At Inspiral Lounge on Tuesday night I was privileged to be part of a wonderfully improvised performance, storytelling and musical healing by the beautiful and profound Caroline Ophis, who goes by many personas, including sexyrubbersoul and Melodious Harmony. Whatever her chosen manifestation, Caroline represents to me the embodiment of the soulful sister whose energy and wisdom is so needed in this time of great change. This sister rocks in the most profound way!
The band she was supposed to perform with couldn’t make it, so Caroline regaled us with tales of the origin of the mythical phoenix and how the legend states that it can only exist in lands where there is no bloodshed, which would explain why we don’t see any in this present time. Caroline accompanied the storytelling with various instrumentation which she surrounded herself with, creating a world within a world as she transported us through her charismatic voice and presence into a land thousands of years in the past.
She went on to tell us the story of Hildegard of Bingen, a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath, who wrote theological, botanical and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, poems, and arguably the oldest surviving morality play, while supervising brilliant miniature illuminations (thanks to Wikipedia again for the info!).
She sang one of Hildegard of Bingen’s songs, O viridissima virga and explained its meaning and the significance of the tonality of the song and the musical scale she used and its prevalence in much of the world’s music. To have a dreadlocked drum n bass DJ and feminist activist with a deeply eastern spiritual flavour tell the story of this profoundly gifted woman and the communities of women who existed and developed education in Europe in the middle ages gave me a totally different context in which to listen to this deeply spiritual music and to understand further how patriarchy has distorted much of the wisdom and significance of European spirituality and the role of women in its development.
Medieval and monastic music has a profound effect on me, but often the patriarchal religious dominance and appropriation of the spiritual has obscured the truth of the message and has left me rejecting it by association with modern Christianity. But here, Caroline, with her knowledge of the true spiritual origin of the rarely spoken truth of the history of religious women who created much of the art and science of the middle ages, I found myself wanting to listen to her all night and learn about an aspect of European history excised from the established Christian canon.
As if that wasn’t enough, Caroline then led the assembled crowd on a musical healing journey through five of the body’s major organs, lungs, liver, kidneys, heart and spleen to expunge negative energy and replenish with positive energy, where we closed our eyes and intoned various sounds to resonate with each organ. I find such healing works best when you have absolute trust and a respect, even reverence for the person conducting the healing and I have that for Caroline who I have known for many years, seeing her rarely but always at auspicious times and at synchronicitous moments.
So I felt I wanted to share the wonderful gift I received and the knowledge that I gained from a simple and improvised performance, which I’ve found often turn out to be the best performances and in doing so return a gift of words in this review, offering my gratitude to Caroline and to the wonderful host Katie Rose, a guardian angel of music and the healing power of voice with intent, as well as to one of my favourite places in London, Inspiral Lounge in Camden without which London life would be a lot less interesting.