I have always loved the sea, ever since I was a small child when I would visit my grandmother and play for hours in the breaking waves, like most children I did not notice the temperature of the water, I was simply playing happily in the arms of the sea. The sea shore held great fascination for me; sea-worn glass, shells and driftwood, I found my first perfect fossil on the seashore at West Mersea with my grandmother, I was eight years old, and I still have that incredible fossil, it is an Urchin and it lives in my handbag and sometimes I carry it in my hand for a day or two feeling its smoothness and the promise of the Magical Ocean.
I still have that deep fondness in my heart for the sea, and it has grown and developed, as have I, the sea evokes such a wealth of feeling in me. If I get the rare chance to visit the sea alone I may find myself in a windswept, romantic dream. When I look out to Sea I am inspired by Her music and stories both told and untold. The grief and desolation of lovers and friends parted or drowned seems to be held on the crests of the waves, those charging white horses wildly chasing the loneliness from my dreams.
The adventure, excitement, and perhaps the stark and stony reality of those who run away to sea, the women who dressed as men to escape marriage or to find adventure. Those who went to sea to fight, or were press-ganged into the navy, and of course the explorers in their sailing ships discovering new places; just to think of it gives me shivers.
The great Untamable Ocean, the wide and beautiful magical depths, unknown and unfathomable; how wonderful and inspiring that there is such a delightfully wild and free realm on Earth.
Then of course there is the seashore, the sand and stones and the tide endlessly flowing in and out, the waves crashing, beating the rocks and sand, or just gently caressing the shore.
Such treasure is to be found on the beach! The beautiful pearlescent sea worn glass in greens, blues and browns, my lover once spent an afternoon collecting little tiny pieces of sea smoothed beauty and presented it to me; a magical pile of light captured seascape.
I delight in the shells of so many shapes and sizes, what creatures do make these tiny homes only to cast them away? Such incredible little temples that float around the sea for hundreds and thousands of years to come and go with the tide, and one day to be collected by a small girl and held between tiny wet curious fingers. I once collected a handful of the tiniest shells imaginable, each of them absolutely perfect miniature versions, I still have them somewhere, but now I need my glasses to see them properly.
Did you ever see radiolaria? Microscopic magnificence!!!
Driftwood enchants me, where has it come from? All over the World!!!
The twisted smooth sticks and branches that wash up on the shore, I once knew a man who collected them and made the most beautiful mobiles.
I think it must be the mystery that inspires me the most. I love mystery, to the degree that I will actually tune out people who are (or think they are) giving rational explanations for things that I would prefer to ponder and fantasize over, ah The Great Unknown! The Ocean and everything about her is the epitome of this and the Great Mystery of Life Itself! If we knew what it was all for I believe we would loose half of the magic!
I have always loved a good story, and the sea is filled with Mythologies from every part of the globe. The stories that I love the most are from the same part of the world as me; the British Isles. Amongst my favorites are the Selkies; the word Selkie derives from the Scotish word “selich” from the old English “seolh” which means seal- the selkie is a seal in the sea and a human on land (once he or she has removed her seal skin). Legends of the Selkies are found in Irish, Scotish, Faroese and Icelandic folklore, there are many mostly tragic tales of people capturing selkie women and marrying them, some of the tales are magical and romantic and some are very sad, if you want to call a male selkie to you, simply shed seven tears into the shimmering sea!
I also love the tales of mermaids that have been told for thousands of years in the folklore of Europe, the near East, Africa and Asia, there are even pictures of mermaids in ancient Mesopotamian artwork from as far back as 1830BC! The explorer Christopher Columbus reported seeing them when he adventured in the Caribbean, I have seen mermaids in my dreams and perhaps when I have been far out to sea; I have the very great fortune of having sea legs!
I recently heard the story of Dylan ail Don from the Mabinogion, he was the magical son of Arianrhod. Upon his birth he ran from the room and kept running until he reached the sea, whereupon he took on the characteristics and nature of the sea herself, which was why he was called Dylan ail Don- son of the waves, or son of the sea.
Of course there are so many magical stories of the sea from every part of the world, so many they could fill a whole ocean….
I have much to say about why I love the sea and why I write songs and I thought it might be interesting to also describe how I write songs, so here are a few of my musings on the subject.
I love poetry and rhyme,
and patterns deep as time.
To the language of the past,
I shall always hold on fast.
For to capture time gone by,
I shall sing a lullaby.
So in my room I sit and wait,
and in the night-time lift my face,
for in my waiting hands I hold
pencils, paper and violin old
And when the songs come singing in
My open heart loves for to begin.
It is true that I sit ready in a quiet place (usually at night) with my instruments and paper to write everything down, I learnt to write my music on manuscript paper, but as I have never really learnt the art of writing musical timing I also often write the words bellow the music, and I go for belt and braces recording whatever comes on some sort of digital device just in case!
My methods vary depending on my mood and inspiration, sometimes I will have an idea of a story in mind- pretty much all of my songs are stories, either from my own life or folk lore- and then sometimes I will write a poem and set it to music or the music will come first and the words will somehow follow.
Occasionally I just sit in a certain mood of blankness and openness and wait to see what will happen!
However I rarely just leave it at that, I love poetry and rhyme, and it is important to me to have a certain amount of verses, too short and its all over too soon, too long and my concentration may drift or I simply wont have the time to learn the words! Once the first verse is written I will use it as a template for the following verses and often my songs will expand in a way which encompasses all the elements of the Earth, as in my song Fishes:
“I am as the Fishes of the Sea, of the sea,
Swimming far and swimming free,
Through the emerald carpets of maidens hair,
Boulders and pebbles and glittering sand.
We shimmer, we dazzle as bright as the sun,
Full of joy, full of life, full of fish, full of fun!
I am as a bird of the air, of the air,
Flying far and flying free,
Over mountains high and valleys bellow.
Kissed by the wind, held tight by the air
I swoop and I glide, as bright as the sun
Full of joy, full of life, full of peace full of fun!”
And so on, going through the deep earth, the wolf in the woods, the moon in the sky, and the woman on the land.
Why do I do this? It inspires me, I feel drawn to it, it fills a space in my heart, it satisfies me deeply, I love the ancient feel of traditional folk music and want to write it! On the rising crest of every wave, gallop horses of harmony calling my soul to Sing the Songs of the Sea!
(1320-1392 Kashmiri mystic)
“The soul, like the moon
is now, and always new again.
and I have seen the ocean
Since I scoured my mind
and my body, I too, Lalla,
am new, each moment new.
My teacher told me one thing,
live in the soul.
When that was so,
I began to go naked,
and dance. “