Transformation through Song and Story
by Sheri Kling
Sheri Kling is the senior producer and a performer for Mythic Journeys. More information on the songwriters featured can be found at their websites – www.cosysheridan.com, www.carrienewcomer.com and www.sherikling.com.
In Say I Am You: Rumi, translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, Rumi is said to have explained why he used poetry and music in his teaching in this way:
Since [the community] was not ready for the gifts I had to give, I devised poetry, with music, to entrance the inhabitants toward spiritual truth. The people who live in this
region are very blessed, lively and curious and fond of art, but as a sick child must be coaxed with sweetening to take medicine, they must be persuaded with poetry to acquire a longing for the soul.
As a singer and songwriter, I don’t imagine for a moment that I possess gifts like those of Rumi,
but I do know well the transformational possibilities in music. When I’m composing, that process
is typically more about simple expression than conversion. Yet, communicating this “longing for
the soul” and the journey toward passionate, authentic living seems to dwell at the core of
every song I write.
I don’t typically describe the themes of my work as “mythic,” so I feel privileged to be among the
wonderful performers who will be sharing their gifts at the Mythic Journeys conference in June.
I do, however, love to use imagery and metaphor to allow new angles to emerge for the listener.
One of my pieces is called It’s Time and describes the urging and guidance I was feeling
several years ago to move past a place of inner conflict. The lyrics include these:
Sometimes I feel like the dog in the median,
I’m finding more and more performing songwriters who are expressing similar themes of growth,
change and the longing for purpose and meaning as I walk this path. Two, in particular, are
also going to be performing at Mythic Journeys – Carrie Newcomer and Cosy Sheridan.
whichever direction I take I'm going to lose.
The battle that's raging inside is killing me
while I fight to ignore the bruise.
The dragon on my left breathes fire
the water on my right threatens to drown.
So I practice my balancing act and flirt on these edges
and I scream without making a sound.
You whisper it's time to trust my heart
It's time to ask for more.
It's time to let the healing start
It's time to stop this war.
I've seen the angels come on the heels of prayer
and I've felt you so strong in my heart I thought I'd explode.
But I'm like the drowning man who's fighting the diver -
when the struggle stops I'll float.
© Sheri Kling, Waking Woman Music, ASCAP
Cosy has a degree in transpersonal psychology and her one-woman show The Pomegranate Seed
is an exploration of appetite, body-image and myth in modern culture through the use of songs
and vignettes. This two-act narrative chronicles one woman's spiritual journey into the symbolic
underworld and her emergence as a more vibrant and more compasssionate person. In it is her song
Demeter’s Lost Daughter, that refers to the myth of Persephone.
Follow me down to the River Styx
Look deep into the water
when Persephone appears on the riverbank
tell her I am another lost daughter.
Tell her my life never looked anything like my mother's
I never fit into the tribe
I have come down to ask the underworld
how to be more alive
I think I found the answer
it's a bit of a surprise
we are blessed when we are fallen
we don't always have to rise.
There's a certain sense of freedom
in a total loss of hope
you can miss alot when you tie a knot
in the end of every rope.
© Cosy Sheridan, cosyng music 2000
I’ve known Carrie Newcomer and her work a long time and songs about the soul’s journey
are not new for her either. Carrie’s songs and performances are always heart-expanding
experiences. After reading Robert Johnson’s book He, Carrie wrote a song exploring the
ideas there called The Fisher King that says, in part:
Down the road and to the left
It’s never been any further
To find the thing you never lost
Who serves, who serves the grail
Are you the one that’s common born,
You a fool in many ways
Have you searched half your life,
Looking for some Holy Grail
Did you see it in a dream,
A vision once when you were young
Does the circle lead you back,
To the place that you begun
Are you the one he left behind,
Or was it you to finally leave
The one that always wore your heart
Out for anyone to see
Brow to brow and side to side
Palm to palm and toe to toe
Had you really no idea,
How far and deep an echo goes
Are you the pilgrim on the road,
Are you the hermit in the wood
Have you followed what you know,
What you want or what you should
I am the wound that will not heal,
I am the song you cannot sing
I am the endless restless ache,
I am I am the fisher king
And all that I can ask of you,
Is do what small good that you can
Speak the words I long to hear,
And to meet me where I am
© 2002 Carrie Newcomer, BMI, Administered by Bug Music
It isn’t always possible to express what is holy, what is sacred and what has meaning in our
lives. And I wouldn’t even begin to tell someone else what to believe, except that I know it
is possible to dance with life in a way that is deeply enriching. And I know that stories
and myths can often break into our orderly worlds with perfect havoc, such as when Cosy first
told me about the story of the descent of Inanna. This small, seemingly innocuous, conversation
led me down a path of holy upheaval from which I’m still reeling and that I hope to translate
into song soon.
In the meantime, we keep walking. And we keep sharing the journey. And those of us who express
ourselves through the arts keep creating, knowing that this soul work can transport us to those
borderlands between heaven and earth. Or, as Carrie writes in The Gathering of Spirits:
East of Eden, but there’s heaven in our midst
The above lyrics are copyrighted and appear here with the permission of the authors and may not
be reproduced without permission.
And we’re never really all that far from those we love and miss
Wade out in the water there’s a glory all around
The wisest say there’s a 1000 ways to kneel and kiss the ground