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The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?

DigiTrad:
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
Amos 23 Apr 00 - 01:52 PM
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
Malcolm Douglas 23 Apr 00 - 02:53 PM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Apr 00 - 03:00 PM
Amos 23 Apr 00 - 03:04 PM
Rick Fielding 23 Apr 00 - 03:24 PM
diesel 23 Apr 00 - 03:42 PM
Llanfair 23 Apr 00 - 03:58 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Apr 00 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,sammy 23 Apr 00 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 23 Apr 00 - 10:18 PM
Mbo 23 Apr 00 - 10:33 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Apr 00 - 10:39 PM
MMario 23 Apr 00 - 10:53 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Apr 00 - 11:01 PM
MMario 23 Apr 00 - 11:09 PM
MMario 23 Apr 00 - 11:10 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Apr 00 - 11:25 PM
Rick Fielding 24 Apr 00 - 12:10 AM
InOBU 24 Apr 00 - 07:14 AM
Dani 24 Apr 00 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Apr 00 - 09:26 AM
Ditchdweller 24 Apr 00 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,Rana 24 Apr 00 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Apr 00 - 10:42 AM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Apr 00 - 10:52 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Apr 00 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Apr 00 - 11:18 AM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Apr 00 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Apr 00 - 01:10 PM
GUEST 24 Apr 00 - 01:31 PM
Ditchdweller 24 Apr 00 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Apr 00 - 01:56 PM
Lonesome EJ 24 Apr 00 - 02:00 PM
GUEST 24 Apr 00 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Apr 00 - 02:20 PM
katlaughing 24 Apr 00 - 02:44 PM
Dani 25 Apr 00 - 09:59 AM
Jacob B 25 Apr 00 - 10:41 AM
MMario 25 Apr 00 - 10:47 AM
Peg 25 Apr 00 - 10:50 AM
MMario 25 Apr 00 - 10:57 AM
katlaughing 25 Apr 00 - 11:04 AM
Peg 25 Apr 00 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 25 Apr 00 - 11:36 AM
Rick Fielding 25 Apr 00 - 11:41 AM
Joe Offer 25 Apr 00 - 12:18 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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