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Steven Ash
from: Steven Ash
Category: Community Music

The Sea Organ of Zadar

The Sea Organ of Zadar by Steven Ash

Last summer my son John and I made a flying visit to the ancient Roman Venetian port of Zadar on the Croatian Adriatic coast. We stayed with Marko Boric African drummer extraordinaire and our Sacred Drumming teacher in Croatia, he is a drum maker, sound healer and newly a dad. This coast is a wonderfully easy place to be relaxed, the sea is warm and very clear. Zadar holds an ancient and historic feel as if nothing has changed for 500 years, and yet it has. There is a sound healing innovation that is effecting hundreds of people every day and evening of the summer season.

In the sea wall of the cities harbour facing the long Islands to the west, the city elders have installed a sea organ that wails and croons with the undulation of the churning waves. The three of us sit with a multitude of tourists on the stone steps immersing ourselves into a deep sound meditation. The stillness and serenity of the people being lulled is palpable, children are quiet, teens cease their chatter, the sun sets to the romance of the waters music. The feeling of the living waters is amplified as a visual as well as auditory experience, the constant moving mirrors, of grey, turquoise, greens and silver seemed to explode visually due to the sounds groaning and blowing up into the crowd through tubes set into the stone that pulse the air from under the quay.

I realise how the sound, feeling and visual senses synchronise together into the waves of peace and healing that we all so need in our lives. Sitting there was the most safe place to be for all of us, there was a friendliness and ease in the crowd, people made space for others to sit, at least 150 people sat or stood as quiet as mice in this extraordinary water theatre. We were all being reminded of our aquatic ancestry, diving into the dreamtime with the dolphins, seals and whales.

Our blood is composed of a saline solution like that of the sea. Each ocean, sea and lake has its own composition of salts. The Adriatic is concentrated with salt similar to the Dead Sea in which you can float with ease whereas the East Sea or Baltic is almost sweet in its salts dilution. 

Sitting on the stone walled steps in the gathering darkness, memories of ancient wonder came to me as the belching soft sound sends me soothing into a trance. I have been here before in this strategic city, before in a life time long ago, and again in 1976 as the last stage on a three month voyage as a crew on an ocean going catamaran. These memories mix and shape a series of pictures that feel like I am coming home.

In my dreams that night I return to that place and listen again to the sea melodies, and on awaking feel the urge to swim again in the crystal clear waters. Later in the day as the bronze sun sets as we are diving off the cliffs and swimming out into the salty brine, I lie in the rolling and undulating ever changing mirrored troughs and hills of water mesmerised by the surface constantly changing mirrors, I see beauty all around me. This poetic phrasing slips out of me and seeps into the supportive medium below and all around.

“Great Mother Sea, 

Thank you for welcoming me,

Caring for me and holding me,

Within your wet salty kingdom” 

As I bob like a cork, safe warm and nurtured in my mothers salty milk this song becomes a poetic prayer of gratitude, to be repeated, spelt out and listened to by me, so that I can go deeper into the happiness that is messaging me from this union of a mother and a son.

Water is consciousness and the Sea is alive to my love, she is a self healing mechanism in motion, sucking in the light of grandfather sun to brighten and cleanse her substance, she transforms our waste, doubt and fear and brings us home when we most have the need.

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