Artwork: Fallen Angels by Buffy Sainte-Marie
This morning I was thinking about firekeepers – the keepers of the flame that inspire us with their passion, their artistry and basically their whole being. These kinds of people help to pull us up with them with their art when we are feeling tired, overwhelmed and even wanting to give up. I’d like to make a dedication to a firekeeper each week. Someone who has inspired me and I hope will inspire you when you feel in need of some extra focus and HEAT!
Buffy Sainte-Marie is the for me the ultimate firekeeper. She is a musician, artist, activist, teacher and proud Cree woman. I love that she is so hard to pigeonhole. She is herself in everything she does. She came up in conversation with someone else who is a more close to home firekeeper, my best friend and death doula, Bec Rainbowalker. Bec and I have that kinship that is more like a sister. We are each other’s ‘check-in’ – a barometer of what’s going on in our day, whether that be good or bad. It was Bec who reminded me of Buffy’s song Starwalker this week and today Bec is needing to be strong for her daughter who is sick. So firstly, I’d like to dedicate this firekeeper to Bec to help her to trust and be strong today and also to share this fire with you all.
A couple of years ago Buffy toured Australia and I got to see her play live for the first time. She was 70 years old and looked like someone half her age and that is no exaggeration. A couple of times in mid-song, I saw her spirit shapeshift into a young girl as she danced. She was playing with her band, all Native American and when they sang and chanted together I really understood that expression ‘lifting the roof’. My heart opened and the energy inside it was FIRE. I got to meet her after the show and it was an honour just to have the gift to be able to thank her for all that she has given to me over the years. When Buffy speaks and sings, she teaches. But she doesn’t beat you up with her message, she is wise and creative and instead puts the truth to you so plainly and cleanly that you can’t deny it and then she opens up the circle and asks you to join in the move for change. Here is a brilliant example of her doing this in her introduction before singing Starwalker in concert in the same year that I saw her.
I love that wherever Buffy appears, she uses that moment to get across a real message and to break down barriers. She has never shied away from speaking about corporate greed, indigenous culture and the futility of war. Her song, Universal Soldier, was written at the time of the Vietnam War but could be written for us right now. Most people my age, in their forties, probably remember Buffy from Sesame Street. Sesame Street was such a great show with a great message of community and it had brilliant music! Did you know that she was the first woman to ever breastfeed on television? And can you believe we still afraid of showing this today?
While writing about Buffy this morning I found this amazing interview about creativity from Australian television in 1972.! Another new Buffy spark. Sending some fire to you all today friends to encourage you to be creative, reach out to your friends and dance! I hope this sends you on your own fire-lit path of discovery of Buffy Sainte-Marie.