Issue 1 Volume 1
by Loreena McKennitt
November 1st, 2004
In this inaugural version of The View From Here, I thought what better place to begin than from “the view from here”.
It is Sunday, September 12, 2004 and I am sitting on my farmhouse porch gazing out over the last vestiges of a southern Ontario summer. The sky is blue as it stretches over the farmyards and groves beyond and a slight breeze caresses the still green leafed trees. Cattle are grazing in the field, my four dogs lie scattered around the porch snoozing and snoring, and the odd cicada voice pierces through the sonic rhythmic background of crickets. The beautiful Islamic fountain I purchased in Fez , Morocco last year emits sounds of water falling in tumbling tones. And these last days are more precious than ever as one of my canine companions, Julius, is in the last stages of his battle with cancer. We hang onto these days, savouring the beauty and gifts in spending time together, however simply.
On my mind too is the ongoing process of building the next recording. My creative efforts resemble guerrilla excursions out of my administrative compound, and I am sure not many of you imagine this is how I create each recording. Truth be told, it has always been thus, although I have a feeling it is getting slightly better. Such are the challenges of owning and running your own “business” and being the “creative” head as well.
My fascination with Celtic history has provided me with a rich springboard, not only for my musical creative endeavours but also for my self education. And since the Celts were a wide reaching and multi-tribed bunch extending across Europe and into Asia Minor from about 500 BC onward, there is a great swath of time and geography from which to draw and learn. Fuelling this journey of mine is a relentless curiosity of who we are in the context of this planet, what are our commonalities and challenges and what lies ahead for the human race. Starting from the belief that in one way or another we are an extension of each others’ history, it seems to me that wanting to learn about our neighbours is also a desire to learn about ourselves. I have simply chosen the Celtic vehicle in which to do this.
So it is impossible to say exactly when the research for my next recording actually began, but let us say the first unsolicited foray began on a trip to Istanbul and Jordan in February 2000, where I was introduced to the history and culture of the Circassian people and their relationship to Celtic culture. This was followed in 2002 by a trip to Athens and Delphi , Greece (I was fascinated to learn that the Celts sacked Delphi !!). I spent Orthodox Easter week on the island of Chios , staying in a glorious bed and breakfast amidst a flowering orange orchard. Accompanied by renowned Greek photographer Dimitrios Koulalous, I set off by boat to attend a remarkable village celebration for my friend Murat Yagan – one of the inspirations for the song “Night Ride Across the Caucasus” from The Book Of Secrets. In the heart of rural Turkey , it was a day of much singing, feasting, dancing and … somewhat to my surprise, ceremonial gun shooting!
Also in 2002, a friend alerted me to an archeological site at Gordion in Anatolia , Turkey , where Celtic ruins had been discovered, and nothing would do except that I should visit this archeological site in June.
In June of 2003, I attended theFestival Of Sacred Music in Fez, Morocco (a glorious feast of music across a broad swath of religious traditions) ; an autumn trip toUurumchi in northwest China, wheremummies with red hair had been found, pointing to a possible Celtic connection; a 10 day stay in Mongolia, part of which was spent with a friend’s nomadic family amongst their herds of goats, sheep, cattle, camels and horses; (please check out a film called the Story of the Weeping Camel ) and then in October a far too brief return trip to Turkey around Anatolia, Cappidocia, Konya and Ephasys. This trip culminated in spending a few days in Athens and Tuscany with some fabulous musicians.
This is a very quick synopsis of some of the travels I have taken to date which are in preparation for the next recording and for which there are many photos and audio documents. It will be interesting to see what comes of it all musically. Although there are some trips I would still like to take before putting the recording to bed, (in particular Germany – La Tene and Halstatt cultures were major Celtic sites – and India ) it remains to be seen whether this will be possible. Indeed, as I found with The Book Of Secrets, research trips/adventures continued to present themselves long after we had started the recording process. I expect this to be the same this time, as we will be in the studio very soon.
On our new website – and I’ve a tale to tell of the hair-raising and candle-burning story behind it – over the course of coming months we will be endeavouring to bring you closer to these trips in a more thorough way. We would also like to allow you to follow along with the development of the next recording, so please check back when you can. Where possible, we will try to provide references and links so you too can reach deeper into the experiences.
Here’s to happy, safe and enriching travels whether you leave your chair or not.