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MARCIA HOWARD HOLY WELLS TO WATERHOLES, BELONGING THROUGH SONG

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Holy wells to Waterholes: belonging through song. Marcia Howard. In this thesis I use evocative, performative autoethnography and critical theory, to explore issues of belonging to 'place', through the medium of songwriting. I use the
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  ©MARCIA HOWARD HOLY WELLS TO WATERHOLES, BELONGING THROUGH SONG Deep water sounds, the ability to listen deeply in place. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. It is something like contemplation. A big part of Dadirri   is listening. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. The Iri sh writer John O’Donohue describes a similar word in Irish, Teannalach, used by a farmer in County Galway to describe the concept of listening deeply in place. The farmer explains that he had never seen the word written down in English, but he described Teannalach  as a gift, an awareness and abi lity to listen acutely to the lake, “but in truth it is about seven layers deeper than that” (O'Donohue, 2004, p. 140). A quiet contemplation in place, a communing with the spirits of the water and place. Experience was a sense of revelation. Just as all things are interdependent in the natural world so are we interdependent on each other, the web of belonging still continues to hold a person, especially when times are bleak. Within the embrace of folk culture, the web of belonging supplies similar secret psychic and spiritual shelter to the individual. The deepest poverty in our time may well be the web of ‘betweenness’ that seems to be unravelling. “The web of betweenness is still there, but in order to become a presence again, it needs to be invoked” (Donohue, 2010, pp. 142-143). Just as in the bush where milieus and territories and life forms sustain each other, there is a web of connectedness with which we as humans unknowingly sustain one another. Natural places are the most basic sacred places: stones, a spring, mountains and trees. Sacred places come into being when humans recognise and acknowledge them. They are ensouled locations where we can experience elevated consciousness, receive inspiration and accept healing. We are no longer separate from nature. At this point a truly sacred place begins to exist for us: the invisible is made visible. Its significance becomes clear as an indicator of metaphysical realities, for within it there is a revelation of the archetypal qualities of the eternal otherworld, the land under the ground, the fairy world of the Tuatha de Dannan (Fitzpatrick & Vincent, 1985) or the Absrcinal Dreamtime. The natural world and human culture are not separate. The power to stop the further degradation of the continent which supports and nurtures life both physically and culturally  ©MARCIA HOWARD HOLY WELLS TO WATERHOLES, BELONGING THROUGH SONG lies in the hands of non-Absrcinal Australians who need to find ways to recognise nature as kin within their own traditions. Music Birds and Counterpoint   The natural world is musical also. A refrain, or chorus, is a constant calling back from chaos, a bounded space, a yard, and a home. “Birdsongs are commonly learned rather than inn ate, a melodious movement of tones rather than a fixed repertoire of signals (Grosz, 2008). Like humans, birds are susceptible to learning new songs. Music precedes language and in the evolution of mankind, vocal organs were developed and perfected. The sexual nature of song has been instrumental in the elaboration of the arts in performance and staging and decoration. Bird’s prance, display feathers and colourful plumage and have sophisticated sonorous abilities just like many modern day rock stars, strutting their stuff across a stage. The erotic vibratory force in all organisms that seduces and sexualises the body, prepares it for courtship. Birdsong is essentially music at its most representative and shouldn’t be seen as a simplified version of human song. Birds change key and rhythm and tone and improvise constantly. Like humans, in birdsong, emotions are intensified like love songs. When birds sing they locate the singer in a particular territory or milieu. They let us, the listener, know the singer’s s kills: how loud they are, their choice of notes and the rhythm in the melody. They mark out a territory for potential lovers and a territory that can be dangerous for rivals. Birds like humans can create many sounds. The Australian lyrebird for example is a highly skilled mimic. Of particular importance is an understanding of water and how vital practices and beliefs around water help connect us to place and water as a holy or sacred place in both Irish and Australian Absrcinal contexts. In the Irish context the element of Water was regarded as a symbol of birth and renewal.
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