Music review: Sing the Sun’s Return

It being “giving Tuesday,” I wish to give something back to the merry Heathens who have brightened the hours of darkness in my home by producing a glorious collection of Yuletide music, Sing the Sun’s Return.

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Because I participated in the Kickstarter last year, I got the associated Yule song book at the same time, but that’s now sold separately.  The book has both music and words to many a song, from wassails and feasting songs to those that honor the gods of the dark times, including one that still rebounds inside my skull, an original piece called One for Old One-Eye.  Anyone with a penchant for making their own music would be pleased to have this slender volume.

For listening, though, the book is not needed.  Sing the Sun’s Return captures the sweet beauty of the Rowans’ voices as they play against each other through counterpoint and close harmony, the sort that gets this writer’s heart to skip a beat in excitement.  To make for a fuller sound, they are joined by other members of Chase Hill Folk (a Heathen spiritual community), Trevor Wentworth and Wolfhame Katrick.  Wentworth also contributed lyrics in several cases.

If you crave a certain kind of music at this time of year, but only tolerate the Christian themes that such music often carries upon its back, please do buy Songs for the Sun’s Return.  You will not be sorry.

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For the many gods: a reader challenge

I posted to Mousaios the other day for a reason.  When the head of my temple read that prayer during my ritual of ordination, it was unfamiliar to some of us, and one of my (now) fellow temple priests said that he could write one that includes more of the gods than even that stupendous litany, and perhaps do a better job organizing it as well.  I will not say that more gods are necessarily better, but I do recognize that there are some among the theoi whom I honor and are not included.

Let us then seek to honor the many gods.

What I ask of you, dear reader, is to write a litany that praises your many gods.  Include only those deities to whom you have ever made offerings, and try to include each and every one of them.  It is my intention to do the same, but it will take time to go through my book of offerings to identify them all.  If you don’t like the Orphic style, another format is used in Devotion: Prayers to the Gods of the Greeks.

This is a contest, and there will be a book involved.  The winning entry — which will be selected using a method that will be determined by a form a divination that itself will be determined at a time and place yet to be determined — will earn its author either a signed copy of my first book, Depth of Praise, or a batch of my home-baked Noumenia cookies.

In addition, that entry and others that I select will become part of the book I’m planning.  Credit will be given, as well as a copy of that book to anyone who gets into it; your entry in this contest presumes that you are granting a non-exclusive license for me to do so.  Those litanies will be used to anchor hymns I will write praising many gods individually; I intend on writing one for each god named in the contributions.

Fervently I hope that this will be a tremendous amount of work.

Email them to terence@terencepward.com, include them in the comments, or send me a link to where it’s published (trackbacks count).  You have until the summer solstice of 2017.

Instruction

Orpheus to Mousaios
translated by Athanassakis

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Friend, use it to good fortune
Learn now, Mousaios, a rite mystic and most holy;
A prayer which surely excels all others.
Kind Zeus and Gaia, heavenly and pure flames of the Sun,
Sacred light of the Moon  and all the Stars;
Poseidon too, dark-maned holder of the earth,
Pure Persephone and Demeter of the splendid fruit,
Artemis, the arrow-pouring maiden,
And kindly Phoibos, who dwells on the sacred ground of Delphoi.
And Dionysos, the dancer, whose honors among the blessed gods are the highest.
Strong-spirited Ares, holy and mighty Hephaistos,
And the goddess foam-born to whose lot fell sublime gifts;
And you, divinity excellent, who is king of the Underworld.
I call upon Hebe, and Eileithyia, and the noble ardor of Herakles,
The great blessings of Justice and Piety,
The glorious Nymphs and Pan the greatest,
And upon Hera, buxom wife of aegis-bearing Zeus.
I also call upon lovely Mnemosyne and the holy Muses, all nine,
As well as upon the Graces, the Seasons, the Year;
Fair-tressed Leto, divine and revered Dione,
The armed Kouretes, the Korybantes, the Kubeiroi,
Great saviors, Zeus’ ageless scion,
The Idaian gods, and upon Hermes, messenger and herald of those in heaven;
Upon Themis too, diviner of men I call,
And on Night, oldest of all, and light-bringing Day:
Then upon Faith, Dike, blameless Thesmodoteira,
Rhea, Kronos, dark-dwelling Tethys,
The great Okeanos together with his daughters,
The might of preeminent Atlas and Aion,
Chronos the ever-flowing, the splendid water of the Styx,
All these gentle gods and also Pronoia,
And the holy Daimon as well as the one baneful to mortals;
Then upon the divinities dwelling in heaven, air, water,
On earth, under the earth  and in the fiery element.
Ino, Leukothea, Palaimon giver of bliss,
Sweet-speaking Nike, queenly Adresteia,
The great king Asklepios who grants soothing,
The battle-stirring maiden Pallas, all the Winds,
Thunder, and the parts of the four-pillared Cosmos.
And I invoke the Mother of the immortals, Attis and Men,
And the goddess Ourania, immortal and holy Adonis, beginning and end, too
Which is the most important,
And ask them to come in a spirit of joyous mercy
To this holy rite and libation of reverence.

Music review: Crossroads

5217921Genre: Celtic Pagan

Title: Crossroads

Artist: Jenna Greene

“Celtic” can encompass an incredibly broad swath of music. I got into Silly Wizard when I was in college, but when I told my mother I enjoyed Celtic music, she made me a recording of what was broadcast on her favorite radio station one St. Patrick’s Day. Turns out I’m not quite as excited by “50 shades of Danny Boy” than I am with “Lover’s Heart.”

Jenna Greene’s album Crossroads puts the emphasis on the fairy parts of Celtic culture. That’s not surprising, given that it’s not unusual for her to appear wearing wings. And medieval garb. In fact, I get the impression one might encounter her in a grocery store dressed like that.

I digress.

Greene’s music has an ethereal quality, evocative perhaps of Enya, but less with the haunting and more with the blessing. The album’s title is inspired by the many Celtic stories of crossroads as a liminal place where magic happens. (These tales are in no way unique to Celtic lore, which emphasizes their importance. Crossroads are a thing.) Her description in the liner notes of the Celtic theme of a wanderer passing into the spirit realm at such an intersection reminds me of nothing more than shamanic journeying. Listening to these selections with that in mind, I can hear an echo of the transformation which befalls such travelers.

Particularly pleasing to me is “Herne,” because I’ll always have a special place in my heart for that horned god. It was his magic that helped awaken my Pagan soul as I grew to manhood, after all. I may have eventually committed to a very different deity, but I will never forget my roots.

As roots go, Greene shows a few of hers with the quotes she includes. They come from Robert Frost, Joseph Campbell, and the movie “Practical Magic.” It would be unfair for me to reveal which quotes these are; that could well be a reason for buying a copy.

What does this music sound like? It’s light. It’s airy. It’s ethereal. If a deep root note is your cup of tea, you may feel a bit lost at these crossroads, but let me instead recommend that you try another way. Many of us use low notes as a reference point, a road map of sorts; I certainly do. It’s reassuring, but that style of listening relies on grounding by giving up the opportunity to fly.

Let yourself fly.