Welcome! On this page and the linked page, you will find some songs, chants, prayers and ideas for sounding which have been used on Gatekeeper pilgrimages in the past. They are pointers towards ways of engaging in a deeply rewarding and nourishing way with the land, with nature, with our rivers and seas, with the spirit of place and the spirit of Life and Presence. They can also be used in urban environments, which may be very much in need of song and loving presence. It’s been a wonderful on-going revelation to me that song and sounding can be very quiet and personal and yet carry a strong and enlivening vibration of loving intent, connection and appreciation.
Here are 4 chants from the Gatekeeper Chants CD, which are easy to learn and can be downloaded here, for practice and to use whilst walking. The numbers relate to their place on the CD.
1. Open My Heart
8. Mother I Hear Your Heart Beat
12. Mother Ocean
13. Sine Alelu - Celtic Allelujah (nb Sine pronounced shine)
Please Note all the 17 chants from the CD are now available for free download as MP3s on the linked Chants Page, where the Lyrics can also be found.
These are 2 video links for exquisite songs and images from the Love, Light and Power CD by Caroline McCausland, with songs of Contemplation and Celebration; also Traditional Songs from a landscape temple known as the Grail Kingdom, travelling through France and Britain from root to crown.
Love, Light and Power: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lh3fuquahA
Caroline also sings with Anam Cora (Gaelic for Soul Chorus) and is one of the Gatekeepers singing on the chants CD
Below Are Some Ideas For Those Who Are New To Gatekeeper and those who have become disconnected from their singing voices in our culture – I have discovered our voice can be our own transformational gift as well as a barometer aiding self awareness, compassion and understanding. It is a vital interface between breath/spirit and our bodies. Gently sounding on our breath has a beneficial effect on ourselves and on the world around us. Sadly, our deeper, natural, breath connected voice is one of the many things we have been cut off from over the past few hundred years, where value has been placed more and more on the head – even when it comes to singing. You could say it is about ‘informing’ rather than ‘performing’ and is natural to all of us. It’s a way we can lift our spirits and calm ourselves and thereby reclaim our sense of agency, loving purpose and place in the world. I write this as one of those who was told they were tone deaf and stopped from singing at school at the age of 9 or 10.
Listening, noticing and sensing are, as we know, all vital abilities to develop and enjoy – they also deepen our loving relationship with Life – I have found when we express this through sound or song which is carried on our breath and from our hearts Life responds with subtle delight. If we can drop into a place of silence and deep listening, that somehow opens a doorway to loving awareness and a sense of Presence. (For more on this see Andrew Clarke’s article Singing from the Heart 26.7.2020 on this website) I have found sounding simple vowel sounds can really help with connecting and communicating and provide a beautiful and personal way in.
Some practices I have found helpful place your hand on your heart and sound Haaaah’ on a soft and gentle single tone that you can feel resonating in your heart, even when it’s almost inaudible . You can place a thought on that sound like ‘love’ or ‘thank you’, which you can sound in a similar way. You will find words coming to you in response to the beauty of nature. I find this sounding brings a pleasing gentle, calm, uplifting vibration to my body – a sort of calm inner dancing and effervescence. This somehow connects me with nature and a feeling of wellbeing and happiness . I direct my sound in a loving and appreciative way, towards whatever I am drawn to on my pilgrimage walk. You might want to change the sound to a hum, or other vowel sound, try to tune in to how you feel with the different sounds and a sense of how nature is responding. It’s hard not to smile when doing this, because it’s about giving and receiving love. You might even laugh at first, because you feel self conscious and it feels strange, but that in itself is a great release and uplifting – it’s so ridiculously simple and wonderful. It’s quite subtle and a personal and direct way of engaging with nature, or the Great Spirit of Life and mystery, known by many names...Of course, silence and deep listening are vital aspects of this also.
Many people find their hands are also connected with their voice, try moving them forward from the heart as if to let the sound float on your palms and offer the thought as a gift. Try to sense where the sound would like to go, or where it is needed. For example, you may feel you want to turn your hands, so the palms are facing downwards, and offer the sound to the earth. Or with palms up gently release the sound onto the surface of a river, or perhaps to place them either side of the trunk of a tree, try to sense what distance the tree is comfortable with, would it like the hands close and even touching its trunk, or does it require some space? Perhaps what it would like is silent connection... Tuning in to nature in this way may feel strange at first, but it’s a way to develop sensitivity, so the natural world can begin to relax and feel safe because seen, loved and respected and therefore able to flourish. Indigenous communities are still able to engage with nature in a harmonious, nurturing and respectful way
Sometimes a song or chant will spontaneously arise. This may be a very simple chant, as happened for me recently with the river Avon - You can listen to that chant here, as an example. I have also been quietly singing the Algonquin Water Song to the Avon & her tributaries & when I am by any river: https://vimeo.com/273112273 This song means ‘water is the life blood of our mother the earth and water is the life blood of our own bodies’ Such a vital message. So I think whenever we sing or sound, that is having a transformative, calming and enlivening effect on the water in our own bodies and somehow that of the water in the rivers and the many realms of being in Nature. I also sound Abwoon, or the Lord’s Prayer, in its original Aramaic. I feel the first line alone is transformational: ‘abwoon d’bwashmaya’ - one possible translation of this line could be ‘O Father/Mother, Birther of abundance from the realms of everlasting light.’ Aramaic is a poetic language based on a root word/sound system that can be explored for its many layers of meaning. As in Sanskrit, words are pointers towards things, enlivening the spirit and imagination, rather than pinners down of meaning. It’s a bit like the difference between a live butterfly and one pinned down in a museum.
Aramaic like Sanskrit is a sacred language, because the sounds resonate their meaning in the body - the words are therefore truthful and healing. I have found nature, and in particular water, seems to really respond to this. Both these extraordinary synchronicities occurred on the Lion’s gate day of 8th August 2 years apart. On one occasion a pink rainbow appeared over a hill on which I had just sounded the Abwoon prayer. 2 years later I saw 3 salmon leaping up a gushing waterfall at an unseasonable time in Scotland, immediately after I had spoken/sung the words whilst sounding my ancient Tibetan water blessing bowl. I feel ‘Abwoon’ is a medicine, or healing, prayer for the human condition and the difficulties that arise due to the nature of our minds and our vulnerability on this earth. From this perspective, it’s about individual process and relationship not a dogma. No wonder nature is pleased to hear it! Aramaic is also the language from which modern day Arabic and Hebrew are derived, so I feel speaking it in that language has great healing potential at the cultural level also... to hear a beautiful rendition of this prayer sung by a native Nazarene woman go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8GM2JjM30c and for further information see www.abwoon.org
Finally, of course sound bowls, drums, flutes and other instruments may also be used to bring loving connection and attention to the land, the spirit of Life, of place and of Wisdom and all the beautiful realms of being.
I do hope you will enjoy these resource ideas and links and that they will enrich your experience of Pilgrimage and fostering a loving, deepening, mutually healing & nourishing connection with the land and help to bring heaven alive within us and on earth. This resource page will be growing and others will add to these notes.
As a special offering for this time of difficulty and distress on so many levels Deirdre Ni Chinneide’s song, “I Will Sing for You” feels like a beautiful, timely and eternal remedy, recorded in April 2020. For me, it offers healing for our hearts and for our souls, for the earth and for nature. I am posting the link here and wishing you the many blessings of deep reconnection and inner peace amidst the grief and challenges of these times... And may we all give birth to the light of the Christ spirit of Life, love and hope in our hearts this Christmas and Winter Solstice time.
Gail Smalley December 2020