LITERATURE, MUSIC AND FILMS
Literature, Music, Films ~ with a powerful capacity
to transport you into imaginal realms.
Ancestral Healing and the Creative Arts
Synchronicity is a wonderful thing. As I was working through the above healing process, post-Liverpool, it seemed as though a whole series of relevant creations – writing, music and art work of different kinds – seemed to enter the field of my awareness.
I came across books I had never heard of before, I would hear something on the radio, there would be a film in my local cinema or a new CD would come to my attention.
In addition to the books I have already mentioned above, I found or tracked down (because of being hot on the trail of some detail!) a succession of history books, historical novels or other fiction that added something significant to the evolving picture of what it actually felt like to be alive - in different circumstances, at different times, and in different places.
Particular works that made a contribution included:-
The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson
The American Crucible; Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights – Robin Blackburn
Sins of Our Fathers: A Study of Atlantic Slave Traders – James Pope-Hennesy
Sugar in the Blood: A family’s story of slavery and empire – Andrea Stuart
Astraea and The Pretender – Jane Stevenson
Much fiction and biography by Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill
Roots – Alex Haley
The Rebel Radio Diary – set in Cuba – Rupert Mould.
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
There was also the film, ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ and lots of music, from jazz in Cuba to a splendid compilation of history and music by Jordi Savall, La Capella Reial De Catalunya and Hesperion XX1 – The Routes of Slavery 1444 – 1888.
Others might have produced a quite different reading and listening list – such rich resources are available to the healer- explorer in time and place – but clearly no individual can process the residues of the whole world! This is why I hope to inspire others to start from where they are and do something comparable – because we are each unique, your journey will open out exponentially and - eventually and together - we can reach into every dark corner and bring light to it.........
If you feel compulsively drawn to a particular part of the world that you seem to have no connection to, trust that your instinct means something. A good way to enter into such a place or society is to immerse yourself in stories of the place, either biographical or fictional, or sometimes works which interweave the two.
In a small and random selection of recommended starting-points I would suggest that the following are excellent
For China – Wild Swans by Jung Chang
And Burying the Bones by Hilary Spurling (about Pearl Buck)
For Russia – both fiction and non-fiction by Simon Sebag-Montefiore
For Poland – The Bronski House by Philip Marsden
For the Middle East – Jerusalem by Simon Sebag-Montefiore
For Jewish history in Germany – Schindler’s Ark and Searching for Schindler by Thomas Keneally
For Jewish History further East – Odessa Stories by Isaac Babel
From Scotland to Canada – The Oatmeal Ark by Rory MacLean
Across the Turkish-Armenian Divide – Deep Mountain by Ece Temelkuran
For Africa – The Zanzibar Chest by Aidan Hartley
And A Kalahari Journey – The Healing Land by Rupert Isaacson
For Chile – The House of the Spirits and other novels by Isabel Allende
For Colombia – One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
If you have any additional recommendations which cry out to be included, either in relation to a place or a particular issue, please contact me via the jot-form on page 4 and I shall add them to the list.
And don’t forget that many programmes of the wonderful series of BBC programmes ‘Who do you Think you Are?’ are still available to be seen on BBC I-Player.
I regard ‘The Hare with Amber Eyes’ by Edmund du Waal as the pinnacle of all literary masterpieces of ancestral healing, a model of how such a thing can be done. Rosemary Hill in the Evening Standard described it as ‘part treasure-hunt, part family saga’ and said that it ‘combines all the charm of a personal memoir with the resonance of world history.’ Certainly Edmund du Waal was gifted with a quite remarkable family in the scope and reach of its personnel, interests, and the dramas associated with their interactions with the troubling times in which they lived – but it might turn out that you could tell an equally fascinating tale if you track down your own family history in recent turbulent centuries. Why not try?!
And please let me know of your researches and the healing that results from them, as I would be happy to include a selection of these on this website as it develops.
Music and Ancestral Healing
The BBC’s ‘Desert island Discs’ is a format of genius, giving diverse and accomplished people – leaders in their field – an opportunity to talk, in an accessible way, of what has been significant to them in their lives and to choose music to symbolise it in some way.
Gems of profundity and insight can be thrown up as, for example, by the composer-‘castaway’, Sir James MacMillan, in a recent programme. His lifetime obsession has been exploring the powerful connection between music and the sacred, with ’something beyond ourselves’, and at different times in the programme he expanded on this.
He said ‘I do believe that music is the most spiritual of the arts. It forges this connection with the hidden crevices between the relationship of the divine and the human; it gets into those cracks, and seems to speak directly to our dark secret selves. We don’t know what it’s saying exactly, but we know it’s relating something about our humanity.’
Later, he claims that people who set aside significant time and give quality attention to ‘discursive music, like Western classical music’ often recognise this intuitively. They ‘realise there is a possibility of being changed and transformed through this great inter-action; by allowing it into one’s ears and into one’s soul, change takes place and it affects our whole way of looking at the world,, our relationships, our ideas, our perceptions – it’s a very powerful force.’
Having been brought up in the Irish Catholic diaspora, though in Western Scotland, he says that ‘the Divine for me is a reality’ and ‘music allows us to open a window onto this.’ You can listen to the whole programme if you wish on BBC I-Player and enjoy his distinctively personal selection of music.
What he says above, however, ties in beautifully with a way of working therapeutically with music of which I have had some experience in the last couple of years – enough to be aware of its power and efficacy, but not enough to be an experienced practitioner. It is called GIM – Guided Imagery and Music – developed by the American violinist, Helen Bonny, in the latter part of the 20th century. It uses music’s power to facilitate altered states of consciousness for purposes of both healing and personal growth – and holistically, as mind, emotions, body and spirit can all experience transformation at the same time.
So here is a way of working that can contribute beautifully to the kind of ‘soul-voyaging with a purpose’ that I have been attempting all the time to promote on this website!
For a clear and concise history of the development of GIM you could not do better that read ‘Music and Consciousness : The Evolution of GIM’ by Helen Lindquist Bonny, edited by Lisa Summer, which gives a very clear account of the development of this way of working.
The cut log diagram on page 168 allows anyone familiar with Jungian teaching instantly to grasp the connection between evolving levels of consciousness described by Jung or other Transpersonal Psychotherapists, and those accessed through music..........
A pioneer practitioner and international teacher of this work in Britain is Professor Leslie Bunt of the University of the West of England, Bristol, and I have been fortunate enough to experience the initial stages of his training. I must stress, however, that I am far from being qualified to practise as a GIM therapist, and that will continue to be the case unless I complete the rest of the prolonged training.
I have certainly grasped experientially the powerful impact of this way of working, for both individual and collective healing, but feel that I am still at too early a stage to speak with any authority on this. I sense that Dr Bunt feels that, although enough pioneering work has been done, by a range of insightful practitioners in various parts of the world, to prove its value beyond any doubt, the full scope of its potential has barely begun to be realised in the world at www.lesliebunt.com
I believe that GIM represents an inspiring and transformational way forward for the future.
If you have recommendations of either reading matter or music that have opened the imaginal realms for you in ways you have found productive, please share them with me so that I can gradually incorporate your good suggestions into this website page for the benefit of others.
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