Voices of Nature by Roi Gal-Or
Last month I contributed and performed in a wonderful storytelling festival in a place called Skellefteå in the far north of the Swedish Lapland.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was meeting with and learning more about the Sami people, the natives of that land and their traditions. It was also the first time in my life I had a chance to hear a live Sami yoik. A Yoik is a form of traditional Sami singing and one of the oldest living music traditions in Europe. I learnt that when a Sami baby is born, the people around the baby will sing to the baby a yoik – a spiritual tune that captures their impression of the essence of the child. As the child grows older they will be able to change, add and improvise around, their own yoik. Sami people can sing and dedicate a yoik to another person, to an animal or to the landscape around them. The yoik is sung as an inspiration to evoke or portray that person or place through song – and the singer will yoik the place itself, rather than about it. There are no words but only sounds in a yoik and the man I heard yoiking sang with a voice that was deep, grounded and as ancient as the Earth herself. It was an incredible experience to listen to him and one that connected me to the present moment and the landscape around me in a way that is hard to express in words (though may be possible if I found a way to Yoik it myself…). I was deeply moved by this ancient practice of connection, uniting people with the land through using one’s own voice to sing a place to life. I find many links between Yoiking and the experiences I had listening to and speaking from the landscape during the ‘Earth Speaks’ courses which I run with my colleague Karmit Even Zur, a Shamanic healer and Geomancer who lives in the south of Spain.
I sound here a great call, an 'invitation Yoik' to all those who care for the earth and wish to lend their voice to the land to come and join us in this work!
Here are some words Karmit wrote in her blog after the final week of the course last year: “At the end of the Earth Speaks course we decided to prepare a performance. It was not going to be a performance in the usual sense where the storytellers craft their tales and the audience come to listen. No, we wanted to create an event where we make the space for our guests to experience something of the sacred relationship we had developed with the place over our three weeks together. “Earth Speaks” was a meeting between geomancy and the art of storytelling. Our intention was to listen to the land with our senses wide open and lend our voice to the experiences that ensued. When our audience arrived we ‘embraced’ them into our circle and pulled open the veil for them, inviting them into the woods with the story of ‘Fairy ointment’ (we even had a little jar of it to rub on their eyes.). We took them for a walk and shared story fragments in different parts of the woods. Artists and audience walking together to experience the worlds that unfolds when you open yourself to listen with your whole body as a big ear. One of the interesting elements we managed to achieve was entering into a ‘real time experience’, where although there was a prepared structure to the performance, we were responding to what the moment was offering and were able to create the vessel to carry us into the HERE AND NOW, all together; us, the wind, the trees and the lake. We felt held and nourished. Together we experienced the magic that unfolds when one enters a mindspace of no separation."