Roses & Roses: Songwriting UK Travel Journal part 1

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Back in October I decided to go to England and Scotland on a personal artistic journey and spiritual retreat. I was also invited to take part as an Artist in Residence at a gathering in the Lake District on the Divine Feminine hosted by Rumi’s Circle in connection with the Sufi Threshold Society. This was the first time I’ve ever traveled alone as part of a creative quest for new songs or been invited to write for a particular occasion. It was a very special experience for me that I will always cherish.

I’d like to share with you some of my creative process with the lyrics to the two new songs that emerged from the journey; Roses & Roses and Mujer, Mujer.  These two songs will be recorded in San Marcos Texas, along the Guadalupe river, at the University of Texas San Marcos Fire Station Studios with my band Runaway Horse and with the generous help from music recording student Jake Waters on Dec. 11th and 13th.

My trip began in London with a talk on poets and beauty held at the Keats museum in London, the house where once lived the romantic poet John Keats. It was there the nightingale sang and Keats wrote Bright Star and many other of his famous poems. The talk was given by my long time mentor and friend Elizabeth Hin who I’ve been studying with now for twenty years. If you’d like to hear the talk it can be heard here.  The talk set the tone for this personal journey: To be attuned to beauty and the poetic voice.

I began composing the first song in London the night after this talk. I wrote the first verses in my hotel room in London. Since before I left Austin and I got the invitation to the Unveiling the Divine gathering I had the intention to be writing about the divine feminine and what it means to me. I also lost my mother a year ago and have been very present to the spiritual and feminine legacy she left me. My intention for the songs was to be with both the universal aspect of the divine feminine as well as my more personal connection to my mother and my matrilineal side of my family which is from Mexico.

A little about my songwriting process; When I write songs I get into a receptive mode and begin playing chords on either the piano or guitar (on this trip I took a small Washburn Rover travel guitar.) Often I’ll have a topic or experience on my mind when I start, but sometimes I don’t. The music, melody, and words come together at the same time. I experience words as they arrive in my mind and phrases will then reveal to me the meaning of the song. At a certain point, usually by the end of either a verse or a chorus I understand what the song is about. I then work more purposely on writing the following parts of the song to communicate along the same theme as the original words/music from where the song started. My creative process  begins in a receptive place, attuning to and receiving inspiration. I would call my songwriting stye very feminine.

I won’t go line by line or give all of the song here but, I’ll explain some of the lyrics.

Roses & Roses

From the belly of a woman and the seed of a man
Back to the womb of my grandmother
That’s where I began
That’s where I began
In the black of midnight
It is both empty and it is full
Back to my ancestors
Everywoman and everyman
Everywoman

Roses and Roses and Roses of you
Roses of you, Roses of you, Roses of you

As I wrote these first parts which are Verse 1 & 2 I realized that I was writing about the process of creation from woman and men conceiving life. That we all are alive from this primal expression of life itself. This is one aspect of the divine feminine; the conceiving, nurturing, and birthing.

“Back to the womb of my grandmother”  refers to the new understanding in epigenetics that the egg that created you was formed inside your mother’s fetus while she was inside of your grandmother’s womb. Giving way to the sense of our life force going back to our ancestors directly through our mothers and grandmothers.

“In the black of midnight It is both empty and it is full”  these words were beginning to explore the spiritual experience of what is sometimes called “the void.” Where do we come from beyond our cells? As some ancient cultures worshipped “The Great Mother” I wanted to touch upon the feminine as the greater womb of divine mystery.

(Chorus)
Roses and Roses and Roses of you
Roses of you, Roses of you, Roses of you


This is the chorus of the song which I didn’t add until the end of the gathering of Unveiling the Divine. There was a recurrent theme of roses in particular in Elizabeth’s talk that made an impression on me. Her sharing about her friendship with Camille Helminski as expressed through flowers. The imagery of flowers also connected me to the work of Georgia O’Keefe that I had seen on exhibit at the Tate in London the same week (her paintings of flowers like windows into the divine feminine.) Roses are also symbols for my me of my mother. She always liked to place a rose by the Virgin Mary statue in the front of our house. When my mother was in the last weeks of her life I filled the house with bouquets of roses. Her skin always had the delicate feeling of rose petals. “Roses and roses and roses of you” is both a remembering of my own mother, a homage to the gathering of the women sharing, and a metaphor for the divine feminine in oneself; the beauty, the perfume, the gentle majesty, the essence of the divine feminine.

 

Listen to the track here: https://soundcloud.com/runawayhorse/roses-and-roses-original-rough

 

Here is a Spotify playlist of the songs I listened to while on this trip (plus two of my own songs.) I listened to UK women artists who helped me connect to the soul of the land I was traveling through and songs that connected me personally to traveling.

On the second part of this travel journal I’ll share about the second song called Mujer, Mujer (woman, woman.)

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