Quite often, new age artists affirm the spiritual foundations of their musical mission by choosing a stage name whose elements reflect their deeper vision and purpose. And sometimes, as in the extraordinary life of and musical career of Chakuna Machi Asa, the provocative, soul-stirring moniker seems divinely chosen to facilitate a higher purpose and destiny. It is who they have been all along.
While in college, just as she was beginning her lifelong quest to understand her place in the universe via immersive study in the realm of Peruvian Shamanism and the Andean Paqokuna traditions, the multi-talented artist was creating a painting and the words Chakuna Machi Asa just came to her and seemed to guide her to sign them at the top of it. Immediately sensing that the painting somehow reflected aspects of a past life, she took it to her teacher, who suggested they officially confirm and activate her connection to the name in an ancient Peruvian Shamanic ceremony.
A powerful prophetic blessing, the Michigan born composer/pianist, singer and producer’s spiritual name translates from multiple different languages to “Ancestor, Healer”. The name Chakuna comes from the Quechua word Machakuna which means Ancestor. If one chooses to pronounce “Machi” as Ma-KEE (Ma-Qi), it roughly translates to “my energy,” which she believes she has carried with her from a past life to this one so that she may use her gifts to transmit these healing vibes. “Asa” also translates from Hebrew meaning “healer” and from Swedish it is pronounced “o-sa” and means “Goddess”. And, “Asa” also means “hope” in multiple different languages.
Starting with her critically acclaimed 2013 debut album Activation Sounds: Ancient Chakra Healing Chants, that name has perfectly captured the transcendent life force and alternately earthy and ethereal flow of the Michigan born and bred composer, singer, and producer’s multi-faceted vibe. Throughout her recordings and live performances, she has artfully incorporated indie, folk, sound healing, chakra music, ambient music and relaxing piano music. In creating her latest masterwork Auroral Magic, Chakuna Machi Asa draws upon many of these influences while tapping into a profound sense of connection to her cherished Nordic/Scandinavian ancestry.
“One of my trademarks as an artist is that I channel most of the music when I’m writing an album,” she says. “The music just flows out of me. I set my intention that the pieces be as healing as possible for listeners, that they bring comfort – so I generally don’t know what I will call it until after the songs come together and can sense where the overall energy is leading. The title ‘Auroral Magic’ connects me to the Magic of the Northern Lights, whose array of reflective colors and vibrations are a big part of the culture of my Northern European ancestors. It’s also in part an homage to my great-grandparents who moved from Sweden and Finland to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. You can see the Northern Lights from there as well. I also felt like many of the songs had magical tones that I created with chimes, and I wanted the title to convey that softer energy.”
One of the planet’s greatest natural phenomena, the Northern Lights fit in perfectly with the theme that developed over the course of the album, which she realized was her attempt to use music as a way to get in touch with her own lineage. Much as the indigenous traditions of Shamanism and Shamanic practice helped her to discover the deeper meanings and connections in life after suffering the trauma of sexual assault in her formative years, Auroral Magic offered a path to keep her own family traditions alive while teaching others to do the same.
Though the album was not written in response to the pandemic, the artist still feels it provides a powerful way forward from this time of great fear, suffering and anxiety. “Auroral Magic is my way of saying, for myself and all those who listen, that the past is behind us and darkness is fading. It’s hard to feel this when so many troubling things are in constant motion, but we’re ready to leave them behind and clear the way towards a brighter future. To me, the Northern Lights represent this place of peace that I have come to in my life and that I want to share with others.”
The artist opens the collection with its one true lead vocal tune “Blood of our Ghost,” a gently hypnotic musical narrative backed only by a subtle string instrument and natural flowing water sounds. Her ancestors sing a plea to her: “Under the tree is the roots of our home/Under my skin is the blood of my ghost/Can you hear me. . .Whispering to you through the blood of our ghost/Under the moon lies the blood of our ghost. . .Can you hear me…”
“Blood of our Ghost” lays a deep foundation for an emotional compelling slate of tunes that tap into our connections to both the natural world, other worlds beyond out atmosphere and supernatural realms – from the whimsical, vocal whisper and orchestrally tinged “Elvin Magic” (which conveys mankind’s profound connection to nature and the feeling of ancient culture) through the mystical, meditative piano driven closer, the title track “Auroral Magic,” which represents the comfort, innocence and calmness after the storm.
Along the way, Chakuna Machi Asa makes profoundly meaningful statements (and some unexpected “stops”) to help facilitate her understanding – and by extension, blessedly, our own - of these sometimes elusive, abstract connections. One of her favorites is “The Whale Song,” which blends her lilting piano melody with subtle atmospheres and her ethereal vocal textures. “To me,” she says, “whales are kind of understudied as far as their importance to the planet. I have always had an innate sense that their sounds are somehow tied to time and the gravitational pull of the moon and sun, creating a form of vibratory order on the planet. This song is my way of honoring the sacred tradition of sound healing that I have worked in throughout my career. It’s all about putting out healing vibrations to restore the energy of the planet.”
On a more whimsical note, with its insistent tribal drum beat and infectious chanting, the moody and meditative “Planet Xeron” finds her inviting us into the experience of what she calls a “psychic vivid trippy conscious dream” where she found herself on another planet – and given medicine from its inhabitants to take back to cure “all the children of earth.”
Other key tracks include “John,” a reflective haunting (and deeply healing) ballad paying tribute to her recently departed father in law; a spacious meditation on her connection to “The Wind,” which she feels often carries away her pain and anxiety; the immersive and beautiful, but vibrationally intense “Space Shift,” which expounds on her belief that “everything in the universe is happening in the present moment and reflecting out from within our own center of gravity; and the breathy, sparsely arranged, piano and atmosphere-filled “Our Escape,” which impactfully reflects her view that “we can evolve, or rather escape from our collective suffering” if we can get in touch with the baggage of negative emotions (including anger) that we have carried down through our lineage.
Sometimes known professionally as Lizzi Jacks, the artist graduated with a BA in Psychology from Michigan State University with specialized studies in abnormal psychology, philosophy of love and justice, shamanism and world religions. She was a member of the competitive audition choir Michigan State Singers, which was part of the MSU School of Music. Her multi-faceted post graduate studies included Peruvian Shamanic Healing, Herbology, Guided Meditation and Natural Health. She also holds certifications in Massage Therapy, Reiki III, Therapeutic Kinesiology, Crystal Healing Therapy, and Reiki Drumming. She has been featured by The Shift Network, The Heart of the Healer, and Shamans Market. Throughout her life, she has skillfully used sound vibration to activate the awakened natural state of universal being and inspire personal transformation. Her discography also includes Moon Eye: Ancient Healing Sounds (2014).
The liner notes included in the packaging of Auroral Magic share Chakuna Machi Asa’s epiphany about her life and connection to God, music and natural living things that happened when she was in her grade school chorus at age 11 singing “The Christmas Song.” She writes: “Mid-song I felt a magical shift inside me. I thought to myself ‘I can really feel this song inside me. It was as if all my pain melted inside of me and turned into a soft stream of calming sound. . .I thought to myself, ‘I have been given a gift,’ or at least an awareness of the power of music and my voice.’”
Her writings also explain that starting as a teenager, she spent about 10 years studying shamanic indigenous traditions of “Andean Paquokuna and Huachuma Curanderismo.” This set her on the road to chanting during sacred indigenous ceremonies, which in turn connected her to her own bloodline and her Nordic ancestral heritage – all of which culminates now on the new collection.
“I feel there is a strong connection between the moment during ‘The Christmas Song’ when I received my awareness of my voice and the North Pole and the Northern Lights,” the singer says. “Not long ago, I asked for a dream to come to me to show me who my personal spirit guides are, and the answer I got was St. Nicholas. I feel St. Nicholas is always helping me because he saw my genuine ability to put others before myself. It’s definitely a pretty out-there side note to the music I create, but I see amazing connections everywhere to Auroral Magic, my life story and the reasons why I am sharing this healing music.”
Listen to Auroral Magic here: Chakuna Machi Asa | Spotify