By Morgan Cartier Weston | Photography by Cornell Watson
Garth Robertson and Liz Roberts met through mutual friends close to a decade ago. “We connected one night and realized right away we’d be lifelong best friends,” Liz says. But like many creative entrepreneurs, Garth, a musician and ceremonial healer, and Liz, a circus performer and embodied movement instructor, had to put “business as usual” on hold this year.
“We’ve always collaborated on some of our offerings,” Garth says. “Our first joint effort was actually writing a song for a friend’s birthday.” In March 2015, the Robertsons produced “Light Pours In,” a 90-minute album timed to a circus performance. “Each component of the music was paired with a different act we choreographed,” Liz says.
Liz traveled and taught with Imagine Circus, going by her stage name, Liz Bliss, before the pandemic struck. Her specialties include aerial arts, acrobatics, fire dancing and stilt walking, and she also teaches aerial dance to burgeoning performers of all ages. However, the studio remains closed for the time being. “Performance instruction is very hands-on, with lots of shared equipment, silks and things like that,” Liz explains. “I want to be sure it’s fully safe before we reopen.”
Prior to the shutdowns in March, Garth frequently performed music at bars and restaurants, and had begun conducting sacred sound ceremonies from the couple’s 20-sided round home in Pittsboro. “When the circus stopped for Liz and I stopped playing shows, I was thankfully already working with sacred sounds to help people gain deeper access to themselves,” Garth says.
The concept behind sound therapy is similar to other sensory therapies like massage or acupuncture. The treatments involve experiencing auditory vibrations, such as those made by gongs, chimes, Tibetan singing bowls and didgeridoos, over a period of time to help ease anxiety and relax the mind. “We have an aerial hammock that is an ideal place to experience healing through sound, because the body is totally suspended and can be fully immersed in the vibrations,” Garth explains. “When you’re lying there with no expectations and letting the sound wash over you, it offers innate, meditative healing as the instruments hold space for the clients to feel deeply.”
Sound ceremonies are not as hands-on as Liz’s aerial classes, but Garth is still easing back into the therapies to ensure everyone feels safe. He began seeing clients again at the end of July, in a masks-required, socially distanced, rural outdoor setting. This provides another avenue for the pair to work together. “For some of our sessions, Liz will help us invite plants to the ceremony through, for example, a lavender tea,” Garth says.
“Ingesting small amounts of these plants – things like mugwort, cacao – can lead to a deeper emotional well-being,” Liz adds. She’s practiced herbal medicine for nearly seven years now, but since the pandemic halted circus-related travel, it provided her with more time to learn and create new products. “I’ve always been so busy teaching and performing, I didn’t have the space to explore it,” Liz says. “It is interesting going into a space where I’m teaching less, and moreso being taught.”
Garth and Liz are also recording their third album at Warrior Sound in Chapel Hill (their second album, “Lay Me Down,” was released last year). “Liz is an amazing poet,” Garth says, “and I just add the music.”
“This is the first time we have not been so preoccupied with other work that we could really step back and showcase the sparse acoustic guitar arrangements and poetry of the lyrics,” Liz says.
For those interested in pursuing their own journey in art, performance, healing or music, Liz says “a trusted guide can help you get started, and there are so many talented people here in Chatham County. The important thing is to empower others and recognize and nurture the innate power in each person.” Liz says she can’t wait to get back to performing but is also glad to have found new ways to connect with others.
“It’s interesting that we both turned our talents to furthering wholeness,” Garth adds. “Being intentional about that approach, inviting others to be an active participant in their own healing, has helped us both individually and [simultaneously].”
In addition to the in-person sound sessions and making Liz’s herbal remedies available online, the Robertsons started a Patreon page featuring talks on plants, music, meditation and more. To learn more, visit songofthesacred.com.