is the Cave?

The duration of the journey is one hour.

The Cave album evolved from the cycle of work called THE ORACLE OF NIGHTS which is available as a book

W:THE ORACLE OF NIGHTS (1999)

Binding together ritual, myth, drum and chant, this workshop enters the Oracle of Nights through a series of challenging encounters with the five protectors: toad, crow, spider, bat and mare. A black-wrapped journey into the cave, a descent into a personal territory of darkness and shadows, and an intimate exploration of underworld. A place in which to seek, confront and ultimately understand our fears...and from which to emerge again empowered.

M: SEVEN STONES
Nigel Shaw

This is a beautiful and dynamic recording reflecting aspects of the sacred landscape both without and within. The seven movements are each a key for entry into the circle of life and each represents a foundation stone of our nature.

The music features richly interwoven melodies and rhythms created on native American cedar flutes, samples (including flutes, harp, ocarina, cimbala), synthesisers, drums and percussion, and voices. It is a journey of sound and movement inspired by and created on Dartmoor, an area filled with the power and beauty of nature.


The titles of the seven movements are Gateway, Birth, Hearth, Broken, Altar, Dreaming, Sanctus.
Total album duration 51 minutes.

M: REQUIEM - Well of Souls
Nigel Shaw

THE WELL OF SOULS Requiem is based in part on the classical form of Mass for the Dead. However, this work is not dedicated to any specific religion but to a wider honouring of spirit. Much of the inspiration for the essence of this music was drawn from the requiem of the French composer Maurice Duruflé. He, along with Fauré, broke the accepted pattern of previous requiems by evoking feelings of love and hope in our passing, instead of fear and judgement. The Well of Souls Requiem is a personal interpretation of the journey through death yet this music is as much a celebration of life as a song for the dead. The literal translation of the Latin 'Requiem' is rest.


The EAGLE'S GIFT is the precious gift of life, the place from which the Requiem unfolds. Like water, the spirit is drawn from the WELL OF SOULS to experience life's moments of ecstasy and despair. A PRAYER is offered up that all may live and die with dignity, and honour this HALLOWED EARTH. The fragile being desires SANCTUARY, and calls out for a place of safety, until at death the soul tenderly whispers unto itself, REST GENTLE HEART, Compassion, forgiveness and MERCY are the graces which we can bestow upon ourselves. Together all living beings face the infinite and ETERNAL, moving beyond light and dark. OPEN and released, the soul takes flight on the everlasting quest for the SPIRIT OF EDEN.

Performed on piano and keyboards, wooden flutes, traditional whistles, and gentle percussion. The vocals were performed by Carolyn Hillyer.

M: ECHOES OF THE ANCIENT FOREST
Nigel Shaw & Carolyn Hillyer

Echoes of the Ancient Forest has now become one of our best selling albums and is highly recommended by many practitioners for massage, healing, relaxation and inspiration.

Willow, alder, hazel - a great forest once rolled in vast unbounded waves across the old land, an immense changing sea of damp shadow and green light pouring over the soil.
Birch, thorn, ash - the roots of the ancient trees reached into the deep heart of everything and their branches were locked in a perpetual dance. The forest nurtured all life within its wide embrace.
Oak, yew, beech - then the world briefly turned away and in that time the body of the forest was sacrificed until only its spirit was left. Now the few trees that remain grow within a ghost forest. But the murmur of ancient sap rises in their veins and the hidden memories of the great ancestor trees are held within their seed.

Holly, elder, rowan - the ghost forest is still here. It breathes sweet winds across the flat, dry fields and it's whisper echoes into the empty corners of the land, echoes of the ancient forest.


The roots of this album are natural recordings of forest sounds and birdsong from surviving ancient woodland on Dartmoor. Gentle improvisations of wooden flutes, traditional whistles, keyboard and voice are blended to evoke the atmosphere and delicate beauty of our lost forest.

Track titles: Willow, Birch, Oak, Holly.
Total album duration 65 mins.

M:THE SEVENTH WAVE
Nigel Shaw

The Seventh Wave evokes the ever-changing colours of the timeless and powerful ocean. Based upon recordings from the Atlantic coast of Southwest England and overlaid with inspired, improvised music, this album creates a gentle yet moving landscape of sound.


The Seventh Wave is comprised of two 24-minute pieces: LIGHT, featuring seagulls, bells, flute, strings and classical guitar, is clear, bright and uplifting. DEEP, featuring whale-song, pipes and synthesisers, is more hypnotic, creating images of the depths of the ocean.

Total album duration 48 minutes.

M:THE RIVER
Nigel Shaw

The River has become a classic album of its kind and, along with ECHOES OF THE ANCIENT FOREST continues to be one of our most popular albums. Not only is this recording an exquisitely beautiful musical composition but we have also been told by many therapists and healers how beneficial it has been to their work.




The River features natural sound recordings of river and birdsong gathered from Dartmoor, combined with Japanese and South American flutes, gongs, bells and synthesiser.

The River flows through four movements: Upstream, Downstream, Forest and Moor. This is a delicate album of stillness, space and texture. The River carries the listener on a journey into a secret place, another world that is both relaxing and healing.
Total album duration 62 minutes.

M:DARTMOOR JOURNEY
Nigel Shaw

This is a very special double CD which comprises of two beautifully presented albums, one featuring gentle and flowing flute melodies and a second of pure natural sounds of Dartmoor.

CD 1 Dartmoor JOURNEY is a musical journey created from a blend of natural soundsand ancient handcrafted flutes. Amoungst the many instruments used are the uplifting and clear voices of rosewood recorders; the deep resonant tone of the fujara (a 6ft long overtone flute from Slovakia); the powerful sounds of various Native American flutes; and gracefully melodic Irish whistles.
Dartmoor Journey is a simple and gentle reflection on nature and the pure heart of the land.

Track titles: Wind through the Reeds, Two Rivers, The Cry of the Dart.

Album length; 64 minutes




CD 2 Dartmoor THE SOURCE is woven together from the natural sound recordings made on Dartmoor over period of 15 years. Moving from windswept high moorland to rich wooded valleys, this album follows the River Dart from its source to the edges of the Dartmoor National Park. The recordings, which include the calls of the buzzard, skylark and heron, are interlaced with the gentle sounds of streams, rivers and waterfalls.

Album length: 47 minutes

M:DARTMOOR ROUNDHOUSE
Nigel Shaw

This beautiful new album features ancient flute songs recorded in a Dartmoor Roundhouse with instruments made from the wood of thirteen indigenous trees.The journey to create this album has taken over a year to complete. Each of the twenty or so flutes featured was specially made for this recording from indigenous woods sourced on Dartmoor. Each flute has its own voice within the grain of the wood. The flutes were recorded around the roundhouse fire, usually at night. These source recordings were then taken to the studio where some layers and effects were added to enhance the different atmospheres of each track. There were no other instruments used to create the sounds on this album, as the intent was to make a recording of pure acoustic sound within a natural environment.




All the flute designs were based on a Native American style but many are tuned to typically European keys. In total there are thirteen keys used on the album. They range through a full octave from a low C (Oak) to a high C (Willow). The result is one of the purest and simplest of recordings that carries with it the spirit of the Dartmoor Roundhouse and of our ancient ancestors.

Track list - Oak, Yew, Thorn, Beech, Rowan, Alder, Elm, Holly, Scots Pine, Hornbeam, Ash, Silver Birch, Willow.

M:THE LONE TREE
Nigel Shaw

This recording is based around the simple beauty and strength of wooden flutes, Cedar, Rosewood, Bamboo and Banyan flutes weave together layers of sound, accompanied by bells, gongs, keyboards and voices. The album comprises of four movements, each of fifteen minutes: Voice of the Well, Bird Spirit Land, Fire in the Night and the Lone Tree. They describe an elemental cycle as they move between the simplicity of solo flutes to more complex and dynamic arrangements.




As with the album SEVEN STONES, this recording draws inspiration from the spirit of Dartmoor, but also explores the mystery of all sacred land.

Total album duration 62 minutes.

M:ICE: Cold Songs from the Northern Sisterhood of Drums
Carolyn Hillyer

The cold songs tell a very old story, of lives and lands long hidden, of memories that lay frozen and wrapped within 25,000 years of time. The cold songs speak of the udegan ice women, who walked out from the blue glaciers and who are the embodiment of the most ancient relationship between human people and the deep spirits of these northern lands. The cold songs honour one thousand generations of ancestral mothers and the daughters who still feel the stir of ancient ice in their veins.

The songs on this album were birthed during a dark phase of the moon, in the deepest black of winter, through the long silence of the Arctic nights. The Northern Sisterhood of Drums is rooted in a time and landscape balanced on the most ancient and distant edges of our imaginations and collective memory. The sisterhood stems from the nine udegan (elder, witch, grandmother, shaman) who emerged many thousands of years ago from the glacial north of the last ice age, called out by our foremothers as they grew into their relationship with the primordial spirits of the cold lands. The udegan have accompanied us through a thousand generations of women’s northern spiritual traditions. They exist still within the frozen body of the Arctic and as memories of ancient ice far beneath the warmer skins and old melt waters of moor and forest, heath and grassland.


The album combines dark earthy chants and songs with skin drums, many of which were made especially by Carolyn for this project. Instruments include reindeer, horse, copper and salmon drums; rattles, bone whistle, wooden flutes, dulcimer, cimbala, jaw’s harp as well as source recordings made on location in the Arctic.

Tracks include: The Mending Drum, Bear Claw Dance, Dogsled Travelling Song, The Degna’s Dream of Fire, Wrapping the Bark, Dark Smoke Prayer, Spindle of Lights, and We will carry them forever in our scars.

Album time: 75 minutes

P:THE NORTHERN SISTERHOOD OF DRUMS

This series of nine intense and powerful life-size paintings was created as part of a cycle of work inspired by several winter travels into the Arctic landscape. A circle of primordial grandmothers or udegan (elder, witch, grandmother, shaman) sit together in council, representing a journey into deep archetypes, the power of the sacred drum voice and a women’s mystery that was born 25,000 years ago from ancient ice. The present day features of the frozen lands were once those of places far further south. By looking northwards towards the snow, we are able to trace old ancestral tracks along a distant time line and find a route into the indigenous memory of our own lands.

These prints are accompanied by the album ICE: Cold Songs.














M:WEATHERED EDGE
Carolyn Hillyer

This powerful collection of songs, wanders through an extraordinary landscape of delicate shadows, vast perspectives, beautiful secrets and dark ancestral memory. Here are songs for the deep roots of life, for the distant call of northern ice, for old magic, for love born from damp soil, for the woman who journeys to the far edges of herself.


The Weathered Edge songs are strongly crafted. The raw simplicity of the drum is complimented by dulcimer, piano and keyboards arrangements, as well as contributions of flute and whistle by Nigel Shaw. Carolyn's lyrics are powerful, tender and intense.

Tracks include.....Testimony, Nameless Drum, Ancestor Song, The Skin Mask, On Ghost Eve, Oldest Magic and many others.

W: WEATHERED EDGE: The Deep Landscape of Women (2002)

Ancient ragged spirit women, concentrated fusions of wild energy, gather in the Weathered Edge cycle of paintings and songs to create the gateway through which this workshop is experienced.We meet the concealer, the protector, the hunter, the summoner, the bestower, the visioner, the destroyer and the drummer. They are all shaped by weather, by season and by the hidden patterns of the land. They are formed from the deep life and death forces of nature. They help to shape the landscapes that we are. Through them we remember, rediscover and bind together a story that describes our own spirit land.

P:                                        WEATHERED EDGE
Ancient ragged spirit women, concentrated fusions of wild energy, gather in this cycle of life-size paintings, shaped by wild weather, by enduring seasons and by the hidden patterns of the land. They are formed from the deep life and death forces of nature and they dance the rhythms of the earth, the ebb and flow of the year and the deep magic to be found in the secret places of ancient wood and marsh and meadow.They help to shape the landscapes that we are - through the weathered edge we remember and bind together the story of our own spirit land.
These images were created over a two-year period. A range of organic and woven materials, and many elements of symbolic magic, were gathered during each seasonal phase to sew and weave into the dance skirts worn by the women. Beneath the skirts lie the hidden symbols and totems of the paintings. This cycle also celebrates the eight ancient festivals of the year.
These prints are accompanied by the album Weathered Edge
.

CLOUD
The Visioner

STORM
The Drummer


SNOW
The Protector

RAIN
The Bestower

WIND
The Summoner

SUN
The Destroyer



M:RIVEN INSIDE
Carolyn Hillyer and Nigel Shaw

This album encompasses much of the softer dynamic of Nigel and Carolyn's music. The tracks range from Nigel's delicate flute pieces and Carolyn's graceful and shadowy songs through to the strong tribal acoustic rhythms and unusual chants. The album is a strange and beautiful entanglement of soul-filled melodies and songs drawn from medieval, faerie and ancient pagan worlds.


Tracks include.... Be wary of lovers who come from the Greenwood, Mudhead Clowns, Strange enough Deep enough, Summer Blessing, The Lonesome Boatman and The Riven Stone.

Instruments include wooden flutes, traditional whistles, voice, frame drum, djembe, dulcimer, piano, keyboards and percussion.

Guest musicians; Brian Abbott on guitar and Domenic DeCicco (from Praying for the Rain) with additional vocals.
Total album duration 73 minutes.

M: SONGS OF THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE
Carolyn Hillyer & Nigel Shaw

A long river of time has passed since there were, dwelling in this wild and beautiful country, the Amber and Copper people, ancient clans of the high moors. They built with stone and worked with bone. They sung to the wonder of all life and their footsteps fit close into the earth. They were wed to the very soul of the land. This album represents their story. Inspired by an ever-deepening respect for Dartmoor and working with the ancient memory held within its granite heart, Carolyn Hillyer and Nigel Shaw have pushed forward their own musical boundaries to combine original and haunting song composition with an unusual and varied texture of instrumental pieces.


Instruments used include: handmade wooden flutes (oak, yew, rosewood, holly and pine), triple clay flute, whistles, reed pipes, herd whistle, frame and pot drums, djembe, rattles and shakers, voices and keyboards. In four principle movements this album encompasses complex rhythmic chants, uplifting gentle melodies and powerful song.

Track titles include: Walking as before, Where the Buzzard flies, Hearthstone Song, Beyond the Waterfall, Old Valley, Wedding Song, Amber and Copper, Loom Song, Bird Clan Dance, Berridraun, Lament for the Beloved, Cold Earth Home, Song for the Dead, Leaving.
Total album duration 76 minutes

P: FORGOTTEN PEOPLE

                                    FORGOTTEN PEOPLE This work explores our indigenous pre-Celtic ancestry, describing the circle of life and the cycle of seasons in a series of eight prints of paintings and weavings. Here are ancient foremothers of flesh and of spirit who walk through the forgotten places of this land, binding together the threads of our oldest, deepest mystery. They represent the woven fabric of our wise stories, our strong truths and our deepest relationship with the earth.
These prints are accompanied by the album Songs of the Forgotten People












These prints are accompanied by the album Songs of the Forgotten People



M:OLD SILVERHEAD - Songs and Initiations of Womanhood
Carolyn Hillyer

Rites of passage, initiations and celebrations serve to concentrate and value growth and changes in our lives; give our journey different meanings; build a vision of the whole. As women we mark the passing of time through transformations on our bodies, with the flow and ebb of bleeding, the shape - shifting of face and womb and breast. We travel on unfamiliar territories of mind and mood. And as we see those who have walked this way before us, so we also watch those that follow on behind.

The Women's House exists inside the spirit of our gatherings, a place of the imagination and the heart, as physical as we choose to make it. The Women's House holds the remembered voices of our foremothers, ancient as the land, our common bonds as women and our universal prayers. Within the House, held by the circle or the spiral or the line, we speak alone or within our group voice, we sing and chant and dance and drum.


In this, her fourth solo album, Carolyn has sought a route to the core of the experiences and transitions that define our passage through womanhood. It is a journey of ritual and song, sixteen pieces of music that travel from the tender unveiling of GIRLSEED, through the dangerous lands of MIDWOMAN, towards the culmination of wise knowing and unpredictability of OLD SILVERHEAD herself. Many of the songs and chants are created for singing with others, for threading into group music, for dancing in circles. Carolyn uses her familiar blend of earthly and unearthly in her exploration of woman's shamanic heart.

Total album duration 76 minutes.

W:OLD SILVERHEAD: Songs and Initiations of Womanhood (1998)

A powerful exploration of the experiences and transitions that define our passage through womanhood. This journey is created around song, rites of passage and a cycle of eight initiations to honour and celebrate our changes from girlhood to old age: from girlseed and first blood; through fruitmother, spinmother and midwoman; to earthcrone, stonecrone and Old Silverhead hersel

P:



M:GRANDMOTHER TURTLE
Carolyn Hillyer

An album of powerful and evocative songs which describe a circle of thirteen greatmothers of wisdom. Each of the thirteen hold a key to an aspect of our inner landscape - woman as warrior, guardian, creator, mystic, myth-keeper and creature of the wild. Woman collecting the fragments of ancient memory, resonating with earth rhythms, pushing to the raw edges. Bone Hill Hag, Fire Pit Singing, Good Mother Honey and Shaman-Ca.


The instruments used are primarily frame drums and rattles; also feature are kalimba, didjeridu, flutes and some keyboard arrangements by Nigel Shaw. Recommended for dance and song-circles.

Total album duration 67 minutes.

M:HERON VALLEY
Carolyn Hillyer

A beautiful album of original songs composed and sung by Carolyn Hillyer and musically co-created with Nigel Shaw.

Part 1 describes the sacred nature of the land - wild, wise, secret and still. Tracks include Holly Woman and Mother of the Moor.


Part 2 is a creation story - the power and beauty of birthing on both a personal and cosmic level featuring songs such as Two Drumbeats, the Fish and the Moon and Celebration Road.
Music with which to chant, dance and dream.

Instruments include voices, frame drum, flute, keyboard and percussion.
Total album duration 60 minutes.

W:THE HERON HOUSE: A Women’s Ancient Mystery Round (1997/8)

The Heron House is the place through which we travel to meet and honour our very ancient foremothers and to rediscover our indigenous ancestry. It represents a forgotten spirit land and the primordial cycle of life and death. The Heron House contains the memory of all that we have been and all that we are as women wed to the earth. The Heron House is the woven fabric of our wise stories, our strong truths and our deepest relationship with the earth.

M:HOUSE OF THE WEAVERS
Carolyn Hillyer

This is the widely acclaimed first album featuring songs and chants that emerged from Carolyn's paintings of goddess images. Deep earthy chants are entwined with complex and beautiful melodies to create a recording that has become a classic for circle dance and song circles.


Instruments include voices, frame drum, guitar, drums and percussion.
Total album duration 47 minutes.

M:EXILE
Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer

Exile is departure, separation and loss. Exile is enforced, chosen or the outcome of strange circumstance. Exile is painfully physical, coldly political and deeply personal. Exile is the shadow of war, the grip of despair, the emptiness of grieving arms. Exile is a heavy wind that crashes through cultures, tears at relationships and rips apart the soul. Exile is the impossible abyss, the deadly trail and the churning hungry ocean. Exile is the overwhelming pull towardshome, yearning for familiar people, longing for ancestral lands.


Exile is crossing mountains into loneliness, walking dusty roads amidst confusion, wandering lost inside a world of death. Exile is a songof mourning, a dance of remembrance and a promise of return. Exile is a brave cry that echoes through generations and a faithful flame that feeds the tribal hearth. Exile is the search for a beloved, for completion, for peace. Exile is a root deepened by loyalty, a spirit grown stronger through adversity, determination honed by belief in a just & balanced future. Exile is eyes widened by vast horizons and hope kindled by the smallest possibilities.We will find a road to take us home. Ancient spirits watch for our return.


This album constitutes one of our longest recording projects to date, incubating and changing shape over two years before eventually emerging in its final form. During this time travels in unfamiliar lands, meetings with new people and intense experiences previously unknown to us, all contributed to the shifting dimensions of what exile means and how it might be expressed in these songs. And to truly comprehend in some small measure the devastation of those exiled from the piece of earth that is home, by land clearances and conflict, by poverty and powerlessness, in Tibet and Africa, the Middle East and within our own countries, in past centuries and during present chaos, we kept returning to the nearest point on the horizon: how would it feel to us to be compelled to leave these wild hills to which we have committed our hearts and promised our bones?

We wanted to reflect the breadth of the exile experience in the range of ancient, traditional and contemporary instruments used in these recordings: you will hear flutes, whistles, smallpipes, fujara,
and koncovka; darabuka, riq, djembe, cahon, rattles, and frame drums crafted from reindeer, stag and horse; dulcimer, piano and singing bowls. In addition we were joined in the making of this music by a warm and highly talented collective of musicians, who passed through the studio periodically to offer their individual contributions to the project. You will hear the voice of Shelok Tsering and the violin of Paul Sax, the didge of Shaun Farrenden and drums of Scott Jasper, and the various guitars of Brian Abbott, Adrian Utley, Tim Gill and Pat Orchard.

The tracks on EXILE move between the simplicity of delicate laments with voice and flute to complex arrangements and full-bodied, multi-instrumental, drum-driven, tribal chants. Here are songs that dance and songs that mourn. Here are songs that cause us to be glad for the very soil that lies beneath our feet.

Tracks include: Exile, The Red Coats, After the Battle, Bring on the Storm, Amber Road, Protecting Veil, Dreams Restored, People of Home, Nightlands and Heathen Day.

A donation will be given from every CD sale to Survival International for their work protecting the land rights of tribal people.

Album length approx 70 minutes.

M:ANCESTORS
Nigel Shaw

This exciting album celebrates and honours the ancient people of the Siberian Arctic. The music that Nigel has created is based around songs and rhythms from rare archive recordings of these tribal people and inspired by his own recent travels to the Arctic. Some of the voices you will hear on the this album were recorded over 70 years ago but in fact these archives represent a musical history and a spiritual tradition stretching back to the last Ice Age.


The sound memories of these ancestors are beautifully fused with uplifting dance rhythms, wooden flutes, whistles, bagpipes and drums creating a new celebration of these cold northern lands.
These flowing rhythms and chants tell a wonderful story about this powerful frozen landscape. 'Legend of the Solar Tambourine' tells about the return of the sun and the sacred drum. 'The Silver Deer' speaks of the spirit animals that walk the vast primeval forest. 'The Whispering of Stars' describes the feeling of breathing cold air into the body.

Some of the Siberian tribes represented here through their melodies include the Chuckchi, Evenk, Ulchi, Korjak, Nenet, Saami, etc.

The guest musicians on this album include Adrian Utley from the band PORTISHEAD on guitar, Brian Abbott on guitar and Shaun Farrenden on didjeridoo. Additional lyrics and voices by Carolyn Hillyer.

We are working with the charity SURVIVAL, which aims to promote awareness of the plight of tribal peoples around the world. A donation of £1 per CD will be given towards projects to help the indigenous tribal people of the Siberian Arctic and their continuing struggle to protect their traditions and ancestral lands.

M:SONGS OF OUR GRANDFATHERS
Bamboo Cedar Oak

This is the second album by Bamboo Cedar Oak, a brotherhood of flute players from three different sacred cultures, Nigel Shaw, Guillermo Martinez and Hiroki Okano. This work is inspired by the spirits of the grandfathers and the songs of ancestral lands. The music offers a shared understanding of our human connection to this beautiful planet. Since the first meeting Bamboo Cedar Oak have travelled together giving concerts and workshops, performing in Buddhist temples across Japan, a cathedral in New York and amidst the wild hills of Dartmoor (England), travels that have fed this recording with a rich tapestry of new sounds and melodies.

Guillermo Martinez is a master-instrument maker living in California and a native Tarascan, a tribe from the highlands of Michoacan, Mexico. He is a highly regarded teacher and has made many of the flutes, drums and rattles played on this album. Guillermo plays cedar flute, clay flutes and whistles, drums and percussion, and sings traditional songs.


Hiroki Okano is one of the most widely respected ambient composers and recording artists in Japan. He plays many ancient and contemporary instruments, works with several Japanese world music bands and travels extensively promoting peace projects. Hiroki plays bamboo flute, native American flutes, guitar, bouzouki, tonkuri, drums and percussion, voices.

Nigel Shaw is an acclaimed composer and international performer, well known through his many recordings of inspired ambient, world and shamanic trance music. His work is deeply inspired by the ancient landscape of southwest England where he lives. Nigel plays Dartmoor wood flutes, long flute, Irish whistles, clay flute, keyboards, dulcimer, drums and percussion.

Special guest Domenic DeCicco from the band Praying for the Rain. Domenic plays guitar, Cretan laouto, cedar flute, percussion and voices.

M:BAMBOO CEDAR OAK
Nigel Shaw, Guillermo Martinez and Hiroki Okano

This beautiful and unique album features Dartmoor composer NIGEL SHAW and two internationally renowned musicians from America and Japan, GUILLERMO MARTINEZ and HIROKI OKANO. Together these three musicians from different corners of the planet have produced a rare and special collection of recordings that evoke a unity of spirit and a global sound. The music moves between gentle flute pieces performed on three Native American flutes, traditional Buddhist and Native American prayers, and powerful drumming chants. The range of music reflects the diversity of ancient traditions on this earth and the realisation that, regardless of our different cultures, we all sing the same songs.


Instruments include: Native American flute, Irish whistle, bamboo flute, guitar, samisen (Japanese lute), frame drums, djembe, traditional rattles, and voices.

Guest musicians; Domenic DeCicco from Praying for the Rain - vocals and guitar. Shaun Farrenden from Riven/Global - Tibetan Horn. Carolyn Hillyer - vocals.

M:RIVEN OUTSIDE
Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer

An extraordinary windstorm of shamanic trance dance music, with wild rhythms and hypnotic chants. RIVEN OUTSIDE carries on where RIVEN INSIDE ends, taking the dynamic forward into some very powerful dance energies and building up to the unique fusion of beautiful and wild for which the work of Nigel and Carolyn has become well known.


Tracks: A Thousand Ways, Greenwood, Cave, Road, Resin and Root, Mudhead Clowns (Coyote Mix) and Scavenger.

Featuring: keyboards, samples, synthesisers, drum and percussion loops, acoustic flutes and whistles, djembe, frame drums, acoustic percussion as well as vocals and chants.

Guest contributors: Brian Abbott on guitar, Shaun Farrenden on didgeridoo (both from Global) and additional vocals by Domenic DeCicco (from Praying for the Rain)
Total album duration 58 minutes.

M:TARA
Brian Abbott

Produced and co-written by Nigel Shaw.

This CD, Brian Abbot’s first solo project, is inspired by the Tibetan female deity, Tara. Brian has played guitar for over ten years with the bands Global and Riven. The album is an extraordinary journey, the music moving from archive recordings of Tibetan monks and nuns through beautiful ambient soundscapes and sonic prayers (where contemporary western instruments merge with Mongolian and Tibetan instruments) to full power dance and rock compositions.


Tracks include White Tara, Skeleton Lords, Prayer to the Dalai Lama, Winds on Mount Kailash.

Musicians also featured include Nigel Shaw, Carolyn Hillyer, Jackie Juno (Riven), Shaun Farrenden (Riven), Michael Ormiston, Tom Brooks (ex-Global), and Tim Gill (EXP).
Guest musicians: Daevid Allen (Gong), Kevin Kendle and Tim Hall.
From each CD sold £1 goes directly to the Free Tibet Campaign and the Tibetan Nuns of Chuchikjall Monastery.

M:GIG-NA-GIG
Global

The third and most powerful album to date. Gig-na-gig celebrates the dance of life, drawing on the deep tribal pulse of this land and a wild web of rhythms.

Tracks include Tuatha-na-gig, Pass the Pulse, Small Stone and Isle of Mystery.

Instruments include sampled and synthesised keyboards, loops, vocals, flute, guitar, didgeridoo, acoustic drums and percussion.


'The whole of Gig-na-Gig stands as a testament to the way musical fusions can work when delivered by the hands and minds of those with courage and spirit. It touches both the stars and the soil in its enthralling brilliance'
- Rock 'n' Reel Magazine.

Total album duration 69 minutes.

M:SHAMANKA
Global

Shamanka is an hour long journey into the ethereal and ecstatic from the spiralling and sensuous rhythms of She eats the stars, through the weird and haunting atmosphere of Lucky we know the forest so well or we might get lost, to the powerful heartbeat of the title track Shamanka - 'I will dance 'til my spirit bleeds'.


Instruments include sampled and synthesised keyboards, loops, vocals, flute, guitar, didgeridoo, acoustic drums and percussion.

Total album duration 60 minutes.

DARTMOOR SYMPHONY
Nigel Shaw

Composed, performed and produced by Nigel Shaw
Strings performed by members of Ten Tors Orchestra
Conducted by Simon Ible

This album is very special new work that forms part of a series of compositions based on the Dartmoor landscape and which, at last, an opportunity to hear Nigel’s music performed within a live orchestral context.

The Dartmoor Symphony is a profound expression of the extraordinary beauty and power of this ancient landscape, drawn from many years of intimate connection with the moors and a constantly evolving journey into how the voices of nature can be expressed through traditional, classical and indigenous instruments. Echoing some of the musical themes and melodies from both of his previous works, Dartmoor Journey and Dartmoor Roundhouse, Nigel has developed the music into a richly textured symphonic composition that describes the landscape, and our human relationship within it. A sense of journeying, yearning, returning, and belonging are central to the feeling of this work as it travels through the five movements of Overture, Stone, Wood, Water and Sky.


Nigel handcrafted a special set of Dartmoor yew wood flutes especially for this project and these unique instruments are constantly woven through the music. Each of the movements also includes instruments made from the raw materials and elements of the land such as granite grinding rocks, wooden bells, water-filled bowls and air chimes. Also featured are traditional whistles, small pipes, fujara, overtone flutes, piano, harp, celeste, bell, bowls and other percussion. Vocal parts are sung by Carolyn Hillyer.

The string parts for the Symphony are performed by members of Ten Tors Orchestra, conducted by Simon Ible. Ten Tors is a chamber orchestra with a membership of up to 50 professional players, including a seventeen-piece string ensemble plus flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, percussion and harpsichord. All the members are recruited from the south west region of Britain and many of them play with leading national ensembles including the Academy of St Martin-in-the Fields and the English Chamber Orchestra.

This double album includes the DVD of an exquisitely beautiful film by Dartmoor photographer and film-maker Chris Chapman, assisted by Kate King. Created and produced with Nigel, the film is a journey through all the seasons in the Dartmoor landscape, moving from close abstract images of wild nature to the wide, expansive open hills. The film has been created to flow seamlessly alongside the Symphony: both a visual reflection of the music and a symphony of images. Chris Chapman has been documenting and archiving all aspects of Dartmoor life since moving here in 1975. His photographs reflect the truly authentic nature of these moors and its people.


Tracks: Overture, Stone, Wood, Water, Sky

Double Album: CD (music) and DVD (music and film together)
Both CD and DVD are one hour each.

W:A CIRCLE OF THIRTEEN (1995/6)

Sitting within a circle of grandmothers, we experience thirteen powerful deep-woman archetypes, each of whom holds a key to an aspect of our inner landscape. We uncover and absorb the mythology and wisdoms that lie behind them, gather together the fragments of our own ancient memory and explore our personal myths as women of wisdom.

W:THE HERON HOUSE: A Women’s Ancient Mystery Round (1997/8)

The Heron House is the place through which we travel to meet and honour our very ancient foremothers and to rediscover our indigenous ancestry. It represents a forgotten spirit land and the primordial cycle of life and death. The Heron House contains the memory of all that we have been and all that we are as women wed to the earth. The Heron House is the woven fabric of our wise stories, our strong truths and our deepest relationship with the earth.

W:OLD SILVERHEAD: Songs and Initiations of Womanhood (1998)

A powerful exploration of the experiences and transitions that define our passage through womanhood. This journey is created around song, rites of passage and a cycle of eight initiations to honour and celebrate our changes from girlhood to old age: from girlseed and first blood; through fruitmother, spinmother and midwoman; to earthcrone, stonecrone and Old Silverhead herself.

W:THE ORACLE OF NIGHTS (1999)

Binding together ritual, myth, drum and chant, this workshop enters the Oracle of Nights through a series of challenging encounters with the five protectors: toad, crow, spider, bat and mare. A black-wrapped journey into the cave, a descent into a personal territory of darkness and shadows, and an intimate exploration of underworld. A place in which to seek, confront and ultimately understand our fears...and from which to emerge again empowered.

W:RIVENSTONE WOMEN’S MEET: The Ragged Megs (2002)

A gathering to celebrate and honour our sacred relationship with the wild land, weaving together ceremony, talk, creativity, shared song, ritual dance and drum, tending the roundhouse fire plus the stretching of limbs and the moving of spirit. We seek out the strange and ancient megs of the wild weather and the enduring seasons, who dance the cycles and rhythms of the earth, the ebb and flow of the year and the deep magic of the elements found at the very edges, and in the secret places, of the ancient land.

W:WEATHERED EDGE: The Deep Landscape of Women (2002)

Ancient ragged spirit women, concentrated fusions of wild energy, gather in the Weathered Edge cycle of paintings and songs to create the gateway through which this workshop is experienced.We meet the concealer, the protector, the hunter, the summoner, the bestower, the visioner, the destroyer and the drummer. They are all shaped by weather, by season and by the hidden patterns of the land. They are formed from the deep life and death forces of nature. They help to shape the landscapes that we are. Through them we remember, rediscover and bind together a story that describes our own spirit land.

W:WOMEN’S HIBERNATION RETREAT (2002)

A chance to prepare for the winter months in a nurturing, warm and inspiring atmosphere, with time to be quietly alone, enjoy the magic and peace of Dartmoor as well as share in close group work.

W:MIDWOMAN The Gift of Amber (2003)

A workshop intensive (for women aged 38-59) to embrace, honour and commit to the journey towards and through the middle years. Exploring the outer and inner dynamics of menopause, working with words, music, herbs and sacred myths and tokens, creating rites of passage and simple ceremony to bring power, courage and wisdom to our understanding and experience of the midwoman time.

W:THE SACRED HOUSE OF WOMEN (2003)

A workshop created for women in Sweden.

W:WOMEN’S DRUM CAMP (2003)

We prepare and craft a traditional deer skin drum, including ceremonies to honour the skins and bless the finished drums. We make drum beaters and prayer tokens, share drum songs and explore the drum traditions of northern Europe.

W:THE WOMEN’S HOUSE (2003)

A workshop created for women in Japan

W:HOW STRONG IS THE FACE OF A WOMAN’S DRUM? (2004)

A sacred journey to the colds lands of our ancestral mothers and the mysteries of the ancient Grandmother Drum ~ a symbol of our ancient woman spirit, our mystical journey and our original raw connection to the living landscape. Working together in three clan groups (Bright Wings, Amber and Red Ochre) we share sacred mythology, ritual song and ceremony to strengthen awareness of our rich and deeply rooted women’s heritage, and ultimately travel into the distant territory of the Grandmother Drum. Includes the making of red deer or horse skin rattles.

W:RIVENSTONE WOMEN’S MEET: Our Oldest Magic (2004)

A gathering to nourish, celebrate and honour women’s creative and magical energy with song and drum, simple ceremony, the work of women’s ancient hands, the secret testimony of the land and the power of sacred circles. In the heart of wild moors, women meet together to share ancestral wisdoms and express wild spirits. Includes guest presenters, contributions from participants and a special creative group project using traditional felting techniques and involving the hands of 80 women. Concludes with a shared ritual within a marsh labyrinth and around the roundhouse fire.

W:THE WILDERNESS DAUGHTERS OF GRANDMOTHER DRUM (2004)

A weekend to explore and experience women’s ancient drum mysteries, share drum songs and dances, learning drumming techniques as well as embracing the autumn elements of the wild moors. We make and decorate traditional Arctic reindeer paddle (or dancing) drums using reindeer or red deer skin, and we create a ceremony to honour the spirit of wild deer.

W:THE ROAD TO RED OCHRE WOMAN (2004)

A workshop (for women 38 years and over) that traces a deepening spiral into the spirit of midwoman and explores our sacred responsibilities as older women. We begin to unravel the threads of what might be waiting for us as we journey northwards, facing our mortality and our aging, slipping into our old skins and moving closer to our final transformation as crone women. We challenge our boundaries of perception and courage at a time of year when the shadows of the coming winter reach towards us and the mists of samhain swirl around our feet. We draw on the untameable moors as a source of gentle and fierce darkness, quiet secrets, unexpected mystery and wise revelation.

W:THE PRIMORDIAL GRANDMOTHER DRUM (2004/7)

A workshop created for women in Hungary, Holland and Sweden.

W:INSIDE THE WINTER HOUSE: A Journey Through Ancient Ice (2005)

Set within a circle of primordial grandmothers, The Northern Sisterhood of Drums, as they sit together in council, and sourced from a body of work created both on Dartmoor and in the frozen north, this workshop travels into deep archetypes, the power of the sacred drum voice and a women’s mystery that was born 25,000 years ago from ancient ice. Includes the opportunity to use our wise hands to make a spirit of ice pouch using materials gathered from the Arctic.

W:ONE THOUSAND ANCIENT MOTHERS (2005)

A workshop created for women in Hungary, Holland and Sweden.

W:ARCTIC DEEP WINTER WOMEN’S RETREAT JOURNEY (2006)

A journey for thirteen women to the far north of Sweden within the Arctic Circle, living for nine days in forest cabins beside a frozen lake. The retreat combines silent days and nights within the frozen landscape, visits to Arctic craftspeople and teachers, plus experiences with dog sleds, wild reindeer and the northern lights with a series of group circles during which we explore aspects of our most ancient northern women’s spirit traditions.

W:THE NORTHERN SISTERHOOD OF DRUMS (2006/7)

A workshop created for women in Russia and Germany.

W:WOMEN OF THE HARE DRUM (2006)

The awakening summer journey and full moon celebration. A weekend of bright circles, drum songs and sacred chants, gentle ritual and shared council at the roundhouse fire. We travel lightly and dance wildly/ We work with the primordial symbols that lie at the core of our constant dance with the moon: dark blood, white salt and soft black earth. We walk beneath the night sky across the moon-lit moor to visit a hidden ancient shrine and we make hare drums (small deerskin finger drums) on which to sound the pulsing lunar rhythms in our veins.

W:WOMEN OF THE SALMON DRUM (2006)

The returning autumn journey and the dance of life. The ancient salmon drum draws us into a
spiralling dance of seasonal ebb and flow, initiations, rites of passage and circling currents in the
rivers of our own lives. Following the magical routes of water, laid out as living veins across the
wild earth, we seek the gifts of the salmon drum: freedom, perseverance and clarity of intent.
Around the sacred fire of our ancestral mothers we build the power of the long journey, honouring
its sacrifices, its challenges and its changing shape. We learn how to tan salmon skin using
traditional Arctic methods and we make salmon rattles and small fish leather pouches in which to carry tokens of our journey out and of our return.

W:WOMEN OF THE BEAR DRUM (2006/7)

The deepening winter journey and long night vigil. A winter retreat and intense journey into the powerful territory of the bear drum. We work together to prepare for a special all-night ceremonial vigil in the roundhouse, deepening our connection with ancestral and inner landscapes. We learn ancient song techniques from the cold northern lands and use clay, ashes and bear magic to make traditional fire oracles. A chance to investigate the maturing of our journey and travel through the mysteries of our ancient mothers to a place of silent strength and fierce courage.

W:INTO THE WINTER HOUSE (2006)

A day of winter ceremony and preparation for the hibernating months. As we turn to face the darkest nights and the dead of winter, we explore the themes of feeding the hearth fires, keeping safe the winter light, and moving ourselves into quiet hibernation where we may rest and dream and mend. Together we share a winter ceremony around the roundhouse fire, brewing the elements of ice, flame, mist, stone and black earth within our cauldron and drawing inspiration from the wise bones of our ancestral mothers.

W:THE UNSEEN MOON AND THE DARKEST DRUM (2007)

Pausing on the bridge between a cycle of work that describes the primordial grandmothers of ancient ice and a new work that travels the silent lands of the death mothers, this day workshop uses sacred song, quiet ritual and strange mythology, as well as the making of dark moon drums (small reindeer skin finger drums) to shape and honour night shadows and hidden places.

W:RIVENSTONE: Song of the Harvest Drum (2007)

Day workshop to make and decorate a harvest drum, a bright moon deerskin dancing drum conceived within a place of fruition and celebration. A drum with which to honour the abundance of the earth and the rituals of the gathering time. With our drums we create and perform a special harvest rite.

W:DRUMS OF THE HEATHEN HILLS (2007)

Women’s drum making weekend. A weekend of creating wild skin drums (with reindeer, red deer and horse) and using them as sacred tools for harnessing the raw power of the autumnal shift. We walk into the ancient hills to find inspiration for our own drum song and make a ceremony around the roundhouse hearth to bless our drum journeys and honour the spirits of the skins.

W:THIRTEEN MOONS Autumn Festival on Dartmoor for Women (2008)

Celebrating bright edges, deep shadows, ancient sisterhood and wild hills with workshops, talks, presentations, craft workshops, concerts, song circles, drum house & simple earthy rituals. The festival is shaped as a journey around thirteen moons: copper, fallen crow, salmon, warriors, healers, nameless, leaping hare, drummers, weavers, granite, bone, honey and finally honouring our sacred journey with many sisters moon. An ancient pilgrimage of sisters sharing wisdom, wonder, music, old magic, inspiration, spirit, food and fun.

W:SAMHAIN DRUM NIGHT (2008)

An evening around the hearth fire in the ceremonial ancestor house with drums, songs, prayers, spells, remembrances, sacred tales, shadowy myths and earthy ritual to honour the veiled season, the silent lands and the bones of our ancestral mothers.

W:ASHES AND EARTH: The Cauldron of Crows (2008/9)

A journey into shadow. Solitude, the disintegrating woman and the bearer of wounds are aspects of the darkest mythological guardian of the Ashes and Earth cycle. She is found within the primordial cauldron of crows, the vessel that holds our most profound mysteries of death and life. In this workshop we enter the earth along the harsh edge of winter and deep into the silent lands. Involves a personal ritual journey into the Cauldron House and the shared creation of a winter book.

W:ASHES AND EARTH: The Hollowing (2009)

A place of incubation. A special retreat for the deep winter. Within the silent stillness of the hollowing woman, caught in the marrow of ancient bones and far inside the cauldron of crows, rests one seed that holds the key to the restoration of life. So we create a journey of germination and renewal as we pause before the last out-breath of winter, held at a turning point within the protecting hands of the oldest guardian, and guided by the visions that wait behind our eyes. A time for mending, dreaming, tending fires and travelling gently, supported within the circle of women and nurtured by the ancient land.

W:ASHES AND EARTH: Raw Earth (2009)

A moment of awakening. Over the raw spring earth runs the quickening woman, following the strange seam where death and life are knitted together, where a perfect balance exists between the winding of shrouds and the vibrant expression of new energy. We are midwoves of so much: last and fisrt journeys, blodd of grave and of womb, return and release, physical and elemental bodies, all lifted on a rising wave of change. Involves a profound connection with a wild place and the alchemy of sacred water. We use willow and hazel on which to spin some spring magic and paint our red journeys as we catch the early spring waves of energy that carries us onwards towards the illumination of summer.

W:ASHES AND EARTH: The Illuminating Woman (2009)

A blessing of light. The final weekend in the Ashes and Earth cycle of journeys that have explored our intimate connection with a moon that repeatedly carries us on a circle road through dark solitude, incubation, inspired renewal and the illumination of memory. In the full brilliance of the Illuminating Woman we discover the ultimate blessing of ashes and earth. She slowly dances around the rim of the cauldron of crows, where light is revealed through its relationship with shadow, creting deep ceremony enriched by the intricate weavings of soul songs and lament and the wonder of life. Together we prepare a white ritual house, a ceremonial dancing ground and small looms on which to catch light, air and bright memor

ABOUT THESE WORKSHOP JOURNEYS

Since 1995 Carolyn has created and guided many workshop journeys for women throughout the UK and in other countries including Russia, USA, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Estonia, Hungary and Czech Republic. Many of her workshops take place on the ancient farmstead of Lower Merripit amid the wild hills of Dartmoor. The journeys are rooted in the oldest traditions of women’s spiritual and creative gatherings, weaving together sacred drum, voice, contemplation, direct engagement with the wild landscape, creating and interpreting with our wise hands, simple shared ceremony, personal ritual, mutual nourishment and an intent to explore beyond the farthest reaches of our perception….as well as the opportunity to sit within a warm, supportive and inspiring circle of sisters.

Over the last fourteen years the workshop programme has developed organically to form a continuous unfolding journey, held within the spiralling cycles of Carolyn’s paintings, writings and songs and venturing with each year into unexplored landscapes. All women are welcome to participate in these workshop journeys, whether stepping out for the first time or carrying the experience of long-time travellers.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

The workshops are located in the high centre of Dartmoor and based in the guest cottage at Lower Merripit Farm along with 24 acres of meadows, marshes and woodlands; hidden shrines, moorland streams and a neolithic-style ceremonial roundhouse. The farm is run as an organic small-holding. We draw all our water from two spring-fed wells and encourage visitors to use eco-friendly washing products as we maintain our own sewage system. The farm protects some rare natural habitats and caretakes a small herd of wild hill ponies on the open moors.

Accommodation is generally in shared rooms in the cottage, with camping in the meadow or additional rooms at the nextdoor farm available for larger groups. Food is vegetarian wih vegan options and organic where possible. Public transport onto the moor is very limited so those using bus or train services are advised to travel to Exeter from where we are usually able to arrange a shared taxi or lift.


November 13-15: GLASTONBURY, Chalice Well, Somerset
Residential retreat weekend for women with Carolyn


This workshop is woven around Carolyn’s most recent cycle of work Ashes and Earth, which describes four spirit women who embody a winter journey into the primordial cauldron of crows, the vessel that holds our most profound mysteries of death and life, as we enter the earth along the harsh edge of winter and deep into the silent lands.




We will travel through a starkly beautiful landscape of death and restoration, touching into dark solitude with the Dissolving Woman (who carries the burden of wounds within the deep belly of the cauldron);A journey into shadow. ASHES AND EARTH: The Cauldron of Crows (2008/9): Solitude, the disintegrating woman and the bearer of wounds are aspects of the darkest mythological guardian of the Ashes and Earth cycle. She is found within the primordial cauldron of crows, the vessel that holds our most profound mysteries of death and life. In this workshop we enter the earth along the harsh edge of winter and deep into the silent lands. Involves a personal ritual journey into the Cauldron House and the shared creation of a winter book.


SOLITUDE:The burden of wounds

The descriptions relating to the Cauldron of Crows workshops and associated paintings  are here integrated with The Oracles of Nights:A Journey into the Cave:A Sourcebook with Text and Images by Carolyn Hillyer.Dartmoor:Seventh Wave Music.

Introduction:Approaching the Cave

The Oracle of Nights is a cycle of work that binds together ritual,myth an d black wrapped journey into the Cave.It is a personal territory of darkness and shadow.It is an intimate underworld.It is the poetry of a land without light.The traveller enters the Oracle top seek,to confront,and ultimately to understand the places that are fearful to her.

The Oracle journey is formed around a series of encounters with five guardians (or protectors) located within the chambers of the Cave.It is an exploration of the five aspects of fear that they represent.The protectors are positioned at the five points of the Oracle,which is travelled in a counter clockwise (or widdershins)direction.Once embarked upon the intent is that this journey should be completed in full.Each chamber of the Cave sits in sequence with the others and it is in this context that the experience has most meaning.The traveller is guided by the pulsing of the moon from fullness to dark and through ful again.Light is left behind at the entrance to the Cave,to be slowly regained as the cycle ends.The Oracle is a quest into darkness but the images and words are not intended to be anything other than ultimately empowering and healing.Night holds many truths.Much hidden beauty dwells in shadow.

                                 I am weaving the darkness,the black murmur of night
                                   I am binding these shadows within my tight cloth
                               And my fingers are plucking at the rim of the world

                               And my old hands are pushing at the frayed edge of time
                                         (from Loom Songs)


"In the Beginning there was Void.Nothing.And how does the mind grasp it? As waste? Desolation? Nothing is cheaply within grasp from what was.But as the fundamental nought,the positive,original nil? As the immeasurable drop into pre-thought,pre-existence,pre-essence? But then, the mind that will conceive this must empty inwards from a lifetime's frame of accumulated references,must plunge from the physical platform into primordial abyss.Within which alas,lie the creative energies which 'abhor a vacuum' even more than Nature.The cycle must commence again.

Still,there being nothing worse to do,Pluto tried to discover tunnels even from the dead netherworld into deeper bowels of Void.At the best,it was mesmeric:the mind's normal functioning seized up,the day eased out in a gentle catalepsis.At worst it lay within that darkest ring of recreative energies,revolving on its axis,turning on its spoor in the gossamer dust of infinity....

 Which existed and had always been-Life,that is,which God did say Let there Be.Why? For it had always been within his protean mind,within form that was not formed,motion that did not move,time and space which existed not,yet were all severally and wholly contained,rolled and moulded within that great amorphous origin,pulse,breath,androgynous source of matter and of essence.Until,suffering,I do not seek,I find-he delved within and ordered:let there Be! Tangibly,visibly,olfactorily,audibly...

 What then,what was this need to materialise in poor second-mould copy such merely outward manifestations of the pure Idea! Why break the invisible chrysalis of essence,that one unassailable Truth.Truth,because there was no copy,no duplicate,no faulted cast,not even a bare projection from an alien mind of that pure idea? For there were no other minds.No faker.What was this need to turn materialist? Uncertainty? Ego? Narcissim? Reassurance? Loneliness,said the Holy Writ.A fear that thought was Nothing,and a fear of Nothing which could only be allayed by the thought made manifest.
......
A stone lay on the ground,worn smooth and oval shaped,subtly creviced as if by human hands,faintly reminiscent of a shuttle.Inert,yet he imbued  it with the tapestry of fates,of seasons,pierced to core and crowded its infinite lethargy with infinite creativity,coming away from that stone with only its pure luminous essence.
...
Not to create or think is best.The pause leaves the Crypt a little darker than before.Creation is admission of great loneliness.Turn the mind to a loom of cobwebs,rest the time-smoothed shuttle in its home of timelessness.
...
A mind must be the shuttle and the loom but in dead repose for in the home of death the living is sole creator. And what agitates and moves,what manifests itself is surely the work of that mind.Dawn,noon,night and man-made satellites.Lest the spirits of the underworld suspect him and unmask him him he shall wear vestments of and as the dead,embrace the outer form of death,chill his mind to that inaudible beat of death intertia.A shuttle in repose,as in the darkness of an old woman's hands,whose heavy lids drop lower and lower even as she weaves the death shroud of the old,the swaddlings of a new awakened world.Her tired earth-departing hands sinking slowly on her lap.Why then spin and gather dust and filth when the pure unsoiled form reposes in the mind?
...
His spirit moved among the leaden clouds,across the dark gestation of waters,across the waters restless,lonely.A dragon-fly,a twig-legged water insect,insubstantial ray of matter,probing clues where the slow mutation had begun,exciting those inert gases that moved towards the first amoeba,nudging,prodding,pleading,this light immutable catalyst.I create,I re-create in tune with that which shuts and opens all about me.Dawn or dusk.Darkness or light.Concrete bars and iron gates.

A murmuring rose from the gate in the Wall of Flagellation.He saw it was the anachrones,and their eyes were on his restless spirit among the clouds,and they sank their heads again and shook them,staring at at the waiting land...Dare we plant? Will the Seer wait until close to fruition then give the wanton order for destruction? Do you think God has punished him enough for that wicked deed? They looked at the barren spot where once the guava stood.A sigh broke forth from among them.

...Oh ye of little faith.But they were shadows not substantial men.Their apprehensive utterances spoke,true,in undercurrents of hope and bridged a gulf,a new rib of humanity pushing upward from their barren soil.But anachrones he called them yet,saying, they were formed before their minds.The mind is time-and on that he rested now the problem of infinity at last.The mind is sole coefficient of time and space.Muffle it Pluto,muffle it in thick impenetrable cotton wool.

A wet print on my forehead.Rain".

Wole Soynka,The Man Died.London:Rex Collins,1976.Chap.XXXIII.255-258.

"A man who is a weaver by caste is (a maabo,among the Fulani) is the repository of the secrets of the thirty-three pieces that are basic to the loom,each of which has a meaning.The frame,for example,is made up of eight main pieces of wood:four vertical ones that symbolize the four collateral points.The weaver,placed in the middle,represents primordial Man,Maa,at the heart of the eight directions of space.With his presence,we obtain nine elements which recall the nine fundamental sates of existence,the nine classes of being,the nine openings of the body(gates of the forces of life),the nine categories of men among the Fulani,etc,etc.

Before beginning work the weaver must touch each piece of the loom,pronouncing words or litanies that correspond to the forces of life embodied in them.

The movement of his feet to and fro as they go up and  down to work the pedals recalls the original rhythm of the creative Word,linked with the dualism of all things and the law of cycles.His feet are supposed to speak as follows:

Fonyoko!fonyoko!dualism!dualism!
When one goes up the other goes down.
There is the death of the king and the coronation of the prince,
the death of the grandfather and the birth of the grandson,
quarrels over divorce commingled with the sound of
   a marriage feast....

For its part,the shuttle says:

I am the barque of Ftae.
I pass between the reefs of the threads of the warp
that stand for Life.
From the right bank I pass to the left,
unreeling my intestine[the thread]
to contribute to the fabric.
And then again from the left bank I pass to the right,
unreeling my intestine.
Life is a perpetual to and fro,
a permanent giving of the self.

Amadou Hampate Ba."The Living Tradition".General History of Africa Vol.1:Methodology and Prehistory.ed.J.Ki-Zerbo.166-205.181-182.


silent incubation with the Hollowing Woman (hidden far inside the marrow of ancient bones);ASHES AND EARTH: The Hollowing (2009):A place of incubation. A special retreat for the deep winter. Within the silent stillness of the hollowing woman, caught in the marrow of ancient bones and far inside the cauldron of crows, rests one seed that holds the key to the restoration of life. So we create a journey of germination and renewal as we pause before the last out-breath of winter, held at a turning point within the protecting hands of the oldest guardian, and guided by the visions that wait behind our eyes. A time for mending, dreaming, tending fires and travelling gently, supported within the circle of women and nurtured by the ancient land.

BLOOD (the journey inward)


SILENCE:The restoration of grace


inspired renewal with the Bleeding Woman (as she follows the strange seam where death and life are knitted together);ASHES AND EARTH: Raw Earth (2009):A moment of awakening. Over the raw spring earth runs the quickening woman, following the strange seam where death and life are knitted together, where a perfect balance exists between the winding of shrouds and the vibrant expression of new energy. We are midwoves of so much: last and fisrt journeys, blodd of grave and of womb, return and release, physical and elemental bodies, all lifted on a rising wave of change. Involves a profound connection with a wild place and the alchemy of sacred water. We use willow and hazel on which to spin some spring magic and paint our red journeys as we catch the early spring waves of energy that carries us onwards towards the illumination of summer.

BLOOD (the journey inward)


HOPE:The gift of shrouds


and the blessing of lament with the Illuminating Woman (who dances on the cauldron rim where the ultimate gifts of light are finally revealed). ASHES AND EARTH: The Illuminating Woman (2009): A blessing of light. The final weekend in the Ashes and Earth cycle of journeys that have explored our intimate connection with a moon that repeatedly carries us on a circle road through dark solitude, incubation, inspired renewal and the illumination of memory. In the full brilliance of the Illuminating Woman we discover the ultimate blessing of ashes and earth. She slowly dances around the rim of the cauldron of crows, where light is revealed through its relationship with shadow, creting deep ceremony enriched by the intricate weavings of soul songs and lament and the wonder of life. Together we prepare a white ritual house, a ceremonial dancing ground and small looms on which to catch light, air and bright memory.

ASH (a distant place)

THE CAVE-BEYOND-THE-CAVE (the rising), MOON (the journey of returning)


LAMENT:The blessing of songs


Through all of this we trace our intimate connection with the moon as she carries us around the circle road.

The waxing and waning of the moon move her like a shuttle on the loom. The symbolism of spinning and weaving, of spun threads and woven cloth, extends into all life. The fabric that gives shape to birthing and living and growing and dying is frayed, picked apart, cut and rewoven into new cloth. And so cloth forms a significant aspect of this work and a physical testament to the ancient hands that work the sacred loom. Old fabrics woven on hand looms, memories and songs sewn into skirts, the shawl in which we nurse our babes, the veil that protects and binds, the threads onto which we bleed, the shroud into which we are sewn, the spindle that winds us out to the very edges of death, all the weavings of loss and return…

Text and images from the workshops and prints page at Seventh Wave Music:/www.seventhwavemusic.co.uk

Collage at top developed from images from the work of Mark Dunn at www.goetia-girls.com and the image of Carolyn Hiller at the Chalice Well site at http://www.chalicewell.org.uk/index.cfm/glastonbury/Events.Details/event_id/75

"A Collage of a Collage leading to another Collage like [a]Runic Spell woven betwixt & between Huggin & Munnin,Crows perched upon Odqan's shoulders." Mark Dunn










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