It’s certainly not a secret that we’re big Johanna Warren fans here at Guild (you can catch up on all of our feelings here). That’s why we’re super excited to share a live video of “White Owl,” from Johanna’s new album, Gemini I, which officially drops tomorrow. Rather than explain the meaning behind her song, we’re letting Johanna tell you about it in her own words.
This is a song about true love and shapeshifting.
It tumbled out the day before Thanksgiving, on tour, while I was snowbound at the house I had just played at in New Hampshire. I was on a bare mattress upstairs surrounded by screenprinting supplies, looking up at an oil portrait of two nuns and fiercely missing Ben, who both my new albums are for and about, on the other side of the country.
Being so in love with someone so far away was a good motivator for me to experiment with various means of transcending four-dimensional space. Before I left, he and I programmed twin rose quartz points to be talismans and portals that would directly connect us despite physical distance. It definitely worked… putting that little rock on my forehead or heart, especially while drifting off to sleep, was unfailingly psychedelic, bringing visions and somatic sensations as potent and gorgeous as any I’ve ever experienced with the aid of hallucinogens. Missing him also motivated me to dive into the world of intentional dreamwork: lying in bed before sleeping, and using the crystal, I would calm my mind and set a clear, focused intention to find him in the dream world.
The first time I tried this, I dreamed I was wandering through a Mediterranean bazaar, smelling saffron and spices, wandering for hours, searching for something… I was eventually drawn to a tent stocked with jars of magical herbs and exquisite brass incense burners. The merchant had his back to me. He turned around… and there was Ben, grinning, radiating golden light out of every pore of his beautiful skin. I threw my arms around his neck and felt like I was home. That’s where the recurring line in this song, “So happy I found you,” came from. I felt so relieved!
The second time it happened was the night before I wrote this song. I was staying at my friends Lucy and Julia’s Earthship in the Vermont wilderness; it was bloody freezing. We were all gathered around the little wood stove, under many blankets. Lucy and Julia started singing together: “If I had wings like Noah’s dove, I’d fly up the river to the one I love…” and I started crying like a baby. I was halfway through tour and feeling sorry for myself; I saw the long, cold, solitary road stretching out ahead of me and wanted nothing more than to sprout wings and fly to the one I love. Lucy stroked my hair and brought out her Tarot deck. We each pulled a card for bedtime. I drew the Priestess of Swords, which depicted a cloaked figure on a snowy mountaintop with a white owl flying from her chest. To me it looked as though she herself were transforming into the owl. I got in bed, put my crystal on my head, and without consciously trying to, fell into an extremely vivid and visceral experience of transforming into a white owl, flying out the window and through the snowy forest, across the country, swooping in Ben’s window and turning back into a human and snuggling to my heart’s content.