THE MUSE IN THE MOON - My Journey with Lindsey Stirling
Synchronicity has been hard at work playing with me of late. Sometimes She uses strangers to nudge me. Lately she’s been speaking through unexpected trail signs and my Moon Tribe Packmates. One of my fellow howlers, Chuckles the Cowboy, just gifted me with a present that deserves god rays and an angelic choir: the streamed concert of my magic-licious she-ro, Lindsey Stirling. (2-4)
If you don’t know about Lindsey Stirling’s latest tour and album, it’s called Artemis, named for the Greek Goddess of the Hunt and the Wilderness. (1) Fitting, considering that the moon is one of Artemis’ main symbols, and we are now on approach to this year's Hunter's Moon. (7)
Only somebody who has up-to-date, in-depth knowledge of me both personally and artistically could fully understand--not just what the gift of this concert meant to me--but what it meant to me at this particular moment. Synchronicity always knows when to send my Muses to me, just like She always knows when to lure me outside to follow Rabbit Hole trails or yowl at the moon.
I don’t fully have words to tell you how badly I needed this concert at the moment when I watched it, which is why I have to simply let The Stirling One show you. The visions of this show remain swirling in my head, and the Muse-ic is back on my Spotify broken record setting, now with all these new Artemis songs and imagery. (9) I dance in the kitchen, I dance every night in the studio, I dance in my head when I don’t have the room to do it justice. This kind of dancing is like sunlight to all the seeds inside me. It's like water when crawling out of the desert.
Just as I was losing steam. Just when this hip re-injury, the Covid blues, and my revolving door of oral surgeries were beginning to entice me into Fuck-It-Ville. Just when more people abandoned the Good Ship Hartebeast. Just when I was beginning to doubt all the arrows in my arsenal and especially the direction where I currently have them aimed.
There she was, like always. One of my greatest Muses. And there you were.
My fellow shadow walker, Underworld stalker, crocodile-eyed bullshit blocker. Ardent earth-and-air counterweight, forever jerry-rigging tail fins for flight. Mad scientific friggin’ duckly fuck. Steady as an earth-bender, your patronage helps me get my spine back straight, and I don’t only mean the one holding up my skeletons. This Archer has been knocked askew. Without all you do, I could not shoot true.
So Cowboy, this howl’s for youuuuuuuuuuuuwooowooooo! And for Little Dove tooooooooooo!
A few nights before the concert, a couple hours before midnight turned Fall Equinox, I received an “Aroooooh!” from Mistah JAjax, another of my regular howlers. This particular bout of yowling also included his moon-porn. You know what I mean. There She hung in her Harvest Moon splendor (8), bright and round, bountiful and crowned, promising to burst at the seams with the slightest encouragement. I rushed outside to see if She was in view from my place. Lo and behold...
As I paid my basking and camera-licious homage, I received another text ping--JAjax asking if I wanted to go for a top-down convertible ride and gawk. Ummm…duh! This is not our first rodeo with such lunacy. This is what happens when we get together around the full moon:
Totally jazzed to embark on another adventure, I turned around to head back into the house and grab a woobie for the ride. What, to my googly eyes, did appear on the opposite side of the sky?
Out we zoomed into the hills for an hour of geek-speak, with Selene dancing a striptease in and out of the clouds on one side, and His Zeusly Self providing pyrotechnics on the other. The storm was high and close enough that we could view the entire lightning show, but far enough away that we couldn’t hear it. Thus the top remained down.
As we crested the final the hill, the moon went completely veiled, darkness descended, and the wind started gusting. “Well, hello there, little mortals,” His Olympian Maj rumbled with a chop-licking loom over the rise. “How adorable you look down there in your quaint zoomer.” So we decided not to take the long loop back. We hopped onto the highway and hightailed it to my place. I popped out just as the first raindrops fell. Up went the top, and off zipped JAjax to race the storm home.
Mortals: 4 Zeus: 22,998,495,073,297.6661
In an interview with Atwood Magazine, (5) my favorite multipotentialite, mixed-media violinist-dancer-storyteller extraordinaire speaks about how Greek mythology has impacted her:
Well, I was really inspired by the concept of “Artemis,” the Goddess of the Moon, and the symbolism behind that. I love that the moon brings light to darkness, and that it goes through phases. It reminds me of my own life. Sometimes I feel strong and like I can do anything and other times I feel weak or powerless. And I have to remind myself in those moments that just because I feel weak or I’m struggling with depression today, doesn’t mean that I’m not still strong and powerful and happy underneath it all.
In terms of the story, the album is about Artemis’ battle with Nyx, the Goddess of the Night, who’s trying to overcome her with shadow and block her out. Artemis for thousands of years has been fighting this battle alone. So sometimes I just have to fight, like the moon, to find my light again. Just because the moon is covered in shadow sometimes, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Which I think is how I look at myself now.
I am always moved by how open she is about mental health struggles and about never surrendering the fight against its undertow. If this isn't universal, it's pretty darn close no matter how "together" people seem on The Socials. It's important to have the safe harbors where we can speak in complete candidness about these things. It's also important to find those people with whom we can brainstorm how to get back to the surface.
Therefore, to my playmate-in-crime, my trope-buster beta reader. Ye, random lurer of lunacy, lightning shows, en-lightening conversation, and lightsaber duels. You Lore corruptor, you. Dastardly meme distractor and fellow nature stalker. My artistic patron with uncanny butt-saving timing, my ginger-catly Kvothe brother, my friend. When I am ensnared in the Powaaaah of the Dahhhhhk Side, you remind me that I am all about Balance. And of course, play.
Thank youuuuuuuuuuurooooooo! Mistah JAjax, this howl's for you.
Yes, yes, friends and fiends, as you can see, you’ll want to have the leisure to turn the sound up for this series--or you'll want your headphones. I know, what else is new? But these are odes to Lindsey Stirling and my Muses, so these tales in particular cannot be told without the audio-visual splendor of what inspires me and keeps me going.
See why I'm so attached to writing in this medium instead of divvying up my life into books? I know. Paper. Hold in the hand. The smell, the feel--
This is the biggest reason I can't go back to pursuing that.
Our Artemis tributes wouldn't be complete without a howl-out to my Moon Pack. Multipotentialites need a Pack. So do innovators. Artists in this culture need that in general, and so do many, many others when the path heads uphill. At times, it's all that keeps us going amidst the deluge of, "You can't/shouldn't/should, you really don't wanna do that, don't you dare!"
So this next one's for my Crewmaties on the Good Ship Hartebeast who fly by and drop random love, likes, comments, and Ko-Fi. It's for the Speakeasy Denizens and the Texty Trio. It's for the Mucho Massers, The Ls, and all my Leos, including the pair who gave me their genes. It's for the ones who say, "Why would you ever WANT to specialize?" and "It's YOUR fucking story!" The ones who put broken pottery in my hands at the top of mesas, and the ones who know my Moon Clan name. The ones who wear moon stone and the ones who growl, "Yarrrrr!" The onessssss who hissssss, the ones who purrrrrrr, and the ones who "Aroooooooh!" when my lonely yowl sounds in the tangled woods.
In this time of great transition--a very long transition that continues to shed and shed and darken and shed--I couldn’t weather these storms without you. Like the moon, you keep cycling back around, reminding me what beauty there is in the night. You strike the match when the light goes out, and you whisper to me that I, too, shine in the dark.
The Stirling One has always found me at really important moments. Or is it that I find her? It’s like Synchronicity knows when my fingers are just about to slip off the cliff, so She delivers unto me a gust of violin-coated wind that buffets me upward half an inch, allowing me to get that second hand onto the ledge and drag myself back up.
I was first introduced to this extraordinary being in the fall of 2012, shortly before I left Colorado. I had just moved out of the house I owned with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. Officially, I lived in the basement of a friend’s home, but Tuesdays through Thursdays I camped out every night on the matted floor of my karate dojo an hour away so I could continue training for my next black belt test. I was also prepping to pitch my Gladiator novels for the first time at the upcoming writers conference, my belly dance career was going down by the head, and every month brought me ever more seizures.
I’d started doing duets with one of my dancer friends, Erin. She's my She-Wolfie SiStar, my fellow costume addict, my so-cute lioness, and teeth-flingin' bat-friend. The one who could analyze the regions of my Dain Bramage simply by watching the way I taught class. My super smart, sexy, sweet Pea.
The Peas in a Pod
We’d started out as student and teacher, way back when she used to come in early before the beginner class and watch Las Tejedoras rehearse. Eventually, she became one. She is one of those impassioned dancers (read: just as obsessed as I am) who remains young at heart, which keeps her young in spirit and body. Most people don’t embark on dance careers in their forties that take them around the country to teach and perform in their fifties while also being a nurse and a primary caregiver. She did. She's pretty much a badass.
In that brief time when we played together as partners, she was into dubstep and electronic mixes. One day, she brought in an astounding video for a song she wanted to dance to.
I was blown away. Goggle-eyed. Mesmerized by this multifaceted artistic collaboration with videographer Devin Graham (9). I couldn’t stop watching it. Neither could the rest of the world. This video had recently gone viral--rightly so. I took it as an extra Follow the White Rabbit sign that it had been filmed in Colorado. (10)
Then I learned about the reaction to her original audition on America's Got Talent:
As much as I’d loved Lindsey Stirling for her arts alone, I became an instant devotee upon hearing her story of perseverance. I was astounded and heartened by such arrow-sighted belief in her vision in spite of how much flack she had taken. I mean, the audacity! To think that anybody would want to watch her use a classical instrument in un-classical ways while both playing violin AND dancing? In funky, spunky costumes? With lifts?
(Remember that word. It’ll be super important in the posts when we get back to me and my Gladiatrix.)
Those show critics ragged on one of the things I love most about her live performances--the dropped notes and "mistakes". I actually love hearing when the pitch goes slightly off as she gets hoisted into the air or does a dramatic dance move. These things tell me that it's live--that she's still playing that instrument and dancing at the same time instead of feeling pressured to appear "perfect" onstage. They remind me that tiny "imperfections" don't take away from the whole. Rather, they argument it with relatable humanity.
Thankfully, Lindsey Stirling did not let those critics smash her dreams. She didn't shut up her bowstrings and dance. Neither did she sit pretty and specialize herself solely into a violinist virtuoso. Rather, she twinkled her toes while string-serenading an ice castle and stole the world’s heart, along with mine.
Thus the seed was planted: I needed to twinkle my toes outside, too. I needed to go back to dancing my Elements in the elements, and I needed to make more of those groovy dancey-storytelling art videos like I'd started making with my friends. Most of all, I needed to keep my Sagittarian arrows sighted on my artistic Incontheivable visions.
So I started doing experiments.
The first ones took me to two locations in Colorado where I had always yearned to shoot video footage of my dancing. With the resurgence of brain problems after taking a double-punch to the face in 2012, I had to abandon my usual way of creating dances. I could barely memorize music, so I certainly couldn’t remember lyrics or choreographies. Alas, I hadn’t been an improv performer in almost two decades.
But I had once found my greatest dance joy while being outside under the open sky with my feet in the earth and the wind in my hair, letting the Muse-ic move me in the moment. Driving drums, violin and voice had been my puppet-masters for years, and nothing had ever inspired me more, so a question began to burn in my heart.
Could I do it like this instead?
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
--UP NEXT: My Lindsey Stirling Journey 2 - BRAVE ENOUGH: To Fight in the Arena & Shatter Shackes
--OR: As you can see, I did start dancing outside and other places besides onstage. You can find it on my Hartebeast YouTube. The first outdoor experiments are still on the old IzzyDancer YouTube. Or you can find them both on the video page of my website.
--OR: If you're curious about my other dance Muses, I've written about a bunch of them HERE
GROOVALICIOUS LINKS FOR YOUR INSPIRATIONAL PLEASURE 1) The Greek Goddess Artemis
2) Lindsey Stirling
6) Lindsey's book, The Only Pirate in the Room - yarrrrrr!
9) Adventure & extreme sports videographer Devin Graham who filmed Crystallize
11) My Spotify collection of Lindsey Stirling songs that make me dance and swoon. I admit, I'm a bit of a Lindsey purist, but there are a few collaborations that I adore. As we will soon see in upcoming posts.
12) The Good Ship Hartebeast - my Ko-Fi patron support page, a one-stop shop where you can find updates about all the arts and crafts I play with