It has been a couple of years since I have blogged on The Puja Eyes Medicine Show site. The last entries were from an excellent guest blogger, my son Ian, during the summer of 2013, when we explored “An Apothecary of Ideas” (his phrase) on our cross-country trip to the Wakarusa Music Festival, in Arkansas. On the way we explored Honky-tonk and Country Music, in Nashville, TN, and The King of Rock and Rolls palace in Graceland. We listened to electronica, gypsy punk, and various music fusions that would be featured at the festival and we asked: “What does music and festival have to do with health?” What do travel and making special costumes, and practicing our unicycle skills in preparation for an event have to do with our well-being? We asked ourselves that question as we huddled in 40+ mile an hour winds, hail, and torrential rain on Mulberry Mountain at the festival the first day. We asked that question of many of the festival-goers in the coming days as we trudged through cake-batter thick mud up to our shins, took pictures, and did our best to inquire about festival, music and health. What we discovered was community health, community dance, art and celebration. We discovered the bond that exists between strangers who adore the same band for their own private reasons, but for the similar story that that music spoke to their authentic self.
Later that summer, my son and I visited the Moog factory in Asheville, NC and Ian added Bob Moog’s sentiments about the importance of music to the PEMS Apothecary of ideas. Reading back over the posts I am (of course) finding grammatical choices I wish I had not made … and missing my boy-now-turning-man as he approaches his 15th birthday this week.
Much has changed in our lives since Wakarusa 2013. Ian and I live in separate states now as I am pursuing a long-desired goal of becoming a licensed 5 Element Acupuncturist and Herbalist at The Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in Gainesville, FL, and he is in a great high school in Asheville, NC, and living in a house of bachelor-artists, including his dad. We have not been documenting our times together, as we just focus on each other during visits. Ian is the best “Technical Inter-Post” blogger (a job title coined by him) that The Puja Eyes Medicine Show has ever had the pleasure of working with. I hope he will write a few lines again for us soon. Happy birthday, son.
After hearing about the Burning Man Festival for many years, and knowing the developers of the regional burn movement in Asheville, I finally got the opportunity to attend Transformus this weekend. “ A wild world of self-expression, music, art, games, amazing performances, gatherings, meals, shows and magic…where strangers are best friends.” Is how it is described by its founders. I found the 10 Principals to be inspired by the Rainbow Family Gathering and expanded to be very creative and community-art centered. Inclusion, gifting, decommodification, self-reliance, self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, immediacy and participation are the ideas that are taken very seriously at “The Burn”.
The experience has achieved its title. I am transformed. At present the impact is still sinking in. I thought it important to document here, as personal transformation is a theme in the “Apothecary of Ideas” that leads to better health.
I went as just me. Although I did pass out a few tins of Slippery Gypsy Aphrodisiac Mustache Wax as gifts, The Puja Eyes Medicine Show was not the focus of my visit. Preparation for the next chapter of my life was. In a few weeks, I will be entering my clinical year of training. The culmination of a 3 year Masters Degree program in an ancient form of Acupuncture, preserved from texts that date back thousands of years in Chinese Medical History; Five Elements Medicine. I will be seeing patients under the experienced direction of teacher-practitioners who have preserved this shamanic art, along with its rescuer/founder J.R. Worsley for much of their lives. It felt right to go home to the Asheville area to burn off what is no longer needed and become inspired for the work ahead.
This is the documentation of three events that hang together for me in my experience … along with all the other wonderful, creative, hilarious and sublime moments that only this kind of a gathering can elicit. There are moments that cannot be spoken of, or recorded.. In fact photography without consent …. Anything without clear consent, is not allowed at the burn. There are images of some of these events at the official website: http://www.transformus.com this is the record of the images that I carry now, in my minds eye.
Three descriptions follow of what I witnessed as visceral demonstration of the most important principal of the Burning Man Culture, Immediacy. “To overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers.” Immediacy is the definition of the work of Five Elements Medicine as well. It is what I came seeking.
Fire Number One: The First Burn
The effigy was already in place in the middle of the burn field as we entered the grounds. It was a high tower with a scarecrow-like effigy of a larger-than-life woman at the top. We were encouraged to paint, write climb and affix our prayers to her and the structure before it was to become a structure fire on Saturday night. I labeled her as an aspect of myself that no longer serves. Watching her burn ignited a deep wisdom and confidence in me.
Will Across Water: The Second Event
To describe the upper pond at Transformus is to borrow from the great filmmaker Frederico Fellini. With “Life and dreams as raw material” the scene on the lake would defy ordinary description of a party. The pirate ship “Molly Roger” draped with lounging bodies in various costumes, including those we were blessed with at birth, party floats bearing equally jolly guests, a fake VIP beach, roped off in gold chains and a giant, invisible blow up ball that 2 to 3 people could roll inside and into the lake, where they would self-propel by walking inside. These were some of the dreamlike aspects of that Sunday afternoon.
Laughter and music filled the warm scene. Pure paradise.
From across the pond with a perfect view of the VIP beach, I noticed a stark shift in the energy. A ranger was running and shouting around the lake. A canoe was being guided in to shore. The body of Jay Houston Marx was dragged out of the watery playground, and silence fell on the football field size lake. The trained crew was quick and decisive. From across the water I saw them working resuscitation techniques that I have yet to be trained in. I searched my memory for the acupuncture points indicated for drowning, but knew my place was out of the way. They worked for several minutes to silent prayer and an occasional shout of “Breathe!” from the watery mirror of transformation that was the lake. We all joined as one to will life into our friend Jay. The first responder crew did not give up for the eternity that may have been only 20 to 30 minutes before the EMT ambulance arrived. He threw up a few times … we cheered. We had hope.
Jay Houston Marx transformed later that day. He burned off the part of him that we may have danced with or kissed or caressed the evening before at the music and dance parties all over the grounds. He went home.
“Welcome Home” (like the custom from the Rainbow Family Gatherings) is the phrase repeated again and again by rangers and volunteers at the gates of Transformus. No one knows what accident or incident caused Jay’s transformation. We can only welcome him home now. That night, in the second fire of Transformus his spirit was welcomed in and his name was spoken.
Fire Number Two: The Last Burn
This was a somber event. We watched in subdued mood as a beautiful sculpture that depicted the head of a human, and had been a “booth” that we could enter to write to things and people we wished to remember and release during the festival was set in a funeral pyre of wood, tiny blue dolls, art and notes. It burned in relative silence. I went to bed while the glowing embers were being tended.
Om Shanti Shanti OM
We recently visited the Moog factory here in Asheville, NC, where Bob Moog’s wonderful synthesizers are manufactured. This is me and Rob Grey in front of a picture of the man who changed music history with his famous “creamy sounding” electronic analogue musical devices. Rob (BomBassic) was our tour guide around the factory and is also playing at the One Stop here in Asheville on July 24th (if y’all want to see what he is about, go to bombassic.com).
Fun fact: Bob Moog sold theremins like this one to fund his degree in engineering from Cornell university. We’re raising money for college too with the funds we make from selling slippery gypsy aphrodisiac mustache wax as well as other Puja products, so buy a tin or two to fund my college education.
So anyway,we found out a lot of cool stuff about Bob Moog and his awesome products, like 75% of the materials he uses are from the U.S. and 100% of his finished products were made and tested in the U.S. by people. Its no wonder his employees are so loyal to him, as aptly illustrated by Nick Montoya. Nick works in the service center (the only service center for Moog insruments) and did I mention that he has a Moog tattoo on his arm?
We continued on with the tour, passing Sub Phattys and Little Phattys on stands (they keep them powered on for 48 hours strait to see if there is anything wrong), workstations, tuning rooms, and a gold plated Mini Moog (only 11 made!) until we made it to the Sound Lab. The Sound Lab is where musicians go if they want to test out Moog and see if its right for them, or if they just want to jam. It has modular system hookups, Voyagers on racks on the walls, and pretty much every Moog product in the world. I believe it’s what musicians call heaven. Anyway, I have to go now, so see y’all in the funny books! Oh wait, I almost forgot to put a picture of the Sound Lab!
“To be human,to be fully human, is to need music and to derive nourishment from the music you hear”- Bob Moog
We at The Puja Eyes medicine Show Agree with Bob Moog. If you derive nourishment from this post please leave a like or retweet.
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Me: So, just for the sake of our readers,what does Gogol Bordello sound like?
Her: That’s a good question, because I’m sure sound is subjective to each persons experience, even though science can prove otherwise, but Gogol Bordello’s combination of noises sounds to me like hundreds of years of Eastern European Rom (Gypsy) Cabaret with a modern American Punk aesthetic. Its a lot of beautiful noise with some screaming and banging thrown in. It makes you want to dance and cry and throw your fist in the air. Serge Ryabtsev’s violin is guaranteed to break your heart wide open. And Eugene Hutz’s guitar and vocals will remind you where you came from… that is, if you are me, for I can only speak for myself. I guess you could say I’m a fan of their music, but I’m also a fan of their message.
Me: Who is your favorite member of the band?
Her: I have a huge crush on Eugen e Hutz, as I’m sure millions of other women (and probably men) do too. He’s the real deal as a modern composer of ideas and music. He’s influenced by the Hungarian composer Bella Bartok as well as modern gypsy and punk bands. I’ve even developed an herbal product inspired by him called Slippery Gypsy Aphrodisiac Mustache Wax. Its an all natural grooming product with real aphrodisiac essential oils and tinctures that promotes love. In fairness I’ve never met Eugene, but I have met Thomas Gobina and Elizabeth Chi-Wei Sun and they are very nice people indeed. Also, Sergey Ryabtsev talent stirs something deep within my gypsy soul. All of the members of Gogol Bordello make it the phenomena that it is.
Her: Partly. I also came because of the Puja Eyes Medicine Show and because of you. I saw Eugene Hutz at Bonaroo in 2010. He hosted a day of world music at the Other tent. It was amazing. I’ve seen him in smaller venues too. I wanted to see what Wakarusa was like and to check out the Ozark mountains. I also wanted to revive the Puja Eyes Medicine Show and we got the idea that you could music blog about the healing power of music.
Me: How was the performance at Wakarusa in comparison with other performances by Eugene you have seen?
Her: He was dynamic and as charismatic as ever. He is an inspiration to me as an artist. each time I see him I am reminded that we all must keep our inner creative forces alive. That’s what’s reviving the Puja Eyes Medicine Show for me. I’ve finally created a website with your help that sells Slippery Gypsy Aphrodisiac Mustache Wax and we met some great people at Wakarusa that are very supportive of your music blogging, like Ryan Connely of Grassroots California, and the guys at Relix magazine.
Me: Hey, wasn’t Grassroots sponsoring the Satellite stage? What do you think about that?
Her: Yeah, and Technaflora was sponsoring the Outpost tent. As an herbalist and lover of plants, I was very exited to learn about these 2 organizations and their missions regarding the cultivation of our birthright to use plants as medicine. They are both pioneer organizations in the exploration of true freedom from the politics of power in healing and folk medicine. I will be looking for ways that the Puja Eyes Medicine Show can support these organizations as well as smaller representatives of this cause, such as Legalize potbelly pigs, from Weaverville NC, our own backyard.
Me: So, what do you think that Technaflora and Grassroots are about?
Her: I don’t know for sure that their missions are the same as mine, but I do know that outlawing any plant and the cultivation of it for ones personal use is wrong. This kind of thinking is fueling the support of legislation sponsored by companies such as Monsanto in which the family vegetable garden is becoming illegal, and the use of heirloom seeds and seed saving unlawful. Plants are food and medicine. To control them is the highest abuse of power I can think of, with the possible exception of air and clean water. When I tell people I’m an herbalist, those who don’t understand plant medicine will sometimes raise an eyebrow or chuckle and insinuate that I’m either growing Ganga in the basement or knocking back the 100 proof vodka tinctures. That’s why I decided to create a lovingly irreverent look at alternative healing through the Puja Eyes Medicine Show. It addresses these misconceptions about herbalism, yoga, and alternative healing practices with humor and compassion. I want to thank you for supporting me on the blog and in this interview, and for being a great kid. maybe we can go back to Wakarusa next year, or have more adventures as the Puja Eyes Medicine Show. Does that sound like fun?
Me: Yes. Yes it does. Meanwhile , y’all will have to entertain yourselves until we find a new Festival to annoy! See ya!
Oh, P.S., Photos at pujaeyes.com in guestbook
So we were just hanging out at our room in the Ozark inn, when mom sees these guys in this van. So she starts talking to these guys about our blog and stuff when she finds out that they are in a Wakarusa band called Afrolicious. Unfortunately, their show has already passed, but it was cool to meet them! Here’s a pic, see y’all later!
Yes, I know festivals, camping, the weekend, get-away-from-civilization-thing … Mud and rain (and hail and high winds and girls on acid screaming bloody murder late at night). It’s all to be expected….. But when it actually prevents you from hearing the music you came here for because you are huddled in your car for 24 hours living on protein bars and coconut water it can become a bummer.
So far, the two times we have ventured out, like Bambi, from the Westwoods camping area to see if we could get some hot food and some hot licks, we have run the risk of becoming human lighting rods with our umbrella and unicycle in tow. We did make it down (a 3 mile hike on rocks) to the venue yesterday though , just in time to be told that it was closed for the third time because another storm (this one with hail) was headed our way.
That did not stop this dynamic duo from interviewing folks and taking pictures with our ziplock-baggied iPhones, meeting a lot of nice folks and having a day of adventure and fun. Perhaps today we will actually get to see a music show!
Well. That night sucked. It wasn’t the 3-mile walk to the festival grounds (they do call it walk-arusa for a reason, am I right?), or the things that keep you awake at night (anyone in the mood for some acid induced screaming? wish I was.) but it is the constant, unrelenting, WETNESS! NOTHING is sacred, EVERYTHING is wet. One good thing about rain and wetness though is that it brings people together under umbrellas and tents and that leads to conversation. We met lots of really cool people, even though we didn’t get to see any bands, and it was nice. Finally, we decided to give up on camping (or should I say muding) and we are in a Indian-run hillbilly motel.
Anyway g2g bye y’all!