Around one year ago I was with Liz at the Woodland Studio when she said, you know Lu, I would love to DJ but not on my own, I said: same. I need some support and motivation, I think. Then she looked at me and she said: I think me and you working on music together we would have fun, and it would actually work .
I ve been thinking to put my hands back on music since years now and I still believe that me Marta, Letizia, Marcella and Amelie would have a girl band one day, but well life in London is quite hectic, and being surrounded by talented djs can make you feel a bit insecure.
One month ago when I arrived in this small village called Panchla Sidda, Thar Desert, Rajastan, India, I’ve been asked to put a playlist together for Utsava Maa , the festival I’m working for.”Some songs for the Indian women that are going to attend, to have a virtual tour around the world.You can put Italian songs as well and it would be nice if you could put also some of this music like they do in Berlin ? How you call it one with… synthtetizers ? ” Shreejen said that to me and I could not contain a cheeky smile. I’ve been thinking on it for days and I could hear in my head a whole crazy musical journey.
So I texted Elisabeth which was going to join me here soon and I told her “Would you like to DJ with me here ?”The answer was as I expected. Now while we are here with Undergrowth Collective is pretty wild and we have to work on thousands things at the same time but the past two weeks have been partly dedicated to research, fun, and slow downloads with a very weak internet box that looks like a weird device from the 90s. We found our performing name during a fundraising meeting, in between real notes we were writing sneaky messages on a notebook and passing it to each other.
Its 23 days that I’m in India. It’s the 23d of December 2019 , two days after winter solstice and two days before Christmas.
Even if I’m living in the Thar desert I’m in my my bed under 2 duvets because it is still winter and nights are cold. There are no festive decorations, no Christmas cards or songs around.
It ‘s December 12th 2019, 5.45 am my alarm rings to remind me to go to yoga but I feel lazy and I don’t know if I want to go. I check the news: Labour lost the elections in the UK.
It’s a week after my arrival. I’m in the car with Guru Ji and Shreejan and the Austrian guests of the ashram, Shreejan says: “No, don’t buy the piercing for the nose with the chain, is not a traditional beauty jewellery, the husband give that to his wife to say: you are my propriety.” “There was a flood in the 2014. People died. Most of the men survived. And most of the women did not. You know why?” … “Because they could not swim properly with all the layers of clothes, veils, and jewels.” “When they go to work in the fields, they wear the veils and the ankle bracelets. The bracelets leave them horrible marks and burns and the veils as they synthetic give them scalps problems and cancer. It is the way it is.” The other side of the coin is less shiny than it appeared to me at first. I’m not able to pronounce a concrete comment on the situation, so I write down informations and I look outside the window. The sun is a huge orange circle and everything is pink around me.
I’m in the kitchen of the ashram. There are workers all around me as they are repainting all the walls for the festival. They look at me and they say “Hello, Hellooooo” I smile back, but for some reasons I feel weird.
I’m with Liz. She just arrived and the Undergrowth crew is almost complete. Liz has a shaved head and big blue eyes. We are eating and everyone look at us while we are chewing, we feel like observed animal at the zoo. Pukrash which is actually a nice person and one of the few that can speak in English, asks us if he can practice a little bit with us. He asks about our studies and work and then he says: “You know my wife is lucky, she doesn’t have to work. A lot of women when they have husbands, not super rich, even only “middle class” are lucky because they don’t have to worry, just relax and do house work.” I say: “Maybe they would enjoy to try to do a work they like.” He looks at me and I feel an animal at the zoo again and he asks me a complete irrelevant other question. And I can feel that it is not really his fault, is the way it has been for so long, that is now impossible to see other ways.
For a whole month before leaving Europe, when I pick “one card” from my Aleister Crowley tarot deck, there is a particular card that is following me: 4 of disks, that Crowley renamed “Power”.
This card never really came up for me before and I was trying to understand it. Power. A big castle on golden background, the symbol of the sun on the top.
It is around the second week of November. I’m in Rome and all of a sudden I’m screaming in C.’s kitchen: ‘O MY GOD THIS IS THE ASHRAM. CLEARLY.” The towers, the wall, the colour, the desert. It was all there.
It s December 19th. I read on a paper that the word Ashram comes from the Sanskrit root giving the meaning of ‘labour’ / ‘making an effort’.
It is November, 3 am. I’m in my garden in London. I. says to me : “Do you understand your powers, right? All the things that are happening here, around us, it is all you. You move it all.” I was actually feeling like a cripple for all the emotional hits that I had to hold at that times. I could not see anything. I thought I was not even able to put a feet after the other to walk myself in to places, and yet I was just reminded of my powers.
P o w e r : I never think about this word, I never really use this word. But it is coming back to me as something I can’t avoid looking at and it is asking me to understand it.
It is at lunch time of few days ago when Em says that Guru Ji told her that it’s only recent that the law regarding the “Triple Talaq” changed. Apparently until very recent times, a men could divorce from his wife only saying “Talaq, Talaq, Talaq” or tree times the word via different mediums, even text or email. And at that point the woman would have to leave the house, with no money, no power, back in the street. No chance to change her situation. Out. As a dog.
Men here can also have a wife and a girlfriend (ore more) and women of course can’t. Women are not only not allowed to travel on their own. They should not smile back at men, they don’t really drive and female infanticide is common, second/ widow remarriage is a taboo.
Where does it lies, where does it come from, what’s is purest form and what’s the big shadow casted around it in our society. We are in a age of enormous digital interaction, knowledge and connections, we know we need to change things but it seems we are doing the same mistakes all over again. Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Korea, Erdogan, Putin, Bolsonaro and all the other members of the horror theatre that is the government of this world that is bagging to be helped. You can call it power but I don’t see any power there, only weakness. Indeed.
What are my powers. It is hard to see the things in yourself. When I broke myself I arrived to a point that I felt so powerless, so miserable and there, just right there, something pushed me from the inside as never before. There when the veil was down, the patterns of everything were vibrant and very clear. My power is there, looking at me, and telling me: there is more. Do not stop. It’s not over, it’s only starting.
Power in physics is the ability of doing work. To produce an effect.
I’m sun burned and I’m writing down notes: do not eat milk is not good for you, exercise more, sun is life but too much sun can burn, paint the banner for the festival, prepare the music for the set, be more aware of the physical space, do not get distracted, heal, pray, help others, be humble, remember: As it’s true that tomorrow the sun will rise, I promise, everything has a soul. Take care of your soul. Do not feed rocks to it. Balance. Trust. Read the signs.
The days of milk, resin and sand colored sugar, melancholia is swept away by the beauty of this time that flows in a different way. All is pale and orange, but the shade is cold even when the sun at noon burns. The steps of the stair to save the soul have to be climbed silently
There is this very famous song that everyone learn as the first one when it comes to play the guitar in Italy, the song is called “The song of the Sun” and there is this line that for some reasons I keep singing since few days “The sun when it rises, rises slowly ” (Il sole quando sorge, sorge piano).
Its been days that I look at the sun earring that C. crafted for me, I almost lost it the other day when we left the ashram to sleep in the tree farm, but of course it came back to me.
A wound is a wound is a wound, I said to myself this morning. I thought I was doing more than fine until my dreams became very messy. I did not cry but the sensation was ugly. Healing is not linear, after all.
I went to the Yoga class with my brain upside down, the Yoga helped a bit, even though I would like to do more exercise. I go for breakfast and the sun is rising and is orange and in the middle of 2 stripes of clouds. It looks like an eye. I stare at it to open my pineal gland, and I see the spectrum of colours dancing around the orange circle.
I realised I lost the keys of my room. I try to look for them around where I walked, but I’m not sure where I could have lost them, I go back to the Yoga room and I found ShreeJan walking the dog. I ask her to let me in, to see if the keys are inside the space, maybe on the floor. I tell her I’m sorry my brain is a mess today, I did weird dreams and my ex was in there.
I tell her we had a very symbiotic relationship. She says I may have been in his dreams too, normally this happens with people that were so bounded. I tell her I don’t think so,things went on a different direction very quickly. She says there is a way of breaking this connection, if I’m interested they can help at the ashram. It’s quantum physics.
My keys are not there and I’m thinking about this break-the-connection thing. I thought I broke the connection when I made S. A symbolic funeral. It was necessary. We are not in touch whatsoever, blocked from any social media and said bye in the most ugly possible way and still disturbing my dreams in the other side of the world. While I have things to do, a festival to run, a soul to feed, a brain to train, and all the rest.
What happened doesn’t make any sense for my brain. None of my thoughts seem to speak clearly to me and I have so many different feelings I’m trying to analyse, understand, recognise. I think I’m driving myself a bit nut. Shh. Feel the sun. It’s getting warmer.
I need to do some work and I go in the space that I need to transform in our Undergrowth base camp. It is locked. The key that I have for that (which I didn’t lose)doesn’t fit in. I look for someone that can help me out. Also the lock of the bathroom is changed. I still can’t find the key of my bedroom. W h a t s g o i n g o n ? I think am I getting crazy or this is actually happening. ShreeJan is walking the dog back and she confirm there is something going on with the locks and its not only in my head. Ok.
I go on the roof to meditate and I read myself tarots. I write down things. The last thing I write is “Il sole quando sorge, sorge piano” . One hour later the key of my bedroom is found, the lock situation is explained (they are doing some changes to prepare the space for the guests and festival volunteers) and everything seems to unravel slowly. I prepare the Undergrowth base camp cleaning and tiding and hanging red Indian fabric all around. How can I get rid of a disturbing thought?Focus on what you are doing now, focus. And I do. It looks nice.
In the meantime, Al and Em arrived. It was a couple of days ago actually, we went to pick them up in Jodhpur and it was the night we slept at the tree farm in a hut. I need to move in the dorm now that they are here, I’m not having a room on my own anymore. Changes.
The dorm is closer to the main palace, in a big room with royal columns and 9 beds. Its a bit cold but it will be soon warm and filled with people. I can’t believe at one point all the collective will be a proper collective and our friends are going to be here to make this festival real. Its slowing building up.
I’m inside the dorm when I confess to Al my dreams and I tell her I want to get ride of those thoughts. I tell her I may do this procedure to break the connection whatever it is. She tells me instead to surrender to my thoughts, that I’m the right place to learn how to do it with meditation. I should stop trying to understand what happened with why and how and what does it means, it has been the way that has been. I don’t need to reject it or to delete it but I need to be able to look at it from distancethen let it go, so it can’t affect me or come back in my brain and in my dreams. I understand the theory very well. Practice needs…practice. Patience.
I message L, which is in London, To tell her how I feel. She tells me, you will see all of this work you are doing will bear its fruits, and then teach me what you learn. I will learn from distance from you.
I go to the roof again. The sun is at the zenith the highest point in the sky. I write down “Do not try to eliminate the thought, do not try to understand it – because you can’t. Do not desire anybody else defeat. Observe from the outside, accept and let go. There lies your healing, your victory.”
I go down the roof and I do some more work for the festival. I feel better. I’m singing again.
“I’m in an unbelievable place. Is where I always wanted to be. It’s an ashram in the desert of Rajasthan.It’s so beautiful and peaceful and they do so many relevant things for the environment. The Guru of this place wears leopard prints shoes and there is this American lady, that goes under the name of ShreeJan here, that wants me to help organising this festival, about the Great Mother,ecology, ecofeminism, the seed and divinity. Well… I said we are doing this, Lu, we are going to organise and make our art this festival in India next year!”
It was about this time last year when GG wrote to me to inform me about her discovery, and our future. I was travelling South America at the time.
It is hard to imagine something until you don’t see it yourself. That’s why I was so curious about this Guru Ji, ShreeJan, the ashram (which is like a monastery in Indian religions) and all.
They came to pick me up in Jodhpur.
ShreeJan is an American blond lady with an angelic face, she is on a spiritual path alongside Guru Ji. She teaches yoga, practice Ayurvedic medicine and run the festival. GG told me that when ShreeJan was a kid she used to have regularly something similar to epilepsy and passing out for hours and feeling she was literally on Pluto, where she would hear the sound of the universe like a OHM.
Guru Ji reminds me of my flatmate A., and this make me laugh a bit. He only wears orange and he has a very sweet face.
After 2 hours in the jeep to get the destination, few stops for samosas and chai tea, we leave the busy roads with car and cows behind and we arrive to the ashram.
It is hard to describe the sensation of being in the right place, at the right moment for the right reason. My heart, that I thought shrunk two sizes in the past months, become as big as the moon and beats with a new sound. I have an immense sense of gratitude, for everything.
It has been 5 days now that I’m here. I live in a room inside the palace, facing a garden next to a beautiful temple, in the middle of the desert.
There is still no one else from the festival, either guests or organisers. Sometimes men and women from the village come to pray. They are curious about us, they stare and giggles and I admire the women beautiful traditional clothes. Because the influence with Pakistan here some of them cover even their faces with the colourful veil, and I found it intriguing. You can still see their faces through.
It’s very quiet life here. I wake up every morning at 5.45 am and have an hour of yoga. 8 pm is breakfast time and then we work for the festival. Currently I work on the laptop, I sketch plans for the set design and draw and read. In the late evening you can go to pray, outdoor in the temple, with beautiful singing, mantras and bells. You can see the stars and the moon very clearly, and the marble of the temple shines against the dark blue sky.
The food in incredible and they grow it here, in a little piece of land next to the temple. The Indian man that take care of the land is so sweet, GG told me that he is a Pakistan war survivor and apparently he screams as crazy at night. I would have never guessed. When he showed me the garden he saw me taking a rotten tomato from the floor and he went like “no no no” then he picked and offered me the best coloured and shaped ones. Right after that he gave me mint, oregano, and lettuce to try. I was so happy holding a little salad in my hands.
Dinner is at 6.30 pm after the prayers. Here I learned how to eat, with no forks, using only with one hand and some pitta bread to help. Using both of the hands in not polite apparently. At 9 pm I’m already in bed, I’m reading and writing a lot.
The research and work I’m doing those days is reflecting everything I ever been interested and researched in my life time. The depth of this feeling touches my soul and heal so many wounds.
I feel that, if we don’t devote our powers to nourish something bigger than us in this world we are not taking part of the evolution of the humankind. You don’t “save the world” with big actions, as you probably never “save the world”, but you can figure out what’s your role and do your part, trusting your gut and remembering your values and the reasons you are here. We can do it in every day life, in our family, in our friendship group and in our community. We are here to constantly grow. To help others in growing with us. I’ve an infinite love for this planet and the beauty of creation, for the masculine, and the feminine energy, which is the one we are celebrating here. This Earth. Mother of all, seeds keeper, intuitive emotional and brave creator.
Utsava Maa is the festival I’m working for here, which means The Great Mother. It’s a festival in a country where most of the women can’t walk on their own in the street, they can’t travel, they can’t smile at men , have a job they like, or have any power whatsoever. They work in their house until they die, biting their tongue and covering their bodies. Isn’t it paradoxical in a country where its history is dense of references regarding infinite power of the female energies, reflected in the Indian goddesses and spirituality?
My role here and our role with Undergrowth Collective is to enchant that power through the medium of art but also just standing for ourselves as privileged white women, born in a fortunate country.