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i am that i am / אה׳ה אשר אהיה

Healing hymns to soothe the soul

Visit yaelillah.bandcamp.com

for credits & liner notes  

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Yael illah is a devotional musician, liturgist, emerging Kohenet / Hebrew priestess and lover of love. She is committed to the ancient power of art to transform and shape our lives. She sings and prays in multiple spiritual traditions and offers healing music to individuals and communities. She also crafts drums and leads drum-birthing ceremonies. Inspired by the gifts and challenges of her Orthodox Jewish upbringing, Yael is dedicated to cultivating spiritual community and practice that is dynamic, embodied, feminist, earth reverent and counter-oppressive. She supports spiritual seekers in cultivating relationship with themselves, life and the Divine. Yael lives in Ohlone Territory, known as the SF Bay Area where she priestesses at the intersections of spirit, art, healing and ancestral memory. Yael has a Bachelors in Social Work from New York University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity at Starr King School for the Ministry, a multi-religious progressive theological seminary at the GTU.

 

 

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Skin And Tree

Drumming is an ancient cross-cultural technology used to connect with the unseen, clear the mind, reorient the spirit and awaken the heart. The drum connects us with our origins and to the primordial heartbeat of life. Drums have been used since time immemorial to move energy, bring community together and to pray. These drums are created as an offering from and to Spirit, with prayerful intent. The resonance is profound and the sound invokes deep healing.

I make these drums in the way passed to me by my teacher, Master Drum Maker Yolanda Martinez*, who has been making drums for more than thirty years.  The design and process of creating these sacred tools has been channeled through her. I offer this craft with Yolanda's guidance and blessing. It brings me great joy to share these drums with you.

*Feel free to order a drum directly through Yolanda or to read more about her story and path.

Find Yolanda Martinez's music on YouTube and iTunes.

Order a drum

Drums can be ordered from current stock or created to order. For drums in stock allow 1-2 weeks for delivery in the United States. For special orders, allow 3-4 weeks for plus 1-2 weeks for delivery. Drums can be hand delivered to California Bay Area locations for an additional fee. All drums come with a hand-made beater. For special requests, email drums@yaelillah.com.

 

Price list

14" Elk - $165

16" Elk- $225

18" Elk- $260

*Buffalo available upon request for extra $20

 

 

 

 

drum birthing

Yael is available to facilitate private drum birthing ceremonies for individuals and small groups. This is a special opportunity to co-create your own drum!

Everything is provided for in the drum-making workshop including hide, hoop, sinew leather and a beater. Contribution for a drum-birthing is the price of the drum plus $100 per person. Drum-making is generally a two day process. Day 1 includes wrapping and opening ritual (3-4 hours). After the drum dries overnight, Day 2 is the drum-birthing ceremony when we welcome your drum into the world and hear it's voice for the first time! (up to 1 hour)

Also, Yolanda are Yael are available to co-facilitate drum-making workshops for large groups with several month advance request. 

For more information or to schedule a drum birthing ceremony contact Yael 

In acknowledgement of the ongoing legacy of colonization, a portion of all drum purchases / drum birthing ceremonies goes to the Shuumi Land Tax which supports the The Sogorea Te Land Trust, "an urban Indigenous women-led community organization that facilitates the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship."

Intuitive Sounding

"Our whole being is music: our mind and our body, the nature in which we live, the nature that has made us, all that is beneath and around us, it is all music."

-Hazrat Inayat Khan-

 
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Intuitive Sounding Sessions: 

"Every atom confesses by its tone, "my sole origin is sound." 

Everything is vibration.

We can attune to vibrations and frequencies that support healing and connection with the consciousness within and all around us.  Through sound, we can awaken the memory of our inherent dignity and belonging to life. We are each instruments in the orchestra of creation. 

"There is a way between voice and presence where information flows" 

Each session is unique and intuitively guided. Sessions may include: Interactive sounding exercises; conscious sounding with voice and breath; instruments; gentle touch/hands on energy work.

Some benefits of intuitive sounding work may be: feelings of peace, calm, centeredness, increased self-awareness, relief of physical pain, emotional release, energetic balance, increased capacity and resilience to be with challenge or struggle. 

My approach to this work is informed by my ongoing spiritual studies as well what I continue to glean from my personal journey with chronic Lyme disease. I am inspired by/draw upon multiple spiritual traditions, healing cosmologies and modalities that all share a common threads of: earth reverence, mysticism, connection with benevolent spirits, guides and ancestors, attention to vibration, somatic awareness, utilizing sound as a tool for healing and communing with consciousness, ritual/ceremony.  

I offer private sessions at a sanctuary in El Cerrito in the East Bay, CA and I am available to facilitate group sound circles and workshops.

 

 
The Spirochete Transmissions:

An experiment in radical self-love, vulnerable creative expression and imperfect beauty-making. Musings from the crossroads. Birthed at the intersections of consciousness/ healing / illness / mysticism / identity

And there She Is,
Paradox
Herself.
Creating
and destroying since forever all notions of the many and the one.

Call Her by her many names
Invoke
Her essence
She
is alive in plant, river and stone.
Offer
to Her of first fruits, sensuous scents, of pleasure and pain.

Beloved friend of the house-less and hungry, 1 It is said that it is She who possesses the sick.

In this here moment
Beyond
the binary of sick and well,
Attune
to consciousness dancing cells
Pulsing
vibrating to the rhythm of no time.
This
is now.
And
fear can be lay to rest and all is forgiven.
All
separation baptized in the bloody waters of Her primordial flame.

Vows upon vows
I
long to offer to Thee,
If
only to taste the sweet nectar of seeing and being seen.

This is the honey that heals empires.

It has long been time to throw myself into the fire of “rigorous self-honesty”

Where “complacency and vanity”2
May be alchemized into a tender sanity and an irreparably broken living heart.

I have been reckless, forgetful and comfortable.
Caught
up in self-created drama, I have turned away from suffering and abandoned my kin.
It
has long been time to throw myself into the fire
(That
is, if She would have me).

Is it too late to ask for forgiveness?
I
will risk it being so, in the name of the rose and in the name of silence and laughter. I am on my knees, Beloved,
Begging
to be accountable to the force of sacred reciprocity
In
the name of the children yet to come.

What is the name again, for the path of all paths and of no path at all?

In the top left chamber of my heart, I sit at the feet of all religions, chanting Divine names, blessing all truth-bearing lineages and tenders of the sacred spark.
Next
door, in the top right side chamber, my sisters and I dance circles ecstatically around the golden calf, rejecting doctrine and receiving revelation at the foot of the breasted mountain.

Praise be to the mystics, walking casually through the streets, lifting veils- drunk on communion.

1 Huyler, Stephen P. Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion . New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1999. Print. 2 Huyler, Stephen P. Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion . New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1999. Print.


ii.

 

I offer this prayer from the heart

On this ground that many have known as holy

I offer respect to the First Nation peoples of this land, the Coast Miwok and to all those whose bodies are this land.

I acknowledge the many beings that inhabit here, including the Elk, the redwood, oak, the stones and birds.

I humbly call upon on the blessings of my wise and loving ancestors and the truth-speaking energy and love of my teacher Ibrahim Baba (may his secret be sanctified).

(Written at Dillon Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore)

 

I am

Breathing with you                                                          

We are

Breathing together

 

Bismillah ir rahman ir Rahim

Mystery that animates

The interconnected web of all being

Bittersweet remembrance

Ima Ila’ah

Sacred complexity

Stillness

Paradox

Love that permeates all

Thank you

I left the city this morning

Spun out and aching

For the ocean

Soul exhausted

From the excess

And waste cycle that corrodes

Joints and fatigues neurons

Screaming

Fuck the caffeine addicted

Gas guzzling

Plastic wrapped

Staring at a screen

Colonized dream

Yes

I remember ancient spiraling joy

Yes

I am a wellspring

Of creative possibility

 

When I finally arrive at the water

I remember

This place was (is) so sacred

To Baba

 

The sand

Neutralizes my system

The sun

Replenishes my cells

My legs

Quiver on stolen land

My skin

Parched for salty waters

My heart

Appropriately broken again

        By the news of  another unarmed Black man killed by police today

In Sacramento

In his own backyard

I say his name aloud

Stephon Clark

Twenty-two years old

 

She beckons me

Closer

Yemanjá, Mãe das Águas

I breathe in air so deep

Water body crawling towards water body

 “Don’t come any closer”

She whispers

I pause

“Take off your shoes”

I do as my ancestors say

“For the place upon which you stand is holy ground”[1]

 

It was holy before I got here

Alhamdulillah

It will be holy when I leave

 

I strip naked and dive into the waves

My tears merging with Mah’s tears

Brucha at Yah Shechinah

Emoteinu Ruach Haolam

Asher Kidshatnu B’Mitzvoteha Vtzivatnu

Al Hatvilah

 

Blessed Are You Shechinah

Our Mother the Spirit of the World

Who has sanctified us with the ritual of immersion

 

I emerge

Undone

Alive

Right sized

Draped in remembrance

Shrouded in mystery

 

A ladybug rests on my naked belly

A seagull spreads its wings

 The sea roars and the wind kisses my skin

The waves keep coming and going

 Always

The ocean is breathing

 

I am wrapping a prayer around all of the scared, trembling parts of myself

 

Within Baba’s radiant reflection

Filled with the resilience of my benevolent ancestors

I am

Being courted out of

The trance of isolation

And disassociation

 

The fog of amnesia

Is clearing

 Pain

Illness

Shame

Incessant searching

Capitalistic driven

Hungry ghost stricken

Fear

All reminders

That I am

A blessedly inextricable part of everything

Entangled in global ecology

Woven in a tapestry of story

And imagination

 

I have never been separate from

The web of all being

What a profound and terrifying

Relief

What a fierce and humbling

Responsibility

 

I will no longer apologize for

Or hide from

My complexity

 

                               Being humble does not mean being small

 

Body dancing

Unlearning

Oppressive patterning

Remembering

Organic pathways of living and dying

 

Give away what is had in excess

Move resources

Share gifts

Create art

That sparks imagination

Ignites passion

 

Make love how I want to make love

Learn ancestral languages

Free my mind from

The racist

Sexist

Homophobic

Lies

 

Free this body

From dogma

And corporate grind

 

Bones sing memories of the days that my ancestors drank from clean desert springs. Crushed olives between their toes. In my bones, my grandmothers tend fires under a blanket of stars.

 

Stepping out of the daze of whiteness

Remembering the songs and rhythms

Of my people

 

Keep. Drumming.

 

Counter oppressive devotion

Is

My body

Moving so

 Free

Making sounds that

That breaks spells of misogyny

 

Organic multi-religiosity

Is me being me

Affirming inherent dignity

Taking risks

For the freedom that comes

Through expanding

Grids

Of reciprocity

 

Generations come

And generations go

And

Gxd is too fucking big

For one religion

 

From within the gaping silence

I can still hear

The angels singing

Or are they crying

Ya Salaam

Ufros Alyenu Sukat Shelomecha

Wrap us

 Oh Beloved

In a tapestry of Peace

 

The pulsing network of relationship

Beckons us home

The Earth’s song activates

Cellular memories

 Prophecies

Of a rainbow tomorrow

 

And I am not alone

 

                      Summoning now the wisdom of the well in spirit

Mystix

Misfits

Prophets

Heretix

Time benders

Shape shifters

Gender dancers

Love makers

Truth workers

Artists

Pleasure pursuers

Justice weavers

                                                              Across time and place

 

I am because of you

 

Help me make space for all the parts

Teach me how to be accountable to a Love

                              That smashes expectations

                           And moves us towards freedom

                               Help us remember that

We are nothing less than

 

Glorious.

 

Amin. Amen. May it be so.

 

                                                           

 

 

[1] Exodus 3:5

 

 

 

 

                                                           

 

 

 

 

 


III.

As the notion of independence collapses around me and the shell of self reliance cracks and crumbles
IAm left
No me to be found
Just a tangled web of longings and dreams and ancestors and relationships, tree exhale and bacteria and song.  
For some moments I feel alone, scared, vulnerable in this new.
And then there is breath and forgiveness and relief.
For so long I have been chasing
And running
Forward. Towards cure, towards healing towards better and better and better so perhaps one day, I will finally be whole, be me, be free.  
To succeed in this industrial growth society, they say, don't look back. They say, don't stay still. Don't root. Don't stray.
Keep moving towards some promise of better than. An ideal of health that never seems to come. Sell yourself back to the system that made you sick to begin with.
But I can't anymore.
The stillness beckons and I yield, softening into an intimacy that is deeper than sick and simpler and way more complex than healthy. This is not the wellness that has been taught to me- one that implies transcending the body and an ableist performance of health and "well enough" so that why? This is not the wellness that demands that I leave my body to pursue another body, a perfect body, a healed body, an aligned body, a strong body, a thin hairless body... a "real" body.

The past pulls me present and time spirals around me. Living with pain is hard. It sucks. And what's hard is the isolation. The illusion that I am alone and that I need to hide from other people's misconceptions, projections, or ideas about how I should live in my body.

I yield to the tree pushing against me. The pressure is a relief. I slow to the sun and the touch of my friends hand on my swollen knee. To the love of my ancestors. To grief and boundaries. To asking for what I need. To loving my people and leaning into webs of support and care.


Something new is arising. Or maybe, I’m finally turning towards what has always been here. Here. Sensation and experience. No need for stories now, no spiritualizing or giving meaning to it. No wrapping my pain in a bow and selling it back to capitalism and herozing it. I am no hero. Shit. Of course I want the pain to be gone. And shit. Of course I don't want the pain to be gone. Then what of becomes of this sacred complexity? This primordial dance of consciousness recognizing itself over and over again. My heart is too big, too wild, too dangerous, too tender, too changing all the time, too much of everything to condone this elusive chase any more. There is wellness in this pain too. There is pain in this health too. IAm here for all of it. The whole glorious spectrum of the eternal now.

 

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