We started Friday night in downtown Phoenix at The Listening Room. This is a unique venue because host Adam Smith holds a “song swap.” Before singing her regular set, Wendy performed a beautiful song of Adam’s, Sea of Dreams. In exchange, Adam performed one of Wendy’s songs. That was followed by an informal conversation about performing, how they come up with song ideas, and life in general, with Wendy answering questions from the audience.
I response to an audience question about witchcraft, Wendy said she discovered the Craft in her mid-twenties, while she was pregnant with her son, Rueben.
“After his birth, I got this epiphany, an epic flow of magic, and a really strong connection with the Goddess.” Rule’s new found path in witchcraft naturally bled into her music. Immediately, in fact. “All of these songs just came pouring out of me,” she said. “I wrote my first album in a matter of months. I decided to write a song for every card of the Tarot major arcana.” Hence the name of that album, Zero.
“I didn’t know how to play guitar when I started,” she admitted, “so I composed the songs and then taught myself chords and just progressed from there.”
Since the debut of Zero in 1996, Wendy has moved from her native Australia to the United States, settling first in Oregon, and now in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And, yes, she has become a very proficient guitarist.
She has released nine other studio albums, including my two personal favorites, Wolf Sky in 2006, and Black Snake in 2013. In the latter album, she is backed by son Reuben George Bloxham on bass, organ and ambient electric guitar, husband Tim on Native American flute and electric guitar, and guest musicians on cello, violin and marimba.
The Black Snake album is probably Rule’s darkest, and she shared with us that she was going through a stretch of deep depression when she began writing those songs. Because of that, she says, “Black Snake celebrates the universal themes of death and rebirth, of descent and re-awakening.”
The next night we moved to Sedona, AZ for her performance at the intimate and welcoming Synergy Lounge. Wendy told us more about her 12-year labor of love to produce her upcoming album, Persephone, which will be released on October 31 (her birthday).
“Persephone is unlike anything I’ve written before," she says. A double album with 24 tracks of songs and chant, it’s an opera-like telling of the Greek myth: Goddess Persephone’s abduction by the God Hades, her descent into the Underworld to become his bride, and her mother Demeter’s attempts to find her beloved daughter and bring her back to Earth above.
Photo by Karen Kuehn
To research and prepare for Persephone, Wendy made several trips to Greece, visiting the sacred sites dedicated to Persephone and Demeter, as well as learning the language.
The arrangements she played for us are beautiful and otherworldly, and I’m sure when all collaborators are included, the songs will be amazing. Artists will include Elissa Goodrich on vibraphone, marimba and percussion; Rachel Samuel on cello; and dark Underworld soundscapes by Wendy’s husband, Timothy Van Diest.
A “Greek Chorus” is sung in harmony by five women with diverse voices ranging from rock to opera, and coming from equally diverse locations—Greece, Australia, Portugal and New Mexico.
And renowned Australian performer Mikel Simik (aka Mikelangelo) makes a guest appearance as the voice of Hades.
Fiercely independent, Wendy Rule has always carved a unique path through the musical mainstream. She’s been popular for years in the pagan and magical community, but I think Persephone will gain her a broader following. She already has some unusual performances booked within the Sydney arts community.
If you’d like to pre-order Persephone, check out her website, www.wendyrule.com, and click on Persephone in red at the top of the page. You’ll also have the opportunity to order release-related promo items, including a printed booklet that gives details of the Greek Persephone myth, jewelry, a tee shirt, and personally-made items such as tarot bags and tarot cloth.
Oh, and if you’d like to commune with Wendy on a monthly basis, this busy lady also live-streams full moon concerts every month, weaving music, meditation, magic and affirmations into her on-line musical sacred circle. You’ll find information on upcoming and past full moon concerts on her website as well.
Magic and music. A perfect combination. Blessed Be!