On this the eve of the July 21, 2017, 70th anniversary of Merlin’s birth, I am still over the moon and greatly inspired for having travelled to London, England, Paris and Versailles France and Amsterdam, the Netherlands in June. I wanted to take in the pomp and pageantry of trooping the colour, revisit the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern… and did! I really loved my visit to the new wing of the Tate Modern and the beautiful panoramic views that it affords of the north bank across River Thames.
Staying in the beautiful SW10, I had a great place to stay and had a marvellous time. Great it was to revisit Westminster Abbey, feeling the sense of history and the grandeur of the abbey. Every moment of being in London was sheer magic. This city, more than any other, readily evokes a sense of home –- somehow, in its magical agedness, there vibrationally is something perfectly harmonised about London with aspects of the West Indies into which I chose to reincarnate and where my sense of ‘home’ is grounded.
The LGBT exhibition at Tate Britain was a bit underwhelming; however, I enjoyed being exposed to the many female artists and their Lesbian-themed art, which heretofore I was not cognisant of. Naturally, the male perspective has always been prominent in homoerotic art. Without doubt, the best exhibition was at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and the Crown’s exhibition of aspects of the Canaletto collection. Naturally, I did have to return to the National Gallery to take in my favourite Sir Anthony van Dycks in their collection; among them, that ode to sage essence grandeur, King Charles I’s Equestrian Portrait of Charles I. The Rotunda at Ranelagh remains my favourite and most moving Canaletto; of course, it did prominently feature at the end of a flying dream, during early pubescence, that had me dreamquest to a past life in London, England.
That past-life was shared with Merlin when we were musicians at court in late 18th century London. During that lifetime, we knew 1st Duke of Brontë, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson. Apparently, Viscount Nelson was a great raconteur and it was likely his tales of his love of Nevis which proved the seed that eventually led to my choice at the level of soul to have reincarnated into Nevis –- which incidentally Canadians are wont to mispronounce as Knévis… Sorry, the third world natives are not wrong; besides no one in London would ever think to say, Knévis. The correct pronunciation is Kneevis… Knévis is no more correct than is Kanarda the correct pronunciation of Canada. Enough about the risible ignorance of elitist petit bourgeois Canadians and their need to forever condescend.
So, there was I arrived in London with umbrella, pea coat, raincoat and it was all hotter-than-hell climes for the two weeks! After trooping the colour, I decided to escape the heat of London and decamp à Paris… what was I thinking; goodness, it was at least 5 degrees hotter there! Alas, Paris has become an armed camp -– I suppose this is what Paris during the Nazi occupation in WWII was like. Either way, I could not wait to hightail it out of there. Firstly, though, I had to head off to Versailles where previously I had not been. Goodness, what grandeur -– the scales are truly phenomenal. If I had ever had a dream set on the grounds of Versailles, it is highly likely that I would have awakened and assumed that I had just dreamquested to a marvellous world where the architectural scales surpass anything witnessed here on Earth.
In all that heat, I was told it was just a stroll away from the entry gates of Versailles to Grand Trianon to take in the Pierre Le Grand exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of Peter the Great’s trip to Paris. Finally, after 50 minutes in my brand-new Crockett & Jones wellingtons, I arrived to what was not an especially impressive show. However, the last piece — a beautiful bust of the Tsar — made my sweaty and blistered foot ordeal worthwhile.
After having been quite underwhelmed by Paris –- save of course my visit to Père Lachaise cemetery where I left pine cone tributes to Marcel Proust, Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Honoré de Balzac –- it was off to Amsterdam. Finally, I had escaped hellish climes! Amsterdam proved the most gloriously idyllic experience. With a cool welcome breeze off the North Sea, the temps were in the low 20s and, of course, everywhere just about everyone rode a bike. As I made the pilgrimage to the Rijksmuseum to be richly inspired, I was warmed as passing cyclists called out to me in my white panama hat that I purchased at Chateau de Versailles to beat the heat, “Hello!” “Hi there!” “Hi ya!” This excursion to Amsterdam was truly soul-warming. Nothing was more glorious than entering that salon and seeing Night Watch and the Meager Company.
Whilst browsing, I thought of George Hawken and wondered if ever he had made it to Amsterdam. Just like that, on coming around the corner, the first painting I noticed in the salon which contains Jan Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, was an exquisite, stunning still-life of white asparagus. The one legume that George considered the perfect signature to a fine meal -– cooked by himself -– was asparagus. His most memorable meals ever featured asparagus coated in the most sublime sauces made from scratch. I was truly warmed on seeing the still-life seconds after nostalgically thinking of him. Yet another moment of synchronicity.
On preparing for the video to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Merlin’s birth, I decided last week to head off the costumer, Malabar on McCaul Street where George lived in the late 80s to early 90s. Inspired by the first dream of Merlin had 39 years ago in July 1978, I decided to get a cowl as a tribute to the cowl Merlin wore in the inaugural dream encounter with him, four years before having met on Friday, October 1, 1982 in New York City. So, there was I at Mount Pleasant Cemetery last Saturday, July 15, 2017 in my cowl and the panama hat purchased at Versailles to escape the heat. I thought it fitting as Merlin always loved wearing panama hats.
My trusty friend, J.J. who happens to be an artisan entity mate whom I have known in 20 past lives –- which is a high incidence of contact -– was the director. Initially, I had hoped to throw a white party on the lawn to the southwest of the chapel at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and have a drone film the event where a gathering of friends would raise a glass to Merlin on the anniversary of his ennobled birth. Merlin always threw a white party each year for his birthday at his parents stunning backyard in north Toronto’s Servington Crescent.
The plan was not approved by the cemetery and thus, one had to improvise. I got my panama hat and my cowl and together, we proceeded with a dozen long-stem white roses to visit Merlin’s resting place. I had a pretty good idea what I was after. With the matching white cowl, I wanted to evoke the magic of meeting Merlin in that initial dream which is shared in volume one of the dream memoirs which is already published: Merlin and Arvin: A Shamanic Dream Odyssey.
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In the hardcover edition of human civilisation’s first dream memoirs, the initial dream encounter with Merlin is shared. The dream begins on page 110 in the hardcover edition. I wanted the same sense of wonderment and magic that I felt for having met Merlin in that first dream four years prior to having met reflected in the video. In that dream, Merlin’s appearance was preceded by a white totemic creature which seemed, in its astral plane outréness, to be part Russian wolfhound, part alpaca, part dog.
So, moving to the lawn, having descended the steps of the chapel, I began walking across the open lawn towards the statuesque lion festooned mausoleum with the five remaining white long-stem white roses. Seven roses, of course, were left at Merlin’s grave -– one rose for each of our seven glorious years together. As I stepped onto the lawn, it seemed magical… timeless even. Slowly, confidently as I approached the filmmaker at the other end of the lawn, I thought of Merlin and that initial dream.
Just then, I very distinctly thought of Merlin greeting me by purring, “Hello Lambs.” As if right on cue, from off stage left, an adult deer came from behind the bushes and tombstones that line the far edges of the open lawn. Never before had I seen a deer at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Indeed, the good burghers of Forest Hill who clearly regularly jogged in the park-like setting stopped and were overheard remarking that they had never seen a deer in the cemetery before. All that I could do was tear up and continue walking as the deer then bolted and ran from stage left to right as I continued my stride uninterrupted –- unfazed by the appearance of an adult deer on the grounds of the cemetery. What is more astounding, is that J.J. at the time was filming my walk; at the last minute, I decided against a run-through as I was concerned about the natural light possibly changing if we were to rehearse the shot.
Unbeknownst to me, the deer after having made it to stage right, then returned to the centre of the lawn and stood there perfectly still whilst observing my progression across the lawn. J.J. who was astounded by the occurrence remarked that he had just witnessed a miracle. There is no doubt in my mind as I tried to recapture the magic of that initial dream encounter that there was a subtle validation of that dream from the magical shaman himself on the other side by having had Merlin’s spirit step in as director emeritus and had the deer enter the shot as validation and a token of his appreciation of the love that we shared and my steadfast loyalty to him. After crossing the lawn and turning to watch the deer stand there, looking down the lawn at me, I felt such utter peacefulness and abandonment of spirit — just as when alone and intimate in the dark with Merlin.
Yes, I believe in magic as did Merlin and as though an appreciation of having stridently done everything to fulfil his mandate to me, Merlin’s astral body conjure up the same magic here and now as he had in July 1978 –- four years before slipping inside a Hell’s Kitchen walk-up and readily winning me over with his sexy elfin charm, magic and sex that proved the most grounding shamanic passion… every time.
All the music chosen for this 13-minute video is music that Merlin loved whilst incarnate and to which he returned time and again -– whether at Joe Morton’s tiny Upper West Side apartment in autumn of 1983, Toronto’s 20 Amelia Street in tony Cabbagetown. From Glenn Gould’s mastery of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, to Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick singing That’s What Friends Are For –- in that segment of the video, I included friends whom Merlin valued: Kareem Benezra, myself, Wayne Robson and his oldest and most loyal friend, the ever-gracious, Maxime Gascoigne-de Montigny.
Of course, for Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely, I exclusively included photos of Merlin and his very handsome and gracious father, David Ben-Daniel. Whereas I favoured Sir Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude, Merlin ever loved George Harrison and especially My Sweet Lord. Of course, one Saturday, whilst staying at actor, Joe Morton’s Manhattan apartment, when Merlin and I secretly committed to being together, we slow-danced to Supertramp and Roger Hodgson’s unmatched magical vocals on Supertramp’s Breakfast In America.
Additionally, Jeffrey Osborne’s On the Wings of Love which was one of Merlin’s favourite ballads is also included. Merlin loved Black male soul singers: Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Jeffrey Osborne –- most especially –- George Benson, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Donny Hathaway, Barry White. Most of all, I am especially proud of the video that J.J. and I have created; I think that it masterfully captures the depth of my love and fealty to the most fabulously magical shaman encountered on this incarnation’s spiritual odyssey.
Naturally, before having left for Mount Pleasant Cemetery, I had flooded my apartment with the music that appears in the video. Perhaps, unwittingly by so doing, I was evoking Merlin’s spirit which later joined us when he played ultimate director and pulled off the most magical bit of stage direction –- an adult deer in the middle of a cemetery in the heart of mid-town Toronto. Lastly, I played the sublimely soulful Shirley Horn’s interpretation of, Here’s to Life! Whilst raising a glass of coconut water, I had forgotten to pick up some champagne the evening prior and it was too early in the morning to find champagne anywhere –- the lighting was way too good. Besides who knows if that magical deer would have been anywhere about.
Here’s to life… most of all, here’s to Merlin… here’s to dream shamans everywhere!
In coming weeks, there will also be other tokens of this celebration of Merlin and his mandate to me:
“Please my darling, I want you to write about our lives together. I promise you, however possible, I am going to send you dreams to include in the story of our love… our lives together.”
Of course, there is my Instagram account: Instagram Arvin da Brgha
The YouTube channel is: Arvin da Brgha YouTube
Do please be patient and stay tuned as there will be a site where one can purchase merchandise that’ll greatly assist with the costs of having overleaves channelled that will yet appear in the five volumes of human civilisation’s first dream memoirs to come. Also, there will be a podcast link.
For now, here’s to life, here’s to you and thanks so much for your ongoing support all these years!
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