One day in the 1960’s, a perfectly normal baby was spirited away as a gift to the Queen of Faerie, and I'm what you got in exchange.
Okay, that’s probably not true.
What is true is that in the 1980's something very weird happened to me. At the time I had no idea what it was. Now I know that experience is called a "Shamanic Crisis." It featured another experience for which I was not prepared: a medicine dream of serious power, according to the Lakota shamanI consulted about it. It took me out of the world and set me on a path, the travelers of which have many names, depending upon in which culture you find them.
I'm comfortable with being called "Bard" or "Druid," if you need to call me something more formal than "Darren."
Well okay then. I bought a harp and started learning to play it; I began researching Celtic history and myth and began my lifelong interest in the work of the great mythologist Joseph Campbell.
A couple of years later I performed my first Celtic legend-with-music, “The Three Champions of Ulster” as a guest speaker in a series of lectures on Celtic mysticism at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Feliz, California. Since I got out of there alive - which was all I really wanted - I kept going and wrote my first original work - “Torna’s Harp” – which I presented in 1987. It’s a classic-style archetypal journey-of-the-hero tale with music.
These days I consider it to be unutterable trash, but it did get off the ground and fly for a while. That taught me something.
Since that time I've continued to work on gathering more music, poems, and stories. I've performed at lots of different - some of them very different! - places: I've been a street musician on the sidewalk - busking, as it's called in Europe. I've busked at Renaissance Faires, I've played coffeehouses, parties, and weddings, and once for a shamanic gathering in the Santa Monica mountains.
I've given the eulogy and performed at a wake for a friend.
As an ordained Druid I can perform weddings that a perfectly legal, and I have.
I've been a Featured Teller at the Two Rivers Storytelling Festival in Des Moines, the Story! festival at Story City Iowa, I’ve done concerts at Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa, and appeared at the Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities. I was interviewed by Ben Kieffer when he ran the Iowa Public Radio show Talk of Iowa.
I still get out and busk from time to time. It's a spiritual exercise for me - one of the realest things I can do; a genuine act of faith: playing music for anyone wants to listen, with no promise of recompense. I give my music for free and if it touches something in someone that inspires them to give me some money, well, nobody is stopping them from dropping some in The Hat.
This is Aoife and I at that Iowa Public Radio appearance I mentioned, at The Java House in Iowa City: