She opened her lips... and children suddenly became quiet, guests took a deep breath and forgot their names (and everything else outside of the present moment), heartbreak revealed its sweet side, fairies smiled somewhere, and portals opened to celestial realms. I will never forget that first time I heard the music of Marya Stark. She is a divine siren and wise woman, who's songs spark awakening, love, prayer, peace, magic, myth, dreams, and everything beautiful about human life. That was over a decade ago, and since then, I have watched in awe as she evolves, deepens, and expands in the realms of music, performance, sound healing, addiction recovery support, and teaching...
How did you come to understand that music could be a healing modality?
I think a part of me always knew intuitively. When i was young I would sing to my pains, I would sing to ease the children I worked with. I would have moments of ecstatic singing where I would feel to myself "wow, there is a multi-dimensional gate opening to the mystery," and I could feel myself remembering codes of sound. I could feel the power of music in the choirs I sang in to move us all to tears when it hit just right. Even as I began writing songs as a part of my own developmental journey, I could feel like something mysterious was going on that was profound, but it wasn’t defined for me until I took my first class in music therapy. That was a game changer.
What was your inspiration for pursuing a degree in music therapy?
You know, I think it was more kismet than anything particularly inspired. The only thing I had really been into was music. I knew Chapman University had a music therapy program, and I think on some level my soul knew before I did that I was going to do it. I chose to take the class once I was there cause I was curious about the relationship between music and spirituality—and that seemed like the gateway. Once I landed in that field, everything shifted in my worldview, and it felt more like I was coming back to something I had always known
How would you say that music can be a vehicle for self-realization?
I can speak to my own process. Once I got into writing songs for my healing, I kept a close chronological track record of them. I now have access to hundreds of songs from the last 20 years of life, and I have realized much about myself through both the process of writing these songs, how they come in, and looking back and seeing bigger cycles of emotions and themes that run through. I think of songs as time-capsules, as tools for my own souls embodiment. Having powerful experiences with music, getting to reflect and be able to tap into different states of being and stages of development has been incredibly insightful as I’ve come to know my psyche a bit more. Sometimes I have written songs, and it takes me years for my nervous system to integrate the energies carried through those muses. Those songs feel like gifts to my future self, that carry codes that help me open to deeper states of presence. Also, just from an emotional integration perspective, I can’t tell you where I’d be without the formative songs of my youth. Hearing songs from older songwriters who could articulate my felt experience helped me to go to deeper layers of understanding and feeling, mourning, and expansion. Its like we pull through clues for each others process, and can then journey together back home to where ever it is this awakening train is guiding us.
Did you have any reference for a "coming of age" stories, songs, or ceremonies before writing your own?
Not at that time. Receiving those songs on the Fork In The Road felt like a special initiation into learning about the hero’s journey. I only had a reference for that in hindsight, and then began seeking out other "coming of age" stories, learning about the architecture of mythology. It emerged spontaneously.
Did you ever come up against the limitations of classical music as you were discovering yourself as a musician?
The main limitation I found in studying classical music was the relationship I had to "performing," and, as a child, it wasn’t an issue. I found classical training to be amazing and helped me to learn music faster, but in a music conservatory environment, I could intuit the inherited structures of our value being our ability. By that time I was having a complete existential breakdown, and had no capacity to find myself within the hierarchy of the opera reality—so the muse grabbed me by the hair and life became my master teacher. I find myself now coming back to classical training, but from an intuitive embodied perspective. Classical structures are like good yoga teaching: once the body is flexible, movement is easy.
What are “song lines”?
What I call song lines are energetic threads I envision run through our souls. People talk about the earth having lay lines, an energetic grid; it is the same with humans, we have channels where energy moves through. There are times when I vision songs coming through us, traveling on similar lines of energy—from other dimensions, star systems, universes, timelines, multi-dimensional star light passage ways where universal poetry and magic comes in like some potent alchemical force. I like to picture myself as a vessel, standing at the center point of a constellation of these lines catching songs through my being.
Could you tell us more about "Scarlet Moon" and the archetype of the shadow feminine?
When I was in college, and receiving many of the visions I still hold today as part of my life's work, Scarlet Moon was an archetype that kept coming in. I knew that I would be going within to learn about the feminine mythos. I think our culture really elevates a few versions of the feminine: the beautiful one and the kind, gentle, loving one. The raw, angry, wrathful rage filled one, not so much. She is demonized, and so there is a whole spectrum of emotional range and nuance that goes under ground. This is one small piece of the pie on this conversation—and Scarlet Moon is where she comes alive in me to dance and find her voice.
Who is Magdalene, to you?
I have come to embrace Magdalene just recently in my life. There is a potent narrative I've come across where "Mary Magdalene" is spoken of as a female counter part to Jeshua, one who holds the keys of the lineage of sexuality that she and Christ held together. I appreciate the ways that the remembrance of this aspect of her archetypal fits into the grid of what is emergent right now within the collective reweaving around sacred sexuality and feminine empowerment. So, I've been aware of these perspectives, and considering where that energy lives within me. Many folks come up to me with dreams that I am of the "Magdalene lineage." And I love the energy that I experience when feeling into those dimensions.
In recent years I have gone deeper into healing my womb stories, activating the energetic creative blueprints of the womb, and opening the possibilities of a greater collective story at work within my psyche. I wrote the song Child of Magdalene after watching the film Magdalene Sisters about the Magdalene Laundries, which is a totally wonky piece of recent European history. Seeing how the name of the feminine was dragged through the mud in the religious structure I grew up in burned something raw in me. I could feel the historical oppression of female sexuality carved in my bones, and this song came as an apology and honoring of that aspect of the Mother, the one who went underground, into the shadow with her magic. I keep finding this story over and over. Claiming Magdalene now, poetically speaking, is reclaiming my own sexuality as sacred, rather than the prostitution-sin situation that we need as women to spend the rest of our lives apologizing for.
What is your relationship to the witch burning times?
My interest in the burning times is a spectrum, from having personal recollections, visions, dreams, and soul connections with others where I have experiences of us all having been from that time. I’ve written songs inspired by that period of history, and it feels like an aspect of the collective epigenetic unwinding that comes through inside of the cauldron of exploring music and storytelling as an opportunity for healing on a DNA level. Currently I have a special interest in grief work, and the power mourning as a vehicle for emotional freedom. The burning times to me occurs as a huge piece of our history that has gone largely unmourned in a way where the quality of life and breakthrough can be felt at a cultural level. Our Western culture, I think, is resonating in a state of collective amnesia and PTSD around not only the burning times, but slavery, genocide and many other historical archs where numerous people suffered unimaginable horror, and then certain infrastructures that are a part of our system of operation came into play to organize the peoples. There is one in me who tracks this in my own nervous system, and the nervous system of the collective woundology and heart. When I chose to create art about it, my prayer is that these stories can be told in a way where repair can happen and we can begin to rework the narrative of oppression and violence from our bloodline, and make space for a more coherent way of relating to come online, one where we are not afraid of differences, and where we are honoring again of the mystery and our relationship with all of life.
Do you ever feel that the music industry pressures artists to fit neatly into a specific niche or genre, for commercial success? If so, how do you navigate, as an artist that cannot be contained by a niche or genre?
Ha! totally. I have navigated it by both trying to fit inside a box, completely ignoring the box, pretending I’m not part of the music industry, and then deciding firmly to dissolve within me the places where I’m playing into hierarchical art making. I’m choosing to live more intentionally as a multidimensional being who makes art and expresses my profound love for life. Wholehearted expression. What does this look like? This is the question of every day. I will continue to receive visions of music and do my best to make them happen. I feel myself more and more in devotion to the muse with less attachment to how its received. Before, when more "industry" based in my strategies, I was much more concerned about being "successful" as an artist. This internalized way of seeking feedback externally is something I'm tracking in my ego process. As an artist, of course we want to reach as many people as possible. I also don’t want to change my tune to do so.
Fork in the Road is a therapeutic concept album as well as a curriculum for people working with addiction recovery. Can you tell us a little about your own journey with addiction?
When I was in college studying music therapy, I was in a deep process of substance use as a way to numb out and manage the complexities of interfacing with the impact of traumatic experiences. After recognizing the impact of my behavior from years of use, I started therapy, and began working to heal these edgier places in my psyche. I was looking for the first time at family of origin fractures, sexual experiences in my coming of age that were imprinted with fear and intensity, and sorting out the cultural trances of being an empath, shutting down the deep feels, silencing my own voice in order to survive and stay in good social standing. The songs and vision of Fork In The Road came through during this period of detox. My experience with addiction didn’t stop there, but this body of work helped to orient me towards a path of resolving and healing.
There is a big stigma around addiction. I didn’t formally come forward with my story even though my first album was about addiction because I didn’t want to talk about it with my family, didn’t want it to have a negative impact on my "brand," and I really hid from it. It's coming forward more and more now, because I think its really important for us to have community dialogues about how we are managing our pain. I was in a lot of pain as a youth, and I felt alone in it. I long for greater conversations around the impact of rites of passage, and how badly we are missing that in our culture. Once I began having rites of passage, finding my tribe, and being held spiritually by the elders in my community, and once I had that level of being seen, celebrated, and tracked, my need for substance use shifted.
Have entheogenic (visionary/psychedelic) medicine been a part of your journey? If so, how?
My experience with entheogenic medicine has played a critical role in my healing and creative journey. When i was in high school, I had my first experiences with mushrooms, and MDMA. These experiences opened me up to multi-dimensional reality, as well as had an impact on my capacity for empathy, shadow work, emotional intelligence, and intimacy.
In college, I formed some daily use habits with more addictive substances. When I went to my first Burning Man at age 20, I sat in my first ayahuasca ceremony (at Burning Man.... seriously) and that experience changed my life. It played a major role in my awakening, I had a full cosmic soul rebirth experience, which purge my system of the toxicity of my addictive patterns, and of the substances i had formed dependency on. This was a cornerstone of my journey with writing The Fork In The Road, as the songs and vision of this album came directly from that first sit with Aya.
My last semester of college, and the time shortly following graduation, I sat with Aya several times. I traveled to Hawaii for a 3 week Aya cook. I experienced things there that seeded my life's work currently with women and womb healing. In fact the story I told at the Yoniverse Monologues last year was about my journey to Hawaii, and sitting with Aya, and the clusterfuck of drama that occurred on a hilariously mythic archetypal level in my relationship to my blood and the moon time mysteries. I also received visions of creating children's meditation based albums at this time.
I have not sat with entheogens since that time, over 10 years ago, as my guides in the esoteric trainings I continued with after graduation requested me to abstain from uses of any substances, including entheogens, so I chose to walk the way of cultivating visionary states through meditation and qi gong practice.
The truth is that entheogens helped me heal from addiction and cracked me to be open enough to receive visions of my life's work, the destiny threads I continue to walk to this day. I feel grateful for those times and experiences, and how they have informed my hero's journey.
VOICE OF MY WOMB
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