Singer songwriter Peruquois
Meeting the singer-songwriter Peruquois is like finally coming home.
The feeling washes over you the moment you see her – sparkling blue eyes, a smile that makes you feel welcome even though it’s you who are supposed to be the host.
When asked what it was like to be married to such a woman, her husband Dragoslav replied simply: “It’s everything, if you understand how to be with a woman, with true femininity. It requires from me everything and it gives everything. It’s a fair trade - everything for everything.”
With many questions prepared for Peru, as she is called, Marina Marshenkulova’s path unfolded in a different direction than intended. Later, the singer said that this only made sense.
“Love is a subject that goes all around the world,” she said.
Here is how the meeting went.
How did your journey to New Mexico begin?
It happened because there was a wake up call - through a lot of suffering, pain, separation. It was through sitting in nature, on the edge of the ocean, that I started to listen, sing. I woke up to the fact that I’d been in my separate universe trying to get somewhere, trying to succeed. When I fell into this singing, it was as though I sang way back to the source, back to the Earth and maybe beyond. But at first it was the realization of this consciousness, its presence, and intelligence. It spoke to me, and I spoke to her and said: I’ve been looking for you all my life. She said: And I’ve been waiting. And I asked if there was any way I can help other people to wake up and see. I could feel this enormous love and realized that my world was so small compared to this enormous love that was making everything on this planet grow, survive and breathe. So I realized that there wasn’t any other reason to sing than for this awakening and love.
Did the answer come right then?
I had no idea how to do it all. So in my innocence I said to her, “Please show me how.” I started looking. First it was the aboriginal people, but I didn’t feel very welcome with them. Then I looked towards the South Americans in my community; I went to the archives at the library to listen to some indigenous music and chanting. I was doing all this research, thinking how does this work, how does it happen, you know? Because when you are trained as a musician, you are trained with certain skills, you learn to improvise. You understand what emotion is and how to evoke it in your audience. But what I had coming to me was a deeper emotion that I didn’t find anywhere in the archives or any other places. So I just kept coming back to the Earth, sitting at this place and singing. It happened for two weeks, I was just so hungry, I knew I just had to keep on looking.
And that’s when you met the Native American medicine man?
There was this festival in Sidney, and somebody said to me that I have to come and see this man. So I went. The first thing I heard was this voice - far away, in this chaos of thousands of people, all looking for something! So I just went towards this voice, this ancient sound. And there he was, this big fat Native American on stage, with long black silver hair with the feathers, the leather and all that. I knew what he was singing, I felt it completely. Afterwards I went to him, sang and then said: Listen, I am a singer, and I really feel what you are doing, but I want to understand more. He said: Well, little lady (he was from Oklahoma), why don’t you come and sing here with me tomorrow, on the same stage. So the next day I went and sang with him. It was as though all that energy that I have experienced sitting on the edge of the ocean suddenly just came up through my body, and especially with this tribal resonance, because he was playing these shamanic drums. He called about ten people from the audience, and my voice, it just took off, a primal sound came out of me. When I finished and opened my eyes, this man just came and hugged me and said: Little lady, I’ve been waiting for you, great mother said she would send you, and here you are. We have many roads to travel together, people to meet.
How did you take it?
Of course, I was pretty freaked out! It felt very scary to suddenly be recognized by a person of power, somebody so charismatic. And I could see he had women all over him because he was so much of a charmer. And because he was speaking a message in front of all these people, they were also saying: come back home with us, this is your home. And you learn how to listen to this.
So it was very scary to make that transition, to go and follow and be with him. It took me about two months to accept it. He went back to America, and then he came again to Australia. And in those two months I really struggled with myself, to accept that everything was going to change, and that it was very dangerous what I was stepping into. But I jumped. And when I jumped, it was even more difficult than I thought it could be. I was coming out of the city; I was used to coffee shops, musicians, clubs, all the things that served you, the nightlife. Suddenly I was in a desert forest, with two pregnant women. It was really difficult because suddenly my identity was nothing. I wasn’t a singer there to them. I was just another one of them. So I had to go through the pain of letting go of all the identity I made for myself in trying to be something, trying to be in the city, all the things I valued - my high heels, cool clothes. All these things that had meant something meant nothing there.
Did you blend in?
Not really. At first I was quite separate, and in my separation I just kept going into the forest. Every morning I walked there for two to three hours, for months and months. And I sang. I wailed, cried this pain of letting go of that world. It was like an onion taking off the skin, layer by layer. So it was very painful, and I was thinking that I made a mistake, that I should go back to my old life. But this man was giving me hope, saying: don’t worry, creation is listening to you.
And I started to see that when I would sing, the eagle would fly, the rabbit would hop across my path, the elk would walk up the mountain, the dogs would calm down. Something would always come to acknowledge that there was a human being crying from the soul. Then I understood that everything was listening to me, even though I was in the middle of nowhere. And my memory of what I would sing would be gone as soon as I would get back to civilization, to the house, to people. I would forget everything that I had touched from the forest; I would struggle with my humanness. So the babies were born in the house, I had to learn how to be a mother. I was only 23 at the time. So he was like - here, little lady, take the baby, put it to sleep. It was natural, daily human life. At the same time, every week there would be ceremonies we would go to, different things would be happening in the mornings and at sunsets. All the way through this it was very much to a man it was devoted to, taking people back into their genetic memory, waking them up, letting them know how this planet became the way it is, why is humanity in such a mess, what role have the gods, goddesses, why we keep making the same mistakes. A very deep study of these eleven years led into understanding of how the humanity became the way it is, why we were not in balance and harmony like the trees, why was humanity the only thing on this planet out of balance.
When did you decide that eleven years were enough and you should move on?
For about six years we were touring together and quickly I went from being a student to being a teacher. Because my gift was so strong and so raw with the voice, when I asked the Mother “show me how I can help,” through the ceremony she showed me. She started to give me these chants, songs that I would first share with my immediate community, and everybody would start singing them. That man was sharing his vision around the planet and we were touring in Europe, Australia, New Zealandover seven years. So it wasn’t like I was in the desert all this time. I was going sometimes back to Australia, very much having to have one foot in both worlds all the time. I also ended up having a child with this man. Then there came a time when it was too painful to live in two separate worlds, and I had to let go. I had to let go of this role of a student, a mother, of all of those roles I had played, and allow my life to take on a new path. Me and my daughter - we returned full time to Australia.
Why was it important to keep feet in both worlds?
It was very essential for me to do that. And he was a very good teacher. We would be on stage, at a festival, in the workshop with a lot of people and then he would go: “Peru, clean the toilets, we need them clean.” There was never a sense that you are special because you have a gift. The reality is that life asks this, this and this at any given moment. So he was a very good teacher for me. I had to always keep one foot in both worlds. So for me this mystical and spiritual world is not a separate one, they are always intertwined. But there came a time when I realized I could’ve suffered the separation of being with a man and having to live on the other side of the planet for a lot of the time. So I had to cut the ties and let go.
Does that mean you never see him, talk to him?
No, we had a great love between us, so I kept up the communication. I kept sending my daughter too, when I was on tour. But he’s passed away now, two years ago.
How old is your daughter?
She is fourteen, a teenager. I really wanted to keep her connection to that side, the roots, you know. So she would fly there often on her own. They kept a very strong relationship. So I think there was an understanding very much between us that we had to let go of each other. It was a very clean separation. Shortly after that, maybe a year or so, another man came into my life. And he was also a spiritual teacher. It took me on a whole different journey. He was so much what I was searching for. Because in a way what I have done with the medicine man through a lot of rituals and ceremonies, I’d come to understand how a woman was to open up to the earth, and how to live together with sisters, with other women. I’ve learned enormous amounts about this. But when the next man came into my life, it was to experience the cosmos. In the feminine nature there is this mother, the feminine spirit. If you go deeper and follow her, you get to the Great Mother, Cosmic mother. It’s this energy, that formless blackness that goes down, it’s like a black hole that goes in and out. So I was very ready to experience that. Later I understood that I am her. So through all this time I had been praying, speaking, and it’s that paradoxical place. “I am Her and She is Me.” Yet, she is herself and I am myself. So it was very direct. So for those years that we were together I spent a lot of time in a cosmic place with my whole body experiencing a lot of dissolving, as if I was a walking gate of a vortex. Sometimes I would be sitting back in a chair and the energy would just flow through that chair, falling out of my body. I could feel it so much, and it was so much bigger than me, actually, physically. So that was what the next man brought to me.
And yet you separated over time...
...and again it was a clean cut. After about four years it was very clear to me that all this love that we had shared, was complete. And we let go. Then I was on my own for a few years. In that time, because I had let go, what this love has brought me, was the eternal love, that eternal beloved, eternal lovingness inside the human being. In different traditions they give it a different name. The beloved, the Friend, God, Universe. Really this energy isn’t a figurehead, but it’s a universal lover, a universal intelligence. So that’s really what this man had brought me to. And I had to sit with that for a few years and learn to move in the world as that. So I continued touring. I really had this sense that no matter what country I was in, no matter where I was, he was always there. Some man would always pick up the bag for me, give me directions, so no matter what man I met, it was like meeting him, this cosmic man. He was always there for me to help in daily life. And then when it was time again, it came as my Russian beloved.
How did you know Dragoslav was the one?
Before he arrived, there were a couple of, let’s say, pretenders. But because we, women, on our own, often want [to meet a man] so badly that we are willing to compromise, even though we know he’s not the one. I always say to women that you know he’s the one when time stops, and the world stops. And generally That One will not be as you expected him to be. He will be something that you didn’t expect.
Every which way. Whatever you put into projection, in this shopping list, he’s not that. What he is - is what your deepest calling is calling for. So how he looks on the surface, what he does, etc., is different from what you expect. But when he shows up, I think, there’s this sense, like for me, of wow! It’s this enormous phase that tends to open up inside of you. And with him... It wasn’t like a physical attraction. It was the attraction of the being. After we had our first dinner together, I actually dreamed of him all night long. You know that sleep when you are not asleep, but not awake? When I would fall into that dream, I would see a projection of our future together, I went to Moscow, I met his mother and father. When I woke up in the morning, I was totally in love with this man. When I went to sleep, I wasn’t. My daughter went crazy! She was like, ‘Oh mom, you can’t do this (laughing)!’ And when we met each other again, Drago, such a silence opened up between us. I said to him, wow, not many men would come this close to me. And he said, well, they are not men then. And I told him the bit of my dream about his parents and he said: I hope I was introducing you as my fiancee. And that was the second time we’d met. So there was a place speaking in him that was not of his mind either. He was shocked! It has always been this way - the beloved was not what I ever expected, but the love was so strong that I couldn’t do anything about it but move towards it, even though I knew it was going to bring enormous change.
Do you think this is it? That you are not in search anymore?
Yes, exactly, not in search anymore. Your whole being will recognize him. The mind might freak out: “Oh my god, what is this going to mean, he lives in a different city, country.” Maybe he’s a different nationality. Maybe he doesn’t have any money, you know, whatever. But when this physical pool within the body happens, you have to follow through.
What if you miss him? Is there such a possibility?
There is a possibility to miss him because you’ve got too much conditioning, like no, he doesn’t fit. But beautifully, the intelligence of life and love is that often he will come in a different form and you will probably have suffered enough of your separation because of your conditionality that now you’ll be more ready for him.
After all these master-classes that you give, you do need time and place to rejuvenate. How do you do it?
I go home to Portugal. I have a simple life there, with my husband, my daughter. I live by the ocean and the ocean is the greatest regenerator for me. I go there every morning, I walk. There are activities I do by the ocean, and swimming, and there are magical caves around. So almost every day I give myself to my world. When I didn’t live by the ocean, in Australia, I lived by a big river. Every day I walked there too. I went and put my feet up to my knees into the water, I would open myself to the river. So that’s how I always regenerate. I’ve always lived close to some body of water, and I’ve always made my connection to that water and spent that time. My natural environment is like my family. Some people look for human beings as their family, and there is that aspect of life. But for me the nature around me is some of the most important family. So when I lived in this place, I knew all the trees on my walks; I clutched each of them, I would say “hello” to them. I would put my body against the trees. And this is a very important practice for women – a way of sharing their love is to put their breast, womb, lips and breathe with the tree. It’s so beautiful. At first you feel a tree, the smell, the trunk, but actually if you put your whole attention down into those deeper senses, you will start dissolving into the tree. Then you realize the tree’s consciousness. So this is a very important practice. Now I do it with the stones because I don’t have trees close by. They also have this energy. Creation loves it when human beings recognize it. That’s how I learned to recognize myself. I literally dissolved back into nature.
I’ve asked a lot of questions. Was there something you didn’t have a chance to say?
Perhaps. One of the fundamental things, that I don’t say is, don’t waste this opportunity to live life fully, or miss opening your heart, giving your love. Because nothing in life matters more than that. The reason I say it is last year I met Drago’s uncle. It was just a few days before he died, and we had a sense that he would. I met him, and he looked at me with such love, because the veil was thin, like he was almost in the other world, and he was so happy to see this love between us. He’d never loved in his life; he has spend his whole life alone. And it’s such a reminder that love is what you live for. If we don’t give ourselves to someone, no matter how much love can hurt, how much you can suffer from separation, life is empty without it.
Interview by Marina Marshenkulova
Special to The Baltic Times