Choosing life: Jig of Life and the Ninth Wave


Can’t you see where memories are kept bright?

Tripping on the water like a laughing girl.

Time in her eyes is spawning past life,

One with the ocean and the woman unfurled,

Holding all the love that waits for you here.

Catch us now for I am your future.

A kiss on the wind and we’ll make the land.

Come over here to where When lingers,

Waiting in this empty world,

Waiting for Then, when the lifespray cools.

For Now does ride in on the curl of the wave,

And you will dance with me in the sunlit pools.

We are of the going water and the gone.

We are of water in the holy land of water

And all that’s to come runs in

With the thrust on the strand.”

Kate Bush, Jig of Life

These words, as stated, come from the song Jig of Life from Kate Bush’s “The Ninth Wave” (the second side of the album Hounds of Love, 1985), which she originally conceived as a short film by the same title. The film never got made but the concept became a centrepiece for her rare series of 22 live shows Before the Dawn (2014). The idea behind the ninth wave is that a woman is shipwrecked in the water and goes into a sort of drowning delirium consisting of a longing to sleep (And Dream of Sheep), a past life reverie and sense of discovering a deeper self trapped beneath the surface (Under Ice), purging remnants of torture and persecution, including condemnation as a witch (Waking the Witch) and of course she feels all alone in that water, with nothing but the little light on her lifejacket, faced with her almost inevitable demise. In spirit, she returns home and witnesses her partner without her, stood like a ghost in the hallway (Watching You Without Me).

She then gets to meet the Old Woman she will someday become, and that woman “jigs” her back to life; demanding she stay alive for both her and her unborn children. This track, with which I have been intimately familiar for over 35 years, has lately become part of my morning dance alchemy, to stir and defibrillate my spirit back to life. Especially in recent weeks, I landed into it anew, like it was just waiting for me to peel back this other layer of the song’s purpose in my life (I first connected with KB’s music when I was nine, and its been a powerful accompaniment to much of my life journey, in ways that are often synchronistic) and now this song was born again, like an invocation to life that I only realised I needed when I was drawn to dance to it:

“Never, never say goodbye
    To my part of your life.
    No, no, no, no, no!
    Oh, oh, oh,
    “Let me live!”
She said.
    “C’mon and let me live, girl!”
She said,
    “C’mon and let me live, girl!”
        (“C’mon and let me live!”)
    “This moment in time,”
            (She said.)
    It doesn’t belong to you,”
            (She said,)
    It belongs to me,And to your little boy and to your little girl,
    And the one hand clapping:
    Where on your palm is my little line,
    When you’re written in mine
    As an old memory?
    Ooh, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-“

After that wake-up call, its as though the woman suddenly becomes fully conscious again, only she is “out there”, wherever she has drifted off to in her expanded reveries, not down here in her body. So, from there, she gains an expansive overview, a sort of near death experience (Hello Earth: starts with the spoken words “now nine times the speed of sound”) from which she can see earth as though from very far away, so small she can now blot it out with one hand. So she goes on to process all the terrible impotency and even guilt (“Murderer!“) that comes from being the helpless seer, watching things as they happen but always from afar, or even a little bit in advance, such as “watching storms form over America” (making this a track I have found so moving and even cathartic these last weeks…through dance, it helped shift some unexpressed feelings of my own along these lines as, from the “bigger picture” it can seem as though just so many storm clouds are rolling in right now yet nothing we can do to halt their momentum). This is a kind of spiritual tripping point that I have certainly encountered on my journey of personal growth as an intuitive, because it can feel agonising to be both humanly connected yet pulled back far enough from events to gain something of the god perspective (as did those first men on the moon) without the necessary impartialness to outcome that would make it easy to watch the unfoldment. At the end of the track, soft words are spoken (in German) that translate as “Deeper deeper.
Somewhere in the deep Is there a light

She then (in the song The Morning Fog) comes back into the body, returning back to blood and an even deeper love for life and those in it as she reaches down to “kiss the earth”. Yes, this feels like dropping to the ground like a stone after the previous experience, yes it feels like re-entering the fog; but there is a sort of sweetness that only comes from being mortal and she appreciates that now. So the over-view didn’t whisk her away, she has chosen to return to her own mortality; an outcome that feels as real for the sacred feminine aspect as it is true for each individual woman that can now look her past traumas and abuses straight in the eye and still say “give me more life, I’m not going anywhere, the future is mine and I claim it”!

For me, this revisited album holds a ninth wave clue for our times (by which I refer to Dr Carl Calleman’s Nine Waves of Creation on the topic of the quantum holographic evolutionary wave that is now fully activated on our planet but which was still many years into the future when KB’s album was released; search “ninth wave” for all my earlier posts on this compelling topic). It matters not whether it was consciously channelled information or a series of cultural coincidences that KB came upon regarding the idea of a ninth wave (such an idea popularly exists amongst those who deal in waves, for instance surfers, being that the ninth wave is the biggest, most potential filled of all). In that case, she was, nevertheless, drawing up ideas from the deep well of our collective consciousness as it started waking-up from stupor beneath its own metaphorical sheet of ice (Under Ice), into some sort of awareness of the the incoming eighth wave which (around the same time this album was released in ’85) was already building momentum, and which was all about the rise or awakening of the long suppressed feminine aspect; a thread which runs so overtly through the material. “Wings in the water”, “go down” and “Help this blackbird!” (Waking the Witch) suggest the same blackbird in desperate struggle that, in KB’s post millennium album Aerial (2005), is now a bird in full song, laughing on top of the roof to a golden sky (but then, a lot had shifted for the feminine by then). Of course “Waking the Witch” could allude to the kind of taunting that went on during an ordeal by water but could be taken two ways…

All that water she describes (no less the coming deluge, we are now in…as it feels like…as our world events seemingly overtake and overwhelm us), can feel as though we are all alone at the mercy of ever more rapid waves, a sole or certainly isolated survivor in deep water, in despair or even drowning amidst the broken debris of our old lives…except that its also about a rite of passage, the merger with a forgotten watery element that demands to be incorporated, to bring the world back into balance, as we sweep in to a new era on the crest of an Aquarian-themed new day. The cover art of The Ninth Wave (for which KB almost got hypothermia because of the many hours she was submerged) is an Ophelia-like clue to the supposedly drowned feminine, yet the music takes us in another direction, to where we are newly arisen to gain the overview and then….crucially…choosing to come back down to earth again, to live, love and dance back to life.

Many people, apparently, still speculate “did the woman drown, is this her spirit released”. To me there is no question, the woman chooses to LIVE!

In the sleeve notes, KB quotes these lines from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King: The Coming of Arthur and the same quote was scattered on pieces of parchment into the audience at her 2014 concerts:

“Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,

Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep

And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged

Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame:…”

Idylls of the King: The Coming of Arthur

Of course, the coming of Arthur is synonymous with the idea of a return to the Kingdom of Avalon (an island in the sea…), as in, the values of a lost world, or the dawning of a golden new era, to many.

Then (in the song And Dream of Sheep) she alludes to the waves as white horses: “If they find me racing white horses...”echoing a quote from James Joyce’s epic, far less than easy reading, Ulysses which I am sometimes (if not that often…) really grateful I ploughed though for my degree course:

At the lacefringe of the tide he halted with stiff forehoofs, seawardpointed ears. His snout lifted barked at the wavenoise, herds of seamorse. They serpented towards his feet, curling, unfurling many crests, every ninth, breaking, plashing, from far, from farther out, waves and waves.

James Joyce, Ulysses

“Seamorse” is a version of seahorse; as in this from an earlier passage about waves (there are just so many allusions to waves and waving in Ulysses that it feels like a series of undulations, which I recall noticing all those years ago):

Airs romped round him, nipping and eager airs. They are coming, waves. The whitemaned seahorses, champing, brightwindbridled, the steeds of Mananaan.

The sheer bewildering length of Ulysses, in hindsight, feels somewhat like the mirror of pre-ninth wave life to me, with just the occasional flash of inspiration or sense of a sign-post to something more promising.

(By the way, its amusing to me that Joyce uses a dog as the character who is watching every ninth wave come in; perhaps it was all too soon to depict the average human perceiving such a thing, a hundred years in advance!)

That KB read James Joyce is clear from her use of Ulysses for her 1989 song (and album) initially entitled The Sensual World, though it would be another 20 years before she was given the permission to quote Joyce’s material verbatim, at which point the song was restructured and renamed Flower of the Mountain in its rerecorded version of 2011 (the year the ninth wave became active; truly a time of flowering). By the way Joyce, with his confusing delirium of a prose style (delirium, as I hinted at in my last post, can often be the window to great inspiration, perhaps prophesy…it often gathers around those who straddle cracks in the fabric of reality) and not least in Ulysses, which is coming up for its centenary, was one of those interesting characters who dialled into the eighth wave (that important transitional wave, to do with the uprising feminine aspect, on the way to the ninth) particularly early. I have identified certain individuals, often writers or artists I was drawn to in my youth (no less KB, it turns out), who seemed to herald in the essence of the pre-wave of the eighth wave very early on in the C20th or even late C19th, long before KB and other artists like her were ready to pick up its baton through their craft. So, both were dialling into the eighth but were they both channelling the forthcoming ninth wave, too?

Because, whatever people like to debate about the protagonist’s fate in KB’s The Ninth Wave, to me the ending is optimistic, there is no drowning here. In my opinion, the entire work is a clue for our times (one that has been hidden in plain sight all these years, even to me), and I now find it perfectly mirrors what I am feeling about “the” ninth wave (Calleman’s ninth wave) that has just rolled in on its 99th wash of the “beach” of our reality, peaking as of the last week. This feels important. The ever-increasing feeling that the ninth wave is, relatively speaking, a fast moving series of inward rolling waves (or oscillations) is also important because, as soon as you attune to it and it starts to undercurrent all the experiences of your daily life (not least, the kind of daily life we have all been leading lately) the more it mimics the rhythm of the sea…far far more than the eighth wave was ever going to do, given its rhythms last for several months (360 days, to be precise) which is too protracted to feel wave-like in the psyche of the average busy human. By contrast, the ninth wave gets under your skin, into your bones and into your soul, its undulations becoming part of you, not unlike the rhythms of the sea must get into a person that has been shipwrecked, after hours of being out there, suspended in water, waiting for the dawn to break. That feels oh-so how things have been for me lately; perhaps for many of us and yet the ninth wave keeps on coming. It all feels so in sync with the coming of the Age of Aquarius, which (as I have already written about) is tipped to begin with the winter equinox on 21st December. It’s as though we are all being re-attuned to water, ready for the age of water to begin.

Though that wave, the ninth, can seem to be just so immense or portentous when it is right upon us (it is, after all, considered the biggest wave of all, the one worth waiting for, in surfer legend), it could also hold space for us to undergo a transformation beneath its high curl, like the eye of the storm, a crack between realities, those hours just before dawn, held there in the water, in a kind of nowhere space and, like KB’s protagonist, a window of opportunity to deeply reconsider the past and to consult with the future, allowing them to meet in the NOW. Remember “For Now does ride in on the curl of the wave“. Not only are we being entrained for a new age of water (as in, the qualities of water), we are being entrained to be fully in the now, which is where all things are possible.

The Ninth Wave by Hovhannes Aivazovsky (1817 – 1900)

As we hold that space, beneath the curl of the peak of the ninety-ninth undulation of the ninth wave happening right now, the choice of whether to bother to jig ourselves back to life, back into joy and into full, hearty, participation of all it entails to be human, is surely ours. It’s what I call an Anita Moorjani moment; are we coming back in, to embrace it all…are we prepared to return back from the brink?

Just like the drowning woman, for whom it would have been far easier to succumb to deepest sleep, soothed by thoughts of once-familiar things, we too could make that choice right now. We can’t just wait to be rescued by someone else; not this time. No one else can make that individual choice for us, we each hold the responsibility and the power and we certainly can’t take anything for granted any more, so do we choose to be soothed into our inevitable demise as though counting sheep, lulled by people “talking’ bout stupid things” (And Dream of Sheep), or do we rouse ourselves back to life, just as I choose to stand up and jig and express and alchemise myself to life each morning, and again each evening, with my dancing ritual, however hard that gets to be some days (I can tell you). Whatever else does or doesn’t happen in my day, and some days are hard, some days are almost painfully uneventful, we’ve all been there lately, I show up and dance that dance, twice a day, and it has, without exaggeration, kept me alive and wanting to be alive this year.

With these new waves rolling in (and they are still relatively new in the bigger picture), we can’t presume to know the ending of the story; we can only decide whether we want to take part in the writing of it and its the willingness to do just that which surely brings us back to life. Just wanting to be here, to be mortal, to experience, to taste, to touch, to take part and and to love more, to love oh so much more than ever before; such a choice is enough over just letting things continue without exertion, as though waiting for someone else to turn on the tap of our life. No! We have to make that choice, daily…and then assert it.

So, if you’re with me on any of this, and you are in need of that jolt back into life, back into blood and vigour, try reading those words through at the top of the page, see if they speak to you as they speak to me every time I hear them. Better still, play Jig of Life through, try experiencing it as an invocation to life from your future self, and a herald to the Age of Aquarius, as the much-more rapid, much more tap-dancy, vital, quickening waves of the ninth start to register with your consciousness (here’s a visual interpretation from my favourite music video creator, MrMarrs but, please, listen with eyes closed first so that you get the chance to connect with it in your own personal way). Dial into its energy, take its energy in…try a jig around the kitchen (as my husband and I did, laughing our heads off, this morning). Or, if it doesn’t work for you, just run with the theme your own way and find your own method of creating some sort of regular rite of affirmation with which to declare “let me live, let me really live!” and lean into it to get you through these days into a different world.

It really is up to you, to me, to each of us, to work the energy into us, as a current that is part of us. To make that choice, as in, to work with the wave…and to follow through with determination, visualisation and a bit of alchemy…and the rest will surely follow.

This post is linked to my last one, Crack Between Worlds, and they are ideally read together.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
This entry was posted in Consciousness & evolution, Culture, Divine feminine, History, Life choices, Menu, metaphor, Music & theatre, Personal Development, Remembering, Spirituality, Symbolic journeys and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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