Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In Review--The Power of Butterflies & Peyote Songs


Clark Tenakhongva (Hopi)
Po'li (Traditional Songs of the Hopi)
Canyon Records

Clinton Denny with Gerald Primeaux, Sr. (Chippewa Cree)
Prayers for My Father
Canyon Records


I find listening to Hopi renaissance man, Clark Tenakhongva's chants to be an immensely enjoyable experience. Clark's gentle spirit comes through in all of the chants, as he pounds on a large drum with one hand (which resembles a Mexican bombo), and shakes a rattle with his opposite hand. His songs act as prayers to Butterfly and other helpful Spirits.

Po'li marks the third of Tenankongva's recordings that I have heard. And well, how do you describe a spiritual listening experience? I could tell you the facts of the Hopi tradition in which I am only vaguely familiar or I could send you to Canyon Records' site where you can learn more about the artist. And if you Google "Hopi" you should be able to glean information online, including information about Hopi Prophecies.

My own experiences with all Native American or sacred music is that I have to be in the right place, and right frame of mind/heart to enjoy it. Sometimes, I listen to this music when I already feel joy in my heart. And other times, I listen to it because I have fallen into a dark place via my own negative thoughts or experiences. As far as the philosophy of which comes first the thoughts or the feelings, I will leave that for the French café society to discuss (joke).

This particular recording features prayers, love songs, and dances, (Hopi Two-Step). It offers lightness of being with plenty of joy to spare. Think of the butterfly as it dances upon summer flowers, and listens to the heartbeat of our Earth Mother. How many times have you witnessed the flight of a butterfly and not felt joy? This recording provides vibrant colors, beautiful rhythms, and soulful vocals.

The singer knows that his musical gifts come from The Creator, and this gratitude can be heard throughout. He is a man of many talents, including teaching and preserving the Hopi traditions, and giving back to his community by assisting military veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And he himself is a military veteran. Now, whether he sings to those suffering from this disorder during therapy sessions, I do not know. (That would be an interesting future topic for this blog).

I personally, endorse Clark's recordings, and find them healing on a personal level.


I have noticed recently the great number of hits that the peyote medicine and music article has received on both this blog and also Cranky Crow Whole Music. So for those folks interested in peyote songs and its spiritual components, please add the new arrival, Prayers for My Father by Chippewa Cree Denny Clinton. The Harmonized Peyote Songs performed act as a dedication to Clinton's late father, Bill Denny Jr., proponent of the peyote ceremony of the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana.

Clinton Denny marks the third generation, which started with his grandfather, William Denny, Sr., in 1932. The history of this lineage and its involvement in bringing the peyote rite and its songs to the reservation appears in the liner notes. In fact, you will find all the educational information you need in the liner notes to thoroughly reap rewards from this recording.

The entire CD playing time runs close to an hour. The psychedelic beats of the Native American water drum, and constant shakes of a rattle, set the space. Singers, Clinton Denny and guest artist, Gerald Primeaux, Sr. sing the harmonized chants. Nine sets of 4 songs comprise the recording and help listeners ground themselves to Mother Earth.

Harmonized Peyote Songs are traditionally sung during a peyote rite as part of the Native American Church. But the recordings also can be relaxing to some listeners outside of a peyote rite, and certainly in my opinion, it is healthy to explore the music of other spiritual traditions, outside your own. This allows us to relate to people outside of our traditions, to open new doors and understanding of others. Not to mention, that the spiritual and musical traditions of indigenous peoples ground us to the earth, help us relate to earth spirits, and heal ourselves in the process. If our heads get lost in the clouds, we cannot heal the Earth Mother so we need music to ground us.

And by the way, Prayers for My Father, is a wonderful follow up to the recording, In The Key of Earth by sound healer and musician, Marjorie de Muynck. Here is an example of 2 different spiritual practices that compliment each other.

For more information about these recordings, please visit Canyon Records

By the way, animals (both domestic and wild), enjoy these sacred music traditions. So share the joy and healing with other creatures.

The beautiful artwork that graces Prayers for My Father was created by Nathaniel Pete.

No comments:

Post a Comment