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Pagan Songs

12 Nov 08 - 03:16 PM (#2492031)
Subject: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

This is a spin-off from something another poster mentioned in relation to pagan Yule songs.

A friend of mine who also likes to sing and gets out and about quite a lot in all kinds of accoustic circles, has sung to me a small handful of 'pagan songs'. I'd not heard any before, but a couple that she sang in front of me and another friend were very lovely and moving, especially in the context of a blossoming apple orchard last May Day! So I've been quite curious since, and have looked on the web for some more in that ilk.

Unfortunately I can't say that I've been all that impressed with the little that I've found. A few rather lack-lustre dirges at best. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough, or in the right places?

Can anyone send me in the right direction to discover more, or am I better simply sticking to discovering more traditional song?

12 Nov 08 - 03:36 PM (#2492059)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: lady penelope

There's The Green Man's A Traveller

But frankly I find 'pagan music' to be rather like christian rock... It all tries too hard and misses by miles. But far be it from me to say 'never'... *G*

12 Nov 08 - 03:46 PM (#2492075)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Lol! Lady Penelope, yup, I think I get you there! I was listening to some pagan chant that was meant to inspire fire spirits, and I thought that it was one of the dampest and wettest pieces of yawn I'd ever heard! If I *genuinely* wanted to inspire the spirit of fire, something like The Prodigy's 'Firestarter' would IMO work far more efectively! Pity, 'cos the songs I heard my friend sing, were indeed quite moving and atmostpheric, maybe it was that magical apple orchard!

12 Nov 08 - 04:22 PM (#2492108)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego

Anyone for "Pagan Love Song?"

12 Nov 08 - 04:39 PM (#2492123)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Awwww, so perty!

12 Nov 08 - 04:58 PM (#2492142)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

How pagan do you want? On Christmas Day, I'll be turning the heating up, switching on the sun lamp, lounging in the Tiki room sipping a long cool Mai Tai to a suitably exotic soundtrack of Arthur Lyman, Martin Denny & Les Baxter... A real traditional English Christmas in other words.

On New Year's Day we're going over the road to see Ken Dodd at the Marine Hall. How cool's that?

12 Nov 08 - 05:10 PM (#2492152)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie


'Minds me of some of my lovely (they are lovely as it happens) Mearseyside relations.

Many a suger-saturated glamorous sounding cherry-speared coctail has been supped of a traditional Northern Christmas, upon those faux leather bar stools...

12 Nov 08 - 05:10 PM (#2492154)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Tangledwood

Maybe not pagan songs as such, but some of Cloudstreet's work might fit the bill. Lady Penelope mentions the Green Man; I assume refering to John Thompson's song. He also wrote "Dance up the Sun" as a celebration of Morris dancing and Nicole's "Gypsy" calls on earth, wind, fire and water. Words are on their website -    (sorry, clickifier page doesn't appear to be working).   On the CD sales page, click song titles to get the lyrics.

12 Nov 08 - 05:12 PM (#2492157)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: ClaireBear

I go to a monthly pagan sing, primarily because I want to introduce those poor benighted folk to music that, while suitable for pagans, wasn't written as a pagan hymn, anthem, or chant -- or, often, wasn't written by an avowed pagan at all. My first criterion is that it be good music.

Some quick examples:

Dave Carter, "Gentle Arms of Eden" and "When I Go"

Dougie Maclean, "All Together"

Ann Lister, "Demeter's Daughter"

Leo Kretzner, "Bold Orion on the Rise"

12 Nov 08 - 06:01 PM (#2492209)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

"Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals."

12 Nov 08 - 06:22 PM (#2492227)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Bill D

Somewhere, down in the catacombs, I have a Xeroxed little booklet of Pagan songs a friend gave me 25 years ago! **IF** I can find it, I'll scan it & post it.

No promises...I haven't looked for it in years.

12 Nov 08 - 07:42 PM (#2492290)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jeremiah McCaw

Loreena McKinnot's "All Soul's Night":

All Soul's Night
Loreena McKinnot

Bonfires dot the rolling hillside figures dance around & around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness moving to the pagan sound

Somewhere in a hidden memory images flash before my eyes
Of fragrant nights and straw bonfires & dancing to the next sunrise

I can see the lights in the distance trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles & lanterns are dancing, dancing; a waltz out on all soul's night

Figures of cornstalks bend in the shadows held up tall as the flames leap high
The green knight holds the holly bush to mark where the old year passes by


Bonfires dot the rolling hillside figures dance around & around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness moving to the pagan sound

Standing on the bridge that crosses the river that flows out to the sea
The night is full of a thousand voices that pass by the bridge & me

chorus (x2):

13 Nov 08 - 12:30 AM (#2492444)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs

Burn a witch
See them twitch
Start at her snatch
To she her hatch
The Devil's own
Son of a Bitch

13 Nov 08 - 03:39 AM (#2492491)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Darowyn

If the audience are sufficiently credulous, you could do almost any folk song, on the basis that it is a concealed reference to the true religion.
Someone will believe it.

13 Nov 08 - 05:36 AM (#2492566)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Bryn Pugh

As a devout and practising Pagan (Wiccan) of over 37 years initiation, I'd like to say that there is more bullshit talked about our music and its purported links to Magick, than enough.

I have never hidden my admiration of, and for, Ewan McColl, but at MSG over 40 years ago he and Peggy sang a version of 'The Broomfield Hill' Ewan stated that the chorus was 'a breakdown of a Druidic chant'.

Oh, aye ?

I agree with Darowyn.

Perhaps - and it is IMABHO a bloody big 'perhaps' - this remnant might be pagan, in that it refers to shape-shifting, and the shape-shifter of these Islands, the Hare (Andrasta)

I shall go forth in the shape of a hare
With sorrow and dule and mighty care.
And I shall go in the Old One's name,
Aye, till I come back again.

But we shall go as hunting dogs
And hunt thee over hags and bogs.
And we shall go in the Lady's name,
Aye, to fetch thee back again.

Peter Bellamy (RIP) did a splendid job with Kipling's "Oak, Ash and Thorn", which I and my contemporaries sing as part of our Midsummer ceremonies.

No reason why anyone else might not do the same with materials from 'Rewards and Fairies', and 'Puck of Pook's Hill'.

I am afraid that when I hear a song described as 'pagan' in any way, shape or form, then unless I know for a fact that the singer is Pagan, my unspoken thought is "Bollocks".

I see we have another 'Guest' troll - post of 12.30, above . . .

13 Nov 08 - 07:07 AM (#2492617)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: GUEST,Dáithí

Sleepie Rosie - a druid I know called Damh the Bard writes and performs at numerous Pagan gatherings. some of his stuff is really excellent - especially the first album.

Try here   ..sorry, can't do clicky things!

good luck


13 Nov 08 - 07:43 AM (#2492639)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

this remnant might be pagan,

Or not. There's a few of these in New Age / Pagan literature purporting to be in some way Traditional but are derived entirely from Robert Graves' poem The Allansford Pursuit (see footnote on page 402 of The White Goddess), itself an elaboration on a verse collected during the trial of Isobel Gowdie in 1662. Even a cursory glance at Bob Stewart's Where Is Saint George? Pagan Imagery in English Folk Song will reveal the subject to be another dead horse to be liberally flogged by the otherwise rootless lost for the want of scriptural or canonical provenance essential to their claims. See also the threads on the Green Man, another pagan archetype which isn't what it appears to be...

When it comes to truly pagan music, the dark heart of reverential wonder must resonate in the immediacy of the ceremonial moment; something of the Tertius Auris whereby ritual is the shamanic wounding essential to any true communion - something a bit like This perhaps.

13 Nov 08 - 08:38 AM (#2492681)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: GUEST,Working Radish

When it comes to truly pagan music

Is anything truly pagan? Is such definitive language appropriate when we're talking about something that's not merely All Made Up (arguably true of all belief systems (Christianity, the law, money, etc)), but All Made Up Quite Recently and in some cases All Still In The Process Of Being Made Up? Would your last sentence work just as well with the nouns and adjectives shuffled into a different order ("whereby wonder is the reverential heart essential to any shamanic ritual")? And why, oh why, haven't I got any speakers on my work PC?

13 Nov 08 - 09:43 AM (#2492734)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Les in Chorlton

All Made Up Quite Recently (AMUQR) Amuq would do

and in some cases

All Still In The Process Of Being Made Up (ASITPOBMU)- Asitbobu can almost be spoken!


L in C
With clearly nothing better to do

13 Nov 08 - 10:10 AM (#2492758)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Darowyn

Asitbobu would be a perfect pseudo-pagan entity to invoke during an Amuq ceremony!

13 Nov 08 - 10:25 AM (#2492770)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs

Circle the Moon by Pentangle?

13 Nov 08 - 12:13 PM (#2492849)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Have it whatever way you like - looking at it again I might go for wonder is the reverential whereby to any essential shamanic heart ritual. All of which reminds me of the letter I had published on page 97 of the double January/February 1991 number of Folk Roots (Nos. 91/92) in which not only did I get away with Hatched toothed blood hooks in bone rattles on shamans frozen drum in blind panic blizzard but also finger fuck foreplay. I don't think I was doing hyphens (or apostrophes) back then, but its still an achievement I'm proud of, especially as I made mention of Jim Eldon and Sun Ra in the same sentence! Plus ca change...

Pagan Songs? There's only ever been the one really.


13 Nov 08 - 12:28 PM (#2492873)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Sone interesting thoughts here. And some helpful feedback. I'll follow up the leads offered and hopefully I'll discover some good evocative songs.

I suppose I hadn't even considered exactly what 'pagan song' is, except for the fact that they were described to me as such by the friend who sung them!

Insane Beard, you make some interesting comments. By 'truly pagan' you seem to be describing a more cthonic sound evoking perennial mythic themes? Loved Shibboleth BTW, though I'd have a hard time trying to sing it! The way I read you, it sounds like your saying something may be described as 'truly pagan', where 'pagan' is functioning more as a verb than a noun. The same might of course be argued of Robert Graves himself, an inspired poet, doing creatively what all good Druids are supposed to do..

13 Nov 08 - 02:22 PM (#2493001)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

BTW in particular to Bryn, if it's of any moment, the friend who sang me her 'pagan songs', is a long-time initiated Alexandrian Wiccan lady. I don't know if that makes the songs that she sings any more Pagan with a capital P than they might be if I were to sing them (as a formally un-intitiated but nonetheless essentially 'earth-mystic' type)? I'm not being contentious, merely interested. I also think using Puck of Pooks Hill, sounds a fabulous idea... If only I'd kept those childhood volumes.

13 Nov 08 - 05:56 PM (#2493161)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Mrs Scarecrow

At the risk of self promotion Mr Scarecrow and I have a number on our CD "the Scarecrow" There arealso one or to on Stolen KIsses, the CD I made before I married when I was Ann Mathews

13 Nov 08 - 08:30 PM (#2493302)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: vectis

Down here in Sussex UK we have Maria Cunningham a born again pagan songwriter and next door in Kent there is Alan Austin also pagan singer songwriter.

13 Nov 08 - 08:40 PM (#2493317)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Bobert

"Bad Moon" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

"Season of the Witch" by Super Session


14 Nov 08 - 04:43 AM (#2493509)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Bryn Pugh

My family and I are well aware that our belief system might date only from the 1950s, put together by Gerald Brosseau Gardner. I knew Alex Sanders, and what a joker he could be - initiated by

his witch grandmother, my arse ! We are comfortable with this, and don't need any canonical or spiritual endorsement, written or other. It boils down to a Wiccan teaching, which could equally apply to any

other belief system :

" . . . if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee . . . ".

To put the cat well and truly among the pigeons : "It depends on how you define 'pagan'", don't it ?

At risk of being boring, did I mention Pete Bellamy's "Oak, Ash and Thorn" ?

I've ordered 'The Scarecrow', and would be interested to hear of other 'pagan' writers, or writers of 'pagan' materials,

Wise and Blessed Be, all.

14 Nov 08 - 05:16 AM (#2493523)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: GUEST,Suffolk Miracle

There used to be a bloke called Gordon Ridgewell - quite possibly still alive (check letters to English Dance and Song: the ones that end Wassail instead of Yours sincerely are from him!) He had a theory (some might say an obsession) that all the surviving traditional carols were originally pagan and that the church (overtly or covertly) forced people to Christianize them. So far so good as a theory - might even be true (in at least a few cases). The problem is that he then tried - on the basis of very little evidence as far as I can see - to reconstruct the originals. He used to sell Christmas cards with the words on. In my opinion they are unsingable, but who knows ... I'm afraid the few examples I had, having been kept since the 70s, finally got the order of the boot when I moved last year. But someone may still have some; and there was a book on the same subject, I think.

14 Nov 08 - 06:11 AM (#2493539)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: greg stephens

A young person of my acquaintance recently told me they were considering starting a Christian jazz band.I imagine the sort of thing they wouild be aiming at would correspond rather closely to such examples of Pagan Song as have come my way. ie Made Up by people not very good at Making Up.

14 Nov 08 - 06:12 AM (#2493540)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Les in Chorlton

Ok to be a boring pedant where not really wanted, I guess the technical term is hypothesis rather than theory.

A theory is a perhaps an underlying collection of knowledge, understanding, concepts or whatever that helps to explain something. Their is a theory based in maths that helps to explain notes, octaves, 3rds and 5ths and so on.

George Ridgewell, along with lots of others, had a hypothesis ( I think this because of that)"all the surviving traditional carols were originally pagan and that the church (overtly or covertly) forced people to Christianize them which he attempted to test". If lots of evidence had been revealed it may have become a theory. The evidence has not really been found.

As Suffolk Miracle says "some might say an obsession" not uncommon amongst EFDSS /Morris Ring members of a certain age on a whole range of topics including the role of women in all sorts of things and the origins of Morris dancing.


L in C

14 Nov 08 - 06:24 AM (#2493545)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: greg stephens

All discussion of this topic are bedevilled by the use of two opposite meaning of the word pagan often used in the same sentence.
1) Ancient beliefs eventually largely/totally replaced by the spread of Christianity in the the first millennium AD.
2) Load of cobblers invented in the 60's.
Trying to merge these two opposing concepts into a cohesive belief system is an achievement which has so far eluded our greatest thinkers, not to mention our songwriters.

14 Nov 08 - 06:44 AM (#2493555)
From: Jack Blandiver

that all the surviving traditional carols were originally pagan

Actually, I'm guilty in this respect too, having once reset The Holly and the Ivy to the tune of Searching for Lambs and, if not paganised the words, then attempted a more ceremonial approach in terms of a certain understanding of folklore:

The Holly and the Ivy,
Now that they are full grown,
of all the trees that are in the wood,
The Holly bears the crown.

The rising of the winter sun,
the running of the dear,
The Holy seed of the mistletoe
in the dawning of the year

The holly bears a sharp prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And the wren's heard pierced
In the darkest night,
Is healed before the dawn.

In Winter time I danced alone,
And felt the growing cold
And lighting fires from fallen trees
I warmed my dying soul*

I saw the sun reborn again
Melt through the winter snow
And drank afresh from holy streams
swollen with the thaw.

I forget the rest, perhaps thankfully. Mind you, that was over twenty years back when such things appealed to my darkly rural sensibilities and pagan was my default state of mind.

* This verse features on the cover of the 2000 Psychedelic Pig American CD re-issue of the Masstishaddhu : Shekinah LP Mike Watson, Richard Rupenus & I recorded for United Dairies in 1988 - not a million miles from Shibboleth (& featuring the same hurdy-gurdy, though once again rather low in the mix!) it's one that no self-respecting pagan should be without...

14 Nov 08 - 06:47 AM (#2493558)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Paul Burke

..if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee..

I've never understood why theein' and thouin' is essential if you're going to be a religion, but the quotation does seem to preclude taking on board any new information. I hope Pagans don't really think that. I've learnt a lot from other people and events, including changes of attitude. In particular, John Pilger's exposes of events in Cambodia in 1975-78 brought about a major change of the way I think.

14 Nov 08 - 07:02 AM (#2493572)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Les in Chorlton

Excellent point Paul. Does this not cast some Pagans into the same place as other religious fundamentalists? It's all in the Book? But not all DIY or maps of France?


L in C

14 Nov 08 - 07:56 AM (#2493615)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Piers Plowman

The problem with pagan poetry is that writing reached Western Europe along with Christianity. So, except for some mostly very terse texts written in runes, to the best of my knowledge all literature in Western Europe was written down after Christianity was well established. There may be the odd exception here and there, but certainly not many.

It seems clear that pre-Christian ideas, imagery, etc., survive in many songs, tales, etc., but it's very, very difficult to know what was real and what wasn't. In Iceland, where the conversion to Christianity was not by force, a great deal has survived, but written down later and filtered through a Christian perspective. Nonetheless, there is a good deal of poetry that goes back to pre-Christian times and is accepted by scholars as genuine. Not necessarily singable, though.

There's a kind of gap in between the medieval collections of songs, which outside of Iceland were a matter for the upper classes, and the beginnings of the collection of folksongs and ballads in the Romantic era. There are similarities between the two types of texts but no one really knows what happened in the centuries between. In addition, one should approach the surviving materials and especially the early collections with some skepticism, which has often not been done.

Very, very muddy waters indeed.

14 Nov 08 - 08:00 AM (#2493617)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Piers Plowman

"Nonetheless, there is a good deal of poetry that goes back to pre-Christian times and is accepted by scholars as genuine. Not necessarily singable, though."

I mean in Old Icelandic. In other places, and especially in Old English, there is hardly any, because it was suppressed.

Quite a bit survives in Celtic languages, e.g., _The Mabinogion_ in Welsh, but I've never studied this and can't say much about it, except that it is wonderful to read. (I have studied Old Icelandic and a few shreds of what I once knew survive in my memory.)

14 Nov 08 - 08:08 AM (#2493622)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Dave the Gnome

Hiya again Sleepy Rosie. I have a couple of pseudo-pagan albums somewhere. I'll dig them out of you like and rip them to MP3. PM me if you want them.



14 Nov 08 - 09:19 AM (#2493686)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

The ref. to the Wiccan quote "find it within you" sounds rather more Gnostic (in terms of its self-revelatory nature) to me, than in any way typical of fundy religions.

By far the most interesting and inspiring Christian writings I've ever read have been penned by heretics, mystics and madmen 'making it up' and going against the orthodoxy by sourcing from within rather than from a ("The") book.

I guess modern neo-Paganism is very much a work in progress. The whole thing could probably do with a few more genius poets, madmen and rebels in the mix to spark my full-on interest though.

With regards to origonal pre-Christian pagan sung material, I have heard Norse rune chants ('skaldr' meaning 'croaking' I think?), and they can sound quite pokey, but they're not exactly 'songs' in the way we might think of them. And despite being fascinating sounding, I won't be memorising any for the next folk club evening!

DeG, I think your offered 'pseudo-pagan' MP3, sounds like it might both: a)fulfill my initial brief, and b) be suitably contention free. Many thanks, I'll PM you.

14 Nov 08 - 09:47 AM (#2493720)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Piers Plowman

Skaldic poetry was a form of alliterative poetry with complex rules. Quite a lot of it has survived, mostly embedded in stories about when this or that verse was spoken. Because of the complexity of the rules, one can reasonably certain that they are reasonably authentic; i.e., it would be hard to find alternative words that would obey the rules. On the other hand, the interpretation is quite difficult and a lot of the material one has to work with, such as the main editions, are sadly out-of-date.

One amazing thing about it is that typically they are supposed to have been spoken without days and days of preparation and understood by people who heard them, at least, after pondering upon them. They are _very_ cryptic, like the London Times' crossword puzzle or the questions in the "Round Britain Quiz".

Many refer to mythological subjects but if I recall correctly, most that have been preserved are post-Christian. Some may even have Christian subject matter. It's been a long time since I studied this and I never studied skaldic poetry very much.

There are later works called "ballads" preserved in Icelandic and Faeroese. They were sung or chanted and danced to, though I believe it was rather simple dancing with lots of stamping. I imagine it to be rather lugubrious and not so much like the dancing of Fred Astaire or Isadora Duncan, however someone who knows more may correct me.

The ballads are not as popular as some of the other genre's of Icelandic literature. The Eddic poetry and many of the sagas are genuinely enjoyable to read and the Eddic poetry in particular contains a great deal of mythological information about pre-Christian Skandinavian religion --- all of it written down by Christians, so it must be taken with a large grain of salt.

Of course, there's archaeological evidence from pre-Christian Europe, some information from Greek and Roman authors (and at least one Arabic one!) and comparative material from other Indo-European religions, but we really don't know an awful lot about pre-Christian religion in Western Europe and Britain and what we do know is often very uncertain. It's too bad, but that's the way it is, and one must be very cautious when drawing conclusions about what pre-Christian religion was in Britain or elsewhere in Western Europe. Unfortunately, not everyone is, but then not everyone is interested in the subject from a scholarly perspective.

Writings about pre-Christian religion have gotten a lot of attention from scholars since the beginnings of Germanic philology, but one should bear in mind that a great deal more material with Christian subject matter has survived. The emphasis on pre-Christian religion tends to skew our perception of what people were reading and writing. For example, where there is one manuscript of "Beowulf", there may be 20 manuscripts of a vita of the Virgin Mary.

14 Nov 08 - 09:49 AM (#2493722)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Piers Plowman


Sorry, that apostrophe was surplus to requirements. I'll leave one out sometime to restore the balance of the universe.

14 Nov 08 - 10:11 AM (#2493746)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: GUEST,Drood

right then, we got all the theoretical stuff out the way,
now can we just all strip off and swing our wobbly bits about
and dance around in circles..

14 Nov 08 - 10:37 AM (#2493773)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

If you feel brave enough Drood, I'll happily indulge you wobbling - at a discreet distance of course.

If your wobblings fail to encourage our shy autumn sun out of his hibernation however, I might be inclined to pop your wobbly bits in one of those lovely warming Wicker Man style 'pagan bonfires' instead.

Pragmatic lot them pagans innit...?

14 Nov 08 - 10:44 AM (#2493781)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Paul Burke

In the west end of Derby there lived a wicker man...

14 Nov 08 - 11:04 AM (#2493803)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Phil Edwards

If you look around on the Interwebs you can find an MP3 copy of Hearken to the Witches' Rune by Dave and Toni Arthur for free download (it's long since deleted & hasn't been brought out again). If you're interested in paganism in religious terms it's absolutely no help to you at all - it's just a bunch of spooky folk songs and a few tunes, (plus this ghastly spoken-word bit by Dave about how his friend's brother-in-law's grandad once met the King of the Fairies or something). The atmosphere's brilliant, though.

14 Nov 08 - 12:35 PM (#2493898)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Les in Chorlton

I seem to remember that Toni was a Witch and Dave Swarbrick was involved at some level

14 Nov 08 - 12:42 PM (#2493909)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Dave the Gnome

Could only find the one, Rosie - PM'd you on how to get it.


19 Nov 08 - 06:56 AM (#2497496)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Bryn Pugh

Toni and Dave were both witches - Alexandrian tradition .

19 Nov 08 - 07:35 AM (#2497510)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Phil Edwards

Well I never. Did Brian Cant know about this?

Anyway, I maintain that the album is just a bunch of spooky songs!

14 Jan 09 - 02:53 PM (#2539755)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Imbolc (Candlemass) coming up in a few weeks. So have been scanning around for possible seasonally relevent songs to learn.
Hopefully something to do with the return of the light, snowdrops, Brigit and other similar Imbolc/Candlemassy type stuff.

Gotta share this with people here. It err 'moved' me, but I'm not sure exactly how...

Imbolc Song

14 Jan 09 - 03:09 PM (#2539771)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs

Come Mayday, the radio in Ireland always plays (about a million times) a Catholic hymn that has always seemed utterly pagan to me. It goes:

Bring flowers of the rarest,
Bring blossoms the fairest,
From garden and woodland and hillside and dale;
Our full hearts are swelling,
Our glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest flower of the vale.

O Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May,
O Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May,
Their lady they name thee,
Their mistress proclaim thee,
Oh, grant that thy children on earth be as true

As long as the bowers
Are radiant with flowers
As long as the azure shall keep its bright hue.
O Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May,
O Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May,

Sing gaily in chorus,
The bright angels o'er us
Re-echo the strains we begin upon earth;
Their harps are repeating
The notes of our greeting,
For Mary herself is the cause of our mirth.

and you can hear it here, in rather a
sugary version

It's also available on a CD called Faith of Our Fathers, which has all those old Irish Catholic hymns.

14 Jan 09 - 08:29 PM (#2539857)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

There is a book by Norman Iles from about 1980 called "The Pagan Carols Restored". I have a sample copy of it. They're rather like the songs in The Wicker Man, only not as good.

There is one surviving community that preserves Indo-European paganism, the Kalash of Pakistan. There are some YouTube videos of their ceremonies.

15 Jan 09 - 01:30 PM (#2540542)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Really like that May Day hymn JTT. Though as you say, the 'sugary version' isn't all that great.

Personally I rather enjoy the ambiguity in much Catholic imagery, and indeed some of the pragmatic folk magical practices (remnants of earlier pre-Christian practices, which became absorbed into the new Christian Cult?) that would have had many a devout Catholic burned as a witch. It possibly appeals more to me than some of the more blatant contemporary Pagan material out there.

In fact there are plenty of Protestants who might think that Catholicism is a heathen Idolotrous religion too... ;-)

15 Jan 09 - 02:05 PM (#2540585)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Here's a couple, based on incantations of Isobel Gowdie:

YouTube won't me let put the notes up yet, so here they are by way of clarification:

Two songs based on the confessions of the celebrate witch Isobel Gowdie of Auldearne at her trial in 1662, here performed by Northumbrian folk singer and storyteller Sedayne (Sean Breadin), accompanying himself on Hungarian Citera, electronic Shruti Box and Noah Bells.

The Allansford Pursuit is a poem by Robert Graves (found in a footnote on p. 402 of The White Goddess) based on Gowdie's shape-shifting incantation I shall go into a hare, with sorrow, and sych, and meikle care, and I shall goe in the Divellis name, ay will I com hom againe. This is interleaved with The Ragwort Road by 'Dancing' Jim Wetherspoon, (Northumbrian trickster, shapeshifter, and former village idiot of Haltwhistle who also put the tune to the Graves' poem) inspired by Gowdie's Horse and hattock, horse and go, horse and pelatis, ho, ho! (p. 290 of The Faber Book of Popular Verse) which relates to the practise of rubbing the body with an hallucinogenic ointment brewed from ragwort (Senecio jacobeae) to give the illusion of flying, thus the witches broomstick was, in fact, a stalk of ragwort, a plant which still causes no small alarm today - see for more.

A riddle now to you I'll tell to you,
It's of a horse that has no shoe;
It's mane is of the glittering gold,
and in the dark earth it was foaled.


I will go into a hare
with sorrow and sighing and mickle care,
and I will go in the Devil's name,
aye 'til I be fetched hame
- Hare, take heed of a bitch greyhound
will harry thee all these fells around
for here come I in Our Lady's name
all but for to fetch thee hame

Cunning and art he did not lack
but aye her whistle would fetch him back


A riddle now to you I'll tell,
It's of a horse that has no tail,
Nor need is there of saddle nor bit,
Nor spur nor whip to take to it.


I will go into a trout
With sorrow and sighing and mickle doubt,
And show thee many a merry game,
Ere that I be fetched hame.
- Trout, take heed of an otter lank,
will harry close from bank to bank.
For here come I in Our Lady's name
All but for to fetch thee hame.

Cunning and art he did not lack,
But aue her whistle would fetch him back.


R - for the Rowan, quick and light;
A - for the dark sweet Aconite;
G - is for the grass green goad,
To ride a weed, the ragwort road


Yet I will go into a bee,
With mickle horror and dread of thee
And flit to hive in the Devil's name,
Ere that I be fetched hame
- Bee, take heed of a swallow hen,
Will harry close, both but an' ben,
For here come I in Our Lady's name,
All but for the fetch thee hame

Cunning and art he did not lack,
But aye her whistle would fetch him back.


W - for the Witches Brew
O - for the Ointment, known to few,
R - for Rune
T - for toad, as dance we down the Ragwort road


Yet I shall go into a mouse,
And haste me unto the miller's house,
There in his corn to have good game,
Ere that I be fetched hame.
- Mouse, take heed of a white tib-cat,
that never was baulked of a mouse or rat,
For I'll crack thy bones in Our Lady's name,
Thus shalt thou be fetched hame.

Cunning and art he did not lack,
But aye her whistle would fetch him back.


Horse and pelatis, horse and go,
Horse and hattock, ho, ho, ho!

The provenance of this piece is antique, but mention must be made of the lads of South Tyne, The Storyteller at Fault, The Ragwort Roadshow, Badger in the Bag, Blenkinsopp Castle, and Rivermeet; to all this, and more, this is my personal homage.

Sedayne, Thursday 15th January 2009

15 Jan 09 - 02:43 PM (#2540614)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

And some profoundly evocative lyrics there.

Didn't know about the supposed Ragwort 'Broomstick'...

Though I've heard other things about contemporary witches, broom-handle dildos and herbal lube.

Whatever they rode, I do think that some of those girls knew a thing or two about hallucinogens, as well as abortificients. No wonder they were unpopular with the Church.

15 Jan 09 - 03:00 PM (#2540625)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: VirginiaTam

Maybe Merlin's Song?

Not strictly trad. Composed in the 1970's and only loosely pagan. It is dirge like in a good way. The melody makes it hauntingly remarkable.

I can teach it to you, when you visit.

15 Jan 09 - 03:17 PM (#2540637)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Suegorgeous

Insane - I like those 2 songs. Do you by chance have a net link to those 2 books you mention?


15 Jan 09 - 04:57 PM (#2540731)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Hey VTam, I'd like that. Though I'm interested in trad songs, I've no desire to stick to learning *only* trad songs. Anything that captures my imagination is game.

15 Jan 09 - 06:25 PM (#2540820)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

For the effects of (one guess at a) witches' ointment, look on the web at the Vaults of Erowid for a description (insofar as she could remember it) by a woman in Slovenia who tried it. She was rather lucky to emerge from the experience alive, but didn't regret it.

Somewhere I have a German ethnobotanicohistorical journal of psychedelics with a long article (in German, which I don't read very well) suggesting that witches' ointment was mostly mythical, with the formulas all invented long after the fact.

There is an interesting take on paganism in the writings of Carlo Ginzburg, particularly "Ecstasies". Try that stuff in song and you would *really* give your audience the willies.

Another weirdly different book: Martenengo-Cesaresco's "The Stufy of Folksongs", which mainly focuses on southern Europe. She's very good on the stuff that emerged from interactions between paganism and Catholicism.

15 Jan 09 - 06:48 PM (#2540840)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Do you by chance have a net link to those 2 books you mention?

Indeed so.

The White Goddess by Robert Graves (A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth) - unofficially, The Pagan Bible. It too has pride of place on my bookshelves...

The Faber Book of Popular Verse - 2nd hand copies for 1p; no home should be without at least one copy.

15 Jan 09 - 07:12 PM (#2540861)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Suegorgeous

Thanks Insane. I meant links to the actual book though? Some books you can actually read online.


15 Jan 09 - 07:46 PM (#2540895)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

No online copy of the Martinengo-Cesaresco, but the edition I've got (Dent/Everyman 1914) is pretty cheap via

15 Jan 09 - 09:00 PM (#2540930)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Malcolm Douglas

The books Sedayne mentioned aren't very old and are still in copyright. Second-hand copies aren't difficult to find; even nowadays, worthwhile things still must sometimes be bought with money (though Amazon doesn't necessarily offer the lowest prices). Sedayne certainly understood your question, but answered with tact.

Though I describe The White Goddess as 'worthwhile', I mean that it's a fascinating -though in places quite demanding- read. It's a curious mix of genuine scholarship and complete fantasy, and many readers are likely to have difficulty telling where the one ends and the other begins, so anyone trying to base some sort of belief system on it runs the risk of making themselves look ridiculous. Nevertheless, anybody interested in poetic myth should read it.

17 Jan 09 - 05:26 AM (#2541099)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

My personal take on Graves is that he was in fact doing what all good Druids do, and that is creating under the inspirational influence of the Awen.

Suegorgeous, although you won't find Graves or the Faber book there, here's a great site to bookmark for its incredible resources. Scroll down the left hand side catalogue to click on suject areas that might be of interest:


17 Jan 09 - 05:32 AM (#2541101)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Oh, and Jack C, Eroid.Org is a fascinating reference site. Another of the most intriguing sites on the internet. Anyone interested in experiments in dodgy DIY Shamanism, amongst lots of other interesting stuff, should take a look:


17 Jan 09 - 05:37 AM (#2541104)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Oh, wonderful. Think I'm going to spend the rest of my life buried in here:

Sacred Texts Yeats Pages

17 Jan 09 - 08:42 AM (#2541225)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: wyrdolafr

Interesting discussion and nice to see Toni Arthur get a mention!

The only way I can really add anything is if the definition of 'pagan' refers to non-Abrahamic religions*, beliefs or magic systems and that 'songs' stretches beyond just folk (whatever that is).

The late, great Graham Bond did quite a lot of later material that stretched from Crowley-related beliefs to Druidry**. Perhaps some of Dr. John's material fits into the same or a similar category with his Night-Tripper persona with it's nod of the head to voodoo.

Alan Moore (of comic fame) recordings as 'The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels' might be of interest too.

Of course there's always the bands that use a lot of the Edda-related material as the basis of songs with the 'Viking-Metal/Folk' scene.

*I'm aware that the likes of the Golden Dawn/Crowley and even voodoo have some Abrahamic link, but I'd think the fact that the majority of Christians &c. would like to play up the differences rather than any commonality!

**The song 'Druid' reminds me of Chas'n'Dave singing from some of the book's published by Llewellyn or something!

17 Jan 09 - 08:55 AM (#2541235)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Anne Lister

Quite a few of my albums please quite a few pagans ....but luckily for me they don't alienate people from other faiths either!


17 Jan 09 - 09:15 AM (#2541252)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Phil Edwards

the Golden Dawn/Crowley and even voodoo have some Abrahamic link

Crowley was (among other things) a Kabbalist - you can't get much more Abrahamic than that.

17 Jan 09 - 10:18 AM (#2541288)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: wyrdolafr

Pip Radish wrote: Crowley was (among other things) a Kabbalist - you can't get much more Abrahamic than that.

Yeah, that was the point I was actually making. :)

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with any of this knows of the origins and links &c. However, I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of those who actually practice a Abrahamic religion - i.e. mainstream Christianity, Islam or Judaism - are pretty keen to distinguish themselves from 'the fringes' as it were. Look at the various 'variations' of Christianity for example

However, over the years, I've seen that 'us and them' type thinking can rife within 'pagan' thinking too, with increasingly smaller divisions as you go along.

I know it was intended as a bit of joke, but I've always thought there was at least some truth to the old 'pagan hierarchy'
flow diagram.

I think it's the nature of people in general to be honest: very divisive 'social' animals.

17 Jan 09 - 10:21 AM (#2541292)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: wyrdolafr

Oof, I pressed submit prematurely - I'm sure a Fruedian clinician would have something to say about that.

The unfinished sentence above should have read:

Look at the various 'variations' of Christianity for example, and how keen they can be to differentiate themselves and often present themselves as the definitive understanding of Christianity. Look at the historical Catholic vs Protestant issues, for example.

17 Jan 09 - 03:25 PM (#2541576)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

The flow diagram there I haven't seen before. Love the way that the top and bottom spots are occupied by arguably the exact same designation...

18 Jan 09 - 05:20 AM (#2541983)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Rapunzel & I sang Green Grow the Rushes O the other night, once more prompting speculation on the meaning of the thing in part and as whole. But a spiffing song for hoary symbolism, what? I was reminded of another version found in the pages of Where is Saint George? (and which also appears on Current 93's Earth Covers Earth, an album that might appeal to anyone with Pagan Sensibilities) wherein the hoary symbolism is suspiciously explicit. There are, I believe threads on this - even This which gives a specifically (and utterly dreadful) Pagan Version, which corners all the problems one might encounter in seeking out pagan songs.

Not wishing to blow my own trumpet (which I do on Rapuzel's new version of Blackwaterside, a demo version of which you might hear Here) in a recent interview I said singing a traditional song is rather like going for a walk in the country; following along a well trodden path through a particular landscape, replete with wonders both natural and man-made; ancient and traditional. For example, I like walking the ancient dykes at Saint Michael's (see Here, where the Brock meets the Wyre with vistas of the Bowland fells beyond. Not a long walk by any means, but as restorative to the soul as singing Green Grow the Rushes O, or some such song, thus prompting a consideration of shamanic landscape communion or else the inherent healing powers of traditional song, on whatever sort of level, but wheb you're out there you get the feeling that it's enough just to do it.

18 Jan 09 - 06:48 AM (#2542037)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Strikes me from what I've seen out there thus far, that I might be better off looking for literature which draws on historical/mythological/poetic material (be it fact or fantasy, or preferably a nicely ambiguous blurring of both) and scavenge lyrics and imagery, which evoke the essence of whatever it is that I'm hoping to find - but which appears not to be out there. And with these, forge my own songs. The Wiccan songs I've found, frankly seem to fail dreadfully. No lust no fury no insanity no mana.

I've posted this elsewhere, but by rights I think it belongs here, evoking as it does, a primal earthy celebration of the 'Black Madonna' (and IMO one might equally well read 'Earth Goddess' there) which possesess the listener with a force (this listener in any event) and compells them to dance. I also utterly adore the singer/storytellers (unfortunately I can't remember her name..) stunning vocals, which she draws up out of some bloody womblike source: Cuncti Simus Concanentis from the Red Book of Monteserrat.

18 Jan 09 - 07:06 AM (#2542044)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

That's from the Ensemble Unicorn CD The Black Madonna, songs from the Llibre Vermell etc, which can be had for £5 or so on the Naxos label; the singer is Belinda Sykes. See Here.

Good as this undoubtedly is, it doesn't touch into the truly womblike darknesses of Hesperion XX's seminal Llibre Vermel de Montserrat album, where Cuncit Simus features the hurdy-gurdy of Renene Zosso! Also excellent is the Sarband CD...

18 Jan 09 - 07:19 AM (#2542048)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

I'll look those up.

Can you recommend any more in a similar vein?

PS, I noticed with a smile, that your 'Wiccan Medley' has found interesting company in 'related videos'. In fact I could see you in a year hitting the big time doing a Wiccan duet with Loreena Mckthingumyinnit. Time to ditch those funny old fiddle things and reach for the funky drum synth backing and mystical echo....

18 Jan 09 - 07:58 AM (#2542067)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Erk. Now I'm scanning Amazon again and looking to get myself into finacial disaster zone...

This looks sooo intriguing: Musica Notturna - Invocation a la Nuit and if the 'night music' referred to implies the term used by Bartok, should be very atmospheric, and perhaps even 'pagan'. Though to be fair I don't think I even know what I mean by that term any more! If indeed I did initially...

18 Jan 09 - 10:51 AM (#2542202)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Anything on Alia Vox is worth having I'd say, but then again I do worship at the church of Savall. I've got most of the catalogue (though not, as yet, Musica Notturna). Have a look at the site:

For a flavour of the music:

Alba / A la una yo naci.

Folia Improv : Rodrigo Martinez

18 Jan 09 - 11:08 AM (#2542218)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

At the risk of becoming horrendously boring (sorry folks!), I think I'm possibly failing to recognise a whole stream of Eastern European *folk-inspired* classical music, that probably evokes far more of the dark chthonic ambience of the 'pagan', than many songs derived from modern Pagan religions appear to do - at least for me. Lithuanian composer Katuvikius' (never 'eard of 'im) Last Pagan Rites looks like something a must in respect of this.

And in respect to this thread, I think I really better decide what exactly 'pagan' may possibly mean to me, outide of the dictionary defined boxes of neo-Pagan religion, or indeed *religion* of any kind.
Indeed is Pagan/pagan itself a term which has been reified in modern usage?

18 Jan 09 - 11:58 AM (#2542256)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Cheers IB, such beautiful instruments! I think my Amazon Wish-list should be well and truly packed out by next Xmas...

Wish I understood a little more (or rather anything at all!) about music theory, or indeed what I think they term 'Psychomusicology', ie: the effect of sound and music upon states of mind/consciousness (?).

The history of beliefs around music, I probably need to look into likewise. Weren't there some emotionally unsettling semi-tones which were forbad by the Medieaval Church as belonging to the Devil...? Something of a tangent to Pagan song there, but perhaps a pertinant one. I don't know enough about music to muse any further on that one unfortunately.

Anyway, there's been quite a lot of interesting discussion on this thread thus far. And I would be most interested to know if others have thoughts on what 'pagan' (possibly as a verb or adjective rather than noun), might mean to them. And is there another term which might be preferable, which succesfully encompasses and evokes the equivalent emotional and spiritual spectrum which 'pagan' appears to?

18 Jan 09 - 12:07 PM (#2542264)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: john f weldon

Does this count?

Rugged Hammer

18 Jan 09 - 01:36 PM (#2542355)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Cheers for that John F.W! Grear stuff. And ironically comments on some of the pragmatism which our pre-Christian forbears would no doubt have indulged in: "Heh, that conquering tribes Top-God seem pretty hard, maybe it'd be worth sacrificing to Him as well."

18 Jan 09 - 02:03 PM (#2542376)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Don't know to much about Bronius Kutavicius, but I do have his sublime From the Jatvingian Stone on a slab of antique Soviet-era vinyl - & very fine it is too; somewhat prescient of Sigur Ros's equally sublime Odin's Raven's Magic.

Just a thought, check out Harry Partch. There's a BBC4 documentary in six handy 10 minute parts on YouTube:

And when in doubt, some real Pagan Music:

Okay, I'm off - here's Portillo on Constantine!

18 Jan 09 - 03:45 PM (#2542471)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Sigur Ross is stunningly beautiful.
And what a fab rustical glockenspiel!

Thanks for forcing me to watch Portillo. But I do agree with his take on Catholicism. What the Christian Church might have been without the politically motivated usurpation of the fascinatingly compelling image of Jesus 'THE Christ', is something one can only imagine.

This also encourages me to think that some (at least) of the current neo-Pagan resurgance is *perhaps* Shamanic/Gnostic in essence or impulse. Both Shamanism and Gnositicism arise for me, out of the individuals own striving to experientially Know their own unique sacred universe. And thus are intrinsically anarchic and anti-authoritarian in nature.

18 Jan 09 - 06:22 PM (#2542612)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

Weren't there some emotionally unsettling semi-tones which were forbad by the Medieaval Church as belonging to the Devil...?

You're thinking of the augmented fourth, labelled "diabolus in musica" by somebody in the late Renaissance who was having problems fitting it into his theory. It wasn't commonly used in the Middle Ages but there was no prohibition on it, ever.

18 Jan 09 - 06:38 PM (#2542624)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Very intresting Jack C. Thanks for that.

But why did 'he' attribute the apparently inconvenient augmented fourth, to the Devil - could such a term then be used then, without a dangerously antinomian meaning?

Did he simply mean "the pain-in-the-arse in musica"?

18 Jan 09 - 08:25 PM (#2542687)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

Something like that.

BTW, gamelan kebyar is a pretty recent form, influenced by jazz from the 1920s. And gamelan in general is a Hindu aristocratic art form a long way removed from paganism. On the other hand, the ketjak dance is unmistakably animistic - the story that goes with it is from the Ramayana, but that's been retrofitted on top of a performance which is similar to a voodoo trance ritual, presumably aimed at getting you possessed by monkey spirits.

Ketjak dance clip

I've got that on an old Nonesuch LP, I think. Not much like Loreena McKennit.

(I mistyped "money spirits" - maybe somebody in Wall Street or Canary Wharf is this moment conducting a private ritual to extract Bernard Madoff's juju).

19 Jan 09 - 06:43 AM (#2542924)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

And gamelan in general is a Hindu aristocratic art form a long way removed from paganism.

I'm given to understand gamelan still has a folk life & lore of its own, as far from any orthodoxy as the Bon Shamanism that still persists in Tibetan Buddhism. The exterior influences are an essential part of the process, though it's a two way thing, as testified by Debussy's reaction to Javanese Gamelan during the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition. I've got recordings of Sumatran village ensembles mixing gamelan instruments with old military brass left behind from colonial days. In any case I was thinking of Pagan more in terms of the Exotic, which might take us from the Icelandic lithophones of Sigur Ros to something even more remote...

19 Jan 09 - 07:18 AM (#2542949)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Stu

On a more poppy note, The Waterboys exhibited some pagan tendencies on Dream Harder, with The Glastonbury Song and The Return of Pan always striking me as being paganish in approach. Of course this isn't unknown in pop and rock music; Stairway to Heaven includes some pagan imagery and other Zep songs doff their cap towards pagan/folkloric influences.

Jethro Tull also seem to skirt the dark green heart of paganism sometimes, and songs like Jack in the Green, Songs from the Wood and the mighty Heavy Horses all seem to be include pagan themes.

The Quiet Village clip was superb, and the mention of Sigur Ros put one or two other artists in mind you might want to check out of you like expansive and more leftfield music.

Tod Dockstader's Aerial #1 and #2 albums are a particular favourite and the compositions are based around the ethereal and quite spooky noises he picks up on his short wave radio. If short-wave spookery get's you going then check out The Conet Project for some decidedly unsettling listening.

Chris Watson is a freelance sound recordist who works extensively for the BBC and has produced a remarkable album of his field recordings called Steeping into the Dark which features the sounds of storm systems over Inverness-shire, a rookery in Northumberland and the sound of a river in the Maasai Mara at dawn. Stephen Vitiello works in a similar vein but uses a variety of novel techniques to create his music but by far my favourite is his recording created in the World Trade Centre using microphones affixed to the windows and structure of the building, and it is an incredible listening experience.

Whilst not pagan, I've mentioned The Ghost Orchid before on Mudcat, but these recordings of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena, or recordings of dead people) are certainly worth a listen late at night in the dark and the album can now be downloaded from iTunes.

Then there's the Wicker Man soundtrack (original rather than the execrable Nick Cave version) . . .

19 Jan 09 - 11:25 AM (#2543119)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Saw a guy in a second hand bookshop coming over all feverish at his purchase of "the very rare!" Elaine Pagels 'The Origin of Satan' the other day. Just like a scene from The Ninth Gate.

Rather like the origonal Wicker Man soundtrack. Also rather like the origonal Wicker Man for that matter. There are some fabulous scenes, one of the kitchy best being the classic 'Willows Song' bum-slapping scene. Which no self-respecting Wiccan girly should be without.

And I also have something of an embarassing soft-spot for that particular Tull album...

19 Jan 09 - 11:40 AM (#2543130)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

Another film I'm told has a lot of pagan content is Paradjanov's "Shadows of our Forgotten Ancestors" - there are a few clips from it on YouTube.

19 Jan 09 - 11:49 AM (#2543142)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Thanks for Paradjanov Not a name I've heard before. Wiki say's his influences include Tarkovsky and Pasolini - looks interesting.

19 Jan 09 - 12:04 PM (#2543166)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Just reading Pagels the other night actually (The Gnostic Gospels) & we were on about The Wicker Man a few months back too - though which thread it was I couldn't say - I'll have a browse... Never did get Songs from the Wood I must confess. They get my vote from the rootsy r&b of This Was to the genuinely folksy Stand Up, & the darkly tinged introspections of Benefit; bits of Aqualung, and most of Living in the Past and the mighty Thick as a Brick, after which I gave up.

This sums it up quite perfectly, musically, theologically, or something:

Lose the flute solo though; if it's genuine Shamanic woodwind you're looking for (played by a genuine Shaman):

Why is there no music like that anymore??

19 Jan 09 - 12:13 PM (#2543176)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

The Wicker Man Thread (in two parts - 2006 & revived in 2008 when it gets interesting...)

19 Jan 09 - 12:24 PM (#2543191)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

"Never did get Songs from the Wood I must confess."

Well that'll probably be because it's actually a bit pants!

Boyfriend reckons Ian Anderson there sounds like he's eating a hot pizza and got some molten mozzerella stuck to the roof of his mouth. But yeah, I think most people gave up after Tull stopped being any good. Pity the same couldn't be said for Genesis....

19 Jan 09 - 02:21 PM (#2543273)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

It occurred to me that there is one mega-huge not-at-all-Christianized pagan festival which is very well documented and features lots of music: the "Honouring the Sea" festival in Brazil for the African sea goddess Yemanjá. But the structure seems pretty anarchic, there's no specific music for it - play whatever the hell you like.

Starts in a couple of weeks if Rosie wants to start looking round the bucket shops.

20 Jan 09 - 04:56 AM (#2543749)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

This has been and remains such an intriquing thread leading into multiple tangents from the various posters who have offered - via suggestions and examples cited - differing perspectives of their own reading of the OP term 'pagan song'. I'm left with an exploded view of what it may potentially mean or imply, one which I hope meaningfully coalesces itself via some form of creative endevour and expression...

Last night this dream where a terribly mild mannered oriental gentleman showed me the way to sing my song.


First I was shown a Crow circling overhead. And told to be still and observe. Then I was shown a Worm burrowing deep underground. And told to be still and observe. Then a Stone. Just sitting there. Obviously just being a stone. I was supposed to learn and understand by example. Amd implicit in these examples he was giving me was the instruction to spend time each day, meditating on Nature. And learning (remembering) by example or osmosis maybe how to be 'Me', and how to live my own right life. As yet another facet of this intricate but perfectly balanced and inter-related super-organsism that is the Earth.

The impressions that arose from his 'teaching' were not expressed so-much in words but in images and feelings: The bird lives where it's heart loves. And so too the worm. It lives where it loves. None of these things misunderstands itself or is confused about it's place in the scheme of things, or how to live it's own right life. It does not strive for answers from beyond or outside itself. The answer is at it's own heart. (Very simple stuff. But the primary message was for me to come to Know this directly and discover it experientially through periods of fully immersed contemplation of the natural world around me, rather than superficially or intellectually.)

In the middle of this dream, I had the realisation that Song itself connected me to my hearts desire, song led me to what my heart loves. That being an uncorrupted/unconfused 'primordial' state of truly being Me.


I'm not exactly how this dream fits into this thread, though I feel it does somewhat. It also reminded me of that piece of Whitman IB posted elswhere, which is used in Lord Summmerisle's soliliquy in the Wicker Man. Which is wonderful, but rather than looking it up again, I think this more pertinant in this context:

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,        
And what I assume you shall assume,        
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.        
I loaf and invite my soul,        
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.               5

My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,        
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,        
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,        
Hoping to cease not till death.        

Creeds and schools in abeyance,               10
Retiring back awhile sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,        
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,        
Nature without check with original energy.

And for good measure "Britt Eckland", singing of herself and of desire, and in the process giving poor virginal Edward Woodward a terribly hard time Willows Song

20 Jan 09 - 05:32 AM (#2543765)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

For a free secure download MP3 of my Wicker Man tribute (via YouSendIt) click below:

This is two versions Gently Johnny sung to the traditional Northumbrian melody, bookending Part 32 of Song of Myself from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass - as in the film, though not quite...

20 Jan 09 - 07:01 AM (#2543828)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Stu

I actually like Songs from the Wood and some of the later albums, although I must admit by Under Wraps I was losing interest . . . until I saw them around the time of Crest of a Knave and was back under the spell. They were entertaining, musically excellent, self-deprecating and utterly enjoyable.

As for films, obviously Pan's Labyrinth draws heavily on European pagan influences and it's depiction of the faun is wonderful, in my view an excellent film.

I've always had a soft spot for John Boorman's Excaliber which is an admittedly flawed work but captures a certain spirit of the legend (even though it's based on the Mallory version). Something in it seems inherently pagan to me.

20 Jan 09 - 07:07 AM (#2543831)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Leadfingers


20 Jan 09 - 07:36 AM (#2543850)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

"I actually like Songs from the Wood" So do I. But then not everything we like has gotta be great. I also like Marillion. And not a lot of people would confess to that!

Boormans Excalabur is iconic. Also love his heavily romanticised Emerald Forest. And talking of Pagan Song, almost links back into the thread with the Frogs Singing up the Rain.

Pans Labyrinth is a wonderful little film, as is The Devil's Backbone. But Magical Realism just touches that numinous place where the imaginal bleeds into reality creating doors in the imagination through which the magical and a sense of the sacred can enter in.

And I think it's that exact liminal space which is ironically lacking in those modern Pagan Songs I've heard. Except for that first time, in the early hours of a May Day morning whilst sitting upon the wetly saturated grass of a Blossoming Apple Orchard... A classically liminal space indeed, and one in which by rights, if I were a Pagan with a capital P, I'd have been on my back a la IB's Jently Johnny posted below. Which is gorgeous btw!

20 Jan 09 - 08:15 AM (#2543876)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

I actually like Songs from the Wood

And so you should. I'm all too aware that I'm treading on dangerous ground in casting doubts on SFTW, but I was raised on Jethro Tull, with those early albums forming not the soundtrack to my childhood but also shaping my folkish sensibilities. The cultural landscaping of 1977 notwithstanding, the disappointment of SFTW lay as much in the twee faux-folkery as it did in the loss of Ian Anderson's voice - I much preferred his guttural mozzarella-choked crooning to the nasal whine he'd developed by SFTW. Each to their own however, but the epitome of Tull Folk has to be Witches Promise (this one from French TV 1970!) - and have you ever seen This I wonder??

20 Jan 09 - 08:44 AM (#2543903)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

"I much preferred his guttural mozzarella-choked crooning to the nasal whine he'd developed by SFTW. Each to their own however,"

I ditto that. My "sense of humour" (cough..) often doesn't carry well, and I'll be as irreverent about those things I find wonderful, as those which I find irredeemably shite.* 'My God' is of course fantastic, 'Witches Promise' likewise. And I own and love all the Tull albums you earlier referred to - and they all kick the arse of SftW... IMO

* I also tend to fail to include appropriate emoticons like this: ;-)
Which I no doubt aughta do. As well as learning to spell simple words correctly... And learning the occult art of the semi-colon. Somewhat amazing I've survived on the erudite Mudcat this long!

20 Jan 09 - 09:06 AM (#2543929)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Though I do still genuinely really like it, nonetheless... Velvet Green

I think that this album is somewhat 'sterile', and while I like it and find it pleasing listening, fails to truly compell your attention or evoke any 'archaic mystery' - in the same way that modern Pagan songs don't. Meaning it could work rather well work as the soundtrack to Robin of Sherwood and I can see plump 'ladies' in faux velvet mediaeval costume 'expressively' dancing around like Pans-People on early TotP to it. Great little party album though, especially if you're tanked on Merrydown!

20 Jan 09 - 09:11 AM (#2543931)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

This I posted elsewhere. But find so beautiful, think it deserves a reprise here: Shamans Plant Spirit Song

20 Jan 09 - 09:58 AM (#2543968)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Thanks for the Plant Spirit Song - though it just makes me want to smoke again...

Check out the K-Space page!

20 Jan 09 - 10:02 AM (#2543975)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Oh this is just top...

The "La la laa laaalaa" bit has to the best: Wiccan Song Either that or the key changes.

And this one too: Another Wiccan Song Oddly the "La la llaaalalla lla" bit moved me to 'tears' agian! Either that, or the powerful shamanic drumming.

I better leave this poor thread to rest in peace for a while. It's probably traumatised..

20 Jan 09 - 11:14 AM (#2544038)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

A song for the sexy Vodou Loa of love and sensuality Erzulie Fuckin' gorgeous!

Another for Papa Ghede Tricksterish Loa of death and ressurection.

And a third, for the Serpent Loa Dumballah Wedo Bringer of fertility and rain. Just beautiful.

And mysteriously not a "La la la" to be heard...

20 Jan 09 - 11:40 AM (#2544068)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

"it just makes me want to smoke again..."

In which case IB, I suggest you don't Listen to This Advice or Consider These Options or Read This Book

All of which Bearheart - as you're watching this thread - I suggest you *do* do... :-) The Pendell is just great btw. Though more of a personal poetic exploration than a 'how to' manual.

20 Jan 09 - 08:11 PM (#2544578)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

Re Kutavicius: it may be relevant that Lithuania was the last major pagan state in Europe. In the late Middle Ages it was one of the most significant powers in the continent, controlling most of Poland and the Ukraine and dealing as an equal with the Khanate of the Golden Horde based in Crimea. Not exactly fluffy bunnies - they seem to have been into public human sacrifice. They were only beaten by a long and murderous military campaign by the Teutonic Knights on one side and Ottoman expansion on the other.

Litrhuania also has one of the smallest linguistic minorities in the world, the Livonians, whose music seems extremely archaic ("runic" chants covering a very narrow range - Sibelius used some of them as motifs).

Glasgow "City of Culture" invited Lepo Sumera, the Lithuanian composer who was (a sinecure job I think) Minister of Culture in Lithuania at the time, to spend some time in Glasgow writing community-based compositions involving schoolkids. One of his other pieces played at the same concert made some pretty blatant allusions to Lucy-in-the-Sky-with-Diamonds-type Sixties Western psychedelia. So I asked him in the question time whether he was deliberately invoking drug references and if so how that went down with the Lithuanian power elite. He acted rather embarrassed and tried to dismiss it as fluke. I would probably have done better to pin him down over the wine and nibbles and ask if he'd compared Scottish and Lithuanian magic mushrooms.

20 Jan 09 - 08:30 PM (#2544593)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

While we're on the subject this is one of my most prized books:

1967 NIMH Symposium on Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs

I've had mine for 20 years, it's not as expensive now as I expected.

21 Jan 09 - 08:12 AM (#2544967)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

From another thread:

A couple of years back I immersed myself in the studio to record an extended ensemble version of King Henry / Child 32 bookended by ambience recorded in the medieval Chapter House of York Minster a few days earlier. The ensemble (Eleanor's Visceral Tomb) comprises Crwth, Doromb (Hungarian Jews Harp), Clarinet, Indian Harmonium, Flowler Calls, Animal Bells and Frame Drum. Clocking in at a hefty 17.45 I dare this stretches the listening attention of even the most dedicated Sedayne fan, but it remains a personal favourite which I like to give away free as a MP3 for those who feel such a thing might be an enrichment to their lives and / or their appreciation of a particularly No-Age approach to the tertius auris of traditional balladry.

Here it is anyway, gratis, as a secure download via YouSendIt:

King Henry / Child #32 / Eleanor's Visceral Tomb, July 2007

To which I might add, with respect of topics already touched upon above, that at the heart of this piece is a notion that certain aspects of Indo-European medieval modality might be found lurking in traditional song, there to be filtered out by means of a more mediumistic approach for which the term tertius auris seems entirely apt; No-Age likewise...

21 Jan 09 - 11:01 AM (#2545098)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Don't find the length of that challenging in any way. Interesting sound collage, like a teeming forest floor at the start. Never heard the term 'tertius auris' before, akin to the 'third eye' or e.e.cummings "the ears of my ears are open"? So you're presumably describing a kind of vocalisation of the ancestors, through the channel of a song which has travelled many years of voices...

Further to ethnogens and possible native pre-Christian remnants of Shamanism (as described in the so-called Witches 'nocturnal flight', and the herbs which may or may not have been utilised to induce this experience), I found this quite an interesting little volume, with rather tender artwork by Barbara Brouegel: Elizabeth Procter, Mary Sanford George Jacobs.
Plants of the Gods is also very interesting. As IMO is anything by those authors.

21 Jan 09 - 11:25 AM (#2545126)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

And is that a French restaurant style homage to the famed Ketamin induced "K Hole" there?

K of course being pretty pertinant as a kinda 'modern flying ointment.'

21 Jan 09 - 12:19 PM (#2545201)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Tertius Auris is derived from Third Ear, as in the Third Ear Band, whose music remains a crucial inspiration. These guys were playing music for the Druids on Glastonbury Tor in 1970 & providing the soundtrack for Polanski's Macbeth a few years later. For a flavour:

21 Jan 09 - 01:23 PM (#2545261)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

As opposed to the procedure imagined by the Church of the Subgenius (I think), The Opening of the Third Nostril.

22 Jan 09 - 05:45 AM (#2545846)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

Another one I forgot to mention. In Picken's "Folk Music Instruments of Turkey", he mentions a village in southern Anatolia which has a tradition of leading funeral processions with a particular elegiac melody played on two leaves buzzed between the lips. (Nowhere else in Turkey, and probably nowhere else in the entire Islamic world, uses instrumental music of any kind at funerals). The villagers never play the tune at any other time, nor are the leaves ever used for other musical purposes.

Turns out that something like that is described in ancient Greek sources, and the tree whose leaves are used was associated with death and mourning in Greek paganism.

Maybe the tune's changed a bit, but the tradition has survived through 1000 years of Christianity and 800 years of Islam.

23 Jan 09 - 12:35 AM (#2546695)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: GUEST,Samarobrin

The rim of a Black Hole hums, so scientists say. The pitch of this hum is 57 octaves below middle C !

                  If you want to hear 5 New Age songs go to


23 Jan 09 - 04:37 AM (#2546768)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

A cosmic Vashti Bunyan!

23 Jan 09 - 07:02 AM (#2546833)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

The rim of a Black Hole hums, so scientists say. The pitch of this hum is 57 octaves below middle C !

By my calculation that works out at a vibration of one cycle per 18 million years.

I don't think so.

28 Jan 09 - 10:59 PM (#2551599)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: GUEST,Samarobrin

Jack Campin -18million years it may be, but this is as a mere second in eternity. We neither live nor hear on a timescale long enough to be aware of it. Things undreamed of in Heaven and Earth leap to mind, Horatio!
                   Hmm- must write a song about this.


29 Jan 09 - 04:14 AM (#2551731)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Things undreamed of in Heaven and Earth leap to mind, Horatio!

But there are still more things in philosophy, for which we must be thankful!

08 Feb 09 - 04:43 AM (#2560643)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Just a thought:

08 Feb 09 - 05:11 AM (#2560649)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Darowyn

I reviewed an album by Damh the Bard yesterday, and I liked it.
The songs are deliberately Pagan, relying mostly on The Mabinogion for source material.
It is a lot more entertaining than many "pagan" writers produce.
It is worth a listen.

08 Feb 09 - 07:59 AM (#2560728)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Campin

And another leaf tune, from Romania. I have no information about it. I wonder if it's the same kind of leaf and with the same sort of tradition behind it as the Turkish example I posted about on 22 Jan?

Florica Mazgoi plays 'De Codru', 1952

13 Feb 09 - 03:21 PM (#2566181)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Now That's What I Call PaganMusic!

Anyone know anything about this lady's work?
Freya Aswynn

I'm curious enough (having been exposed a little to Skaldr before) to have ordered this: Songs of Yggdrasil: Shamanic Chants from the Northern Mysteries

PS folks, cheers for all contributions to this thread, I'm still working my way slowly through some of the earlier suggestions...

13 Feb 09 - 07:47 PM (#2566410)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Nickhere

Piers Plowman - I spose you've come across the Goliards, with their bawdy pub-songs dating mainly from the 12th and perhaps 13th century? For a sample listen to some of the stuff from Naxos, for years they have been producing high quality low cost recordings of medieval and antique music.

One I'd recommend is "Carmna Burana" (not the opera by Orff, but the name given to a manuscript collection of songs and musical notation discovered at the monastery of Beuren in Germany. Orff based his rather different opera on this). There have been lots of groups 'interpreting' medieval music since the 60s, and the results are amazing to listen to.

Carmina Burana - medieval version

Another label worth looking out for is Helios, they have an excellent collection of ethereal courtly love songs from the time of the court of Eleanor of Acquaitane that'll knock your socks off -

Courtly Love Songs

These groups have researched their subject as carefully as they can and have done all possible o make the musical experience as authentic to what is presumed to be the medieval version.

There has been a lot of debate in recent years on whether or not these modern recreations of medieval music are actually authentic or not. See for example "Medievale o neomedievale?" in "Medioevo" Sept 2007, No.9 (128) 2007, p.82 -88 (pub. by DeAgostini Periodici srl, via Giovanni da Verrazano, 15 - 28100, Novara, Italy)

But this obsession with authenticity may be a more modern phenomenon since troubadors, as I understand it, didn't have 'given' versions of songs and they all interpreted them as they saw fit. Occasionally the audiences insisted on them being changed also. Maybe the idea of the 'original / authentic' version has arrived with the era of sound recordings?

Anyway, bit of thread drift there, getting back to the thread, there are some rather interesting songs available as a CD soundtrack to 'Wickerman' which though no doubt they are not 'authentic' whatever 'authentic' means here, are worth listening to anyway.

14 Feb 09 - 12:25 PM (#2566805)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Thanks for the Owly Song IB. Managed to miss that until just now.
Love the line that runs approximately "many faced Goddess, how wonderful you are [...] but I just wish that you'd stay the same, for a while..."

Every mans plea.

I guess that'll be why they are supposed to provide ceremonial offerings of Chocolate once upon a ritual year.
Me? I'm with Inanna on the boyfriend front...

14 Feb 09 - 06:10 PM (#2567056)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: wyrdolafr

Nickhere wrote: "Anyway, bit of thread drift there, getting back to the thread, there are some rather interesting songs available as a CD soundtrack to 'Wickerman' which though no doubt they are not 'authentic' whatever 'authentic' means here, are worth listening to anyway."

As unlikely as it sounds, The Mock Turtles (Manchester band who did fairly well in the early 1990s) did a great cover of 'The Willow Song' from 'The Wickerman' soundtrack. For some reason, it was a song covered by a few Manchester bands around the time.

I saw frontman Martin Coogan (brother of comedian Steve Coogan) do some absolutely amazing acoustic performances in the late 1980s. Despite the very lightweight vocals on the more well-known material like 'Can You Dig It?', the guy has/had a fantastically powerful voice that easily filled a theatre without a microphone on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, his 'folky' side isn't very well represented on any of the Mock Turtle recordings - which was a real shame, in my opinion.

'Fionnula' is another great folky track they did, even if it's not as impressively 'big' on record as it was live.

15 Feb 09 - 05:29 AM (#2567284)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie

Willows Song (along with Gently Johnny off the same soundtrack), was possibly the first 'folk song' I learned to sing a few months back.

Apart from the euphemistic line which goes:
'Our maid can milk a bull' - which puts me in mind of classic fertility cult imagery.

The most intesting line by far is the one which runs:
'Would you have a wondrous sight, The Midday Sun at Midnight.'

And while I know little enough about occult symbolism, I know the Midnight Sun, is an image used in certain circles.
Though what it means, I haven't a clue.

Irrespective of all that, can't see me wanting to sing Willows Song ever again, I've just heard it too many damned times!

15 Feb 09 - 05:33 AM (#2567291)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Our maid can milk a bull

That's actually the traditional bit - from Who's the Fool Now?, which puts a different spin on things...

16 Feb 09 - 05:27 AM (#2568077)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

Just found this in relation to another thread, but it has its place here too:

17 Feb 09 - 05:25 AM (#2568962)
Subject: RE: Pagan Songs
From: Jack Blandiver

And again, from another thread but entirely relevant here:

From Origins: Logs to Burn.

For our version (see - song #3 on the player) we took the verses from the footnote on page 169 of The White Goddess by Robert Graves*, of which he says A charming though emasculated version of the same poem [the Irish Ossianic Song of the Forest Trees to be found in Standish O' Grady's translation in E.M.Hull's Poem Book of the Gael] is to be found on Dartmoor. Fortunately, the whole text of Poem Book of the Gael (1913) is on-line Here, from which I've extracted the poem to save you the bother of wading through the somewhat unwieldy document (however so rewarding such wading can be!).   


O MAN that for Fergus of the feasts dost kindle fire,
Whether afloat or ashore burn not the king of woods.

Monarch of Innisfail's forests the woodbine is, whom
none may hold captive ;
No feeble sovereign's effort is it to hug all tough trees
in his embrace.

The pliant woodbine if thou burn, wailings for mis-
fortune will abound,
Dire extremity at weapons' points or drowning in great
waves will follow.

Burn not the precious apple-tree of spreading and low-
sweeping bough ;
Tree ever decked in bloom of white, against whose fair
head all men put forth the hand.

The surly blackthorn is a wanderer, a wood that the
artificer burns not ;
Throughout his body, though it be scanty, birds in their flocks warble.

The noble willow burn not, a tree sacred to poems ;
Within his bloom bees are a-sucking, all love the little

The graceful tree with the berries, the wizard's tree, the
rowan, burn ;
But spare the limber tree ; burn not the slender hazel.

Dark is the colour of the ash ; timber that makes the
wheels to go ;
Rods he furnishes for horsemen's hands, his form turns
battle into flight.

Tenterhook among woods the spiteful briar is, burn him
that is so keen and green ;
He cuts, he flays the foot, him that would advance he
forcibly drags backward.

Fiercest heat-giver of all timber is green oak, from him
none may escape unhurt ;
By partiality for him the head is set on aching, and by
his acrid embers the eye is made sore.

Alder, very battle-witch of all woods, tree that is hottest
in the fight
Undoubtedly burn at thy discretion both the alder and

Holly, burn it green ; holly, burn it dry ;
Of all trees whatsoever the critically best is holly.
Elder that hath tough bark, tree that in truth hurts
Him that furnishes horses to the armies from the sidh
burn so that he be charred.

The birch as well, if he be laid low, promises abiding fortune ;
Burn up most sure and certainly the stalks that bear the
constant pods.

Suffer, if it so please thee, the russet aspen to come head-
long down ;
Burn, be it late or early, the tree with the palsied branch.

Patriarch of long-lasting woods is the yew, sacred to
feasts, as is well-known ;
Of him now build ye dark-red vats of goodly size.

Ferdedh, thou faithful one, wouldst thou but do my
behest :
To thy soul as to thy body, O man, 'twould work advantage.

Translation: Standish Hayes O'Grady


* These are the same words (& the same source) as used by Robin Williamson on the album A Glint at the Kindling, albeit without the Sirs. I've always understood the chorus to be a later addition (by Johnny Collins?). There is no traditional melody for this song - we wrote the one we use, although we couldn't get away from Robin's Sirs. I might add that the Digitrad lyrics given Here are Robin Williamson's adaptation; the chorus here is Robin's. Maybe this should be made clear?

This thread has lots of deleted spam following this last message, so the thread is closed for now. If you need to post, contact any moderator to reopen it. ---mudelf