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Author Topic: Music and art in ritual practice  (Read 946 times)

Jenett

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Music and art in ritual practice
« on: February 05, 2018, 10:58:52 am »
I'm teaching a workshop next weekend (if you're in or near the Boston metro area, or know someone who is who's interested, details are over here.)

Which means I'm finishing prep on my notes, and am curious about a few things if you're willing to share answers. (I will link to this thread from the notes that will go up on Seeking when I've done the class with a thank you.)  If your practice is something other than Pagan as defined on this forum, it'd be really helpful to mention as part of your answer, because how other religions and practices use music and art can be very different.

Things I'm curious about:

1) What kinds of ways do you use music as part of your ritual practice? Chants? Playlists? Dance? Drumming? Background while doing something else? Central focus?

2) What kinds of ways do you use art in your ritual practice? Do you use Tarot cards or other images as images (not just for divination readings?) On altars? In other ways?

3) How did you decide on the practices you use? (In particular, I'm curious about if this is something you learned directly from other people or experiences at something like a community/group ritual, or if it's something you came up with yourself, or if it's a 'someone mentioned this thing, I developed it further')

4) Where do you find more music or art for your religious practice when you want to? Spotify? YouTube? Rec lists? Other options?

5) How important is producing it yourself (i.e. singing/dancing/chanting/drumming or creating art yourself, rather than using someone else's) as part of your practices? Is there a difference in how you use it/what you use it for if you don't make it yourself?
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Jainarayan

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Re: Music and art in ritual practice
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2018, 01:44:18 pm »

Things I'm curious about:

1) What kinds of ways do you use music as part of your ritual practice? Chants? Playlists? Dance? Drumming? Background while doing something else? Central focus?

I have a fairly extensive iTunes playlist of bhajans (devotional songs), chants and mantras. I listen to them while driving, at work, in the gym, at home getting ready for work and working around the house, and just about any time.

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2) What kinds of ways do you use art in your ritual practice? Do you use Tarot cards or other images as images (not just for divination readings?) On altars? In other ways?

My shrine consists of a number of statues made of brass and other materials, and framed pictures of the gods and goddesses. I find pictures on the internet, save them, print them on photo quality paper and frame them. Images are actually sanctioned by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. He says that focusing on the unmanifest form of God is difficult for embodied beings such as us, because we use our senses so extensively.

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3) How did you decide on the practices you use? (In particular, I'm curious about if this is something you learned directly from other people or experiences at something like a community/group ritual, or if it's something you came up with yourself, or if it's a 'someone mentioned this thing, I developed it further')

Simply, I've always liked music. The music I'm drawn to happens to be devotional. A winning combination for me. :)

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4) Where do you find more music or art for your religious practice when you want to? Spotify? YouTube? Rec lists? Other options?

Youtube, pretty much. There are a lot of videos of bhajans and mantras. There is a free downloading program, that I presume is perfectly legal.

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5) How important is producing it yourself (i.e. singing/dancing/chanting/drumming or creating art yourself, rather than using someone else's) as part of your practices? Is there a difference in how you use it/what you use it for if you don't make it yourself?

I'm not that talented. :D
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

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Re: Music and art in ritual practice
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2018, 09:32:01 pm »
1) What kinds of ways do you use music as part of your ritual practice? Chants? Playlists? Dance? Drumming? Background while doing something else? Central focus?

2) What kinds of ways do you use art in your ritual practice? Do you use Tarot cards or other images as images (not just for divination readings?) On altars? In other ways?

3) How did you decide on the practices you use? (In particular, I'm curious about if this is something you learned directly from other people or experiences at something like a community/group ritual, or if it's something you came up with yourself, or if it's a 'someone mentioned this thing, I developed it further')

4) Where do you find more music or art for your religious practice when you want to? Spotify? YouTube? Rec lists? Other options?

5) How important is producing it yourself (i.e. singing/dancing/chanting/drumming or creating art yourself, rather than using someone else's) as part of your practices? Is there a difference in how you use it/what you use it for if you don't make it yourself?

Caveat to my answers: My "practice" is very loose and largely integrated into daily living. I rarely do any formal rituals; but there are activities that to others might seem mundane that for me take on deep pagan significance.

1) I use playlists (sadly I have no facility with any musical instruments anymore), for specific purposes:
 
A--SEASONAL: I find I have go-to music that I play for those stations of the Wheel of the Year that matter to me--Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" on Halloween; a particularly bacchanalian excerpt from Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" to kick off Up All Night at winter solstice; Copland's "Appalachian Spring" for the spring equinox (among several other pieces; after a long winter, summoning spring gets a lot of musical expression); etc. Interestingly, I tend to restrict listening to these pieces to *only* those holy days. In these situations the music is the central focus, and embarrassing naked dancing that no one will ever see is sometimes involved.

B--MEDITATION: Sometimes I'll play a particular piece to get me into a trance state; Laurie Anderson's "Walking and Falling" on a repeating loop is a favorite example.

2) Depends on how you define "art". My informal rituals sometimes involve custom pieces--my ring or my swords--that I consider works of art. Other than that, the mandala of my metamythos is sometimes used in meditation, either in contemplation or in actual execution on a piece of paper. I have no formal altar, but my living room has masks, which counts as artwork, and they make my living space an ongoing altar on the down low. But I think that's straying from your request for ritual uses.

3) I just did them, and the tradition stuck. They seem right for what I need to express. So "came up with it myself" category.

4) I can't say I actively seek out new material. But that "Invocation to Venus" you turned me onto is a frontrunner for getting incorporated into something, sometime soon.

5) As noted above, none of it is made myself. I wish I could, though.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: Music and art in ritual practice
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2018, 02:39:38 pm »
1) What kinds of ways do you use music as part of your ritual practice? Chants? Playlists? Dance? Drumming? Background while doing something else? Central focus?

Music is a central focus of my practice; it is essentially a form of magic in its own right and part of the power source for other forms of magic. I do various things with it--I make playlists, I study and explore songs, I play albums during meditation.

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2) What kinds of ways do you use art in your ritual practice? Do you use Tarot cards or other images as images (not just for divination readings?) On altars? In other ways?

I do sometimes use Tarot cards, but the main role of art in my practice is in my "devotional commissions"--I commission artists in fandom to draw images of my Powers. It's an act of devotion and sometimes I get rewarded in some way for it.

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3) How did you decide on the practices you use? (In particular, I'm curious about if this is something you learned directly from other people or experiences at something like a community/group ritual, or if it's something you came up with yourself, or if it's a 'someone mentioned this thing, I developed it further')

The music stuff just kind of happened.

The art commissions grew out of popular non-religious practices in fandom.

Quote
4) Where do you find more music or art for your religious practice when you want to? Spotify? YouTube? Rec lists? Other options?

Music is mostly from Youtube, although I've been using Spotify lately. As for art, I watch a couple of different social media to see who's advertising commissions.

Quote
5) How important is producing it yourself (i.e. singing/dancing/chanting/drumming or creating art yourself, rather than using someone else's) as part of your practices? Is there a difference in how you use it/what you use it for if you don't make it yourself?

My drawing skills are poor to nonexistent, so I very rarely do anything with them myself (although I do make sigils). All my own creative energy goes into writing of some kind.

I do go to a karaoke bar every other week and sing as a kind of devotional practice.
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Re: Music and art in ritual practice
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2018, 06:44:33 pm »
1) What kinds of ways do you use music as part of your ritual practice? Chants? Playlists? Dance? Drumming? Background while doing something else? Central focus?

I don't use music or sound in general very much in my practice; I'm a more visually-oriented person. I generally don't even speak above a whisper during ritual.

Quote
2) What kinds of ways do you use art in your ritual practice? Do you use Tarot cards or other images as images (not just for divination readings?) On altars? In other ways?

Mostly I use art for deity images and symbols. I also sometimes use artwork to explore abstract concepts like duality.

Quote
3) How did you decide on the practices you use? (In particular, I'm curious about if this is something you learned directly from other people or experiences at something like a community/group ritual, or if it's something you came up with yourself, or if it's a 'someone mentioned this thing, I developed it further')

Trial and error, mostly. Some thing catches my attention, I try it out, and if I like the results it gets added to my practice.

Quote
4) Where do you find more music or art for your religious practice when you want to? Spotify? YouTube? Rec lists? Other options?

5) How important is producing it yourself (i.e. singing/dancing/chanting/drumming or creating art yourself, rather than using someone else's) as part of your practices? Is there a difference in how you use it/what you use it for if you don't make it yourself?

I like to make as much of my own religious art as possible, because (a) that way I can get exactly what I want and (2) it's a way of offering my skills to my deities.

For the things I don't make myself, I have found quite a lot at my local thrift store (ceramics and such).

TheGreenWizard

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Re: Music and art in ritual practice
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2018, 08:38:59 pm »
1) What kinds of ways do you use music as part of your ritual practice? Chants? Playlists? Dance? Drumming? Background while doing something else? Central focus?

Lately, I've been experimenting with this. Music, I've noticed, has a very psycho-somatic effect on me, meaning, if the song is just right, I can feel waves of energy travel across my body, or I'll enter a trance because of the rhythms (I don't have proper words to describe this feeling).

That stated, I will use Anilah's Medicine Chant to focus me, as well as my Spotify channel of Deep Focus or Brain Food to get me into trance for meditation.

Quote
2) What kinds of ways do you use art in your ritual practice? Do you use Tarot cards or other images as images (not just for divination readings?) On altars? In other ways?

I have Tarot, but I rarely use them as divination tools (like, maybe around Halloween or when I strike up the fancy to do so, I'll do divination work). Currently, on my altar, the only "art" are my two candles that I hand made: one is rectangular prism in shape, made with shades of green to yellow and maybe blue-green for the forest/plant (it's dedicated to Dionysus), while my Goddess candle is cylindrical in shape, going from red - orange - yellows - white. I would like to get a statue of Dionysus on the shrine part of the area, but I don't have the space currently and its cluttered (time to clean)!

Rarely, I'll use drawing as a calming technique. It's somethign I want to do more of, but I am finding that my work life is eating up my free time (joys of being a young science teacher).

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3) How did you decide on the practices you use? (In particular, I'm curious about if this is something you learned directly from other people or experiences at something like a community/group ritual, or if it's something you came up with yourself, or if it's a 'someone mentioned this thing, I developed it further')

Music use for meditation is something I've done for some time; don't know who told me about it or where I read it from.

Quote
4) Where do you find more music or art for your religious practice when you want to? Spotify? YouTube? Rec lists? Other options?

I go into the outdoors, and find my inspiration there :)

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5) How important is producing it yourself (i.e. singing/dancing/chanting/drumming or creating art yourself, rather than using someone else's) as part of your practices? Is there a difference in how you use it/what you use it for if you don't make it yourself?

Uh... yeah no. not at all important.

1) I use playlists (sadly I have no facility with any musical instruments anymore), for specific purposes:
 
A--SEASONAL: I find I have go-to music that I play for those stations of the Wheel of the Year that matter to me--Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" on Halloween; a particularly bacchanalian excerpt from Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" to kick off Up All Night at winter solstice; Copland's "Appalachian Spring" for the spring equinox (among several other pieces; after a long winter, summoning spring gets a lot of musical expression); etc. Interestingly, I tend to restrict listening to these pieces to *only* those holy days. In these situations the music is the central focus, and embarrassing naked dancing that no one will ever see is sometimes involved.

So that's why you had me drink so much for the 2017 UAN... I see now. ;) :D
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Jenett

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Re: Music and art in ritual practice
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2018, 08:15:31 pm »
So, to answer my own questions (the workshop was great, and we had some really good discussion. Also singing!)

Here are four articles for my Seeking site I wrote up as part of my notes and handouts. (The third one has a link to a Spotify playlist I put together, and commentary about the songs and why they might be useful to know about, as well as a lot of other resources.)

Music in ritual practice: theory (why you might want to) and practical suggestions.
Pagan music background and sources: what is Pagan music and where can you find it?
Pagan music: examples: A playlist and links to musicians I particularly like.
Art in ritual: a few reasons why and some examples.

A lot of what I do is in more detail in those links, so I'm going to gesture here rather than be lengthy.

1) What kinds of ways do you use music as part of your ritual practice? Chants? Playlists? Dance? Drumming? Background while doing something else? Central focus?


Things I do regularly:
- morning practice where I listen to a song from a playlist (of about 70 songs). Not quite divinatory, more a 'what should I be thinking about today'.
- playlists for ongoing magical work, usually evoking particular modes ("what do I want my life to be like")

Less regularly, but still important:
- chants and sung music in group ritual (for reasons described in the first two links above in particular)
- music used for specific ritual purposes (building focus and intention while I'm working on something in ritual.

Less than I want to be: Making music and creating it.

Quote
2) What kinds of ways do you use art in your ritual practice? Do you use Tarot cards or other images as images (not just for divination readings?) On altars? In other ways?

Art on my altar, for rituals I'll sometimes combine tarot cards. I have mini  copies of cards related to things I want to increase in my wallet (for prosperity/health/well-being stuff in particular.)

Jewelry for personal magical use is a big thing for me too.

I also sometimes do symbolic art design as part of my ritual work - I prefer watercolour pencils for this. (Described a bit more in the art link.0

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3) How did you decide on the practices you use?

Most of my actually done in ritual practices were learned as part of my tradition training (in the sense of 'where might music go, how does it fit, what kinds of things fit there, what's the theory behind it.)

My personal playlist practices are my own design, mostly.

Quote
4) Where do you find more music or art for your religious practice when you want to? Spotify? YouTube? Rec lists? Other options?

Browsing around artists I like on whatever service I'm playing with, plus keeping my eyes open for other options. The Wild Hunt's commentary on musicians tends to be fairly wide-ranging, and I try to at least check out stuff mentioned there when I can. I also have a couple of blogs I read where people post music regularly.

Quote
5) How important is producing it yourself (i.e. singing/dancing/chanting/drumming or creating art yourself, rather than using someone else's) as part of your practices? Is there a difference in how you use it/what you use it for if you don't make it yourself?

There is a big and important difference for me - especially for singing. It involves the whole body in a way that isn't true for some other forms (breath, resonance and vibration in the body, plus being so focused on what you're doing.) I don't think it's necessary all the time, but it's important for me to include regularly when possible.

I've also been exploring making more art myself in the past couple of years, and I really enjoy it, even if my technical skills aren't great. (And I don't really want to focus on that: I like the stylised stuff I'm doing without it.)
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Re: Music and art in ritual practice
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2018, 02:39:37 pm »
I'm teaching a workshop next weekend (if you're in or near the Boston metro area, or know someone who is who's interested, details are over here.)

Which means I'm finishing prep on my notes, and am curious about a few things if you're willing to share answers. (I will link to this thread from the notes that will go up on Seeking when I've done the class with a thank you.)  If your practice is something other than Pagan as defined on this forum, it'd be really helpful to mention as part of your answer, because how other religions and practices use music and art can be very different.

Things I'm curious about:

1) What kinds of ways do you use music as part of your ritual practice? Chants? Playlists? Dance? Drumming? Background while doing something else? Central focus?

2) What kinds of ways do you use art in your ritual practice? Do you use Tarot cards or other images as images (not just for divination readings?) On altars? In other ways?

3) How did you decide on the practices you use? (In particular, I'm curious about if this is something you learned directly from other people or experiences at something like a community/group ritual, or if it's something you came up with yourself, or if it's a 'someone mentioned this thing, I developed it further')

4) Where do you find more music or art for your religious practice when you want to? Spotify? YouTube? Rec lists? Other options?

5) How important is producing it yourself (i.e. singing/dancing/chanting/drumming or creating art yourself, rather than using someone else's) as part of your practices? Is there a difference in how you use it/what you use it for if you don't make it yourself?

I know this is old, but I would love to bump this and see what others might have to say on the subject. I've got a short book/series of essays percolating about the role of art and artists in polytheist traditions, so Jenett, I hope you don't mind if I piggyback on your thread!

1. Music doesn't play an enormous part of my practice; I do background/meditation music, and I've created a couple devotional playlists before though they don't define anything. They were sort of one-time gifts. I want to learn how to play an instrument, actually, so I can feature live music more in my rituals.

2. I've actually been working with a pair of gods of the arts very closely for the past 6+ years, and most of my intense work has been with them. I've since taken up the mantle of "artist" the way that others take up the mantle of "spirit-worker"; I take the job very seriously, and it defines a lot of my practice. I've created all of my own religious icons, and I've been working on a comic book for the past 10 years that has turned into a religious obligation more than a form of self-expression. I've inadvertently dabbled in automatic drawing and writing, and kinds of long-term trance-type states over the course of working on this. (The long-term stuff I'm fascinated by, and a lot of famous artists talk about experiencing similar states of mind, though I've yet to come across any definitive texts on the phenomenon. Seeking out topics like these is part of my research.)

3. I was already an artist by both trade and leisure, so when I approached Miro and Mano and Things Started Happening, it should have been no surprise. I spent an entire year in dedication to them, and that time spent meditating on them and on the nature of artistic practice set the stage for the path I'm going down now. That is, I'm being called to bring to public discourse the role of the artist in modern polytheist community and practice. Unfortunately, I have a lot to learn about what that is, exactly! In the meantime, again, I make all my own iconography and as much ritual paraphernalia as possible. I also do a lot with sigils, magic-via-picture-making and magic-via-storytelling, as well as such being a primary method of spirit work (ie stories and pictures as "places of power" where spirits/the numinous can reside or be manifest in).

4. The art I make myself, and the music I usually just curate from my personal collection. I only ever really go "looking" for specific pieces if I need things to meditate or trance-out to.

5. Doing things myself is currently the foundation for a good chunk of my practice. Miro and Mano mostly balk at mass production, and are in fact pushing me to make my own tools and materials as well. I've started dabbling in paintbrush construction, and I plan on learning to make my own gesso, paints, as well as pigments and papers. The aspect of locality in every step of the art-making process is what I'll be focusing on in the years ahead. Local rabbit glue for the gesso; local stones for the pigment; local eggs for the tempera.  And so on.
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Re: Music and art in ritual practice
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2018, 06:51:20 pm »
Local rabbit glue for the gesso; local stones for the pigment; local eggs for the tempera.  And so on.

This reminds me of the historical techniques course I took in Uni. Ah, the joys of egg tempera. For one thing, the old-timey manuals said that a rotten egg yolk works best, and they were unfortunately correct. Also painting a large panel with a #0 brush and having to wash it out every 5 strokes because the egg dries that fast. Still less annoying than oils though.

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