SaaWee; invoking the musical movement of shamanism.
“Eternity is in love with productions of time.” This quote from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake never fails to remind me of the very essence of artists. The omniscient spirit admiring the bodily creations of the corporeal being hints at the inevitable linkage between spirituality and physicality. We, the mortal creators, relentlessly strive to reach the transcended state that opens the gate to heaven and hell so that Gods, too, hear us and have means to connect with us.
I have always been enticed by this mission, if you will, and wanted to make sense of it in the world that I live in. However, before merrily laying the stairway to heaven, my way was densely clouded by cyber isolation, emoji, virtual reality, data analysis, nihilism, and online connection. What happened to us? We were once deities that created breathing beauty, but now we would rather father a walking machine that wears the mask of smiley emoji.
Raw emotion is no longer appreciated as a resource that empowers us. Rather, people prefer chilling in hypnotic stage designed by ambient sonic patterns that let us escape from such ‘drama’. Admittedly, it is somewhat soothing when we settle with predictability and exactness, but the presence of the void start to outshine such benefits. We proudly get rid of the frivolous journey business and just trigger the button on the brain to get to the point. The stairway to heaven and hell is no longer summoned. I thought, if the world is to become soulless, musicians should fight valiantly to guard it.
I had to dig deeper to retrieve what was lost or what could possibly become extinct. I hunted down the rare recordings of creators such as Brahms, Debussy, and Sarasate playing their own music. I learned how the painful history of colonization was fossilized into one of the most powerful rhythmic patterns of Latin America. While drinking with various folk musicians, I found out how most spiritual shamanic music was created on the islands of exiles. People had literally risked their lives to express their souls. Why not now? I wondered. It might be difficult to fathom such concept when we have easy access to seas of information and stimulations. One might even kindly offer, “You can rely on data analysis to minimize such risk”. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t risking much I had this emptiness, even though on the surface I had a lot going on.
Early last year, a bigger flow of life came into my vision when I stumbled upon the concept of circular aesthetic. I was fortunate to have a friend who taught me the Circle of Life - The African philosophy that celebrates constant flow of energy from their nature, ancestor, the present livelihood, and future. It is always here whether we are aware of it or not. However, when the circle is realized and charged through us, it reaches a new level of ecstasy and euphoria and that energy feeds corporeal practices such as daily farming as well as the spirituality that guides them. This realization unexpectedly brought me back to where I came from. It filled my void with accumulated wisdom of my ancestors, stories of those around me, and love of the life that I was given. It was as if I was given a legion of galaxies inviting me into the flow of an ever-present circular direction.
It was then I saw the beauty of ancient shamanism and felt the need for contemporary shamanism. I wanted to be the shaman that practices the role of mediator; someone who pays reverence to mother nature, awakens the power of communal energy, and reminds people of our creative soul. It may sound like a task-grandioso, but it is no different from summoning the spirit of Beethoven whilst playing Kreutzer Sonata and connecting deeply into the philosophy and sensitivity of the Romantic era as well as the current state.
In Korean traditional shaman rituals, turning counter clockwise means entering the spiritual realm and turning clockwise means returning to reality. Before inviting the Gods, there must be the cleansing of the road. Bells and shakers are rattling and the heartbeat of Janggu (Korean drum) gets tighter and tighter. Violin recites the poem and invokes everything there is. Gods enter, and the festivity begins somewhere between a laugh and a weep. Even after turning clockwise, unlike Cinderella, everything is still there.