During a meditation following the story of The Apple Pip Princess (by Jane Ray), at our most recent women’s circle, I was filled from the tips of my hair to the ends of my toes with nightingale song. I didn’t hear actual notes, but instead experienced a sense that my humble body was singing most beautifully, and that it was singing my own song. I am getting better at allowing images and sensations to fill me during meditations, and I quite enjoyed this one!
I’ve been quite taken with the idea of nightingale song since then, and I’m quite curious about this bird. We hear about it in stories, in mythology, as a bird who sings mournfully to lovers or lost ones in the evening. Music so beautiful it hurts your soul to hear it.
That nightingale, who now melodious mourns
Perhaps his children or his consort dear,
The heavens with sweetness fills; the distant bourns
Resound his notes, so piteous and so clear;
With me all night he weeps. . .
But have you heard a Nightingale, or know what it looks like? I imagined a beautiful bird in shining blue plumage (for some reason!), but these little birds are plain brown and white, like a thrush. I found a nightingale call, you can listen to it here.
“Chew-chew chew-chew” and higher still,
“Cheer-cheer cheer-cheer” more loud and shrill,
“Cheer-up cheer-up cheer-up”—and dropped
Low—”Tweet tweet jug jug jug”—and stopped
One moment just to drink the sound
Her music made, and then a round
Of stranger witching notes was heard
As if it was a stranger bird:
“Wew-wew wew-wew chur-chur chur-chur
Woo-it woo-it”—could this be her?
“Tee-rew tee-rew tee-rew tee-rew
Chew-rit chew-rit”—and ever new—
“Will-will will-will grig-grig grig-grig.”
We have beautiful singing birds here in Australia, and if I were to equate my experience of the Nightingale to a Southern Hemisphere counterpart, I would suggest the Noisy Friarbird …
… who is not only a very plain bird, but also a very ugly one! I have always been astounded that such an unremarkable bird could sound so beautiful. Maybe it is only beautiful to me … here you can listen to it – a fairly average sample of its call , and it is decribed as dischordant! Not to my ears.
And so to return to the discussion of my experience during the meditation, I experienced this ‘nightingale song’ as MY song … my truth, my essence. It was an experience that made me realise how very important my own voice is, even if what I have to say isn’t something that other people are prepared to hear … like the Noisy Friarbird. There are times among family, friends and the community when we feel compelled to agree with others for the sake of keeping peace, or to make others happy, or to make ourselves happy, or because we may not yet be brave enough to disagree, or at least to present another viewpoint.
In those times we are not listening to our Nightingale song, and in fact we are not even letting it sing. What a difference people see in you when you can hear your own inner essence! What a strength you reveal about yourself, what challenges you can overcome when you really really hear your own truth. And what courage it takes to speak it.
But more often than not the strength it takes to summon this courage is worth it in comparison to the sinking, queezy feeling one experiences when one realises that they have found themselves not listening to their inner voice, and agreeing with others for reasons not true to their own heart’s song.
At the 2009 Goddess Conference I found myself amongst women in the flame of truth, for our Opening Ceremony. Together with four other flames we each sang our own song until all our songs mixed together to make the most beautiful harmony – music of the universe, of the inner sacred woman. This was my song:
I speak with Truth
With Truth I belong
In Truth I sing my
Woman’s heart song …