The Silkie

I submitted a recording of “The Silkie” on harp.   I hadn’t heard back and was fretting over the quality though the response was quit good. My mentor responded to my fretting in a really lovely way:

“well…yes…next time please do return to same melody as you start with in left hand as well
and some suggestions are…..instead of “room for improvement” consider creation is always pushing us to keep expanding. Because the gift of your music, the way she is right now, is perfect!! ….you might play with noticing when you use the words “I am thinking” because for me usually that means I am headed for trouble!……are you at all challenged to accept the healing gift of your music exactly as she is????? maybe not. Also, when you mention feeling frozen around your Presence….remember it is not You who is frozen but your ego-mind state who likes (in all of us) to hang out evaluate, scare, judge etc….our ego mind notices when we get connected to Source as I heard you and your music to be, she really has no control and once our awareness sees this she (our ego -mind) is done in….well call me if you wish…this is written in great haste with deference to my dear computer!!”


Silkies, Red Soap


Soon after buying red soap that had been given to me in a dream by my harp teacher Christina Tourin, I was walking along Hawthorne St. in SE Portland, Oregon and passed three young women talking amongst themselves. One was talking about the mythology of silkies which are seals who shed their coats to return to land as females. Something like that.

As I returned to my car, the lights went on as that is the song I am working on to submit for the mixolydian mode for the International Harp Therapy Progam. The song was written by Christina Tourin and is called, “The Silkie”. I hadn’t been able to submit the song because I couldn’t get the feel of it.

What are the chances of the feeling of a song coming from a random conversation on the streets of Portland. And who were those silkies who were speaking like humans at just the right moment.

Divine inspiration or divine intervention, whichever, I am so grateful!


Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

Someone posted the Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay on the International Harp Therapy Forum.  The poem is very harsh in some ways but very connected to the feeling I now have of a mission as a harp weaver.  Weaving the notes in the phrases with my fingers on the strings.  Weaving a new reality worthy of the king’s son.

Harp Weaving travels

Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

The Ballad Of The Harp-Weaver

“Son,” said my mother,
When I was knee-high,
“you’ve need of clothes to cover you,
and not a rag have I.”There’s nothing in the house
To make a boy breeches,
Nor shears to cut a cloth with,
Nor thread to take stitches.”There’s nothing in the house
But a loaf-end of rye,
And a harp with a woman’s head
Nobody will buy,”
And she began to cry.

That was in the early fall.
When came the late fall,
“Son,” she said, “the sight of you
Makes your mother’s blood crawl,—

“Little skinny shoulder-blades
Sticking through your clothes!
And where you’ll get a jacket from
God above knows.

“It’s lucky for me, lad,
Your daddy’s in the ground,
And can’t see the way I let
His son go around!”
And she made a queer sound.

That was in the late fall.
When the winter came,
I’d not a pair of breeches
Nor a shirt to my name.

I couldn’t go to school,
Or out of doors to play.
And all the other little boys
Passed our way.

“Son,” said my mother,
“Come, climb into my lap,
And I’ll chafe your little bones
While you take a nap.”

And, oh, but we were silly
For half and hour or more,
Me with my long legs,
Dragging on the floor,

To a mother-goose rhyme!
Oh, but we were happy
For half an hour’s time!

But there was I, a great boy,
And what would folks say
To hear my mother singing me
To sleep all day,
In such a daft way?

Men say the winter
Was bad that year;
Fuel was scarce,
And food was dear.

A wind with a wolf’s head
Howled about our door,
And we burned up the chairs
And sat upon the floor.

All that was left us
Was a chair we couldn’t break,
And the harp with a woman’s head
Nobody would take,
For song or pity’s sake.

The night before Christmas
I cried with cold,
I cried myself to sleep
Like a two-year old.

And in the deep night
I felt my mother rise,
And stare down upon me
With love in her eyes.

I saw my mother sitting
On the one good chair,
A light falling on her
From I couldn’t tell where.

Looking nineteen,
And not a day older,
And the harp with a woman’s head
Leaned against her shoulder.

Her thin fingers, moving
In the thin, tall strings,
Were weav-weav-weaving
Wonderful things.

Many bright threads,
From where I couldn’t see,
Were running through the harp-strings

And gold threads whistling
Through my mother’s hand.
I saw the web grow,
And the pattern expand.

She wove a child’s jacket,
And when it was done
She laid it on the floor
And wove another one.

She wove a red cloak
So regal to see,
“She’s made it for a king’s son,”
I said, “and not for me.”
But I knew it was for me.

She wove a pair of breeches
Quicker than that!
She wove a pair of boots
And a little cocked hat.

She wove a pair of mittens,
Shw wove a little blouse,
She wove all night
In the still, cold house.

She sang as she worked,
And the harp-strings spoke;
Her voice never faltered,
And the thread never broke,
And when I awoke,—

There sat my mother
With the harp against her shoulder,
Looking nineteeen,
And not a day older,

A smile about her lips,
And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
Frozen dead.

And piled beside her
And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king’s son,
Just my size.

Edna St. Vincent Millay




My own Amazing Mazie

Now, my journey has expanded. My mbira travels to Africa just before I came home to the harp are once again calling to play those mbira notes that make one’s spirits dance.

Through a few journeys that I will relay in a different time, I came to the poem, “Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I will add the poem later. That poem combines two of my passions, weaving and playing in a mythical way.

I passed on Amazing Mazie to the Cuddles project in southern California. They help mother’s who might abandon a baby. The harp has a permanent home. Christine had made the connection so the harp could have a permanent home.

I bought my own Amazing Mazie, a flatsicle from the maker of harpsicles. I was surprised that the quality was good and the company very good.. Associated with my Christine, my skype teacher, and Christina Tourin of IHTP.

My harp needs a name. She looks exactly like Amazing Mazie with sharping levers.

She appears in this sequence of photos as I start weaving a path on a 4 shaft loom in the color that came to me in a dream. As you gather, more is going on in the invisible realm than while I was in Ashland. More dreams, more Reiki, more grids with stones of striking color and energy, and more fiber to include fiber optic cable.

I will end for the moment with these photos. This a mundane account of my harp travels so far but I trust that they are only beginning. So more will follow.



Amazing Mazie Harp

Portland brought me back to harp. I took some lessons around the Cantigas de Santa Maria. I wanted to learn as I learned mbira, in the oral tradition. The teacher plays and then you play by watching their hands. I was loving this way of learning, picking up songs by watching the teacher’s hands.

I learned several songs quickly but missed something in just perfecting technique. Wanting something deeper in the resonating tones so once again put away the harp for a few months.

Then some miracle happened as here again the harp was speaking to me when I got near it. I started looking at the International Harp Program and linked to a skype teacher who was someone I had met 13 years earlier. She single handedly got me going again through positive reinforcement. Improvisation from the Christina Tourin DVD’s and Christine on skype having each note feel like a snowflake or juicy apple, brought me into the realm I was longing to enter: the realm of Frankincense and Myrrh, the realm of heart.

My mother broke her hip in Nov of 2011. Christine hooked me up with a healing harp, a lap harp that was purchased by a grandmother to play for her granddaughter and then donated to Christine for visiting anyone with a heart need. The harp traveled across from the border between Idaho and Washington to Woodland Washington. I drove to pick it up and started working with this harp called Amazing Mazie. I didn’t play the harp for my mom but played it for myself and cared for it as I needed to care for myself after several years of caregiving in Ashland.

Amazing Mazie brought me a reminder of vibrational medicine, the vibrating string across one’s heart is so comforting.


Amazing Mazie is the harp to the left. Getting ready for a skype lesson with Christine Magnussen.


Harp Therapy

The idea of the harp in connection to some higher realm started the exploration of harp therapy. I bought the Cradle of Sound by Christina Tourin. I bought the 3 disk DVD of Therapeutic Harp by Williams. As I played, in the lower level of my parents house, the caregiver we had hired to take care of my dad who fell earlier in the year and broke his hip heard me playing harp and decided to buy one. While she was there, she bought a basic one and then upgraded to a dusty strings harp. She played every day though she had not played any music and struggled with the notation and with tuning. Still she braved taking the harp to a gathering and played along with a CD, kind of like lipsyncing only handsyncing.

This should have made me braver in my harp playing, seeing how willing she was to reach out into the world and bring even a few notes to better the environment where she was a caregiver.

Though my notes had inspired her, I failed the inspiration test at that point. I put the harp aside. To be revisited.

This was a dark spell where my father was failing and requiring 24 hours care. He had dementia, a catheter, a fragile heart, was a fall risk and wouldn’t stay down. My mother responded to the stress with her own dementia and feeling that people were bringing things and putting them in her closet and taking her money and jewels, etc. Throwing things.

I was the key person in the daily what should we do with the folks and how to keep them safe. My brothers came and helped so much. Truly I thought I was there to help my daughter finish college with a small child and so when she graduated in June of 2010 and I moved back to Portland.


Historical Harp Society

Now I had a “real” harp and an authentic harp teacher (who was very good).


Her hand position totally agreed with Licia’s, thumbs up.

While working the basics, my mbira partner brought over yet another harp that he had built himself from a kit. It is a troubadour harp used in the middle ages. He introduced me to the Cantigas de Santa Maria, songs in praise of the Virgin Mary from a fascinating period of European history, I will digress at a different time

He was house sitting and I got to visit a 15th century harp. This historical episode led me to join the historical harp society and to long for a harp with bray pins (another story, another photo later on).


Above is the troubadour harp. Below, the 15th century Spanish harp.


This was an entry point to historical harp interest which has come forward with me to be explored in this blog at a later time.

What was interesting to me and later cost me a teacher was a chapter on playing historical harp from the book on Performance of Medieval music which related the playing of the harp to mbira as sorted out in the book, Soul of the Mbira. The harp was a connection to the spiritual realm as is the mbira.


Harp knocks

Before launching what is NOW happening in my harp world, I regress to 2009 when I took a trip to Portland to go to a workshop but my ailing dog at the last minute decided to go (his caretaker vanished). On the way to Portland, I heard from my mbira friend, Licia. She called and asked for Reiki. I mentioned harp. The rest is history. Oh, and no Jungian workshop for me. Enter harp.

Licia cautioned me on forming the correct hand position (see photo).


This seems simple but has proven to be always a work in progress. Licia had two small harps, two lever harps, and 2 concert harps. Plays beautifully. Here are the first two. I mention them and show a photo because my first harp was a cardboard harp. Nice sound.


I bought a cardboard harp from Arpeggio harps and in the next 2 months traded it up for a Dusty Strings as you have seen in my first post.


Dusty Strings harp

Just learned my first iPad WordPress lesson. Publish the post before adding photo.

Chapter 1: Harper Weaver

Several teachers an a couple of harps later, I am learning songs in the IHTP program with Christina Tourin. The harp has always been in my mind since playing the strings of our baby grand piano growing up and watching concert harps on television and Celtic harps as well.

To play now is a struggle and a gift. My first teacher was instrumental in setting a good hand position and transitioning me from the cardboard harp I started on. Kathleen Staub at Arpeggio harps allowed me to trade my cardboard harp for a Dusty Strings 34 string Ravenna. I will add a photo after posting this.

The problem with getting a real harp was that I felt the need to be a real player. I imagine my dad standing over me counting, 1, 2, 3 now do it again. My first teacher said I was a natural but I didn’t believe her, I felt doomed to the level of fledgling which was even above the level that I thought I could accomplish which you might guess is the key wrong word in supporting one’s quest (accomplish).


The gift these last years in moving back to Portland and going through yet another teacher, finding a skype teacher, Christine Magnussen who simply says to pay attention to what you are doing right. Break through!