Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 4c: Trust Your People: The Magus (DJ, that is)

Continued lessons from the Public Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.

Our DJ/Magus's Avatar.
Our DJ/Magus's Avatar.

If The Vision is true, it will find the right people. Trust them.

Trust that The Vision will attract the right people. This is a story about letting preconceptions, personal judgements & ideas go, trusting The Vision & trusting that you have the right people.

More than half a year before the Summer Solstice, we recruited a good friend of ours to orchestrate the music for the ecstatic dance portion of the Animas Ceremony. Before I begin with the story of the DJ(s), I need to make a brief departure to discuss our choices around sound. My sense is that many (neo)pagan types balk at the idea of using recorded music for ceremonial purposes. I believe this must be because it isn't "traditional" or "Ye Olde Fashionedy" enough or something. I need to address this here as I did at the pre-ceremony briefing:

  1. Music is culturally relevant. We live in the contemporary Western United States & the music created today speaks the language of our people more clearly than that of any other time. This is not so say that I dismiss the value of other musical forms or genres -- indeed, I do not, for I happen to be a great lover of, say, classical Jazz, but I know that is an inappropriate choice for moving people through & into the spaces we offered in this ceremony. We wanted to offer the people the opportunity to dance & to dance nonstop for hours. The most logical music to accomplish this is the music of today which has developed specifically for the purpose of extended dancing & altered states: the various permutations of electronica, mixed on-site by a seasoned DJ with all his toys out on the tables.
  2. This was not an ancestral ceremony. We were not attempting to reconstruct some time period from the past, or recreate the sacred activities of a time gone by. There was no need for a Renaissance flutist or Celtic war drums (although I really do enjoy them). Ancient musics are a wonderful device -- in proper context -- but we were/are working in today.
  3. Live drums are timeless. Yes, but... drummers need rest & replenishment, turntables & amplifiers do not. Drummers need to arrive with drums & skills in numbers & the facts? Our community doesn't have the numbers or the skills to fulfill that role. 
  4. Like the drums, electronica is immediately adaptable. The DJ, or Magus, is there to know his acoustical inventory, read the audience & atmosphere & adjust the rhythm & sounds accordingly -- just like good drummers. Electronica also has the great asset of including layers of sound, including prerecorded speech & ambient sounds which are undeniably effective in generating a variety of moods & states of consciousness.
Balk away, some may, but it works. (You don't even have to like it for it to work.)

A few remaining, very tired, dancers in a light rain
under the Midnight Sun -- sometime after 1am.

But back to the lesson at hand: letting go of how you think the ceremony needs to happen & trusting that you have the right people & that they know what they need to do. I call this 'going organic.'

Going organic in this context was allowing things to unfold & evolve naturally without micromanaging. Which I/we didn't exactly do, but should have. A couple of months after we asked Gabriel, our primary DJ (who I have mentioned before), to bring his magick to the ceremony, we began to second guess whether he could solo the music for as many hours as we wanted (or thought/assumed we needed). The role of the Magus in an event such as this is so critical, nay, essential that we found ourselves perhaps a wee bit neurotic. So we asked another DJ friend if he might be willing to tag team, giving Gabriel the opening & closing windows of the evening & having the other DJ fill in the middle to allow for rest & replenishment. 

This ultimately turned out to be unnecessary (& a mistake on a variety of levels), but in our desire to make sure everything went just right, we forgot to trust the artist assess his own limits. This is not the way to do it. When you recruit an artist, be clear about the parameters & expectations & then let them do their magick -- don't try to intercede on their behalf part way through the project because you imagine or decide they might need help. 

Small & awkward mistakes aside, the process of working with a musical collage artist is a delight. Gabriel created a variety of sample mixes for us, set to different BPM ranges. It was a bit like getting boxes of auditory chocolates every week or so... a box of truffles, a box of dark chocolates, a box of dipped fruits... 

One of my favourite mixes -- especially beginning about 4:00... Embrace the World.

And the delight in the process was reciprocal -- Gabriel regularly extended his gratitude for being asked to participate in the process. He too gained from creating for a new context, expanding his collection, his repertoire & moving outside his usual range of sound into new places. 

And in the end, small errors in judgement aside, once we let go & allowed the ceremony to unfold naturally, organically, trusting our people, it was absolutely perfect.

Thank you Gabriel. Thank you.

If The Vision is true, it will find the right people. Trust them.

And trust them to know themselves.


Anonymous said...

That was really cool. The fact that others felt they were getting from the involvement too is a pretty key I think to a successful group project. Thanks for reminding us of that.

Moma Fauna said...

Yes, I think the reciprocity is critical -- I have seen a great many community members burnout over time b/c people felt they were continually contributing/supporting/assisting without any sense of self-fulfillment or reciprocity or sometimes even without recognition. It was very important to make sure people felt re-gifted in some way, whether that be thru enjoyment in the process or even barter exchanges. If people don't feel good about the work their doing, that will bleed into the ceremony -- no one wants that kind of energy, you know?

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