May The Long Time Sun

May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you,
and the pure light within you, guide your way on.

Where it all Began
By Willem Wittstamm

Most of you are probably aware that 2008 is a big jubilee year because it’s forty years ago that Yogi Bhajan came to the West. Probably not so well known is the fact that the song “May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You” was first published that same year (1968). It’s the closing tune of "A Very Cellular Song" on the LP The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter of the Scottish based hippie-folk band, Incredible String Band.

The Incredible String Band

I was/am a great fan of the Incredible String Band. And this is my favorite of their songs. Two years ago I met Shiv Charan Singh and his Karam Kriya group in England. Being interested in Numerology, I was attracted by an email concerning a retreat in my neighbourhood. This was my first contact with Kundalini Yoga.

Hearing the “Long Time Sun” song at the end of my first Kundalini Yoga Sadhana (daily spiritual practice) seemed like a wonder to me. It struck me deeply that there still were people knowing and singing this song that I’ve been singing as my personal mantra for more than thirty years. It was so perfect that finally I found the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. I was hooked on Kundalini Yoga from the first day, with Ishnaan, daily sadhana, and all.

I looked up the address of the Incredible String Band members. Robin Williamson, one of the two leaders of the band, got back to me, saying he knew that the song was picked up by Yogi Bhajan’s students during the sixties. Mike Heron, the other band leader said that both the tune and the words were his creation and were registered at the “Performing Rights Society” in the spring of 1968. So the song is forty years old now.

Mike also told me that they never met Yogi Bhajan or any of his Kundalini Yoga students. But the Incredible String Band toured the States several times in the late Sixties and “May the Long Time Sun” was always the farewell song on their live gigs (they also played Woodstock). Looking for details about how the song was integrated into Kundalini Yoga classes as the closing prayer, I found the answer in the Aquarian Times Winter ‘05 issue. Gurudass Singh of Virginia wrote in an article about the Khalsa String Band: "One day as he (Yogi Bhajan) entered the room, a group of yoga students including Guru Singh were playing a round of a piece by the Incredible String Band. Yogiji asked them to keep playing it, and from then on requested them to play it after his classes. It quickly became a tradition that continues today at the end of every Kundalini Yoga class taught throughout the world.”

During its forty years of existence the song inspired many people worldwide. During my research I came to know Paul Joseph from Australia, known as “Doctor Love” in the late Sixties. He wrote to me and told this story: “... my deep appreciation and warm love to Mike Heron for all his wonderful gifts, but especially for this chant which has brought immense joy and meaning to my personal life and more importantly, great commonality and spirit in action for my community…The song became the anthem of the Aquarius Festival thirty-five years ago and is now carved in the streets of Nimbin, Australia, and etched in the hearts of many. The song has been the theme of a whole migration and resettlement of an area of Australia called the Rainbow Region.

“It started on one of the first student meetings about the Aquarius Festival. They were a particularly radical lot up there and the arguments raged around the room and chaos threatened. I had recently learned this little song from the Incredible String Band. I started to play the tune quietly on my guitar, hoping to add a peaceful element to the proceedings. Whether it was the magic of the words or the seduction of the sentiment, the mood of the meeting changed.

By the second chorus people started to hum along and by the third time everyone was singing together and an amazing feeling of joy arose in the room. The transformation was really delightful. When the song concluded someone said, ‘I fly kites, I could run a workshop on kite-making and flying.’ Another said, ‘I've got a truck, my uncle's got a chainsaw I can borrow.’ The enthusiasm became infectious and we were warmed by the fires of creativity expressed there—a fire which is still burning after thirty-five years!”

During the original festival, which had no program or stars, but was Australia's iconic hippy love fest, the song worked particular magic. Paul Joseph headed a procession throughout the festival site and over 5000 people joined in singing and dancing to the tune for over two hours.

This year he has been elected president of the Aquarius Foundation and was invited by the city council of Nimbin to put an exhibition together in the regional gallery. It’s called “Aquarius ‘08 - May the Long Time Sunshine upon You.”

I personally had so many magical moments singing this song, the latest being not so long ago at the funeral of my wife’s grandma. After what I thought was a somewhat hollow sermon by the priest, I stood up and spontaneously sang this song. How calming and soothing it was, magically closing wounds. We all cried and laughed at the same time. It fit so well and was consoling to sing “Guide your way on ... Sat Nam.”

There is one subtlety about the “closing prayer” I would like to share with the sangat (spiritual community): I have developed a “technique” to intensify the direct impact of a kriya using May the Long Time Sun Shine.

Let me explain. Closing my daily yogic session, I sing the song and take a deep breath before the last line. When I have reached the “n” of the last word “on” I stretch it: “nnnnnnnnnnnn” and lay my tongue against the upper palate using all my concentration to vibrate the essence of what I had experienced/learned/imagined during this particular kriya into my physical body. It’s so strong and direct, sometimes it vibrates my whole head. The message is definitely anchored in the body. (See How Sound Affects.)

I would like to invite you all to join me in expressing my gratitude to Mike Heron, the originator of the song, through which he has given so much to the yogic community. So, why not say “thank you” now? So many people have received such a wonderful benefit singing this tune. The year of the 40th anniversary of 3HO seems perfect for a gesture of thanks to the originator of the Long Time Sun song. If you would like to join me in expressing gratitude or conveying experiences you had with this song, please send me a letter or an e-mail. I will collect the emails/letters and forward them to him.

May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you, guide your way on. See 3HOLegacyLinks.com.

NOTE: Willem Wittstamm is a Kundalini Yoga teacher in Germany. He hitchhiked through Europe/Asia in the Seventies, played music in the Eighties, traveled with a variety show in the Nineties, and is now married and the father of five children. His special interests are Celestial Communication and Kriyas using Jap Sahib. Contact Willem at Wittstamm@t-online.de.

Originally published in Aquarian Times, Feb/March 2009. Source.

By S. S. Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa

Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa

Sat Nam. According to Guru Singh Khalsa, "May the Long Time Sun" song was first sung January 10, 1969 at a Kundalini Yoga class, taught by Yogi Bhajan. The Incredible String Band was Celtic folk group from Scotland that toured the U.S. in '69.

Interesting enough, the Incredible String Band was at Woodstock? The Song 3HO classes sing is the short refrain, which came from A VERY CELLULAR SONG (13 minutes long), which ends with, "May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you, guide your way home [on]." (Yogi Bhajan changed 'home' to 'on'.)

As far as I'm concerned this "Song" is a "Prayer". Our Teacher, Yogi Bhajan, asked us to sing it for all the souls who sacrificed themselves on the battlefield in Vietnam, and who OD'd on drugs, like our old pardner - Jimi Hendrix. This is why, in my view, teachers of Kundalini Yoga should be passing on this 'prayer' at the end of all Meditation, Sadhana, Kundalini Yoga classes, and White Tantra courses to keep this sacred connection. It is in alignment with "Song of the Khalsa". Siri Singh Sahib Ji, aka Yogi Bhajan, said a nation, which sings sacred songs together and remembers its history will endure.

BTW: The Incredible String Band, who wrote A Very Cellular Song, were one of Paul McCartney's favorite groups. They began performing folk music in Scotland in 1966. ISB came to U.S. several times, and performed at Filmore East (New York City) and West (San Francisco) as well as the Newport Folk Festival. They went on tour with with Judy Collins and Tom Paxton. Bob Dylan praised one of their songs. Even Led Zeppelin claimed to have found their direction by listening to one of their albums.


They were paid $4,500 to perform in the "Folk" segment at Woodstock but ironically during their spot it poured. ISB refused to sing in the rain. Their slot was filled by Melanie. The next day, August 16, 1969, ISB played between two "rock" bands, where they went almost unnoticed.

The Incredible String Band performed before Canned Heat did. When one sees the movie Woodstock, Canned Heat can be heard singing as images are shown. At one point in their rocky career some ISB band members began drifting towards Scientology.

I imagine, in a spiritual sense, and with a nod to our "hippie" roots, the 3HO Band of the '70s the Khalsa String Band adopted their name to honor this Hippie Folk group, and their sweet "May the long time sun shine upon you" refrain became the anthem-prayer by which we remember and bless this generation's past.

The Incredible String Band at Woodstock


Woodstock was the pop culture music event of the decade and arguably to this day the single most profound event in the history of music. Acts from all around the world met at the Max Yasgur Farm in Bethel, NY, on August 15-18, 1969, for a celebration of peace and music. What began as a paid event drew so many viewers from across the world that the fences were torn down and it became a free concert open to the public. 500,000 youthful individuals gathered peacefully at Woodstock 1969 creating the largest gathering of human beings in one place in history. Woodstock 1969 defined an entire generation and its effects on music and American culture can still be felt today.

Woodstock ’69 featured one of the most prolific musical lineups in history including such icons as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Santana, and The Who. Fans got a taste of a variety of music styles which came together in perfect harmony. The crowd at Woodstock in 1969, which reached near a half a million people sent a message to the world that individuals could come together peacefully to celebrate peace and music.

Such an extravagant event warranted the production of an academy award winning documentary of Woodstock 1969 and a number of popular Woodstock film and album releases. The Woodstock 1969 poster has come to be one of the most famous images in American culture as well as a symbol of peace. Hollywood movies are still being made to celebrate the event such as Taking Woodstock, the story of Elliot Tiber.

The music at Woodstock in 1969 embodied extraordinary popular acts from all over the world. Legendary performances by such music icons as Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Santana, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin are still considered landmarks in music history. Woodstock in 1969 was also among the last performances of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin who are seen as some of the best in their respective fields. The entire psychedelic music vein became popularized at Woodstock 69 and still influences bands of all ages to this day.

Hippie is a term that has not diminished in popularity or as a subculture to this day. The youth of the 1960’s all came together with similar ideals and became the most popular counterculture archetype. The hippie culture shook the foundation of conformity to its core, reports of attempts to disperse the half a million individuals have been surfacing ever since the event. Individuals able to organize in that magnitude for a common interest was something that those in power were absolutely terrified of and had every right to be. Had Woodstock 1969’s focus turned from music to revolution, the world would be an entirely different place today.

After Woodstock 1969, the name “Woodstock” became a very profitable brand name. The concert was initially designed as a money making endeavor. Woodstock Ventures ended up going far into the basement monetarily after the concert, but eventually recovered and became the corporate enterprise that it is known as today. The recent installments have been seen as corporatized disasters; however, the impact of the initial event is still so profound to this day that anything with the Woodstock brand tacked onto it draws a large amount of attention. Woodstock 1969 has since been a household name and integrated into mainstream American living. Source.



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