Dear Friends ~ it’s mid-winter and my inbox has been full of holiday offerings, and now sparkly New Year’s missives wishing me this or that next best thing… But in my heart, I am not yet ready to say, “let’s go!” For me, this is still the season of let-go… As you can see from the photo above taken just last week, I am surrounded by a stark, grey, wintry world. Rather than run from this (though at another time, Mexico might be tempting…), I am taking this opportunity to embrace the dark, the cold, and the barren. I know this goes in the face of our mass-consumer, never-stop culture; I should be selling myself, readying to offer new wares and new experiences to you. But as I need it myself, I am wishing you respite from these things. I wrote the following words the other day, immediately upon taking that gloriously bleak photo of treetops, and I’d like to share them with you now: a sort of winter manifesto, if you please…

I appreciate winter’s invitation to strip down to the bare naked, to forget ourselves for a minute and just be with the mystery on the precipice between old and new, known and unknown, what’s done and what’s to come… I will admit that I have properly forgotten myself. I stand here in the middle; empty and even at times a little unclear. But I know I must journey to this place in order to be real, in order to keep authentically on the ever-changing path and not fall into rote habit. So I stand balanced on this precipice, sometimes uncertain if there is ground under me, or if I’m just falling… You may be happy to know I have no great New Years pronouncements for you, no snazzy marketing tactics to inundate your inbox ~ only these humble words that it is okay to go into the winter deep, to rest, and to fully give ourselves **time** for the practice of emptying, clearing, refining. The light will return when it does ~ please don’t force it prematurely. The bud must stay closed until it is ripe, and now is the time to root down, finding nourishment in the dark of the hard winter soil, trusting it’s okay to leave the skeletal branches of our lives bare and exposed to the reality of the cold world. Some will be torn off in the wind or the weight of snow, this is true ~ but this is nature’s pruning job, nothing to resist. This is the time of stillness, quiet, and trust. Root down, my friends, root down…

Of course it’s easy to hear these words and know their truth on some theoretical level. It’s another to live them amidst the rough edges, uncertainties, and sometimes harsh realities of our everyday lives. Honestly, I wrote the above as a reminder to myself amidst challenging times. This autumn and winter has put me face to face with death, loss, upheaval, health crises… These are the kinds of big things that we all face in unique ways, amidst the even more common mundane struggles of juggling livelihood, family, and the relations of the human heart. The point here in my sharing these theoretical words is to invite you, in some way, to apply them to your everyday, to give yourself a break right now as the light of the year is still young, and to allow a sense of grace/openness to arise amidst whatever is present ~ both the heavy and the light… ‘Tis truly the season for it! And as you sit with some measure of stillness, as you rest your bones and listen deeply, may the whispers of the New Year grace you gently with their inspiration, possibility, and warm heart…

With all my love, Ariana

A couple more bleak beauties…

p.s. I continue to photographically journal on instagram and share thoughts and goodies facebook – please join me there as you are called. You also may be interested in following my youtube channel, as I’ve been posting more videos there lately…

Resources…

A few beautiful things that have been inspiring my heart as of late…

Light in Babylon – Another new favorite band ~ from Istanbul, via Israel, Iran, Turkey, France… Check out this stunning live video (just one of so many), and let it lead you down the rabbit hole of their beautiful, heart-wrenching music… You can also purchase their album (yay for support of the arts!) on cdBaby: cdbaby.com/cd/lightinbabylon

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Elizabeth Gilbert calls this book a “hymn of love for the world,” saying, “Kimmerer writes about the natural world from a place of such abundant passion that her love fills the reader’s soul. In Braiding Sweetgrass, she takes us on a journey that is every bit as mystical as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise.” This book will enlarge both your mind and your heart as you learn about history and the natural world from perspectives rarely spoken…

A Good Read…

2016-soul-artistI received the most delightful surprise recently when my album became an inspiration and subject of an article by L.R. Heartsong, “The Wild Soul Songstress: Daring to Be Yourself.” Author of The Bones and Breath, and the “Soul Artists Journal,” I am always moved by his writings, and highly recommend checking them out… ((if inspired, sign up to enjoy his weekly articles in your inbox!))

“I have written previously throughout this journal that Soul Artists are radically authentic individuals. They follow their eros like a golden, glimmering thread, keeping hold of it even when it leads them into the dark and tangled wood (which is invariably where it will go). Each in their own way understands that he or she has a unique gift to bring to the ‘more-than-human’ world — one that may not easily be discovered or shared, nor widely received.

“Don’t apologize for that offering. Not one word of it, brush stroke, or musical note, the slightly burnt underside or the undercooked middle of it. In the very act of its creation, you nourish and celebrate the Soul of the World, embodying the reason why you are here. I say and write this as much for my own benefit and reminding as yours. The whole point of a conscious life is to become ever more authentic, transparent, and expansive.”

Album Review…

“I feel as if I have stumbled unknowingly upon a gypsy caravan and stepped into the circle of dancing firelight and music…”

Maiden of Midnight“This evening is the first time I have listened to Ariana Saraha’s “Maiden of Midnight,” and I am utterly unprepared for her wild, mystical soul and music that transports me to faraway realms and ages. Frankly, I am blown away. I feel as if I have stumbled unknowingly upon a gypsy caravan and stepped into the circle of dancing firelight and music. It seems the perfect soundtrack for a foggy, coastal night at the edge of the continent, here at the threshold of earth, sea and sky. At times there is a Sarah Brightman quality to Saraha’s soprano voice, though the music is less symphonic and more Old World — which is actually part of its allure. Less sleekly produced, more authentic. Most of the songs are at least 6-minutes long, well over the typical 3-minute pop composition. Indeed, there is nothing commercial here or geared to court a mainstream audience. In the very best way, “Maiden of Midnight” strikes me as unapologetic — true to the essence of Ariana’s wild, gypsy soul.”

— L.R. Heartsong, Author (from the article, The Wild Soul Songstress, featured in the Soul Artist Journal)

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