(Two quick bits of housekeeping: I’m delighted to leave a link here for a project just completed with Emergence Magazine. Just click on the link and scroll slowly down and these movie vignettes appear. It’s very beautiful what they’ve done, do please check it out.
Canadian friends: I think the tour is very likely to sell out in the next few weeks. Please don’t delay if you’re after tickets.
Codes from the Old World, Canadian Tour May 2023 )
‘Shamans seem to undergo, at will and at phenomenal intensity, and with practical results, one of the main regenerating dramas of the human psyche: the fundamental poetic event.’
I am transforming
I am vibrating
I am glowing
I am flying
Look at me now
Nick Cave, Jubilee Street
I am on the train from Devon to Paddington, squirrelled away in the quiet carriage. There’s open water on one side, mulchy green fields on the other. Herds of deer nestle in patches of sunlight as we zip by. Spring seems to be muscling in. I yawn and sip more coffee and try not to think about how wrung through I look in the window’s reflection. I repeat the Jesus prayer a few times, and my fingers brush the prayer rope on my wrist.
In my hand is a pen and, as usual, I am writing on the back of bills. I’m not sure why I do this. I have many unused journals and note books, yet the envelope that contains the water bill is receiving my florid scrawl. I’m putting together a talk for this very evening at the Tate Modern on shamanism, place and art. There’s a relief in this request. It’s been an area I’ve circled since the mid-nineties, since the years living in the tent.
There’s an element of wanting to put two very powerful words in a room together and just see what happens. Christ and Shamanism. I’m not meant to be talking about the Christ word this evening, and I haven’t made my mind up yet. I’ll just see what happens, what announces itself.
Do note: I have no interest – zilch – in trying to form some rather indistinct fusion-faith of the two. I will likely be suspected of something like that, but it’s not the case. But I know there are elements of both that speak to each other, and that’s what I’m interested in.
I look out the window. Taunton. Over an hour till Reading. The food trolley is nowhere to be seen. It’s Lent anyway, so a little distance from the passions is no bad thing. Soon my water bill is covered in blue ink. What follows is not exactly the talk, but something that arises from the commission itself. Let’s start with the word shamanism.