October 8, 2020

Why might ‘indigenous’ matter in 21st Century Scotland and how can we re-indigenise ourselves?

Laura Cameron-Lewis

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Song - Dance Music - KeeningFois Anama, 2020

As our culture faces extinction, my song is an antidote to our estrangement from ourselves – a radical cry of grief and celebration, insisting on our re-indigenisation in natural life. I wrote it through the structure of a keening/wake, after studying Gaelic and indigenous values and beliefs. Re-manifesting our historic spiritual connection with our environment and the lost roles of women as the bearers medicinal knowledge, of birthing, and death rites such as keening (a’ caoineadh). My work re-values lost feminine knowledge/community /sustainability, which was displaced by church dogma and colonising forces and economies. Drawing upon women’s incantations in Alexander Carmichaels Carmina Gaedelica, I have melded surviving fragments of Keening with body experimentations of ecstatic grief, rewriting women into the language and physical power of healing, growth. I created a vocal style which emerged as an invocation, a howl, a cry, a celebration. It may be surprising, but rave was an inheritor of aspects of these traditions, so I deliberately invoke rave and its repetitive healing beats, shifting consciousness through rhythm. Gaelic lyrics balance spirituality with the fleshy, bloodied pulse of our bodies, old and new in tension with keening vocal cries and the muscular drive of rave composition.