Electric Dreams

 The Dream Songs of Vesica Pisci -- A Special Place Between: 
An Interview with Kingfisher

Richard Wilkerson

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Wilkerson, Richard (1999 May). Interview: The Dream Songs of Vesica Pisci -- A Special Place Between: An Interview with Kingfisher. Electric Dreams 6(5).Retrieved July 11, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams


Kingfisher is an artist extraordinaire that respects dreams as part of the creative process. His new web site, The Vesica Piscis Labyrinth, is a wonderful contribution to music, art, poetry, cultural commentary, mythology and "herstory" on the web, as well as to the online dream community. The site is centered around Kingfisher's Vesica Piscis CD, released last month by First Light Music.

Of particular interest here is NADIS, the "Numinous Archives Dream Interactive System." NADIS is an interactive "dream machine" that resides in the south chamber of the Vesica Piscis Labyrinth. It is place where users can log their own dreams, and by means of a unique search engine search the archives by keyword, then save and title their results. Both the concept for and the word "NADIS" came themselves from one of Kingfisher's lucid dreams.


[RCW] : [Richard C. Wilkerson for Electric Dreams]: It is clear from your web site that the Vesica Piscis album is influenced by a multitude of levels and realms. One important realm you identify is the dream world. Do you have an intention of looking for songs in dreams or do they just happen?

[Kingfisher]: I don't expect to have a dream and write a song about it. Usually the song is in fragments, and the dream rather pulls them together, almost as if the music was a kind of premonition. I'm not really sure which causes which.

[RCW]: So you have developed a kind of personal dreamwork that interfaces with your waking life work?

[Kingfisher]: Yes, I would say so - indeed, they've become so interfaced as to become one and the same. But I hesitate to say "I" developed the interface. The music and dreams support one another, and the work grows organically. The thrust of my conscious intention has been to stay out of the way.

[RCW] : You have been writing poetry and songs since the age of 10. Where any of these inspired by dreams?

[Kingfisher]:I've always been a dreamer, but they only became an overt part of my waking work after my first trip to Avalon in 1993.

[RCW] : What is the first dream you remember?

[Kingfisher]: My earliest dream recollections are more about feelings than images. Playground carousels, needles, autumn leaves, and time running backwards: sheer terror and helplessness. A giant gorilla, a fairy flitting about on vibrant, animated diagonal stripes, a little house with lace curtains and a stop sign on the door: an overwhelming giddiness.

[RCW]: When did you first start recording your dreams?

[Kingfisher]: I rarely wrote them down until about 8 years ago. The real intense ones I never forgot: meeting Jesus in a dream two days before my bar-mitzvah, drowning in a tidal wave after an earthquake when I was 19. There's a lot of early ones I remember, and by now they're all pretty much written down. Over the years, I've had several experiences with the dead as well, and with astral travel - I'm not sure I'd call those dreams, though. These days I regularly keep track of my nightly journeys in a journal.

[RCW]: Do you have a favorite dream?

[Kingfisher]: I love the dream that preceded NADIS. Assuming it was a dream! It took place in a beautiful village on an island, and mostly involved me drifting about and admiring the art and architecture. At the end I was greeted by an alien, who claimed he was from the distant future, and had built the village himself. He said he had gotten hold of and ingested some of my DNA - which he called "bone-shake" - and through some related process accessed my dreamtime. Sounds like sci-fi, I know! I was extremely lucid, and awoke quite shaken and excited. Before I actually awoke, though, I dreamt I awoke - you know, one of those. I sat up in my bed, but the bed was on the wrong side of the room. Where my bed was supposed to be was a table with a computer monitor on it, and a keyboard and mouse. On the screen were the letters N-A-D-I-S, and the phrase "log-on", which was flashing. I woke up thinking about the alien, and trying to decipher those letters. That's how NADIS was born. If you go to the site, the front page is just as it was in my dream. The alien dream in detail is in the NADIS archives, titled "Dream of the Fiones."

[RCW] : It seems you see dreams as, among other things, a force that creatively binds together disparate fragments into meaningful images. Is this how the Vesica Piscis notion came together?

[Kingfisher]: No, I don't see dreams themselves as some kind of creative, binding force per se. I don't believe there are any disparate fragments to bind - creativity comes into play in learning how things in actuality are already connected, in discovering meaningful images where none are apparent on the surface. Among other things, the Vesica Piscis symbolizes the unity of seeming opposites, much like the yin/yang symbol; but is unique in that the aspect of unity is expressed as a passage. Thus unity is not represented as a resolve or closure, but as open, alive, ineffable. Dreams, visions, and otherworldly experiences are the final element in a sort of internal combustion, a key just waiting to unlock a vast awareness.

What ultimately positioned the Vesica Piscis as the touchstone of this project is two-fold: that this passage, the pointed oval, is an archetypal symbol of the Divine Feminine; and that the symbol speaks to a place of transition, a place between worlds. As to the first, our culture, this monoculture of which almost all humans have become a part, is collapsing under the weight of 10,000 years of repression of the Divine Feminine - the nurturing, birthing, destroying, equalizing, Mother of Compassion. Misogyny, homophobia, Earth-trashing, the transcendental fascism we call mainstream religion - they all seem to be rooted in this same fearsome repression, like multiple faces of the same ugly coin. In response to that, the Vesica Piscis shines as the vibrant, breathing heart of a deep ecology, an inter-cultural, inter-species pursuit of compassion, surrender, and right action. I relate to the "place between" aspect of the Vesica Piscis on a more personal level: as a two-spirit person and a dreamer, mainly. I don't think I really have the chops yet to define myself as a psychopomp or a shaman, although my "straddling two worlds" experiences in those areas have drawn me to the symbol as well.

[RCW]:What is the notion about historically and mythologically?

[Kingfisher]: The term "vesica piscis" is first recorded in literature in 1809, but is no doubt much older. It translates from Latin literally as "fish bladder," but more likely refers to a bladder that takes the form of a fish when filled: a sewn skin that holds wine, for example, or the air sack of bagpipes.

The Vesica Piscis is made by linking two circles together, bringing the outside edge of each to the midway point of the other. The pointed oval at the center of the image is called a mandorla. The mandorla can easily be seen as a grail or chalice, which connects the symbol to Avalon. The Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England - where most people believe Avalon to be - is covered by a wrought iron lid in the shape of a Vesica Piscis.

When the Vesica Piscis is displayed vertically, the mandorla forms the shape of a fish. The word "fish" translates into Greek as "ichthys", which is an acronym for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." Early Christians adopted the fish symbol as their own, and used it as sort of secret code to identify themselves to one another and avoid persecution. The Vesica Piscis, and in particular the mandorla, has been much used in Christian art and architecture: as a frame for Jesus and the saints, or as the passage between heaven and earth through which Jesus ascends.

When the Vesica Piscis is viewed horizontally, however, the mandorla becomes a different sort of passage: the birth passage, the vulva of the Goddess, surrounded by the crescents of the waxing and waning moon. The mandorla as birth passage can easily be seen on the sheila-na-gig figures found on Irish churches, and in the squatting figures of the Hindu goddess Kali. The almond/yoni/fish/ocean/Goddess connection is present in several mythologies, from Egypt and Greece to India and China.

A medieval hymn calls Jesus "the little fish in the Virgin's fountain." Christian art sometimes shows Jesus inside a mandorla, superimposed over Mary's womb. Mary herself can be equated with the goddess Aphrodite Marina, who brought forth all the fish in the oceans; Marina's blue robe and pearl necklace, like the Christian Mary's, are classic symbols of the sea. On Cyprus, Mary to this day is worshiped as "Panaghia Aphroditessa." The connections between Christianity and the Goddess traditions it absorbed - and all but destroyed - drew me to the Vesica Piscis in yet another way.

[RCW]: When did Avalon and the ancient myths of Britain become part of your experience?

[Kingfisher]: In the spring of 1993, I took my first trip to Glastonbury. I have always had an affinity for the English countryside, and a passion for British history. I had just finished Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon", and the idea of a different history, or herstory, that had always existed but never been told was fresh in my mind; I was excited to see the sacred isle at last. When I finally set foot there, though, nothing in particular happened. I found the place at once compelling and unsettling, and a good fit in an odd way. We stayed for a couple of days, and I vowed to return. As the next five years unfolded, my anguish over human injustice and environmental destruction grew, and I delved into eco-feminist writings and pagan practices; I began a more serious study of mythology and folklore, especially of the British Isles; and I discovered an ancient, rich world of queer spirituality that sang to a part of me that had been kicked shut, intimidated into silence since I was a child. Friends died. I fell in love. My lucid dreams went off the map. I wrote lots of music. And the legends of Avalon and the Vesica Piscis took on an ever deepening significance.

[RCW]: I found it interesting that in your "Sister Falling" dream you are pursuing many religiously charged images, such as the Oriental man being chased into the Barrow Downs. It's almost as if you have taken the "Eastern" and planted it in Celtic ground.

[Kingfisher]: The contemplative traditions of both Europe and Asia feel very similar to me at an essential level, although their practices and even their intentions can be very different. To my eye, the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth approximate a kind of radical Buddhist Judaism, without the later Christian dogma. If you zoom in, there's all sorts of osmosis going on. But Britain is imbued with the Celts, just like the land where I live is steeped in the lives of the Miwok and Maidu; it's the flesh-blood-dust-water of a place that finally ignites the spirit. And the spirit of ancient Britain ignited my dreams, especially after my trip to Avalon. California ignites me too. I think the things we need to accomplish, though - mindfulness, non-attachment, loving-kindness, honoring the Earth and body - are simply human endeavors. East, west, indigenous, find your fit. As to the Sister Falling dream: I was a Christian nun trying to talk an old Chinese man out of suicide; we struggled with an axe and I fell to my death. Go figure!

[RCW]: The songs on Vesica piscis album are quite fascinating. I felt as though I was really floating on a mist that is particular to the Glastonbury area, yet universal and accessible to all at the same time. (To readers: you can hear the Vesica Piscis songs at the web site) How much of this style is something new to you, or has it evolved over the course of the many years you have been writing and composing?

[Kingfisher]: The style of music on this album is definitely something I've evolved into. I've written a lot of music, a lot of different kinds of music - I have, after all, been playing and writing for 30 years. It's uncommon to see an artist release their first full-fledged album at 40 - but it's almost as if until now I was afraid to say what I meant, to be real, to fully surrender to the process. I wasn't aware of this fear, of course - I was being as real as I could! I guess I'm just a slow cooker, a late bloomer. This project definitely has a "coming out" aspect. Thelma and Louise driving off a cliff comes to mind! I didn't like that film, but at this moment that last scene strikes me as a beginning. Funny I missed that.

[RCW]: Do you have any advice for other artists who would like to access their dreams for inspiration?

[Kingfisher]: I don't think inspiration is about effort, it's about making room. Make a point of remembering your dreams - keep a journal. Learn to do that and see what comes. Relax and have fun!

[RCW]: Kingfisher, thank you for your time and the wonderful project offerings.

[Kingfisher]: Thank you, Richard, for your delightful questions. It's been great fun.

The Vesica Piscis Labyrinth, the NADIS system, the music, and access to ordering CDS are all available at http://www.kingfish.net

Kingfisher * Sadhana Music * Songs of the Kelabim (BMI)
http://www.kingfish.net * http://www.nadis.net

"All day long I have exciting ideas and thoughts. But I take up in my work only those to which my dreams direct me." -C.G. Jung