Last Friday I went with the Beloved Spouse and some dear friends to a Wendy Rule concert, one night only, at The Castle on the Hill. That’s a venue and b&b built by three artists, two of whom are good friends of Andrew’s and mine. It is also their home. (They can truly say, ‘My home is my castle.’) When Thom the poet did a gig there recently, it reminded him of Montsalvat in the Melbourne hills. Indeed it is very reminiscent — but whereas Montsalvat is a Great Hall plus a number of small dwellings and outbuildings, this is all one building, full of comfort as well as artistry.
I’ve adored Wendy’s music for years, but this was the first time I’d had a chance to attend a live performance. I have been astounded to discover how many Aussies don’t know who Wendy Rule is. Hell-o-o-o-! Internationally famous singer-songwriter, with one of the most gorgeous voices around. But of course she’s not mainstream pop. Melbourne people are somewhat more likely to know. She lives in Melbourne when she’s not touring. The Pagan community all know who she is: she is also a very high profile witch, who conducts workshops and is known for casting circle on stage.
It was a cold night, but with many bodies in the room it was soon cosy. The room fits 80 at a squeeze, and the event was sold out. Some of us sat on chairs around the walls; most people brought cushions and filled the floor. We could see glimpses of the dark gardens through the walls of windows. Wendy’s voice, alone and unaccompanied, is even more glorious than on disc. Mostly she played a guitar, several times sang without even that. We all felt it to be a magickal experience, and Wendy loved the venue so much that she wants to come back in a few months. And yes, she cast circle, with incense and song, before she began, and opened it again after the concert finished. When casting, at first she made a mistake in the directions. She giggled at herself and said without embarrassment, ‘I must be thinking I’m in the Northern Hemisphere. Let’s do that again.’
She comes across as warm and real, no visible egotism. She told us she’s just started sewing again, and had made the lovely, floaty, green and gold gown she was wearing. We applauded. (Oh, and did I mention that she’s incredibly beautiful?) She sang a song she had written for her son on his 18th birthday, and mentioned his recent party with ‘a back yard full of teenagers’. She sang a lot of songs from her new CD. This was the very first night of a tour to promote it. And she also did some of my old favourites: Wolf Sky, Animus, Horses.... When we wouldn’t let her go without an encore, she chose an early, powerful piece, Zero.
‘Let’s raise some energy,’ she said at that point. As she sang, we could feel the energy rising. ‘What shall we cast a spell for?’ she asked, adding immediately, ‘I know — freedom!’ And so we did. She chanted the words; we joined our will to hers. ‘Freedom for all living things,’ she declared.
There have been some interesting repercussions. Andrew said he experienced a major shift in knowing who he is. He felt uplifted, and that she had touched his soul with her beautiful songs, performed alone in that magickal venue — an event unique in the whole world. He described his experience in detail next day to a friend who was there too. The friend said, ‘You’ve had a shamanic death’ and proceeded to relate his own very dramatic shamanic death experience after the concert. Both men came out of this with a new freedom from certain oppressive conditions in their lives.
As for me — for four years I have hosted a popular online site called Haiku on Friday at MySpace. It’s been a joy as well as a commitment. Suddenly I realised I didn’t want to keep working within the haiku form; I don’t want to be bound by those particular rules any more. I handed it over to a couple of other haikuists. This morning I visited to cheer them on and contribute not a haiku but another short form called a lune. I noticed that I enjoyed being released from my duty to Haiku on Friday too, liking the freedom to come along as just one of the mob. There was a new pleasure, and leisure, in being on MySpace simply as myself.
Post-Script: In our friends’ photos taken at Wendy’s concert, many spirit orbs are revealed, hovering over us all. One of the said friends has kindly provided the link to the photos on facebook: here.