The Spiritual Arts Foundation

Charlotte Mabon - Songs and starry skies

September 5, 2023

Charlotte Mabon

My early childhood was spent on the outskirts of a small Suffolk town playing ‘famous five’ with my 2 elder brothers and losing myself in the small scrubby copse of trees opposite our house. I was a quick learner so aged 8, my parents sent me to an academic girls’ school in Cambridge, 30 miles away from my home. I remember feeling like a wild animal taken into captivity for the first time; looking around for a kindred scruffy child in the sea of girls with long plaits, white socks and neat pinafore dresses. I was a complete misfit and in the 8 years of being there, I never overcame this feeling.

I was an early developer and was thrown into an adult world aged 11 after being sought out by an elder teenager who left me with a deep wound and a secret to hold that estranged me even more from my peers. School became an oppressive endurance test and I was sent many times to the headteacher often for reasons unknown to me. I became a ‘problem’ pupil for my difference and the girls around me started to whisper. I had a choice of denying or living up to my reputation so I went with the latter and threw myself into edgy situations; jumping trains to London, shoplifting as a habit and seeking out people living outside society’s norms; the goths and park-bench dwellers of early 90’s Cambridge.

My parents separated, school eventually finished and then out of the blue, I received a cheque in the post; a gift from a deceased relative. 19 years old, I bought a ticket to India and emerged from Calcutta airport to the heat, the smells of spice and rubbish, the traffic mayhem and was enraptured. After 3 weeks of walking the city, I booked myself into a Vipassana retreat in Bodhgaya. Having felt alienated in the ‘human’ world I had grown up in, my longing for spirit and the spiritual life was burning in me. I emerged after 10 days of silence, shaved my head and soft as a baby, I travelled to Varanasi, threw myself into yoga and bought a guitar.

Charlotte Mabon

I met a beautiful singer, Katya Moslehner, who was studying classical Indian music in Varanasi and together we travelled to an uninhabited Andaman Island and spent our days bathing in the ocean, gazing at the milky way and singing with her shruti box. It was the first time I had explored my voice or come to know singing as meditation. We parted ways and I found myself alone again travelling to North India. Having been so saturated in the heat and headiness of the India I had come to love, this last part of my journey brought up some deep and familiar feelings of loneliness. My guitar became my loyal companion in this time. I’d hide myself away in concrete guesthouse rooms and tentatively pick out the chords and (quietly quietly) sing.

After 6 months in India, I returned to the UK to study philosophy and literature but was itching to continue travelling. At every opportunity I took off and one summer break I found a tipi community in the mountains in Spain. I deferred my degree studies and spent 2 years immersed in the simple life; growing food, walking barefoot on the earth, bathing in spring pools and singing round the big lodge fire. I learnt many things in this time – how to live in deep connection with the earth, how to find sacredness in simplicity – but I still found it hard to trust people and feel a sense of belonging. One warm spring day whilst walking by a shrubby hedge of hawthorn and brambles, I felt a rekindling of love of my homeland and a desire to return there and pick up the broken pieces of the self I’d left behind.

That time came around after hearing about such a thing as plant medicine ceremonies. I returned to the UK and, armed with my guitar and a small bag of clothes, I took a train from Cambridge down to Penzance and stepped into a whole new chapter of my life. The plants showed me a path on which I could gather up the many fragmented parts of my youth and become whole. I followed the medicine path to Japan, Spain, Italy, Austria, and with my new husband, to South America to deepen our study of the plants and the healing power of song. Together, we crewed on a four-man sailing boat across the Atlantic and it was under the wide starry skies that I began to hear my own songs.

Charlotte Mabon Anjali Orchestra

I returned to my community in the UK with the beginnings of my first collection of songs, tied together in a little book called ‘Song of the Earth’. The songs were warmly received and went on to travel far and wide through the network of medicine ceremonies. I took my music out into the wider world for the first time, performing a series of concerts with the Anjali Orchestra – a band of 8 musicians of sacred music. As this period of intense ceremonial work came to an end in 2010, my husband and I returned to India to find our way home within ourselves again and continue the study I had discovered through my friend many years before; Naad yoga.

This trip was a profound time of rebirth for me and I returned in 2011 to begin a new life in West Wales and become a mother for the first time. It is impossible to convey the depth and scale of the changes that parenting brings but the subsequent 12 years of raising 2 children and establishing a home have been an intense process of unmaking and remaking my relationship with music and its mysterious source. Having landed back where we started, in South Devon where we remain today, I have finally entered into a period of more time and space in which I can start recording my music.

“Of Grief and Gratitude”, my 3-song debut EP was released in the spring of 2022. Inspired by the death of a young friend, it is an intimate, heartfelt musical and videographic journey through grief, confusion, hope and the promise of coming home to who we truly are.

The process of recording these songs was wonderful in many ways and a steep learning curve in the sonic arts. Realising that I do know exactly what I want is one thing, but learning how to articulate that in musical language was another. Producer Misha Mullov-Abbado was a great support - translating my slightly cryptic language into musical forms in which my songs could fully come to life.

Charlotte Mabon Across The Veil

It was a delight to discover that on the other hand, I felt entirely at home in the world of visual art and videography. I received a vision for my film ‘Across the Veil’, whilst lying awake one night. Knowing it would be quite a videographic feat I sought out the filmmaker Kai Ohio and worked closely with him on the shoot and through the edit to completion. My heart was full to bursting when it received 20k views on Facebook in the first few days of its release and it has steadily built on YouTube since. I have been deeply touched by the messages I have received from all around the world from people that have lost loved ones, thanking me for the healing they’ve received through this song.

Since then I have released various self-made videos including one for my song “All is Love” using rough footage taken by my husband on our ocean crossing and through Brazil. I am now working with various other artists as a creative director on their music videos – not something I planned but it’s work I love!

I am also now co-producing and recording a full-length album of songs. The songs articulate my journey as a spiritual being born into the madness and chaos of this modern world. Inevitably, at the heart of that are my feelings as a mother looking forward into this uncertain future, loving beyond measure my children and having to hold a place of faith for them despite the overwhelming despair that I feel when I witness the demise of our natural world.

My songs provide me with compass for living - lyrically and melodically guiding me forwards and keep the torch of belief alight. They tell me; keep singing, keep praying and keep loving this incredible earth that we live upon. If others can also receive this wisdom through my musical legacy, then I’ll die having completed what I came here for!

I plan to release this first album in the spring of 2024 and will be launching a crowd-funding campaign in the Autumn 2023 to fund its creation. Crowdfunding is one of the unexpected gifts emerging from the technological change affecting musicians. In contrast to the digital distribution giants (Spotify, Tunecore etc.) it’s very real way for people who love music to support its creation and offer something to the artists who inspire them.

If you’d like to see my work and follow my journey, find me on the links below.

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