MUSINGS OF A RATIONAL MYSTIC

It's all in the light sometimes  

Spent the day in a pub.

I ate a Ploughman's lunch and had a cup of tea. I didn't know about this pub when I set off, I just wanted somewhere to write and couldn't trust what I read online. Attleburgh. I turned left off the roundabout and the first thing I saw was this pub. I spent the day writing the book that describes how I lost my voice, the book that will accompany my album, an album I wrote two years ago. It's a thing - a multidimensional mission, all my learnings so far. And then there will be round 2 and probably 3. But this is round 1. 

I rewrote the first chapter.  I've done two of the three parts of the book so far but I need to edit before I start the finale. I'm a better writer now, weave the world and the narrative; story and conception. Writing needs time. Long stretches so you can think in long stretches. And a lot of energy. It takes a lot of give to be creative. 

Anyway, it's a book about creativity and the power of Creative Light. It's a book about light.

And then I read an article about Wittgenstein who was the only philosopher I could ever relate to. He talks about how confused everyone is. And then I looked out and saw the light of the sky.

And then I thought, I better write my blog so you all know, that if artists go into hiding, it's probably cos they're getting ready for the show. 

 

Alright... so my EP wasn't what I was expecting.  

Yeah. I thought it would be a way to burst my new found identity onto the stratosphere of a fresh life; a harmonious world of wispy angels floating on harp-shaped clouds and singing in a perfect ten part harmony of alelujia. 

But instead, I was reminded of an industry that I'd left many years before - music, like everything else, is business. 

How can I put this so you can understand. I.... got ripped off. Not much more I can say really. It was the second of the two times that I'd been robbed in the industry, the first being when I wrote and recorded a song in the studio, which was then sold to a label without my approval and vanished into a whiff of nothing. I know it made something because I bought the record myself. Not a penny. I can assure you. 

My conclusion? This industry was not for me. What I'd spent had been a serious investment. I worked round the clock. I'd got sick and kept on. I'd tried. It wasn't for me. Fine. Hence my silence. 

But lo and behold, it's not that easy to quit when you've got guardian angels. I really don't know what else to call them. Somehow, I ended up with some good news. 

An old friend got in touch and asked me to do a charity gig for the homeless. Yes. I would love to. sometimes, you gotta give back, especially when things aren't working out. 

 

 

And soon after that, this: 

 

Now I'm meeting some new band members and I think the tide is turning. 

What I can say is that for all my experiences with the EP I learned one thing: choose wisely. There are good people out there, there have to be. 

 

And onto Phase 2. 

 

 

One EP done!  

So! I'm done with the first round of my music career and what a cracking year it was!

Semi-finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest, Regional Finalist in Open Mic UK, 5 times picked up by BBC Norfolk, three times by Future Radio, live set with Shoreditch radio and countless gigs. 

I learned an awful lot this year. I learned about what it takes to get good news and bad news. I learned about the importance of professionalism in music as in any other job. I learned about practice. I learned to keep my voice healthy. 

Most all, I learned to listen. Not to the many voices of the industry that will make decisions for you that you don't necessarily agree with, but my inner voice to guide me on my rightful path in music. 


And best of all: I attracted the attention of some important voices for my future career. Watch this space. 2017 is my year. 

Love Naomi. 

Demons and the Shadow Aspect  

This is the most bizarre of all my stories. 

I had a friend whose company bothered me intensely and I could never work out why. I felt tired when she was around. I felt that I couldn't trust her. I felt confused. I felt drained. I felt... something was wrong. 

She always claimed to be a close friend, loyal and supportive, loving, caring. She would call me when she needed support though I would rarely see her in person. She would be heavily involved in my personal affairs and invite herself into the intricacies of my mind and emotions. She wanted to know how I felt, how I would solve issues, my history, and I shared everything with her believing in her generosity.

But I always had this eerie, haunting feeling that there was something else going on behind the scenes, this strange sense that she wasn't really a friend despite everything she said. It didn't make sense: the words coming out of her mouth and the feeling I got being near her did not cohere. I felt ashamed of my suspicions and ignored them. 

In time, though, her emotional demands were too much for me and I started to feel exhausted. Once she demanded that I nurse her through another of her "episodes" and I ended up having to leave my dinner date just so I could calm her down for two hours over the phone. It became apparent that she was highly unstable. At this point, I starting thinking there really was something wrong. 

My reaction was to close the door on her; it was all too bizarre and disturbing. It was at a time when I was struggling in my own life and sometimes I wonder if she preyed on that vulnerability.

Horrifyingly, the baddie ended up being - me. I was the one with the issues, it was my fault. My punishment was that I should continue being friends with her which I felt obliged to do. 

Finally, I came across the Shadow Aspect in Jung. This is where we suppress our dark desires for the sake of abiding by moral norms of society. Importantly, people are not aware of it in themselves: the shadow operates in darkness, in the shadows of your mind, it's sub-, even un-concious. This was the only way that I could make sense of the oddity of this situation - I'd never been in any situation like it and it was quite rattling. I thought I was losing my mind. 

I heard once "in life, there are fountains and drains, stick with the fountains". Yes. Simple really. And I said goodbye forever. 

Needless to say, it's always those weird things in life that make songwriters write. So, here is Demons. 


DEMONS (live vocals) 
 

 

The Science of Intuition: what the US Army is really fighting for  

US ARMY FOR INTUITION 


After discovering that soldiers who relied on intuition were better soldiers, the US army is formally researching the powers of intuition.  

 
In 2012, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research decided to launch a research project called “Enhancing Intuitive Decision Making Through Implicit Learning”. It looks at the role of intuition in decision making. 

“The whole goal of this research endeavor is to determine if we can develop techniques to measurably improve intuition,” says Ivy Estabrooke, a program manager at the Office of Naval Research. 

In fact, what they are finding is that soldiers that rely on their intuition are more likely to uncover covert operations or secret explosives than people that follow prescribed learning. 

Read the New York Times article: Here 

Can you believe that? Of all the possible agencies, the daddy of constitutional reason is entrenching mysticism into the Army. Possibly the best news I've had all year. 

But again I'm left with one fundamental question: why is mysticism so frowned upon in today's society if people trust in nothing else as much? 

Psychology Today says that System 1 reasoning - that of the right hand side of our brains, which operates the reptilian intelligence we inherited from our prehistoric ancestors - governs Intuition and actually works faster than our powers of reason. 


 

POWERS OF PREDICTION 

And the good news doesn't stop there: Intuition is also smarter than Reason. 

 

 


For example, in one study, published in Psychology Today, shows that researchers asked their subjects to play a card game where the goal was to win the most money.  What the subjects did not realize, however, is that the game was rigged from the start.  There were two stacks of cards to choose from; one was rigged to provide big wins followed by big losses, while the other deck was set up to provide small gains but almost no losses.  

It took about 50 cards before the subjects said they had a hunch about which deck was safer, and about 80 cards before they could actually explain the difference between the two decks.  However, what is most fascinating is that after only 10 cards the sweat glands on the subjects’ palms opened slightly every time they reached for a card in the dangerous deck.  It was also around the tenth card that the subjects started to favor the safer deck, without being consciously aware that they were doing so.  In other words, long before the analytical brain could explain what was going on, the subjects’ bodily intuition knew where there was danger, and guided them toward safety.

The faster Intuition will know the answer before Reason, because Intuition developed at a time when knowledge was scarce and unpredictability was the norm. 

So the belief in mystical powers is the source of all our failings? 

 

Intuition   Podcast

What is it about Intuition? 


Seems like anyone who has ever done anything interesting in life seems to rely exclusively on this one little faculty. 

 


Sensually, it seems to fall in its own category, not quite like love; something more like an impression or atmosphere; people cohere about it and it's totally private at the same time.  

Psychology Today calls it:  that inner voice, that allows you to bring your true instinctual awareness back into your rational everyday life. 

Good enough. 
 

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  1. Intuition

Why Being Mystical Doesn't Mean You're Nuts  

I always worry about the M word.

Say the word "mysticism" and immediately people think about fanged witches cawing at the devil; a cult-of-the-occult; astral travel or air-headed nymphs floating somewhere in another dimension. 

Worrying then, that Paganism is back. 

But, what is it? 

Traditionally, Paganism was the belief system of the ancients: people believed in the powers of nature - the elements, Gods of trees and sky, the mythologies of the ancient worlds, First Nations, whatever - and developed a range of practices to show their worship, some of which were a little questionable (cannibalism, human - baby - sacrifice, yes, agree, not exactly in line with modern ethics). 

So when Christianity took hold, it was on the grounds that pagan customs were dangerous and weird. We put Christmas and Easter in the place of Winter and Spring solstices and demonised all plant worship. It was an effective control and, frankly, made a lot of sense when it came to homogenising the world they knew. 






But in doing so, they built a legacy that has still persisted today - that Paganism is evil. 

But why? In early Britain, Pagans, in particular, "witches", were medicinal forest dwellers, the healers of old societies, that were in touch with the power of plants and nature directly (they made potions out of plants, basically). Technically, this would make my sister a witch, because she's using plants to make bath products and teas with medicinal qualities. She refuses to use chemical cleaning products because she feels that it damages the earth. 

Terrible really. 

Today's world sees a rise of Yoga, Karma, New Age "energy" theories, environmental protection, holistic attitudes to cause and effect, all just really the nuts and bolts of glorified, glamorised Paganism. Are the vegans evil? The eco-warriors? 

The thing that fascinates me most about belief systems, is that despite our best efforts, questions about the world didn't just evaporate because we are told not to believe them - they linger on, somewhere in our experience of life. 

Personally, my beliefs have hurricaned so dramatically that I've given up looking for answers: philosophy taught me nothing; reading taught me a lot; travel even more. But it's my instincts that have been my greatest guides when it comes to finding answers. 

Something happens when I'm in nature: I feel a... force. I would describe it as experiencing a form of God, I just don't call it God. I have Christian friends who agree with me. I am not alone in this.

Does that really mean I'm crazy? Really? Look at the sky and the sea and the mountains and flowers and bees and earth and wind and stars and trees and all the beautiful animals. I feel that I'm in the presence of something wondrous when I am around the natural world. From the depths of my instincts and bones. A power. 

So my conclusion is: Nature = Spirit. Protect Nature. That's my basic religion. 

And that makes me nuts? 

 

How Mysticism Became Modern Day Madness  Podcast

So we all understand that life started with mysticism until the monotheistic religions took over. Right? After the fall of Rome, the Church was a much more attractive prospect than berry picking during the Dark Ages. People at the time tore down the aqueducts and used the stones to build little shacks. We fell back into a time of battling the elements, fighting each day for survival, eating whatever we could find. A real life Game of Thrones. 

Not a huge surprise that Christianity, with all its churches and organisation, was so popular. I mean, anything would have been better. The Church replaced Pagan celebrations with its own, ensuring that they fell at the same time, and deemed all mystical beliefs demonic and dangerous. 



And until the 18th century, that's basically how western Europe looked: Christian in its various guises. Later still, the scientific and industrial revolutions spurred all sorts of nutty questions about knowledge - like how we could ever really know anything outside of a laboratory - and we were left somewhere between the Rationalism of an apparent 'Enlightenment' and an unhealthy attachment to the material validation of fact. Hmm. OK. 

Now the world looks something a robot. 

My question is - what happened to our cosmology? I mean, those questions that we ask when we look at the sky at night and wonder why it's all here. And if the major religions of today - monotheism in particular - are so popular, then why is the world facing the rise of a very Hindu-coloured New Age movement? 


I don't think people quite got over their Paganism. Even Jennifer Aniston recently said about Brad and Angelina's divorce -that it was "karma". Karma is a Pagan principle about the oneness of the universe, albeit from Asia. Paganism is simply the belief that all things are connected by a spiritual force and that nature is sacred. Is that really so weird?! 

What is better than nature? Think over your childhood memories and tell me the best times don't involve nature in some way: your favourite climbing tree, the park, the seaside, skiing in the mountains, an adventure park outside in the sun - sunshine itself! Nature gives us everything we've ever wanted: the best food in the world is that which grows straight out of the ground, air or sea and goes into our bellies. It's all the chemical "doctoring" that messes it, and us, up. 

​I mean to say, that, from my perspective, if the devil really were embodied on earth, he would look like Cillit Bang.


I mean look at that guy's face, that is embarrassing. 

If you can't inhale the spray of a cleaning product without coughing, I really doubt we should be washing it down the drain.

When I was travelling through Central America, I turned to find a Walmart nestled between the palms of a Guatemalan jungle. Smack, right there, beige and red, for the convenience of flying tarantulas. And years ago, while I was visiting my family in Western Canada, the right-wing leadership under Stephen Harper, himself an oil man from oil-rich Alberta, was invoking historical contracts that forced First Nations people to give up their land for sake of an oil pipeline. The core issue, of course, was that in First Nation's society, ownership over the land isn't possible: the land is sacred, you don't own it, it has as much spiritual value as any other human being - equal. 

And we call that primitive?

What is it that makes us question our origins? An instinct? A feeling?

Hmmm. Intuition? 

 
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  1. Intuition

Open Mic UK - I'm out! :)  Podcast

Surely rejection should be the worst thing. Or if not worst, than at least bad. Surely it can't be the absolute best thing that has ever happened to you? 

But it is. I chose to sing Dream Lover at Open Mic and didn't get past the Regional Finals. They've kindly invited me to London to showcase for some industry reps instead, with a view to returning to the competition next year. Too kind, honestly - I was a little better than lame. 

Dream Lover was the song that catapulted my solo career: a semifinalist in the UK Songwriting Contest while BBC Introducing and Future Radio playlisted it. Fantastic. It was a lot of fun. I thought it would be perfect - an upbeat, dance, synth-pop song to burst me into the stratosphere. Surely! 

But the music industry isn't interested in karaoke; they are interested in talent, and someone who knows themselves artistically. Would you put a mysterious, mystical songstress behind an upbeat synth-pop dance tune? I even wore a bright red dress for heaven's sake. 

They were nice about my bad performance: they said they liked my originality, that I looked more like a hotel rep than a singer, that I was out of tune and most crucially, that my voice was suited to "acoustic slow music".

Say... again. "Acoustic, slow music?".

Is it now. 




When you do an EP you should want to thrust it confidently into the hands of as many people as you can. Instead, I would cringe with embarrassment at how electronic and bullshitty it had become. By the time I'd finally released it, I'd changed so much I didn't relate to the songs anymore, but because the dance tunes did better, I always felt obliged to honour them. The fact is, I like 80's music to dance to, but that doesn't mean I have to make it myself. 

Open Mic UK's rejection has single-handedly saved my whole career. I feel like a newly freed bird, free from the leeches of a music that wasn't me. When Dream Lover did well, I was delighted. But it achieved what it did because it was a breath of fresh air compared with all the millions of ballads out there; it's bouncy and fresh, yes it is. 

But it really isn't me

I couldn't even play an instrument when I started recording my EP: the first time I played piano on stage was March 9th of this year. I had the power of solid chords and little more. It was only later when I bought myself a real piano that things started to improve and my sound emerged in full swing: mystical, haunting songs, that draw on seven years singing in choirs rather than my desperate attempt at singing synth-pop. 

My new songs, well, I love them deeply: they talk about other worlds, about the beauty of nature, about human fragility, about my eternal search for home; they are completely and utterly - me. 

Thank you Open Mic. I can now finally let go of synth pop and get on with my career.

One year, one EP, one competition - and I've only just begun. 




 
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  1. Dream Lover