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The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?

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ALLSOULS NIGHT
LORD OF THE DANCE (PAGAN)
O, SAVE US FROM FAUX PAGANS (Or, Observations at a Renaissance Faire)


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Rick Fielding 23 Apr 00 - 01:43 PM
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Mbo 23 Apr 00 - 01:59 PM
Eluned 23 Apr 00 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 23 Apr 00 - 02:16 PM
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Subject: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 01:43 PM

Must admit, I'm not really up on "Paganism" although it sounds quite interesting. For years I knew a musician/travel agent, who was a "witch". I was fascinated with her conversation, but chickened out when I was "invited to learn more about her practices". Not for fear of being "converted" (I'm a devout questioner, that's all) but just in case my "wise-ass side" might accidentally insult one of her friends.

So..I have some questions:

Does the term cover many groups and practices?

Does the "Morris-Dancing Culture" REALLY have anything to do with Paganism?

Are there any "ABSOLUTE" beliefs similar to Christianity or Islam, where it boils down to a "faith over facts" kind of thing?

Are there any prominent (practising) Pagans in the world of entertainment, politics, sports, etc?

Other than "Nonesuch" which I've played at many an Earth Day celebration, what's the music?

Thanks

Rick (obviously in a questioning mood this Holiday)


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Amos
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 01:52 PM

I never thought the word pagan meant a particular practice, but was a term applied by Christians to those who were "godless" on their terms, much like "unbelievers" and "infidels" are labels used to dismiss non-Muslims by Muslims. But a broader definition exists in the American Heritage, covering any religion that is not Christian, Jewish, or Moslem. It is also used to just mean a hedonist, or someone of no religion.

In any case the Wiccans, who trace their practices back to pre-Christian Celtic culture (I believe) are qualified for the label, but lots of others might be as well, including Buddhists, polytheistic Bornean natives, and worshippers of Thor, Odin, Hera, Apollo, Bacchus and Zeus.

A


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Mbo
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 01:59 PM

Actually, the word "pagan" is Old English, from Latin, meaning a "country dweller".

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Eluned
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 02:15 PM

Whatever the traditional meaning of the word, there are a whole bunch of people using the word "pagan" to cover a whole bunch of new practices that borrow from older beliefs. By definition, they are not from any of the organized religions, such as Buddhism, Moslem, or Jewish traditions. The commonest in America and Britain are "wicca" or "witch"-like in nature, but there are also groups that use egyptian, norse, afro-american, "native-american", and other roots, including combinations of sources.
Some of them, unfortunately, DO take themselves rather too seriously, so one does have to watch their sensitive egoes. Others can laugh at themselves quite easily, and are usually the best of folks to know.

What's the music? I don't know much on that, though there is this really eerie chant I've heard that lists the names of several of the better known goddesses (Isis, Aphrodite, ..........Inan-na!) and another which takes that well-known shaker tune with the refrain "Turn, turn, wherever you may be" and rewrites it to a set of lyrics with the name "Lord of the Dance".
Have you tried @tradition or the like?
I'm curious now, and am going to do just that!


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 02:16 PM

Nonesuch is a 17th century English tune. There is nothing "pagan", in any sociological or cultural sense, about its origins.

Morris dancing originats in the mid-1400s. It has not connection to ancient polytheism. None. Zero. Zilch. Get over it.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 02:53 PM

"Wicca" (from the Anglo-Saxon word) and most current "neo-pagan" practices were invented in the 20th century; Gerald Gardiner (a master fantasist in his way) was a prime mover, partly inspired by the theories -now largely discredited- of Dr. Margaret Murray.  All religions have to start somewhere, and have all at some point been "made up" by somebody or other, so I make no value-judgement here on their worth or otherwise; but these cannot be proven to have any linear connections with pre-Christian traditions, though obviously they draw heavily on whatever scraps of information can be salvaged, in a "mix and match" kind of way.  The same goes for Morris dance; there may at some time have been links to pagan practices, but there is no evidence that that was ever the case in England.  Your average pre-revival Morris dancer would probably have been outraged at any suggestion that he was conducting a pagan ritual!  Equally, there is (to the best of my knowledge) no known "Pagan" music that has survived in Western tradition, though the trichordal melodies associated with ritual songs and children's games are very old and may well have existed before the advent of Christianity; the point is that the evidence simply is not there, and wishing will not make it so.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 03:00 PM

"Pagan" is from the Latin "pagus", the countryside. Christianity was an urban religion in its infancy, and as it extended the urban-first and country-later nature continued. The term "pagan" referred to all those country folks who were dragging their feet about adopting the new urban religion.

The word "heathen" means the same. It comes from "heath", which could be glossed as "backwoods". It's just "those stubborn, backwards, recalcitrant, maybe evil hicks who won't recognize the obviousness of the great enlightenment we're spreading."

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Amos
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 03:04 PM

Well said, David! An interesting theory and an excellent example of the strange twists our poor words go through as we beat them into submission to new thoughts over the centuries.

A


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 03:24 PM

OK "T", if you insist. Never knew I was "under it", but I'll get "over" it. So how'd that tune become so popular at events frequented by folks who call themselves "Pagans"?

Interesting stuff here. When I was growing up, the term "heathen" DID appear to mean someone who wasn't Christian, and I guess I first read the term "Pagan" in a book about "New Guinean Head-hunters". I've heard Kat (and a number of others) use it here to describe (what I thought was) a specific religion. Just wondered if it had "specific" roots and any history of songs, other than ones currently composed.

I've been to a couple of "Seders" in the last few years in which almost all the text was rewritten (to make it more "egalitarian") in the sixties or early seventies. Old AND Modern music was used. I've talked to Jewish people who find it completely valid, and those to whom it's a complete joke. I suspect that to someone rooted in tradition, the "non-sexist etc. Seder" would seem pretty "pagan".

Thanks for the feedback.

Rick


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: diesel
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 03:42 PM

Just a thought !

I was reading a book by Karen Armstrong 'the history of God' in which she makes very strong and convincing argument of three main religions all originating from the one God, (Judaism, Christianity and Islam being the 3 religions). Her use of the word 'pagan' was to describe the religions which predated the 3 mainstream. Considering the 'pagan' religions continued long after the founding and seperation of the other 3, the term pagan would therefore be used to describe a religion which predates or non-conforms with the Jewish/Christian or Muslim beliefs.

Druidism is one such and a wealth of music in the Celtic 'Tradition' would have tremendous influences from pre-Christian times. Another book recently finished 'the Bodhran makers' by J.B.Keane mentioned the Catholic church's view of the traditional festivals and associated music being paganistic ( Wren dances )

As I say - just a thought with my tuppence worth !


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Llanfair
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 03:58 PM

I must admit to finding this thread rather confusing. The existence of witches, and "pagan" religions are the basis of the christian calender.
Pre-christian worship of the land, the food giver, the earth mother, and respect for the seasons, celebrating the coming of spring, equinoxes, and the turn of the year as an integral part of the rural life.
Christmas, Easter, and the quarter -days were all introduced ostensibly as "Christian" dates, but only because the social control epitomised by the heavily edited bible made accessible to the populace would have been lost if the festivals were changed too much.
The witches, Wise Women who knew about healing herbs and were respected by their communities for their ability to help people, became a threat to the church, and thus triggered their persecution, and all kinds of myths about their evil doings. True witches, nowadays, have rejected the flying broomstick in favour of the study of healing, physically and mentally.
Many people with alternative lifestyles live in this area, and an open mind, hopefully, no longer threatens the orthodox religions.
Hmm, something touched my GO button there!!! I think I must be in training as a Wise Woman, but a bit of a way to go yet!!! Hwyl, Bron.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 04:24 PM

I'd guess that tunes like "Nonesuch" have been picked up by neo-pagans because some of them think that it is "ancient" and therefore somehow "pre-Christian".  That's the kind of woolly thinking that makes it so hard to take many of them seriously.  (There are plenty of sensible ones, of course, who don't have such illusions and probably just like the tune).  The same thing may be seen in many enthusiastic converts to "Keltic" music, who also often seem to believe, against all the evidence, that much of (particularly) Irish music is incredibly ancient.  The use of (completely anachronistic) uilleann pipes in such films as Braveheart, for example, just serves to reinforce such misunderstandings.

So far as Diesel's comments go, I'd just add a couple of caveats: the Church (of whatever denomination) is always inclined to characterise folk-belief as pagan or heathen, while the holders of those beliefs themselves would not do so, considering themselves to be good Christians.  While there certainly are pre-Christian influences visible in most folk cultures, only the outsider, or someone influenced by folklorists, is likely to make a clear distinction between different parts of the continuum of belief.

Llanfair makes a good point; all religions build on the traditions of their predecessors, and, if they are wise, absorb as much as they can in order to gain general acceptance.   It is probably a mistake to assume the existence in Western Europe, at any rate, of a continuous "underground" and consciously pagan tradition, however; while it is not impossible, it is very unlikely.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,sammy
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 05:56 PM

What is "Nonesuch"? There's no such listing in the digital tradition.

As far as "Pagan" music, early Fairport Convention and Pentangle has it's fair share.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 10:18 PM

Rick, if you weren't "under" the impression that morris dances derived from ancient polytheism, then obviously my exhortation to "get over it" didn't apply to you!

The nucleus of the Christain calendar is the postexilic Jewish calendar. This might be said to be "pagan" in its origins since the Judeans got it from the Babylonians, but the Jews, and subsequently the Christians, incorporated this lunar almanac into their worship. There is evidence of some debate in both cases, but it was generally accepted. Simply telling time by the phases of the moon is not, it was decided, rendering implicit worship to "the host of heaven". Rather, the "times and seasons" were made by the Maker for mankind. The same goes for incorporating the agricultural year into the liturgical year: one can give thanks for the harvest to Ceres, or to El-Elyon. The basic facts of the harvest are the same either way. There is nothing inherently "pagan" about thanksgiving.

In any case, the origins of the calendar have little to do with the question of whether or not the sacrifice of the suovetaurilia to Mars has been made every year without exception since the founding of Rome. It is this sort of continuity which I understood the Gardnerian Wicca to have been making for itself at one time, though I think many Gardnerians have gotten over it.

One of the best explanations of "pagan" I have seen is that it meant to imply "local", the worship of the gods-of-the-place rather than the universal God proclaimed by Christianity.

The use of the uillean pipes in Braveheart was, so I understand, a purely pragmatic decision. The uillean pipes were developed, through the 1800s, into a fully chromatic instrument, and so they are built to concert pitch and can play in any key as part of a larger orchestra.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Mbo
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 10:33 PM

I've read it many places that Mel Gibson said the reason the Uillean pipes were used was because the movie was filmed in Ireland, he wanted to keep the feel. I know it sounds lame, but that's what he said!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 10:39 PM

Nonesuch may be found at JC's Tunefinder,  here.  It isn't listed in the DT because it isn't a song.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MMario
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 10:53 PM

nunsuch indeed has words...and there have been threads about it in the past. here

url=http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=10338#71292


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 11:01 PM

In that case I should revise my comment; it usen't to be a song, but somebody (fairly recently, by the look of it) has written words to it.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MMario
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 11:09 PM

Actually - the words are documented back to at least the 16th century.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MMario
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 11:10 PM

I will admit I don't know if words and music have been associated for long.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 11:25 PM

Please tell us if you are able to find out.  I don't have any problem with being wrong (not a new experience, after all) but I do like to see the evidence!

Best wishes,

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 12:10 AM

Didn't mean to be "snippy" "T". Was just kidding. Actually the desire of so many folks to give that "ancient mystique" to an obviously more recent form of music, strikes me as how I felt when I first watched the Robin Hood TV series. Even though I was only about 11 years old, when they started singing "Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen etc." I knew I liked it better than Sinatra, Crosby, and Patti Page...and probably thought "Wow, those people in King Richard the Lionheart's time had great songs!!"

Re. the pipes in "Braveheart" (a truly awful flick in my humble opinion)

A few years ago when they were making an Ozzie mini series with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Brian Browne called the "Thornbirds", Henry Mancini was looking for "authentic Oz music". I guess he didn't like digeridoos, but he heard a tape of Ry Cooder playing Appalaichian dulcimer and decided "That's my idiginous Australian sound"! And it was!

Rick


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: InOBU
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 07:14 AM

Hi Malcom:
A funny comment in suport of your excellent observations. As an undergraduate on the way to law school, I majored in political science and history. I focused on trials of heritics, and the evidence is that after the destruction of cathars, there were no (NO!) real heritic movements inculuding evidence that there is no servial of pre christian celtic religions (One has to exclude Romani (gypsy) faiths from this observations, as they stil practice ancient Vedic religions overwriten in the major religions language... but they are always left out of most historical analisis).
Well the funny part, a neo pagan friend called to ask me how to enclude more celtic paganism in her beliefs... I told her to get her little congrigation together, around Samhain (pronouced SOW WAIN not Sam Hain folks!) or Belthain, and have some cookies baked, with all the grains you want to see grow next year... (She was excited by this... ) Burn the bottom of one (Oh yes! says she...) make sure the best of you getts the burned one, though it should not appear to be other than by chance... then have him eat the cookie, take him to a bog, near a bog hole, have him kneal, hit him behind the head with an axe while passing a torch over him, then push him down into the hole staking him down under the water to die the triple death. That is the religion and all the rest is comontary. She asked, that is it, Larry? The whole thing, I replied.
Now I dont want modern wiccans to think I am making fun of them, nor do I want them to return to the REAL old religion, just a small reality check.
In the above ritual, music is optional
Play nice
Larry


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Dani
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 08:35 AM

Rick,

Though there are many resources of varying quality on the 'net, a great place to start reading about earth-centered religions is a book by NPR's Margot Adler called DRAWING DOWN THE MOON. I have several friends who are practicing pagans, and having been raised Catholic, I had my own stuff to 'get over' and learn about. This book was a great help.

I have found this truth when studying ANY religious tradition with an open, searching heart: there is much to learn from, much to admire, and when you get down to the bottom, all that REALLY matters is how/that we love each other every day, and how/that we care for this earth we're on for such a short time.

Here's a little more about Margot Adler, and I think her book's fairly easy to find.

http://www.npr.org/inside/bios/madler.html

Dani


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 09:26 AM

There was a thread on the question of "pagan music" back in 1998, I believe. (click??)

Actually, scholars have deciphered a Greek "Hymn to the Sun" and "Delphic Hymn". Other scholars claim to have deciphered musical notation from cuneiform texts. This is certainly "pagan" music by any definition.

The tune Nonesuch has long been associated with the words (dating from the English Civil War of the 17th century) "I have of late been in England/where we have seen much sport."

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Ditchdweller
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 09:46 AM

To InOBU; Human harvest sacrifices were a part of the old religion and were, secretly, carried out right up to the mid/late 18th cent. in some remote parts of England. There is not a great deal of literature on it, but the film "The Wicker Man" was based on one of the sources. Also included as part of the ritual were the traditions of Straw Dollies and Morris Dancing, which does go back a lot further than the 14th cent. The sacrifices fell out of use when better communications made the practise too risky, though stories circulate that isolated cases did occur right up to the 1930s. Perhaps the last of these was the ritual murder, still unsolved, that took place on Meon Hill, Upper Quinton in Warwickshire, just South of Stratford upon Avon. Sapper


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Rana
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 10:34 AM

Hi Rick, (and others)

As has been pointed out the first written records of Morris were aout 14th century and I don't think it had anything to do with Paganism. Just borrowed a book from library on Morris from 1600-1900 which looks interesting and seems to put an end to many of the myths. (Author - Keith Chandler). Another book by John Forrest is on Morris between 1450 and 1700. Haven't been able to borrow a copy yet.

So where did it come from and why do it? As one quote I read from the turn of the century, when some old codger was asked - "it's just a good excuse for a piss-up"

As for pagans - many do do Morris - we have our fair share on my Morris team (which, incidently doesn't include me), including a High Priestess in the Wiccan Church of Canada (who you may know).

Also, in N. America anyhow, Morris Dancing attracted a lot of people also involved in the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism). In general, I would say, it has attracted people from a broad set of backgrounds.

Regards Rana


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 10:42 AM

Morris dancing is not documented prior to about 1450. The reference shows that it was an established practice by then in the place where the reference occurs, but the lack of earlier documentation suggests that it was a recent innovation. In prior centuries we hear of dances like the carole and the estampie. Some have suggested that the morris is a continuation of a dance that was earlier known under another name, but I don't know on the basis of what evidence. I remain skeptical.

References to "the" old religion falsely presuppose that it was a single, unified phenomenon. It is better to imagine a complex religious situation of diverse, and to some extend competing, priesthoods, secret societies, shrines, temples, local customs, festivals, and of course charlatans too.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 10:52 AM

I specifically said that "to the best of my knowledge no known "Pagan" music...has survived in Western tradition": obviously there are surviving pre-Christian texts, though whether they contain a form of musical notation which can be reliably reconstructed I do not know.  That's archaeology rather than folkmusic!  As for Sapper_82's comments, I'd be interested in knowing whether he has any verifiable sources; as would, I imagine, the professional historians who specialise in that sort of thing.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 11:18 AM

Don't mean to disrupt this (especially since I started it) but if Britt Ecklund (naked as a jaybird in "The Wicker Man") has any connection with Old (or new) religions, I don't want to be an agnostic anymore!

Rick


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 11:18 AM

Malcolm, my comment wasn't intended to be against anything you posted. I was just trying to be helpful by coming up with some genuine pagan music.

A comment you made earlier is most important in this whole discussion: any artistic or ritual activity carried on by baptized Christians is prima facie Christian art or ritual, however much it relies on, or perhaps fortuitously echoes, prior art or ritual. Hence when fishermen of one Scots town made an invocation to "Shoney" they might have been repeating a traditional ceremony from pagan times. But the same fishermen subsequently went up to the church and recited the Lord's prayer. (This all assumes that I am remembering the account correctly.) Whatever the origins of the "Shoney" custom, those who most recently practised it were clearly Christians, and had incorporated their (possibly ancient) custom into a Christian context. This is not the same sort of survival (if it is that) that Margaret Murray imagined in her tendentious and now discredited writings on paganism.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 12:08 PM

Okie:

I hope I didn't seem sniffy in my earlier comment; I'm just trying to be as precise as I can because this area of discussion can so easily get heated!  I read Dr. Murray's books at an early and impressionable age, and believed every word until I learned more about the subject.  Incidentally, Anne Ross (The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands,1976) has this to say about Shony:

This strange custom persisted down into the present century.  In Lewis, for example, the god was called Shony, a corruption no doubt for some ancient pagan divine name.  A man would wade up to his waist in the sea and pour ale into it at midnight on the Eve of Maundy Thursday; various chants are known, and one recorded by Carmichael is as follows:

O God of the sea,
Put weed in the drawing wave
To enrich the ground,
To shower on us food.

Everyone behind the man performing this ritual took up the chant; often the ceremony would be followed by food and drink and merry-making.  The patently pagan custom was seriously frowned on by the Protestant Church, but persisted nevertheless.


Obviously Dr. Ross' comments should be taken as a folklorist's gloss; as we both seem to agree, the participants in the custom would have seen no inconsistency between it and their more conventional Christian beliefs.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 01:10 PM

Carmichael's data have to be used carefully. I think there are reasons to believe that some of the lyrics he "recorded" are composites, compiled and edited by himself, of several versions that he collected, rather than raw versions transcribed directly from the islanders.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 01:31 PM

Here is a blue clicky to the earlier thread on pagan music. That's how it started, anyhow. It ended up wandering into discussions of Ezra Pound and Joseph Campbell.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Ditchdweller
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 01:40 PM

To Guest Rana, I think Keith Chandler, former Bagman of The Morris Ring and onetime (possibly still) Squire of Silurian Morris, would be upset at having his book interpreted as implying that the Morris originated as late as the 15th cent. I remember him enthalling a group of dancers, during a break in a Morris Ale, with a rendition of some of the traditions he knew about!!! Sapper


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 01:56 PM

Rana, I too have examined Kieth Chandler's, "Ribbons, Bells and Squeaking Fiddles"-The Social History of Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands, 1660-1900, Hisarlik Press, 1993, and I agree with your interpretation of its content, Sapper's comment notwithstanding. Whatever jokes Chandler enjoys cultivating in private, I cannot remember his book showing any evidence that morris is documented prior to about 1450, or that it originated much prior to about 1400.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 02:00 PM

Early Christian belief and ritual was quite comfortably intertwined with existing pagan ritual. The adoption of the existing solstice and equinox celebrations (Samhain, the Vernal Equinox, Beltain, as Halloween, Christmas, and Easter) only being the most obvious examples. Was there a Christian Holy Day corresponding to Midsummer? The incorporation of pre-Christian religious icons such as the Sheel-na-gig, Green Man, and Fountain of Heads into Celtic and Saxon architectural embellishment would suggest that many aspects of "The Old Religion" were acceptable to the primitive Christian clerics. Morris Dancing, deeply rooted in the culture, was probably likewise absorbed as a harmless vestige of the old traditions.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 02:07 PM

Dear Sapper,

I never said that about Keith Chandler's book or any of his interpretation for that matter. I suggest you read my post more carefully before attributing something to me. All I stated was that his book addressed many of the myths (meaning possible origins). No implication on his thoughts of when it originated was implied - I just put down what was in the title. I will admit that I did make a mistake. The dates should have read 1660 - 1900.

The full title of the book is

"Ribbons, Bells and Squeaking Fiddles" - The Social History of Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands, 1660-1900.

I would add that the book looks well written and very readable - I would like to get my own copy (if it is still in print) which would give me more time to read it.

Rana


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 02:20 PM

Ronald Hutton discusses the presumed pagan origins of sheela-na-gigs and green men, and find no evidence. These are Christian sculptural motifs in the sense that thay were paid for by Christian patrons and executed by Christian craftsmen, often as decorations for Christian houses of worship. We need not resort to pagan origins for every carving or picture which doesn't obviously illustrate the Bible, the lives of the saints, or daily life. Christian artists should be credited with being as able as non-Christians to imagine, and create from scratch, fantastic and grotesque creatures.

Christian choreographers must also be credited with an independent creativity. Morris dancing shows no evidence of deriving from ancient pagan ritual dances, such as the dance of the Roman Salii. Why shouldn't it have been a new invention of the 15th century ? That the morris was often practised on the occasion of church festivals was simply a matter of economics and convenience: these were the dates when the dancers had time off work, and when they had an audience at leisure (and disposed to be generous).

Easter's date derives from that for the Jewish festival of Unleavened Bread, not directly from any pagan equinoctial observance. Its English-language name was thought by Bede (died c. 721 A.D.) to derive from the name of a pagan festival and goddess, but the content of the festival is clearly Christian content of mainly Jewish origin.

That some pagans made merry at the solstices, and that Christians adopted these same dates for some of their festivals partly in order to protect their worshippers from being tempted to honor pagan gods, does not make the Christian holidays so established "pagan" in content.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 02:44 PM

Sorry I am late to this thread, Rick. From one of my published articles, written a few years ago, in a fairly basic way ,in response to fundamentalist's attacks on the local alternative community:, "According to the well-researched Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, by Barbara G. Walker, the Latin term, pagan, meant country-dwellers, the rural people whose religious conservatism caused them to cling to old gods and goddesses. Heathen -- one who lives on the heath -- became synonymous with pagan."

Also, "Paganism is a non-Christian religion. It does not include worship of Satan....Pagan beliefs include living in natural harmony with our earth mother, her peoples, and beings.

"Most believe there is a god-self within every living thing, including plants, animals, and minerals. Becasue of this, pagans try to live in a non-invasive way, honouring this higher-consciousness with reverence and respect.

"This is a basic metaphysical concept of religion practised by members of the many different paths,including the Rosicrucian Order-AMORC; Unity school of Christianity; Native American, Buddhist, and some other Christian denominations, among others."

Don't have time to address some of the other stuff in here, but will try to later. BTW, before anybody jumps on this, PLEASE REMEMBER, I was writing at the present day community, not the past except for the above definition.

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Dani
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 09:59 AM

Here's another good spot for people seeking knowledge - there's a fabulous bookstore attached, though nothing specifically musical.

http://www.cuups.org/

I'm sure someone with more knowledge (and time!) could say this better, but having shared ritual with some of my friends who practice earth-centered spirituality, I can tell you that there is an emphasis on chant - type music. Often, voice and simple rhythm and words are used to focus and integrate body, mind and soul into worship in precisely the same way Gregorian chant, or other sacred musical traditions are used.

In women's spirituality circles, there is a growing body of beautiful hymns, which deserve to be more widely known.

Dani


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Jacob B
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 10:41 AM

Please remember that there is a huge difference between Morris DancING and Morris DancES. The Cotswold Morris dances, as collected by Cecil Sharp and others, show every indication of being closely related to Renaissance court dances. The tradition of performance and/or communal dancing to celebrate the springtime and/or other times of the year, referred to as "Morris", is much older. The earliest written use of the term may be from 1450, but that use was a reference in the account book of a manor house, saying that on a specific date a specific amount was paid to the Morris dancers. Since this was in a part of the country that was almost completely non-literate, with an almost total lack of prior written records, it is just as speculative to say that Morris couldn't have existed more than 50 years before 1450 as it would be to say that it existed 5000 years before that date. We just don't know. The collected dances may only be a few hundred years old, but we can't tell how old the tradition was when they became part of it.

I've known many Morris dancers who quite seriously called themselves Born Again Pagans. They seem to mean by this that they reject monotheism and instead embrace pantheism, finding godliness in all things.

By the way, many of you are probably familiar with a book by Chappell about English traditional music. I haven't seen it in many years, so I've forgotten its exact title. It has lyrics for Nonesuch in it which are different from those posted in the thread which is linked to above.

My understanding of Rick's original question was that he wanted to know what kind of music modern pagans would use. Here's a round that a friend taught me, which she learned when she was involved with a pagan group. It's a five part round, in 5/4 time. The last line has two beats of silence at the end of it.
Under the pale moon
light we dance, spirits
dance we dance, holding
hands we dance, holding
souls rejoice


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MMario
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 10:47 AM

I learned the above - as an English court dance - as Under the full moon
Lightly dance, spirits
Dance, we dance
Joining hands we dance
Joining souls, rejoice


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Peg
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 10:50 AM

well I am partial to this here website, which, I kid you not, in the about to be published book "Religion for Dummies" is listed as on os the top ten religious websites in the world and THE top website on pagan religions:

www.witchvox.com

but then I am partial ;)

Peg Aloi,
Media Coordinator, The Witches' Voice

p.s. there is a whole section called (I think) "The Music of Witchcraft" which lists many contemporary pagan musical artists (me included).
as for Morris Dancing, I plan to get up at dawn this Monday and watch 'em do their thang with a (skinny little) maypole on the Charles River...lots of pagans are into Morris Dancing but I do not tend to agree it has its roots in anything other than folk ritual traditions, which, along with the ceremonial stuff borrowed from Crowley and Gardner, and the woodcraft/dancing in the woods stuff from England, and who knows how many other bits of amalgam, out together what has become known for better or worse as modern witchcraft/Wicca/Neo-Paganism what have you...
there is no one simple answer to any of it but the website mentioned above has a great deal of material...


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MMario
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 10:57 AM

sorry, lost a break in the last post...should be..

Under the full moon
Lightly dance, spirits
Dance, we dance
Joining hands we dance
Joining souls, rejoice


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 11:04 AM

Thanks, Peg! Had meant to post that link and forgot. Nice to confirm the connection I'd heard you might have with it:-)!

Rick if you get a chance, you might listen to the CD called "A Circle Is Cast" by the wimmin's acapella group, LIBANA. The chant listed above is beautifully done by them. They also have a couple of others ones out with some ritual music and music from around the world. I can highly recommend the first and a second one called "Fire Within"; haven't heard their others, yet. They also have songbooks available.

katlaughingmerrily


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Peg
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 11:25 AM

other great pagan music (since we're on the subject again): (these include all genres from folk to rock to goth to celtic and some even combine all those) The Moors
Libana (already mentioned)
Velvet Hammer (known now as Dream Trybe)
Green Crown
Inkubus Sukkubus (UK)
Tempest


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 11:36 AM

Jacob B, Dancing as a part of seasonal merrymaking is certainly very old and widespread. If people who say that morris "derives from pagan ritual dances" mean only that the impulse to dance as part of holiday-making is ancient, or that the impulse among young folk (especially males) to take advantage of a day off work to impress their friends, neighbors, and especially the opposite sex --and possibly earn some extra money--with feats of dexterity or endurance, is an ancient one, then they are doing no more than clumsily (they should call it "human", not "pagan") to state the obvious.

I don't think that's what they always mean, though. When Violet Alford stated that the hilt-and-point sword dance originated in ancient times among blacksmiths, she was (as I interpret) making an assertion about the content of ancient religion, about the choreography of ancient festival dances, and claiming that the performance of this dance has been continuous since that time. Though there is evidence that blacksmiths have in the past been credited with arcane power, that fact alone does nothing to establish the place of this attitude in the formal religious system of any ancient people. It doesn't tell us that blacksmiths worshipped gods peculiar to their trade (though they may have) or that they performed dances on the festival days of those gods (though, again, they may have.) Nor does it establish a chain of transmission for the details of any specific religious practice from antiquity to the present.

Like Violet Alford's assertions about sword dancing, so statements about morris dancing can sometimes contain hidden assumptions about the intellectual and practical content of ancient religion. But unless these assumptions are supported with evidence, they are no more than guesses.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 11:41 AM

Thanks for the feedback folks.

Jacob B. Special thanks. Yes, that's what I was most curious about. The actual music (of COURSE I would expect it to be contemporary) that might accompany different forms of Pagan celebration. I've been reading for years the various explanations and references to when Morris Dancing first became known.

I know that in the "contemporary Gospel Music" scene, there are a number of popular composers, virtually unknown to mainstream music folks, and was curious whether there are "Pagan"(however one defines the term) songwriters, who are widely recognized within that community.

Rick


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Subject: Paganism vs. Monotheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 12:18 PM

I'd like to address an issue that's been bugging me for a long time.

It has become fashionable in folk, liberal, and feminist circles to espouse the beliefs and rituals of modern paganism; and to reject and sometimes condemn Judaeo-Christian beliefs as patriarchal and sexist, as racist and oppressive. As a liberal, feminist, pacifist, folkie Christian, that puts me in a difficult situation. At times, it makes me feel excluded and unwanted. That seems unfair to me, since my religious beliefs have helped me all my life in my opposition to racism and sexism and injustice and warfare. I'd like to ask for tolerance and appreciation for my beliefs, just as I require myself to be tolerant and appreciative of all beliefs.

Certainly, there have always been elements within Judaism and Christianity that are sexist and oppressive. The God of Genesis and Exodus may often seem pretty macho and patriarchal – but try to remember that this is the God who gave hope to the most oppressed and persecuted people the world has ever known. St. Paul said a lot of good things, but he also said a lot of things that are embarrassingly sexist and patriarchal – but Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus, not Paul. Judaism and Christianity are founded on the wonderful ideals of love and freedom and responsibility and dignity. There are people who have diverted these beliefs to support oppression and patriarchy, but these are twisted misunderstandings of the lofty ideals that are the basis of monotheism.

The God of Jews and Christians is a God of love and justice. This God is spirit, neither male nor female. Christians believe that God became human and united with humans in Jesus, a male. The masculinity of Jesus is not something that is essential to the beliefs of Christianity. That Jesus was a Jewish male and not a female person of color is just an accident of the natural fact that a person has to be one thing or another – it is not a core belief of Christianity.

So, I would ask pagans to think again about the many things they may have in common with the best of the beliefs and ideals of Christians and Jews and other religions. Most religious faiths are founded on the highest of ideals, and they have much in common. Don't look on Christians and Jews as enemies – they are your fellow believers in love and justice and goodness. Sing your songs with everyone, along with the songs of Jews and Christians. Celebrate and express your own beliefs - but do it in a way that includes everyone.

I would be remiss if I didn't make some mention of Islam. To Westerners, there is much about Islam that seems hopelessly unjust, sexist, and even cruel. If you study Islam more deeply, you will find there is goodness and love and lofty idealism at the core of that faith. All religions are human religions, and all are subject to both the frailties and the strengths of their human members.

One other thing - it's important for women to know that many men, even Christian and Jewish men, are feminists. If you can't love us and accept us as your allies, you'll never win your battle for justice - and then we'll all have much to lose.

I believe that most people, male and female, are essentially good and beautiful. It's up to all of us to find that goodness and beauty in each other. We need to find what unites us. We need to celebrate and learn from our differences and not let our differences divide us.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 12:23 PM

Rick,

A partial answer to one of your questions: Here is a book review by Ronald Hutton which distinguishes three forms of modern paganism:

"One is American feminist witchcraft, based upon the idea that the witch figure and its divine complement, the Goddess, can be evoked by any woman bent upon personal liberation. The second is Wicca, a mystery religion developed in England and based upon a rigorous process of training and initiation and a cosmos polarized between equal female and male forces. The third is hedge witchcraft, the modern version of cunning folk, featured here in its commercialized form of individual practitioners offering occult services for money." (These words occur a few paragraphs down the page).

The old words to Nonesuch, which I mentioned earlier, are titled "The French Report" in the Baltimore Consort's album "A Trip to Kilburn". Another name for the tune is A la mode de France, which words form a sort of refrain in the lyric. The words seem to be an anti-Cromwellian political comment.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 01:17 PM

This is a favorite subject of mine, but I'm no expert.

Thanks to Joe offer for bringing this thread to my attention; I haven't had a lot of time lately for threads.

A few points:

the burning-people-in-wicker-baskets thing first appeared in Caesar's Commentaries. He was writing about conquered people he considered barbarian. To my knowledge, there is not a shred of archeological or anthropological evidence that this practice occured.

One neat song that is done as a round, and I think I have mentioned it before, is the "Blossom of Bone/Hole in the Stone" one. Probably on one of the tapes mentioned above.

The circle dancing and stuff is fun; I am also guilty of needling neo-pagans for their deliberate lack of historical perspective. Once upon a time I did a lot of study on the witchcraft persecutions. (Try reading *Hammer of Witches* if you want an eyeful of inquisitorial self-delusion.) The hysteria wiped out all non-conformists, openly sexual women, political targets of the Church, etc etc etc. The plague had wiped out much of the population of Europe, and another nine million died in an orgy of sadism. Much as people would like it to be true, any shamanistic pre-christian practices did not survive this Holocaust. the fevered imaginations of the clergy, invented the Black Sabbath -- the reverse-image of christian rituals.

All the Morris Dancers I have ever known sedem pretty convinced that the midsummer dances are sympathetic magic, to help the corn grow. It is logical, whether there is any proof or not.

thanks for the info. on new groups to check out. I still recommend *Straw into Gold,* who I understand to have regrouped. (PS, Joe, one of them is a minister.)


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 01:52 PM

The practice of the Italian benandanti might, with a stretch of the word's meaning, be styled "shamanistic". These were people who claimed that, during the ember days (query: which ember days? there are four sets a year) they fought enemies of the community's crops in their dreams. If a "shaman" is a Siberian religious specialist who goes into a tranced state, there to perform actions on his community's behalf, then I suppost the benandanti could qualify as "shamans" too.

Whether this practice derived from antiquity is a separate question. Christendom was creative enough in its own right, and possessed a tradition of respect for dreams (see the scriptural passages about dreams) that the dream-fight practice could have been arrived at independently of any ancient practice. [Whatever the history of the practice, it collided with the new demonology which started up in the late 1400s. Some practitioners of this new science viewed the benandanti with suspicion. I think it is partly from the records of their investigations that we know about the benandanti at all.]

One historian, Carlo Ginzburg, does try to trace practices like that of the benandanti and of Baltic werewolves to deep antiquity. With what success, I don't know. I still haven't read his book, Ecstasies. In one of his earlier books, The Cheese and the Worms he seemed to try to link a tradition of intellectual inquiry found among Italian peasants in the 15th/16th (I can't remember the dates clearly--sorry) century to ancient paganism. This struck me as unnecessary. There was enough intellectual energy in the thought-world of late-medieval Christianity to account for what Ginzburg described, without trying to forge tenuous links to the remote past.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Peg
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 01:57 PM

Rick; i misunderstood you, thought you meant contemporary music BY pagans!!!
as for music used in ritual, most covens emply some; it is great to have live music of course and i have performed at a number of large public rituals and one group I used to perform with did some very ritualized choreography with our songs...whether an original arrangement of John Barleycorn or a medieval Trotto or Peruvian dance... (BTW I have a CD of this group's work that just came out if anyone is interested, send me a personal message--I am no longer with them but I have several solos on the disc and my arrangement touches are all over it)
as for music played to accompany ritual, this is according to someone's preference...I work with a coven that has been ongoing since the early 1970s and so much of the music they play during certain rituals has been a fixture for a long time...some of it is from that period (1970s; for example, we often play Tom Rush's version of "Urge for Going" at the beginning of the Fall Equinox ritual, but do not use songs with lyrics during the actual ritual itself)and some is older traditional music (like dance tunes by John Renbourne or various harpists or Celtic instrumentalists...the combination of guitar and flute is particularly effective for some reason, as are old 17th century French court dance tunes) and some is contemporary stuff like Kitaro or Dead Can Dance, etc.
Different music evokes different feelings and emotions in magical contexts. So depending on the ritual, the range is wide. I like traditional Middle Eastern music for some rites, slow Celtic guitar for others...Loreena McKennitt has a number of great pieces, with words and without...African drums are often effective for more fiery rituals like Beltane or Midsummer, or things by artists like Gabrielle Roth or Deep Forest...
at a witch "party" you often will hear mix tapes people put together with "witchy" songs, some really magical, some slightly tongue in cheek (like The Eagles' Witchy Woman, Tull's The Witch's Promise, Donovan's Season of the Witch, Cream's Strange Brew, Devil Woman, ELO's Strange Magic, etc.)

hope this helps...

peg
pagan, musician, and pagan musician!


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Wavestar
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 02:54 PM

Joe Offer- Thanks for saying what I think so much of the time. I've got a lot of opinions on this subject, but since I don't feel like being part of a heated debate at the moment... suffice to say, Okiemockingbird, that I think you are overly cynical and demanding of facts, but I see your point. In any case, it's an interesting thread...

-J

PS I did see Libana in concert at one point... they are quite good.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Mbo
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 05:32 PM

YES! ELO's "Strange Magic" RULES! Oh, but what about "Evil Woman" from the same album?

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Caitrin
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 05:51 PM

*s* And you missed Santana's "Black Magic Woman" and Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon"...one of my favorite songs.
This is a most interesting thread in many different ways. I had never really considered what music is particularly pagan, so it's interesting to hear the various theories. I've also enjoyed the friendly and sharing form of discussion of religion...I guess putting it in a musical form makes us a bit more accepting. : )


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 09:16 PM

Very interesting so far, and I think we've managed to avoid getting heated about it, too.  I can't agree with Wavestar, however, that Okiemockbird has been in any way "overly cynical and demanding of facts"; he's just been trying to make the point -as have I- that people who say "this is so" need to provide evidence to support their assertion.  If there is no evidence to support a statement, then it can't really be taken very seriously.  Facts, after all, are the things that we use to prove -or disprove- arguments.  Faith is another matter entirely, and doesn't seem to be susceptible to rational dispute; it is, however, not what we have been talking about.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 10:10 PM

Geez, amazing! Thank you folks so much.

Malcolm, noted your remark about nobody getting "heated". For that to happen, Elian would have had to have been kidnapped by "Pagans". Actually I quite understand the emotion (and amazing depth of research) expressed here. I have similar involvement in 1920s and 30s recorded country music, Piedmont blues, and baseball. When I see someone drop the wrong name, the wrong date, the wrong right hand position etc. I'm here like a shot.

Nice to see Joe Offer participating again (and not just in a "computer help", or "calm down folks" way. I love Opinions!

Rick


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 02:54 AM

"Ronald Hutton discusses the presumed pagan origins of sheela-na-gigs and green men, and find no evidence. These are Christian sculptural motifs in the sense that thay were paid for by Christian patrons and executed by Christian craftsmen, often as decorations for Christian houses of worship"-OkieMockbird

In Mysterious Britain, Homer Sykes sites several images of the Green Man, including motifs on church benches and chanceries located at Crowcombe, Somerset and Sampford Courtenay,Devon. He states " a common feature of the Green Men is that they are synonymous with the Jack in the Green of May celebrations- a man peering through greenery, still to be found on local pub signs. But before the church renamed this pagan deity Jack, or Robin Goodfellow, he had been a Celtic horned god of fertility, venerated since pre-Christian times with processions of young girls and dancing." Regarding the Sheela-na-gigs ( a symbolic female figure who sits with legs wide apart and tongue protruding )examples are sited from All Saints Church, Buckland, and Saint Mary and All Saints, Willingham. According to Sykes, they "represent the Celtic goddess of fertility and destruction." OkieMockbird does not dispute the presence of the pre-Christian Cult of the Head (exemplified by the christening fonts at St Germoe Church and St Andrew's Well in Cornwall) in Christian church relics and motifs, or has not disputed it thus far. But many of these objects and items are obviously not, as okie says, "executed by Christian craftsmen", since they pre-date the Christian Churches in which they can be found. Also, I am sure Okie would not claim the many stone monoliths, standing stones, and henges in spots where Christian churches were later erected, to be the work "of Christian craftsmen." Rather, these phenomena seem to reinforce what I stated in my previous post:

"Early Christian belief and ritual was quite comfortably intertwined with existing pagan ritual." - Lonesome EJ

And I made no claim that holidays such as Easter, All Saints and Christmas were essentially "pagan in content." But it certainly seems that, according to Biblical accounts, Christ's birthday was in the spring of the year, and not in December. With the "Romanization" of Christianity, the celebration of Christ's birth came to be associated with the month of December because of an already significant pagan celebration of Saturnalia that was celebrated at that time. Also, I don't see the establishment of All Saint's Day at the time of Samhain as coincidental. The Easter-Beltaine-Passover connection would also seem to be rooted in pre-Judaic spring festivals of renewal.Although I don't think an attempt was made by Christians to hijack a pagan holiday, I believe that the coincidence worked to their advantage, and that certain aspects of the pre-christian pagan rituals absorbed into the celebration.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 09:33 AM

I'm not familiar with Sykes' book, but the fact that he makes statements of opinion on the subject of Foliate Heads (the churches of East Anglia, in particular, have a lot of these, all, so far as I know, carved in situ, few if any earlier than the mediaeval period) and the Sheela-na-Gig (some of which may indeed be old carvings incorporated, along with other salvaged building materials, into later constructions; a common enough practice) is not in itself evidence of anything in particular, and certainly not of any direct connection with earlier deities; such connections may well exist, but it's not an easy thing to establish!  Britain and Ireland contain many examples of churches built on pre-Christian sacred sites; again a common practice where a new religion wishes to supplant its predecessor(s) as painlessly as possible.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 09:45 AM

My apologies for all those unintentional italics!  There is a series of pictures of foliate heads, incidentally, at Mike Harding's  In Search of the Green Man.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Peg
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 09:50 AM

Mbo: oh yes i forgot Evil Woman! and of course Rhiannon, and the others mentioned...there are a number of things by various progressive and art rock bands that people consider very pagan in sound if not intent, like the groups Renasissance, Klaatu, Gentle Giant, even Jefferson Airplane, and of course the Incredible String Band...also various songs by Kate Bush, Dead Can Dance, David Sylvian, etc.
BTW a new movie coming out with a great soundtrack (70s classics and score by the contemporary group Air) is The Virgin Suicides; one very memorable scene in which "Strange Magic" is played at a homecoming dance...really great film too!!!

peg


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:00 AM

A few years ago I started reading a bit about the roots of the religion that I had fallen away from. I was schooled by nuns and raised as a good Polish Cat-lick (that's Chicago-ese for "Catholic"), so it goes without saying I had to look for something else. There is a lot of great stuff about the writings that the early Church fathers decided wouldn't be part of the Bible; I think many of these decisions were made by the marketing department. I followed the path of the Cathars and Templars, etc. wherever I could find a thread. It's a worthy search in itself, but that's not what I wanted to add to this thread.

One thing that bothered me about the spread of the religions of the book (Tanakh, Bible, Koran)was their ability to stomp out most traces of the old religions. St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland - a veiled reference to his ability to eliminate the competition. One of the books that has a lot of bits and pieces and that I was directed toward was "The Golden Bough" by an author whose name escapes me (I'm at my place of business and not near the book; I'm sure another 'catter (Cathar?) will be kind enough to fill it in). There is a lot of blather, but there is some good stuff on the Druids and other tree huggers from around the world. It's worth checking out and also a wonderful cure for insomnia.

Two things in closing: Why do so many religions feel that our real home and our true reward is beyond and outside this earthly realm? The old religions, those Pagan faiths the nuns warned me about were mostly rooted in a love for the earth, the only home I've ever known. With May 1 approaching, it might be worth discussing how our mother the earth got nudged aside by our mother the church.

My favorite pre-christian song is the theme from the Flintstones. I believe they pre-date the rise of Christianity by quite a bit, which explains why - unlike the Simpsons - they never go to a Church, Temple or Synagogue (SP?).

Peace to you all and don't forget to tell your mother that you love her.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:15 AM

The only "horned god" I know of who was worshipped by Celtic-speaking folk was Cernunnos. The only picture I have seen from antiquity which might be a representation of Cernunnos looks nothing like the Green man.

I don't know of any picture from pagan antiquity that looks like a sheela-na-gig. I don't think even the Gorgon's head would qualify, though others might disagree.

Reliable contemporary accounts of "processions of young girls and dancing" in honor of pagan gods can, I vaguely recall, be found in the Mediterranean world (at Athens, in honor of Athena (?)), but I am not aware of any such account from the British Isles. Does anyone know of one ?

I am skeptical that there even existed a single, pan-Celtic "goddess of fertility and destruction." My hunch would be that the functions of this presumed goddess were divided among different deities in different places and at different times. But even if there was a single, pan-Celtic goddess, one must identify artistic representations of this goddess from antiquity and compare them to sheelas-na-gig before concluding that the sheela-na-gig's iconographic tradition derives from the tradition of representing this presumed goddess. This isn't an unreasonable idea. In Arles, France, are the Museum of Pagan Art and the Museum of Christian Art, showing pagan and Christian carvings from late Roman antiquity. The Christian stone carvings of, say, the baptism of Cornelius the Centurion are done in the same style as pagan stone carvings. But when people speak of the sheela-na-gig as a pagan survival, though their meaning is not always clear, I think they often mean to imply more than simply a continuity of artistic styles and techniques.

The pagan rituals we know of are of various kinds. Animal sacrifices were practised by pagans and Jews, but not by Christians: there is no "intertwining" here. Christians, Jews, and pagans all seem to have practised ritual banquets, but the evidence here seems to be that the early church authorities wanted to prevent too much "intertwining" of the Christian sacred banquet with pagan habits. Pagans and Jews had temples (there was a Jewish temple at Leontopolis in Egypt, as well as one in Jerusalem) and altars; Christians, at first, didn't. Pagans and Jews used instrumental music in their temple-worship. Many Christians stuck strictly to vocal music in their worship, though I suspect there was no strict uniformity on this point. The influence of pagan practices and presuppositions on formal christian ritual worship is not always obvious. I suspect it was stronger on private customs, such as funerary practices, than on church-worship. The point is that origins and influences on various ritual practices can be complex and difficult to establish, and will sometimes, but not always, be found to be appropriately described as "comfortable intertwining."

The megalithic monuments, like Stonehenge, are not reliably associated with celtic-speaking peoples at all. By the time celtic languages can be show to have been resident in Ireland (where Newgrange is) or Britain (where Stonehenge is) these ancient sites were abandoned, and had been for centuries. This suggests discontinuity between the religious world of the monuments and the religious world of the later celtic-speaking inhabitants of the same places.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:33 AM

Before I get slammed - I mean, gently corrected - by those more knowledgable than I, here is the disclaimer that should have been with my last post:

Although I found the Golden Bough to be informative regarding non-Christian beliefs and practices, the man who wrote it was most likely a Christian himself, as well as a historian, and there could very well be a tilt to the landscape he paints that is not noticed until you view it from outside the room, so to speak. One source is never enough. They say that history is written by the winners, which is why it's always good to "triangulate" your information before you incorporate it.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Mbo
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:39 AM

Peg, the group Air has been noted as being VERY ELO inspired, so that should be pretty cool!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:45 AM

The Golden Bough was written by Sir James Frazer. Some of it is useful, much of it was never accepted by specialists in the relevant fields and has since been superseded. Frazer is thought by some commentators to have had an anti-Christian ax to grind, and it might be helpful to keep this point in mind when using his work.

Bartholomew wrote: "those Pagan faiths the nuns warned me about were mostly rooted in a love for the earth". If the pagan religion of the ancient Greeks can be said to have a single organizing principle, it was "the city", not "the earth." If the pagan Greeks loved the earth so much, why did they wear out the land with inept farming in some places ? (One can probably multiply examples of this kind. If the pagan inhabitants of Easter Island loved the earth so much, why did they cut down every tree on the island ?)

If the religion of ancient Egypt had a single organizing principle, it was probably the continuity of the ruling dynasty and the preservation of social and political order in the Two Lands, not "the earth."

If you think that love for the Earth is a sentiment that incorporates an important truth, and you seek a religous tradition that incorporates the same truth, you might consider the Christianity of your childhood, which implicitly in its rituals (at least as some interpret them) teaches that the Creator created the "the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them" as a means of loving communion between himself and mankind.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MMario
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:49 AM

spent part of the morning browsing and found the following snippets of information...how accurate they are I don't know. They are from various sources...

1) the term "Green Man" to refer to a variety of foliate heads was first coined in 1939.

2) the earliest known examples are from non-christian graves at the eastern end of the mediteranean. they date to the 2nd century ad.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Mbo
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:58 AM

That's right Okie. In my religion (Roman Catholicism) we don't believe that the earth is some evil place we must endure until we die and move on to Heaven, a better place. We believe that our supreme being (God in this case) created the earth for us, with love. That is why we have the rituals...yes, it may seem pompous sometimes, but it is our way of bringing a tiny bit of Heaven down to make even this holy and love-created earth we live on even a bit more holy, hence the candles, the incense, etc. The earth is the love for the living...not a "heaven on your mind" kind of thing at all. That's also where pantheism comes in too...God is in all things, the animals, the trees, the grass, the rocks...treat them as you would treat fellow human beings. So we're not so far removed from pagan religions after all...we shouldn't be slamming each other's beliefs that much becaue they are so similar...like Styx says "Just remember, it's a grand illusion, deep inside we're all the same..."

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 11:44 AM

In re the time of year when the House Carpenter of Nazareth was born: The Gospel According to Luke states that "in the sixth month, an angel was sent to a maiden named Miriam" (I'm quoting from memory, so don't be too strict with me). The context makes clear that this means the sixth [lunar] month of her kinswoman Elizabeth's pregnancy, not the sixth month of the year. But if we skip that objection and interpret it as the sixth month of the year, we still don't get a single result. The "first month" can mean either the month of Nisan in the spring, or the month of Tishri in the fall. The sixth month, then, is either Adar or Elul, and the nine lunar months of pregnancy would put the House Carpenter's birth nine months after that, in either Kislev just before midwinter, or Sivan (I think that's what the month after Iyar is called) just before midsummer.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 01:15 PM

Further on "horned gods". I know of two depictions of antlered male figures from antiquity which are reasonably inferred to have been produced by, or for, people who spoke Celtic languages, and which are reasonably assumed to be depictions of deities. When I wrote the above, I had forgotten about the Gundestrap (sp?) cauldron. To me, neither of these figures looks like the so-called Green Man. Since the question is one of the transmission of iconographic traditions, I need not have brought the name "Cernunnos" into the discussion at all.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Hollowfox
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 01:40 PM

Whew! This thread grew pretty fast. I took notes while I read, but this posting may jump around like a flea on a hot brick. (1) "Pagan" is as generic a term as "protestant", and covers as wide a range. "Protestant" can mean anything from a Baptist to a Unitarian, and "pagan" covers groups who almost make up their worship forms as they go along, as well as those who read their worship form out of a book , and gods-help-you if you misplace a semicolon. (2) That said, a good many groups include in their belief(s) that the Diety has a sense of humor, so I wouldn't worry about divine offense being taken from your wiswass aspect coming through. (3) Another good book on morris dancing is Dr Anthony Barrand's "Six fools and a dancer", available through Front Hall Records. Good scholarship, very readable, anf the author isn't afraid to give his opinions on the question under discussion here. (4) The placement of some Christmas holidays at certain calendar dates can be placed at the feet of Pope Gregory I, aka Saint Gregory (I think). He sent the papal equivalent of a memo to St Augustine of Canterbury noting the unfortunate habit of the non-Christian population to worship in sacred groves and have feast to honor their non-Christian gods. St Augustine was essentially told to cut down the groves, build churches on those sites (I would think with the newly available lumber), and celebrate Christian saints' days on the old dates, so that in essence the populace would be doing the same thing at the same place, but for the right reason. This project got underway in A.D.597, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. (The library I'm working at today doesn't have the (translated) text of the "memo" that I'm paraphrasing; I can provide a citation tomorrow, if anybody wants it.) Midsummer Day (late June) was/is St. John the Baptist's Day. This holiday isn't a spopular as it used to be in medieval times. Maybe nobody's figured out a way to secularize it yet. (5) Joe Offer - Amen, brother. The sooner worshipers of All Types get this us/them bit out of their heads, the better off we'll all be. My grandfather once said that the different religions of the world were like road directions, all going to more-or-less the same place, but from different starting points. (6) What was the original question? Oh, yeah, music! The Nonesuch/O She Will Bring... became very popular in the 1980's, thanks to the singing of a man called Gwidion. He died in the early 1980's, and I know of two casettes that he made. I can have a name, copyright claims to the songs, etc, in a day or two, if anybody wants them. // Bob Coltman once reasoned that, if ancient Greek music was/is pentatonic, then you should be able to play it with a boogie woogie vamp, at least. He was just starting his ancient Greece Talking Blues at a coffeehouse when a couple came in, heard a bit and immediately left. Oh, well. // As for what neo-pagans use in worship services, I've heard Ewan MaColl's Ballad of Accounting, Magpie's Living Planet, and Roy Rogers' Happy Trails to You (this was to "dismiss" the various supernatural beings at the end of the Circle). Luckily, these pieces of music were all done at different times and places, not in the same evening.// Chants do predominate however. After a while they do start to sound the same as regards tunes. This led to a composition by Isaac Bonewits (famous in pagan circles) with the following lyrics: E minor, E minor, A minor, E minor, E minor, A minor G. I might have mis-remembered some of the words, but you get the idea.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Wesley S
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 01:51 PM

Joe Offer - Thanks for your post - there is a lot of wisdom there. I couldn't agree more.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 01:53 PM

Whatever may be the case with the spirits, the initiates who sing "Happy Trails" to them certainly have a sense of humor.

Christmas was set on "VIII Cal. Ian." (i.e. December 25th) long before Pope Gregory's English mission. The letter of Gregory to Augustine is famous and widely quoted. As I recall it advises A. not to supress his converts' urge to make merry, but to direct it into Christian channels. He specifically advises having them build lean-tos out of branches during their celebrations if they are accustomed to outdoor merrymaking.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 02:26 PM

I don't have time to go point by point, but there is much of interest under the heading "pagan" in the book I mentioned a few posts ago, The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths & Secrets by Barbara G. Walker.

Much of it disagrees with was T-bird/Taskemus has posted. She cites many authorities. I have scanned in the first two pages, there are 2.5 more to go. If anyone would care for a copy, I can finish them and send them by email. It really does give a very different and thorough, IMO, telling of ther elationship or non between pre-Christian and Christian in the "old days", as I said, with very specific citations.

Someone said the winners write the history. I would ask all to remember that and realise that most of it was written by men; women did have secrets and did pass them on, but most of it had to be by word-of-mouth, out of necessity.

I would also like to say that I do not believe we should discount what people may *feel* is right for them just because there may be no written evidence to support their claims. In some instances there is evidence of a healing, but doctors cannot give any explanation. Similarly, one may feel they have lived before, been to a place before, know something which cannot be explained by this particular lifetime on earth. If we demand proof of such, we deny validation of something which could be very real in that person's heart. It is similar to the worship of science....which once said men would never fly, the earth was flat, etc. for lack of evidence. If we fall into always requiring evidence for a person's faith and spiritual practises, we become repressive.

Sir John Templeton's foundation, BTW, is doing some fantastic work in scientific and spiritual research. I'll see if I can find some info and post it.

Feel like I am rambling, but what else is new, huh?*BG* Hope some of this made sense.

kat


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,firehair28
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 02:31 PM

Boy, this is a fast-growing thread! New here, so please no flamage.

Regarding pre-christian imagery in Britain: Sheela-na-gigs, green men and so on were definitey relevant in different ways at different times as the cultures that viewed them changed. If Christians carved 'em, then they had meaning as christian symbols as well as any older, traditional associations. Also, local deities and spirits were not only revered by locals, but often propitiated by travellers and foreigners who were just passing through. After all, Britain has had a lot of traffic in the last 2000 years or so -- such "local" imagery might have been incorporated from Romans, Vikings, Saxons, Normans, Picts, you name it! It's not like there was one culture throughout britain in pre-christian (or even post-christian) times.

'Nuff said about that (What a mouthful!). What I really wanted to talk about was pagan music. I've been in circles where recorded music was used (lots of Doors tunes), but the best experiences were when we all sang together.

Diana Paxson and Adrienne Martine-Barnes wrote a number of truly beautiful goddess hymns for the Liturgy of the Lady, a ceremony that drew on Christian ritual but centered on the faces of the Goddess rather than the God. I think the Fellowship of the Spiral Path out of Berkeley still has copies, but they rarely perform it anymore.

I don't know the url, but they've got a web site somewhere... Hope this helps!


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MMario
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 02:45 PM

FYI:

Gregory the Great: Instructions to the Missionaries

The Letter to Mellitus of 601
When Almighty God shall bring you to the most reverend Bishop Augustine, our brother, tell him what I have, after mature deliberation on the affairs of the English, determined upon, namely, that the temples of the idols in that nation ought not to be destroyed, but let the idols that are in them be destroyed; let holy water be made and sprinkled in thesaid temples - let altars be erected, and relics placed. For if those temples are well built, it is requisite that the be converted from the worship of devils to the service of the true God; that the nation, seeing that their temples are not destroyed, may remove error from their hearts and, knowing and adoring the true God, may the more familiarly resort tothe places to which they have been accustomed.

And because they have been used to slaughter many oxen in the sacrifices to devils, some solemnity must be substituted for them on this account, as, for instance, that on the day of the dedication, or of the nativities of the holy martyrs whose relics are there deposited, they may build themselves huts of the boughs of trees about those churches which have been turned to that use from temples, and celebrate the solemnity with religious feasting, no more offering beasts to the devil, but killing cattle to the praise of God in their eating, and returning thanks to the Giver of all things for their sustenance; to the end that, whilst some outward gratifications are permitted them, they may the more easily consent to thee inward consolations of the grace of God.

For there is no doubt that it is impossible to efface every thing at once from their obdurate minds., because he who endeavors to ascend to the highest place rises by degrees or steps and not by leaps. This the Lord made himself known to the people of Israel in Egypt: and yet he allowed them to use the sacrifices which they were wont to offer to the devil in his own worship, commanding them in his sacrifice to kill beasts to the end that, changing their hearts they mad lay aside one part of the sacrifice whilst retained another: that whilest they offered the same beasts which they were wont to offer, they should offer them to God, and not to idols, and thus they would no longer be the same sacrifices.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 03:17 PM

I agree with kat on this one. In instances where it is impossible to find 'proof' I don't see any harm in using a modicum of common sense and taking an intelligent guess at some things.

In pre Christian times people in Britain and France worshipped stones. Their leaders (or priests or scientists or whatever you want to call them) aligned stones as primitive observatories. It is reasonable to assume that those leaders also told people it is forbidden to move them(They are sacred).

Corn dollies, Now can we find a logical reason for them to have been sacred. Yup, Choose the biggest ears of wheat from the crop and make ornaments out of them, hang these ornaments in your home and don't eat the wheat (They are sacred). Then, come the beginning of the next season there is a supply of chosen seed for planting. Makes sense.
Don't forget that their leaders were 'The Wise Ones'.

The Early Christian Church used to incorporate the 'pagan stones' into the actual buildings of their churches (Stratford Church in East London, England has one), or they would build the churches near the stones (Beauchamp Roding in Essex, England has one in the churchyard)

It is also reasonable to assume that, seeing as the Church borrowed so much from the indigenous religions, they may also have borrowed some of the music (especially since music is such a powerful and prominent part of the worship in many religions). Some early hymns may perhaps contain vestiges of pagan origins, even though it is probably impossible to find any 'proven' instances.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 03:17 PM

katlaughing wrote: "If we fall into always requiring evidence for a person's faith and spiritual practises, we become repressive."

If a spiritual practice involves historical claims, the historical claims are not excused from the rules for such claims simply because they are related to a spiritual practice.

The Umatilla nation may believe that they have lived on their present lands since the beginning of time. If they claim that among themselves, I have no quarrel. But if they want to impose their claim on a recently-uncovered skeleton which by its age and physical features is clearly not a member of the Umatilla nation, then they are asserting a public claim with implications for what folk other than themselves may do, or not do. In that case I am entitled to dispute, if I so choose.

Adherents of the Murray thesis may sincerely believe that the execution of Charles Stuart was a ritual sacrifice to the god "Janus/Diana", by an English aristocracy which continued to adhere to the religion it had held prior to the conversion to Christianity. If this is in interpretation of a historical event in terms of an abstract paradigm, I disagree but have no deep quarrel. But to the extent that this belief goes farther and actually claims to identify the historical motivations and practices of the actors in the event, then I not only disagree, I am entitled to dispute, and say, There was no such god as Murray's "Janus/Diana", worshipped as part of a widely-organized "witch-cult" which invariably met in "covens" of exactly thirteen people; the English aristocracy were Christian; the religious issues involved in the execution of Charles Stuart were Christian religious issues. If a Murrayite feels "repressed" by my assertions of these things, that is regrettable, but inadvertent. I will try to spare people's delicate sensibilities where I can, but the other fellow's sensibilities need to make room for mine, as mine for them.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 04:24 PM

Whoa, T-bird, I am not a Murrayite and I do not mean that you are repressive. Sometimes it seems your postings are worded in such a way that they will brook no argument, i.e. as THE authority, but that is okay. I've grown to know you, through the threads, and always look forward to reading your posts, and the rest of us can sound pretty sure of ourselves, too. I know that is what I love about this site, goodhearted, intelligent peoples who can discuss such a wide-breadth of subjects in such depth and camaraderie, with music as the unifying factor.

Again, I would urge anyone who is interested in differing viewpoints, with citations, to check out the book I mentioned.

kat


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 04:52 PM

Ah! talking of wooden churches! Has anyone been to Greensted Church (Essex, England)? It's a wooden church built in 900 and something AD and still in use. One of the oldest wooden buildings in the world.
Perhaps a nearby Mudcatter could take a picture for us.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: SDShad
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 05:25 PM

kat--how much does Walker cite Murray, though, I wonder? (Or at least, how much does she cite Murray-infuenced scholarship or other Murray-quoters?) Problem is, you can't really venture into this area without running smack into Margaret Murray, for better or worse. And Murray's theories have been greatly discredited. Unforunately, unbiased skeptical inquiry into the histories of alternative belief systems is hard to come by; seems everyone has an ax to grind. Research that supports the ancient Goddess cult tends to be from sympathetic neopagans, and research skeptical of it tends to be from conservative Christians or atheist cranks for whom their skepticism has become as much of a rigid agenda as any religion.

Obviously, something was there before Christianity, and even before the Druids and their counterparts in other cultures. But I don't think we have nearly as clear a picture of what that something was as a lot of neopagans would like us to believe.

Just my $0.02,

Chris


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Subject: Greensted Church
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 05:33 PM

Say, Bert - is this (click) (see bottom of page)the church you're talking about?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: MMario
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 05:37 PM

Considering how little we know, and how much is vague from 100 and 200 years ago WITH WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION AVAILABLE I truly find it hard to believe that we have any body of accurate knowledge extending back to the christianization of Britain (or any other area). People argue about the "correct" religious beliefs and practices of the polynesians - and that time period is much shorter, likewise the practices of Native Americans - so much has been lost...

however - as has been said of folk music...the version being sung is the corrrect one...at that time


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 05:42 PM

Well, SD, she has 13 pages of small print for a Bibliography, with an average of thirty sources per page, so that makes about 390 sources, only one of which is Murray, and to be honest, I haven't even run into Murray, yet and my book's spine is gone, we've used it so much. It's a full three inches thick and first came out in 1983 by Harper & Row.

Here's what some reviews had to say about it:

Honored by the London Times Educational Supplement as 1986 "Book of the Year"

"Awesomely researched.... Walker has distilled 20 years of research into an absorbing treasure house." - Los Angeles Times

"Whoever ventures into this . . . book runs the risk of being totally absorbed." - Shirley Horner, The New York Times

"A mountain of scholarship, a vast mass of supremely documented material . . . demonstrat[ing] the dominant role women have played in the cultural evolution of our species. " - San Francisco Chronicle

"Barbara Walker upsets the complacent Judeo-Christian apple cart of orthodoxy. [An] outstanding, endless well of information.... Her literary excellence and the unrelentingly fascinating material . . . redresses two millennia of cultural and sexual misrepresentation. " - East West Journal

"A whopping compendium of history, legend, and myth" - The Denver Post

"A vast and detailed resource on women's history . . . offer[ing] a wealth of fascinating detail. It will indeed give a clearer picture of our total cultural heritage." Yoga Journal

"Walker has written a tribute to the goddess . . . Walker has eyes to see what the rest of us cannot: the figure of the goddess hidden behind rites, dogma, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, superstitions, even our very language. She sees the restoring of the goddess to her rightful place as an essential healing act for women and our whole culture . . . You can rely on it to be witty and compulsively readable." - The Philadelphia Inquirer


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 05:53 PM

THE FOLLOWING OPINIONS OF THE AUTHOR ARE LARGELY UNSUPPORTED BY FACT

My statement early on, that the early Celtic Christian Church in Britain was comfortably intertwined with pre-existing pagan ritual and icons, perhaps errs in the use of the term "comfortably." Putting aside the issues of faith for a moment, the early Christian missionaries in Britain were very much involved in a struggle for the minds and hearts of the people. Pre-Christian belief in England was certainly a varied pastiche of Roman, Celtic, Scandinavian and assorted other mythologies. Add to these an abundance of local sacred relics, altars, and deities. What the early Christians had going was a unification of effort, belief, and purpose. Rather than uproot age-old existing beliefs, I think that these practices were either replaced (if thought to be threatening) or absorbed (if thought to be relatively innocuous). If certain spots were sacred to the old beliefs, the Christians could have taken the tack that these areas were somehow tainted,building their early churches on newly staked-out Holy Ground. But they didn't. The approach, at least initially, would seem to be less confrontational, allowing the practicioners of the old beliefs to gather in the same spots, practice some of the same rituals, and celebrate on many of the same days, so that the transition was slow and relatively painless.

And where else but on the Mudcat, may I say, would you find a group of people knowledgeable enough in these areas to have a discussion like this one. I have certainly learned a lot, and have thoroughly enjoyed it.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 05:55 PM

Yes, that's the one Joe, that's a great site you found there, I looked, but could only find a pencil sketch on some Norwegian site. I guess my date was off by 100 years or so but 845 AD is even more impressive. They have a "leper's squint" in the back wall so that leper's could see and hear the services without mixing with the congregation.

The one above it, 'St Peter's on the Wall' is also another MUST for anyone visiting Essex. They used to have a Youth Hostel in Bradwell which is just a mile or so from there. St Peter's Chapel is all alone in a farmer's field. We (My sister & I) went there in November about 1955, the place was deserted.
England is so packed with history that it probably possible to spend a complete vacation on just 'The churches in Essex'.

Thanks for the link.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 06:49 PM

That's exactly what happened, LeeJ. Just couple of tidbits from Walker's book:

The Venerable Bede said Redwald, kind of the East saxons, kept in the same temple an altar to offer sacrifices to Christ and another altar to offer sacrifices to "devils." Source: M. Harrison: The Roots of Witchcraft 1974

And,

Giraldus Cambrensis complained in the 12th centruy that the people of Ireland were still given over to "old barbaric and obscene customs." The cult of Diana coexisted with Christiianity in Devon as late as the 14th centruy, when the Goddess was worshipped in woodland shrines even by monks. At Cologne in 1333, Ptrach saw "women conjuring the Rhine" in what was described as "a rite of the people." Sources: Lethbridge, T.C.

Witches 1972 ; Borchardt, Frank German Antiquity in Renaissance Myth

Also,

The 9th-century Synod of Rome recorded pagan worship in the churches: "Many people, mostly women, come to church on Sundays adn holy days not to attend the Mass but to dance, sing broad songs, and do other such pagan things." Source: J. B. RussellWithcraft in the Middle Ages

Cool church, Bert. Thanks for the link, Joe.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: bbelle
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 07:24 PM

I am Jewish with a tremendous amount of faith and spirituality. And I have no interest in delving into paganism. This thread has, however, been interesting. Being descended from oppression, I have a great respect for other people's religions or non-religion. Plus, I now know, and please forgive me for my ignorance, that Morris dancing has nothing at all to do with the cat and meow mix ... shalom ... moonchild


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 08:18 PM

Thank whatever God(s) there be! I was in the middle of a post when it mysteriously disappeared. And that little demon inside of me that pops up occasionally (I think its Pazuzu) was forcing me into saying things I would undoubtedly regret. I will not enter into a debate about articles of faith in a public forum. All I could possibly do is offend my host, Mr. Offer, and so many other gentle and sincere folks, which is farthest from my intent. Besides I'd just get my butt kicked by Okiemockbird who is obviously well-read and also a person of faith. I admire you for the one and envy you the other. If anyone would like to enter a discussion on why I am not a Christian (Although I do admire Christ - and Buddah, and Lao Tzu, amongst others) I would gladly do so via personal e-mail.

I do like to find out about religious practices and beliefs and regret that so little reliable source material is left of the Pre-Christian practices. I am particularly intrigued by the Druids. That's why this thread has been a treat for me. Peace.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 09:02 PM

Kat:

The fact that church authorities accused people of indulging in Pagan practices doesn't mean that that is what they were doing; just that whatever they were doing was not approved of by the authorities.  It isn't really the same thing.  As for a "cult of Diana" in 14th century Devon...well, I'd be very interested in seeing some evidence!  

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: bbelle
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 09:41 PM

Well, Bartholomew ... it looks to me like you are trying to interject incivility into an otherwise civil and interesting discussion. I don't think anyone cares why you are not a Christian. I do think that they respect the fact that you are not. No one has asked Joe or me why we are Christian and Jew, respectively, and not pagans (is that the correct term?) So, keep it clean and allow the discussion to flow, please ... moonchild


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 09:47 PM

Here is Bede's own account of Raedwald:

"Reduald...ab uxore sua et quibusdam perversis doctoribus seductus est...ita ut in morem antiquorum Samaritanorum et Christo servire videretur, et diis quibus antea serviebat. Atque in eodem fano et altare haberet ad sacrificium Christi, et arulam ad victimas daemoniorum. Quod videlicet fanum rex eiusdem provincia Alduulf, qui nostra aetate fuit, usque ad suum tempus perdurasse, et se in pueritia vidisse testabatur."

("Redwald...was led astray by his wife and perverse advisors...so that, in the manner of the ancient Samaritans, he appeared to serve both Christ and the gods that he formerly served; and [so that] in one and the same temple he had both an altar for the rites of Christ, and a little altar for sacrifices of daemons. Which temple the king of the same province [Ease Anglia], Aldwulf, who lived in our time, said lasted into his own time, and that he had seen it in his childhood.")

This is the sort of politic flip-flop that a king, in a time of religious change, might find necessary for reasons of state. Bede's adding the source of his information might imply that he thought his readers would otherwise find the account incredible; which if true means that paganism had entirely disappeared by his time.

The other quotes kat provides illustrate some difficulties for studying the history of paganism. (1) Many people cannot separate religion from magic, while other people separate them quite easily; and (2) many Christians have had a tendency to fling the word "pagan" at other Christians whose customs they found strange or inappropriate.

The reports of people singing and dancing on Sunday tell us nothing about the religious opinions of those singers and dancers, though it tells us something about the moralist's opinions about proper behavior in church. The same applies to the report of people "conjuring the Rhine". We don't know, from that report, what those people thought they were doing, but analogous cases suggest that they considered themselves good Christians (see the "Shoney" practice referred to above.)

References by moralists to "Diana" are suspect. Diana is one of the Roman gods to be mentioned in the Latin Bible (Acts 19.28ff) so a moralist with a touch of scripture knowledge might not simply call people of whose customs he disapproved "pagan", he might go further and accuse them of worshipping "Diana". If he had a touch of classical learning he might accuse them of practising the "rites of Venus". Before I concluded that monks were actually worshipping Diana in woodland shrines, I would

(1) check the primary sources; the reports might contain less than meets the eye;

(2) survey the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinorum and the archaeological literature for Roman inscriptions to Diana in Britain, to see if, and where, this goddess was popular in Britain in pagan times. If she was little known, it is hard to imagine that a cult could "survive" where it never existed. If she was very popular, it would strengthen the case for such a survival.

(3) check the manuscript history of Catullus's poem Dianae sumus in fide/peullae et pueri integri. (One of the lovliest poems ever written in any language.) Though there are many motivations for studying and transmitting this poem, one supposes that if there were actual worshippers of Diana, they would have copied this poem if they had kown it.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:43 PM

Forgot to provide the cite for the Bede quote: It is Church History of the English People, Book II, Chapter 15 (J.E. King, ed., Bedae Opera Historica, Loeb Classical Library, Vol. 1, p. 292.)

Catullus's Diana poem is, I think, poem #34 in his "little book".

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:49 PM

Oops. The inscriptions collection should be Corpus Inscriptionum LatinArum, not "LatinOrum".

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:54 PM

I feel like a cheerleader on the sidelines after starting this...and it feels great! I've learned a lot here. This is Mudcat at it's best. The flamers wouldn't have a chance , when it's at this level. Thanks again.

Rick


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 12:44 AM

Here is Ronald Hutton's summary of the "Diana" business in Devon, from The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, Blackwell, Paperback edition 1993, p. 299-300:

"[I]n 1351 the monks [of Fithelstock Priory] erected a chapel in a wood nearby, where thy installed an altar, a rack of candles and an image which the Bishop of Exeter described as being of 'proud and disobedient Eve or of unchaste Diana' rather than of the Virgin Mary. To this they attracted the local people, and made money out of them by reading their futures according to the casting of lots. The racket was broken up by the bishop, who had the chapel and its contents destroyed. The only other evidence we have that bears on the case is that the priory already had a bad reputation: in 1340 its sub-prior had to do penance for laziness and sexual misconduct. What is missing is any indication of the viewpoint of the monks themselves. It would be very interesting to know whether they were conducting a self-conscious parody of the Christian religion, or whether they were so ignorant and undisciplined that they genuinely did not realize that they were acting outside it. Whatever the truth of the matter, there is nothing in the story to indicate that they were acting in accordance with a local pre-Christian cult. Rather...they were deviants from medieval Christianity."

I agree with Hutton that it is most likely that the monks were spontaneous deviants, not bearers of an ancient non-Christian tradition. I note that it was the Bishop, not the monks (as far as we know) who identified their statue as "Eve or Diana". Without the image, we don't know if the bishop was reasonably shocked by the way the statue was carved, was overreacting to sculptural ineptitude, or whether the sculptor simply produced what we would see (even if the biship did not) as a portrayal of the Mother of Jesus as a strong, self-confident matron.

I must take Hutton's word for it that there is no evidence of Diana-worship in the same area in Roman times. If I ever want to check up on him myself, I'll take the route I mentioned earlier: search the Corpus Inscriptionum and the archaeological literature for evidence of a Diana cult.

Hutton's citations for this incident are:

W. H. Mandy, "An Incident at Bexley", Woolwich and District Antiquarian Society Annual Report and Transactions 1920-5, 23, pp. 25-37.

Jefffrey Burton Russel, Witchcraft in the Midddle Ages, Ithaca, [NY] 1972, p. 164.

R. P. Chope, "Frithelstock Priory", Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association 1928, 61, pp. 175-176.

I have not seen these sources yet.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 01:09 AM

Well, you might take Hutton's word for it, T-Bird, which means you are expressing an opinion, which is no more supported by evidence than those of some of the rest of us. BTW, J.B. Russel is one of Walker's many reference sources, too.

Bartholomew has a point and I think he did a pretty good job of stating it, even if he did use a little sarcasm. I mentioned it before, that the tone of some of what T-bird writes is rather authoritative and not very welcoming of dissenting opinions. I don't know what kind of library you are accessing, T-bird, but it must be impressive. Would it be possible to include a few links, that is, if you are accessing them online?

At this point, I don't feel like trying to state any more points. I do have some but it just doesn't *feel* worth it when others are so sure of other views.

Thank you, it has been very interesting,

kat


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 01:29 AM

Well........I can't shake the feeling that I have slipped back in time 30 years and I'm sitting in a classroom or back at the dorm reading really dry authoritative works or madly writing as fast as I can to summarize the stuff......all those things that I had to do as a philo/religion major. Every philosophy major was required a minor in religion....Why, I have no idea. I also have no idea why I majored in philosophy.

But my best to all who have contributed here and it does show the depth of knowledge and overall intelligence of the members here. I'm in no way being sarcastic when I say this, but I admire anyone who has enough interest in this to research it in the way it has been done here by many of you, since I find it the most boring shit imaginable. You are all to be congratulated on this thread ... one of Mudcat's best.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Escamillo
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 04:29 AM

If someone gets interested in pagan music and culture of South America, there are many sources of info, and music to hear,here: www.candomble.com, a Brazilian site dedicated to the second popular religion in that large country: CANDOMBLE. And this is only one of the African-American cultures that survive in Latin America in a state fairly unaffected by European music or commercialism.
Another reference I don't see in the thread, is the famous Karl Orff's Cantata CARMINA BURANA which was written 1937 under a modern inspiration based on medieval chants. The lyrics are said to be authentic secular poems of the 13th century, discovered in the ancient German abbey of Benediktbeuern, in the Bavarian region. I have had the pleasure of participating in Carmina performances many times. Carmina here .
Thanks for letting us learn a lot at the Mudcat, as always.
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 07:31 AM

Andres, thank you for that most excellent link. It is very interesting and I enjoyed the music sound clips.

kat


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,L. Whitfield
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 07:57 AM

Wonderful debate! However, I read once in a pagan book (I forget which one) that many original pagan traditions were hidden in the lyrics of folk song to protect and preserve the original beliefs from the authorities who sought to stamp it out. There are many mentions of witches and magic - for example Tam Lin, Thomas the Rhymer, Alison Gross, The Cruel Mother etc - but these all refer to the fantastical aspects, and in some cases totem beliefs involving animals. I'm yet to find an authentic folk song that refers in any way to the sacred elements of earth, air, fire and water, or anything that might show the moon and sun as the goddess and god, or anything that might give a clue to early ritual activity. Am I being too culture-bound within neo-pagan ideas, or are there songs that I'm missing? Anyone got any ideas?


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 09:42 AM

I think there are LOTS of songs in some sort of code; I believe that somebody went through Mother Goose -- one of Pete Seeger's columns in Sing Out maybe 30 years ago told the story of little Jack Horner. . . As for L. Whitfield's specific request-- I know an old Christian hymn out of the Sacred Harp: Amsterdam, which is the best description of the Aristotelian theory of motion that I know: (not QUITE what you're looking for but. . . )
Rivers to the ocean run, nor stay in all their course
Fire ascending seeks the Sun, both speed them to their source
So a soul that's born of God Pants to view His glorious face
Upward tends to His abode to rest in His embrace


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 10:49 AM

Scholarship and comment on pagan memories and survivals has suffered, I think, from unacknowledged, semi-hidden agendas. I have a suspicion (so far supported by very slight evidence) that the work of James Frazer and Madame Blavatsky was partly motivated by a desire to discredit Christianity and/or Judaism. Anti-Jewish bias seems to have been part of Joseph Campbell's personality for much of his life, and may have been apart of his scholarly agenda as well. (That one modern pagan movement, Nazism, had such an agenda, and indeed went well beyond a desire merely to discredit, is however not just a suspicion but a very well-documented fact.) If a scholar or commentator is producing evidence of pagan survivals as a way of saying, "heh heh heh, those Christians/Jews think they are monotheists, but really they are polytheists", or "heh heh heh, those Christians think they converted the population of Russia, but really many Russians were only pretending to be Christians, while worshipping their pagan goddess under the cynical cover of pretending to honor Saint Paraskyeva" or something like that, then the scholar or commentator ought at least to acknowledge such bias.

I consider myself an interested amateur who is seeking understanding. But I own that I also have an agenda of giving no ground, even unwittlingly, to hostile agendas such as I described in the first paragraph above. Fortunately the quest for understanding and the quest against hidden anti-Christian and anti-Jewish hostility have led me in the same direction: that of trying to respect the facts, recognizing the complexity of human life and spirituality and the diverse ways the past can bear on the present; also recognizing that people are capable of rejecting the past and changing from what went before.

I don't suspect anyone here at the Mudcat of holding to hostile agendas such as I imagined in my first paragraph of this post. I think everyone here is seeking understanding, as I am. Also I have tried, in all my posts to debate-threads, to stick to the issues and avoid ad-hominem remarks. I'm sorry if I ever crossed, or seemed to cross, the line.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Peg
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 11:16 AM

just a few random thoughts:

kat; with all due respect, and I like Walker's book a lot, but it is far from being flawless in terms of its research or citation. It was the first book of its kind at the time and is a great starting point of reference to pursue various trajectories, but I am quite sure she is NOT seen as an historian...and certainly not a writer who sticks to the standard modes of footnoting or attribution (maybe that is a good thing, but it is dangerously close to the Llewellyn-style mode of non-researched, plagiarized books which have flooded the market in recent years)or an expert...that said, her book is intriguing and I believe a "must-have" on the shelf of any serious student of pagan religions...

other books I would HIGHLY recommend for those interested in the actual history (such as it is) of modern paganism (based in folklore, folk magic, etc. and pretty much debunking the myth of "The Burning Times"):
Keith Thomas' Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971-recently reprinted)
The Witch in History by Diane Purkiss
anything by Ronald Hutton, including Stations of the Sun, and his newest, The Triumph of the Moon
The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Hans Holzer (out of print; has an excellent section on the wise women and cunning men of antiquity, taken from the extensive literature of the mid-18th century)

re: J.G. Frazer, it is my understanding that, far from trying to discredit Christianity, he was actually attempting to cast the subjects of his research in a poor light! By exposing their animistic, primitive tendencies...I recently read a quotation to this effect and I will try to dig it up and post it...

re: Tony Barrands: he is very cool and actually has taught some interesting classes at BU on these subjects. I actually started to audit a class at one point a few years ago; it combined lectures on the history of Morris Dancing with classes _in_ Morris Dancing! Unfortunately I injured my foot after the second class and had to drop it...but he was extremely interesting...

peg


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: SDShad
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 11:37 AM

T-Bird, I don't think you have anything to worry about on that score. You're definitely not a flamer, and you've made some very valuable contributions to this thread.

Myself, I'm mainly a pagan-friendly Christian, and in addition to practicing the Christian faith, I also practice a faith that gets classified as pagan a lot of the time, and certainly has a lot in common with Western paganism, that of the Dakota Sacred Pipe. Of course, many Dakota/Lakota/Nakota I know would tell you that their spiritual ways are in fact monotheistic. There is a creator god in their mythos: Grandfather Great Spirit. The Goddess motif is also present, and I see no conflict. A Grandfather needs a Grandmother, and so the Dakota call the earth Grandmother.

So I'm very careful never to question or debunk another person's spiritual beliefs, since I think the whole framework of spiritual belief systems, including my own Christian and Pipe ways, is just a gauzy metaphor through which we get a glimpse of Unity. Thus I'm probably not quite as skeptical of neopagan claims as you are, but I'm a little skeptical when they venture into historical claims that may well be true (rather than spiritual claims, whose truth is in their meaning, not their happening), but my understanding of history and how it works (my father is a historian) tells me that there's no way we could know for sure some of the things that are claimed as certain fact about the distant past by a lot of neopagans. Many of the claims strike me as more wishful thinking as anything else--though I must add that people of my own faith are often guilty of the same thing.

But then I'm skeptical of many of the historical claims of my own faith(s). I don't believe that a universal flood literally happened (although I think it's entirely possible that it does come from some specific cataclysmic flood, like perhaps the filling of the Black Sea at the end of the last Ice Age), or that Methuselah, if he existed, actually lived 900 years, or that Eve was made from Adam's rib, or that the two of them, if they aren't just mythic archetypes and were real people, were actually the true "first humans." By similar token, I don't believe that the Lakota have lived in the sacred Che Sapa (Black Hills) since the dawn of time, or that the Che Sapa are literally where creation began, or that all land came from the back of a giant turtle in the middle of an endless sea (although I love "This Turtle Island" as a metaphor for our continent). The earth-centered creation myths of all our religions are marvelous tales at a symbolic level, but they fly in the face of (and pale in comparison to) the much grander cosmological truth that scientific inquiry has brought us.

Other historical claims, it doesn't particularly matter to me if they're true. I don't need to believe that Mary was actually a Perpetual Virgin, or that Peter actually considered himself the first Pope, in order to be a Christian. I don't need to believe that the White Buffalo Calf Woman story actually happened to believe that the original Pipe at Greengrass is very sacred, or that there's power in the Sacred Pipe way of prayer.

I do believe in the Resurrection, but never claim it as historic fact.

I believe that pagans and neopagans are on a path to the One that is just a valid is my own. I do think we all are mistaken in assigning gender to the Creator; "the Goddess" is just as gender-centric as the old white-haired, bearded Canaanite deity on whom our monotheistic "Yahweh" seems to be based. Creator and creation are far beyond all that, to me. "The Goddess" is just as effective a metaphor as "The God of Abraham," but they're both exactly that: metaphors.

So when someone I know finds spiritual comfort in ritual practice that involves the Goddess, I share in the joy of their path of spiritual discovery. But when historical claims are made that neolithic, pre-literate societies were idyllic, matriarchal, exclusively-Goddess-worshipping societies, all networked together in planet-wide love and harmony until those nasty patriarchal IndoEuropeans or Kurgans or whatever happened along, I cannot agree. The archeological record shows us instead, that sadly women were often devalued in ancient societies as well, if Neanderthal burial practices, for instance, are any indication.

I'm on board for anything spiritually that uplifts and unifies; but I'm with you, Okie, in objecting to "men and Christians (and often Jews and Moslems) are the enemy, if only we could undo everything they've done" type historical claims. I agree that I've not seen that attitude from an 'Catters, they being a special breed. But I have seen it in 3D World, in spades.

Wow, that was much more rambling and far less cohesive than I'd thought. But it does pretty much say what I believe.

Chris


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 12:53 PM

My interest in this subject is neither based in a defense of paganism as a great religion that preceded and was repressed by Christianity, nor is it based on any defense or justification of the actions of the early Christian Church. My interest is from an archaeological standpoint: To me the past is a mystery, and the more far distant the past, the greater the mystery. I see a sheela-na-gig carved in masonry over the door of an 11th Century Chapel, and it conjures the mystery in my mind. Why would a congregation of Christians be welcomed to worship on the Sabbath by the image of a woman with legs spread and genitalia prominently displayed? Whether the answer is that these people saw both the Church and the Sheel-na-gig as potent aspects of magic (the more magic the better), or it is that the the image was an ancient in-joke from a time when sexuality was viewed in a more relaxed and humorous manner, I find the possibilites fascinating and nearly endless. But it is certain that the more clues we have, the closer we are to understanding the mystery.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 01:01 PM

Just for the record, I am neither Christian nor neo-pagan.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 02:34 PM

Further comment on Sheelas-na-gig and green men:

When I mentioned Ronald Hutton's discussion of these figures before, I was working from memory. Now that I've had a chance to go back to Hutton's book, I find that his remarks were more elaborate than I remembered.

Relying heavily on earlier workers (as any Historian writing broadly must do), he provied the following synthesis:

1) Sheelas-na-gig originated in Aquitaine in the 11th century, "Reaching Poitou and then (around 1070) northern Spain, before crossing to England in the next century. The earliest which can be dated there, in Herefordshire, were certainly brought over as part of the French school of carving patrionized by Oliver de Merlimont. They seem to have got to Ireland slightly later. They travelled with two other motifs, the beaked head and the biting horse's head, and were part of the great high medieval architectural style known as Romanesque."--PRABI, p. 311.

2) There are no precedents for these pictures which can be dated to pagan times. "There appear to be no images like them in Celtic or Romano-Celtic art. Elsewhere in the Roman Empire there did exist splay-legged female figures displaying their bellies and vulvas; these are found especially in Egypt. But they are generally modelled in clay and never carved upon buildings." --Id.

So far, so good. This is approximately what I was trying to convey in my post yesterday. Hutton goes on to discuss the 1986 theory of Wier and Jarman, that the figures were originally intended as a warning about the perils of certain kinds of sin.

However, (this is the part I had forgotten) the Irish use of the new figures seems to have been influenced by some very old attitudes:

"[The theory of Weir and Jarman] fails to explain the presence of some of the later Irish Sheelas upon structures such as castles. Here it is necessary to look again at the examples quited by Jorgen Andersen of several nineteenth-century antiquarians who were told by local Irish people that Sheelas were intended to ward off evil...It seems wise to suggest that the device of the Sheela, which arrived in Ireland as part of a Christian campaign against sin, was absorbed there into a native belief in powerful female protectors. These carvings on later medieval buildings in Ireland may, then have been a last manifestation of the old tutlary godesses."

I think the reference here is to the view that a land was protected by godesses such as Maeve, or Eriu herself, whom (we have some grounds to believe) the king was said to have "married" when he became king.

Hutton goes on: "But to propose this is very different from arguing, as Ronald Seridan and Anne Ross did, that the people who carved them still viewed them as pagan deities."

In other words, the pictures are entirely medieval and Christian in their origin. In Ireland, and so far as we know only in Ireland -- not in Britain -- the pictures were interpreted in terms of a thought-pattern which indeed had pre-Christian roots. But the thought-pattern had by then become a Christian thought-pattern. The Irish who saw the carvings did not think they were seeing Maeve, or Eriu, or the Morrigan or a "goddess of fertility and destruction". They thought they were seeing a carving which had the ability to chase away evil.

Hutton's citations for this synopsis are:

Jorgen Anderson, the Witch on the Wall, London, 1977.

Anthony Weir and James Jerman, Images of Lust, London, 1986.

Concerning the relationship of the Green Man to the folk-figure of Jack-in-the-Green, Hutton notes that "Lady Raglan's original comparison [of Green Men] to the foliage-covered figure who danced in May Day processions was shattered in 1979 by Roy Judge, who proved that this folk ritual had itself only appeared in the late eighteenth century." --p. 316.

The citation here is:

Roy Judge, The Jack-in-the-Green, Ipswich, 1979.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: SDShad
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 02:41 PM

That's cool, kat. I'm both or neither, depending on context and what definitions you want to use.....

Chris


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Phil Shapiro
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 02:54 PM

Whew. Geez, all I wanted was the lyrics to a sort-of pagan song, and here I am an hour later, responding to a thread that will probably be a whole lot longer by the time I finish typing this. This Saturday, about 75 of my closest friends will be coming over to celebrate Green Day, more or less Beltane, which I guess makes me a neo-pagan. Green Day is the day you look out your window and say IT'S GREEN!!! (Hasn't happened yet on my mountainside). We'll have a 25 foot tall maypole, and plenty to sing and to say. And a great dinner and a folksing afterward. Much of what we sing we have written ourselves, but we've stolen parts of it from other sources. A couple of fairly recent neo-pagan songs that I particularly like are "Blessing", by Donna Hebert, which I found on Lui Collins' "Stone by Stone" album, and "Water, Fire, and Smoke", by Betsy Rose, on Magpie's "Give Light" CD.

Now, where to start?

Emperor Constantine, in 323 a.d., declared the Roman Empire, including England, to be Christian. Nobody asked the Romans. Many of the old hearth gods became saints. Many of the holidays got taken over at that time. Jesus' birthday got moved to the Roman Saturnalia, the birthday of at least 6 other ancient Gods, including Mithras, who had a big cult following :-) Easter is originally Aestre, a goddess of rebirth (from where I don't know), who had a spring festival, and who is associated with the hare, so the Easter Bunny is older than Jesus. Samhain not only became Halloween. It never went away. Samhain is, more or less, New Year's to the Celts. It is also the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at it's thinnest. So to this very day, small children walk the streets of our towns carrying skulls of the dead (pumpkins in the US, apparently big turnips in northern Europe, I am told), lit with the tiny flames of flickering candles, showing the persistance of the spirits of those who have passed on. And having a lot of fun.

When you read of a first historical mention of a song or a dance, be suspicious. That's the first time that it rose into the consciousness of a literate, usual Noble, person, who wrote it down. That only means that nobody wrote it down before, or that we have lost the reference. And be suspicious of anyone who says that Christianity stamped out the old religions completely. I recently met a fellow who claims unbroken family lineage as a Druid. Well, I'm suspicious of that claim, too. But, as any neo-pagan knows, in these relatively enlightened times it's still dangerous to say you're a pagan. I, for example, know, by saying, more or less in public, that I am a neo-pagan, that I can never run for public office, not even school board. The Republicans will immediately brand me as a devil-worshipper. Use your common sense. Pagans got really quiet when the church took over. They didn't get organized to prove that they were heretics, but, instead, kept various of the old ways going in their homes. To this day, it is said, in the hills of Ireland people jump over bonfires on Lughnasa (Lammas Day, Aug 1, festival of first harvest, one of the "cross Quarter" days). Is that true? I don't know. I've never been there. But if they do it, I doubt that they advertise it. The consequences are still pretty hostile. I don't claim any direct connection to earlier pagans. But I can learn from them. I don't feel like sacrificing animals, not to mention people (I wonder how often that really happened). But I do think that reverence for the earth is very important and growing more so. I don't have any fixed liturgy or religious rules, though I know some who do. But, looking at Christianity from the outside, it's not too hard to see it as part of the problem, not part of the solution. By the way, HI, RICK. Come visit some Sunday night.

Phil Shapiro


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Bert
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 03:32 PM

This snippet of Barbara Allen seems to me to be a pagan reference. I don't know of anything in any modern orthodox religion that teaches of such a relationship between plants and the character of the interred.

They buried her in the old churchyard,
Sweet William's grave was nigh her,
And from his heart grew a red, red rose,
And from her heart a brier.


They grew and they grew o'er the old church wall,
Till they couldn't grow no higher,
Until they tied a true lover's knot,
The red rose and the brier.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Okeimockbird
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 03:48 PM

Phil, I disagree with almost everything you just posted, though some of the disagreements are admittedly on minor points.

Bonfires at Lúnasa ? I've heard of bonfires at Samain and Bealtine, but not at Lúnasa. Maybe there were, but I can't remember hearing reliable reports about them anywhere.

The bonfire customs were not secret. How, in a world with no electric light, to you hide a bonfire ? The bonfire-sports were carried on by Christians, not pagans, though they might have originated in pagan times.

There was no such place as "England" when Constantine was Emperor, unless it was in Germany. It was the Roman province of Britannia. This is picky, I know, but I at least find I get a clearer view of the past if I avoid anachronistic geographical references when possible.

The Saturnalia occur, or at least begin, on December 17, I vaguely recall. December 25 was bruma, "midwinter". It seems to be true, though, that Christmas was placed there partly because of a deep-rooted, ancient tradition of midwinter festivity of which the Saturnalia were a part. But so what ? Did Saturn continue to be worshipped with the same processions and sacrifices as before ? Everything we know about this holiday shows that it became a Christian holiday. Saturn was forgotten except as a literary reference.

The "thin veil" at Samhain seems originally to have been, not between living and dead, but between the workaday world and the otherworld of the fairies. It was Christianity which added a commemoration of the dead to the day.

Pagans did not "get really quiet when the church took over" Into the 5th century pagans and Manichaeans engaged Christians and Jews in debate. Some of the literature survives. Augustine's famous City of God is part of that debate (though written with other intentions as well) as well as his Contra Faustum (I may not remember the title right). On the pagan side I belive we still posess the writings of an author named Symmachus. The Platonic Academy lasted until Justinian's time.

We know of the goddess Eostre only from Bede. The name suggests a dawn-goddess. I don't remember anything about hares.

Samhain cannot reliably be demonstrated to have been "New Year to the Celts". It was the beginning of winter for the Irish. It may have been a new year for the Irish as well, though (as I mentioned in an earlier post) I don't know of any medieval Irish author who begins the year on that day.

The idea that self-conscious paganism has persisted in secret comes from Margaret Murray's now-discredited theory about the 17th-century witch-hunts. We have from the past reports (sometimes true) of Jews outwardly conforming to Islam or to Christianity while secretly practising Judaism. The "secret", in other words, was not always very well kept. But did the Platonic Academy move to Lithuania, the last European country to convert to Christianity ? Where then is its literature ? Did any farmer in the 19th century ever sacrifice a pig, a lamb, and a calf to "father Mars" in accordance with a custom he had learned from his father, who learned it from his father before him, and so on back to ancient times ? You must provide plausible evidence not only for the sacrifice, but for the chain of transmission. Was the perpetual fire of Vesta kept up ? Were the nuns of Kildare Vestal Virgins in secret, deliberately decieving their bishop while continuing the very same ancient rites of Vesta and the Bona Dea that Cicero wrote about ? Everything we know about these women is consistent with the view that they were sincere Christians, not cunning pagan decievers.

T.


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 04:09 PM

More Pagan discussion clik it


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: GUEST,Penny S. (elsewhere)
Date: 02 May 00 - 11:42 AM

Just to say I've been over to Greensted this weekend - missed out on Bradwell, but saw some wonderful paintings at Great Burstead, the first Essex church. Greensted, inside, is a wonderful, small, quiet room, with the dark wood of the half trunks of oak still adze marked from the old carpenters. Great Burstead is larger, with ochre outline paintings on the south wall. One is of St Michael with the scales for weighing the soul, and a female figure who may be Mary Magdalene (to whom the church is dedicated), tipping the balance in favour of the soul being saved. So I was told. I don't know how the photos will come out, nor what to do with them if anyone wants to see them. (no web site - can get them on the computer).

Penny


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Oct 03 - 06:44 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
From: Lady Mondegreen
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 05:49 AM

A copy of a post my partner Corwen made to another forum answering the same question:

British:
Well you know Damh the Bard...http://www.paganmusic.co.uk/
The Dolmen: http://www.thedolmen.com/band.htm (lovely folk who host great camps)
Druidspear http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=88047252 (Don't know if these guys are still going)
Dragonsfly: http://www.dragonsfly.org/ (Celtic/eastern folk with the odd pagan song. Nice)
Spacegoats: http://www.pondlifestudios.com/artist_information.asp?id=1 (Not going any more but luckily their fantastic music is still available from Pondlife)
Jabberwocky: Andy Letcher's project with Krismael of Spacegoats. No website and the band only made one album, called Mimir, buy it if you see it! Funky Pagan music with hammer dulcimer and bagpipes.
Andy is still active, currently in a project with my partner Kate's brother Colin and his wife Jane, called Telling the Bees http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=136179322 Don't know how 'Out' pagan it is but I'm sure they are worth watching.
Heathens All who were an out Pagan band became Seize the Day (more political, but worth listening to.)http://www.seizetheday.org/ (I'm hoping they will re-release the Heathens All stuff as none of my old tapes work!)
Silver on the Tree: http://glastonburymusic.org.uk/sott/ (the first Pagan music I heard. Eye of the Aeon and Mystic Spiral are classic Pagan albums)
Paul Mitchell:http://www.myspace.com/pagansatire http://paul.makingithappen.co.uk/ (wonderful satirical songs about Paganism from a really great bloke.)
Paul is in a new band Mad Magdelin http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=275337903
Paul Newman but his website seems to be down.
Last but definitely not least, the wonderful Carolyn Hillier and her partner Nigel Shaw. http://www.seventhwavemusic.co.uk/ (they play apart and together, beautiful shamanic pagan music, and run a really nice festival every other year at their home on Dartmoor)

And of course if you are desperate theres always Kate and I...
We play as a duo called Rigantona:
http://www.rigantona.co.uk
but Kate also has a CD of her own called Kate Fletcher, Fruit which received good reviews in Pagan Dawn, Sacred Hoop, TDN and the folk press: http://www.katefletcher.co.uk

A lot of North European music has really Pagan or Shamanic elements, try

Scandinavian/Finnish:
Gjallahorn:http://www.gjallarhorn.com/main.html (fantastic Swedish 'New Folk' band)
Garmana:http://www.noside.com/Catalog/CatalogArtist_01.asp?Action=Get&Artist_ID=14 (driving moody Hurdy Gurdy, big percussion with lovely female vocals)
Hedningarna: http://www.noside.com/hedningarnabio.html (techno with joiking, singing and lots of ancient instruments)
Korpiklaani: http://www.korpiklaani.com/ (Finnish Pagan Heavy Metal)

Germanic:
Schelmish:http://www.schelmishuk.co.uk/ (Bagpipes and big drums)
Omnia: http://www.omnia-neocelt.com/ (Dutch I think? Upbeat pagan music)
Faun http://www.faune.de/web2007/index.html (have heard of these guys but haven't heard their stuff yet)

Saami:
Wimme Saari: http://www.noside.com/bio_wimme.html (Joiking [shamanic singing] with a really dark voice and beautiful jazz folk accompaniment)
Marie Boine: http://www.mariboine.no/ (most famous joik artist)
Ulla Pirrtijarrvi (my favourite but I can't find a web presence.)

Russian:
have just discovered Ivan Kupala, they are like a Russian version of Enigma, slightly dated Euro-techno with Slavic folk instruments and old Karelian (Russian Finnish) ladies singing, which sounds kind of Saami/Native American. Completely wonderful, and oddly compelling. Just found some videos on You Tube and I like the band even more now. Great to see pop videos full of old ladies.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=E_0j_38Tda0 (beautiful)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=GnqWC9T-T1c (moving)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=aa49gyJZYb4 (funny)

Plus USAnia
Reclaiming http://www.reclaiming.org/ (Political Feminist Paganism, 4 chant CDs to date)
There are a lot of Usanian artists I don't really know judging by this CD: http://www.amazon.com/Best-Pagan-Song/dp/B0001RZGC4
and lots more producing music that might be categorised by some as Pagan, like Jennifer Berezan http://www.edgeofwonder.com/biography.html and some who are definitely Pagan but whether what they produce counts as music...http://www.neopagan.net/ (Isaac Bonewitz)


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