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Author Topic: Music and Ritual  (Read 616 times)

Donal2018

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Music and Ritual
« on: August 08, 2020, 05:02:52 pm »
I am mostly a solitary practitioner and I do some simple rituals for myself and my pagan practice. I was wondering how people might use music in their rituals, worship, and maybe spellcraft (if you do spellwork).

I know that drumming is popular with some people to raise energy and get into trance states. Do you ever use recorded music? I really get into Peter Gabriel's Passion soundtrack. Do you have particular music that you use?

Aisling

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Re: Music and Ritual
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2020, 12:50:19 am »
Do you ever use recorded music? I really get into Peter Gabriel's Passion soundtrack. Do you have particular music that you use?

I tend to use music within my practice to heighten the sense of otherness.  If I want to set a general tone, I typically go with artists like Enigma, Dead Can Dance, Faith & the Muse, and VNV Nation. 

For specific workings, I have a few favorites that resonate: 
  • Beth Patterson's Coiling -  building energy slowly/justice work
  • Apotheosis' version of O Fortuna - raising large amounts of energy quickly
  • SJ Tucker's Firebird's Child - raising personal energy/centering
  • Kate Bush's Get out of My House - banishing/house warding (because who wouldn't run from the end of that song?)
  • Leonard Cohen's Who By Fire - calling the dead at Samhain 
  • David Gray's Meet Me on the Other Side - mourning rituals for people I knew
  • Adiago for Strings - mourning rituals for strangers
  • Project Pitchfork's Timekiller - severing ties

I also use music as a way of connecting with deities and others.  A couple of examples:
  • For She who is the boss of me - Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes & Peter Murphy's Cut You Up
  • For the Morrigan - Dorothy's Missile
  • For a certain PITA Norse trickster god - P!nk's Raise Your Glass
  • For the guardian - Gary Numan's My Name Is Ruin

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Re: Music and Ritual
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2020, 01:38:01 pm »
I am mostly a solitary practitioner and I do some simple rituals for myself and my pagan practice. I was wondering how people might use music in their rituals, worship, and maybe spellcraft (if you do spellwork).

First, there are a bunch of older threads about this one (some of them popping up in the "related threads" block below) that also have some great stuff in them, including tons of music recs.

One of those, from 2018, was me preparing to do a workshop in my local community on music and the arts in ritual, and it got some great wide-ranging recs. I wrote those up as four essays: Music in ritual practice, What "Pagan music" is and isn't, Pagan music examples (which includes both a shared playlist of songs of different kinds of uses, and a longish list of musicians people recommended), and Art in ritual.

In terms of ritual practice, well, my coven is named Phoenix Song for a reason. One of the things I want to build is a practice that includes plenty of music. In my tradition, it's common to sing certain parts of the ritual, usually a song before doing an invocation (of deities, of our ancestors). While we don't use a song to scribe the circle (because our circle scribe has specific requirements for the text, and because the person doing it might or might not be a strong singer...), there are songs that go with other ritual steps.

Music has a specific function in group work above and beyond the other reasons you might want it, because there's nothing quite like singing together to get people's minds focused on the same goal, and all pointed the same way. However, I don't often cast a full blown circle for my personal work, but when I do, I generally include most of the singing, because of how resonant it is for me. Most of these are simple chants like the ones listed in the examples page, and they're quite useful for personal practice too.

But I also do plenty of other things.

Sources
I feel really strongly about not using music written for other religious traditions in my "I am doing a ritual now" ritual work. (There are a couple of exceptions: if I am doing ancestral work with my father around the anniversary of his death, Mozart's "Dies Irae" is probably in the mix, because of how much time my father and I spent listening to WCRB and the Met Opera broadcasts on the radio while driving somewhere. But I need a pretty compelling reason for it.)

I've had some really bad experiences with people repurposing Christian religious music and that really really bugs me (especially as someone who wrote some of that, including a Mass setting used at my college regularly for a while). Besides the "this is taking something meant for a specific context in worship out of context", I also think it means ignoring the growing wealth of music by Pagans and Pagan-friendly folks meant to inspire, comfort, entice, and all the other things we might want music for. So, noted below which things I do focus on Pagan music specifically, and where I'm a bit more broad in my sourcing.

Daily or regular
I have a daily semi-divinatory playlist with about 80 songs on it, and I listen to one song from that in the morning as part of my morning devotional work, as well as pulling a Tarot card, some quick offerings, etc. They're all songs that resonate for me in different ways, and from a wide mix of genres. Skimming through the list, about a third are artists I know are Pagan, about a third are people where I wouldn't be at all surprised, and about a third are of unknown background, though none of them are religious music from other traditions. (The closest I get is Meg Barnhouse's "All Will Be Well" which is a conversation with Julian of Norwich, but by a UU Minister and mostly focusing on mysticism.)

Music is also a big part of my overall environment: I build playlists for different purposes. I have lists for Sabbat seasons, for elements, for the moon, for deities (though usually not specific deities), for things like "Sense of place", and I'm slowly building out planetary focus lists. I put these on for general listening a moderate amount, picking whatever seems appropriate. Part of our tradition practice includes elemental attunement, so when I've been doing those, I will have my default listening be whatever element I'm focusing on, for example.

The Sabbat and tend to be Pagan focused, with a lot of British folk music (both trad and modern), but the other lists can be more varied in source, since I generally don't use them in ritual and/or they are not focused on a solely Pagan thing.

I can't listen to music with words when I'm writing, generally, so I also have half a dozen or so lists that don't have words (or at least not words in languages I'll try to parse: Gaelic is fine, Latin depends on how clearly it's enunciated, French and German and earlier forms of English and often Italian are right out.) Those are thematic by mood, and I'll sometimes put one of them on just because outside of writing.

I also have a list called "For bad days" which is the stuff that will promptly lift my mood when needed, and a couple of others for occasional listening ("Pagan songs" for example, when I just want a one of that.)

Magic
I only have one of these going right now (long-term prosperity working, which I mostly listen to while doing my weekly budget updates, but sometimes also while doing relevant magical work. I had it on when I was prepping a bunch of oils for a prosperity/home blessing blend, for example). That one has a lot of songs that evoke the emotions I want, of stability, financial security, abundance, blessings.

I've done them in the past for job hunting - again, a focus on what I want to feel, when the magic works, what things I want to have in my life. I'd have them on while working on cover letters, travelling to interviews, etc.

These kinds of list draw from a wide range of sources, usually, because I'm generally not using them in formal ritual space with specifically invited deities. (If I plan to be, I usually pull a subset into a separate list for that ritual.) A modest amount of rock (which I mostly don't listen to unless someone introduces me to it), a non-trivial number of things from Broadway musicals, a lot of British folk of various subgenres, occasional bits of classical and early music, etc.

I generally build a specific list for a given ritual anyway, because I usually want a certain amount of music in a particular order, where my playlists are usually at least a couple of hours and my personal rituals are likely to be more like an hour, not all of it involving music.

Other kinds of workings
There's at least one ritual a year (a tradition-specific one) where I build a playlist for it each year. It has three or four songs that usually remain the same year to year (though I may swap one in or out, depending on what I've discovered for music that year), and then three or four related to the focus of the previous year's work and three or four related to the coming year's goals. (The latter set turn into the 'past year' set the following year, so there's 3ish new songs swapped in each year and a consistent number.)

I do this because while normally it would have multiple people doing that ritual together to raise and focus energy, right now, I'm the only one in the group who is doing that ritual, and it's a whole lot easier to make the energy flow when I have music helping.

I also have a couple of dance playlists with different kinds of focus for moving meditation work. (Similar to the Witchual workouts from Laura Tempest Zakroff I posted elsewhere on the board recently.)
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Donal2018

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Re: Music and Ritual
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2020, 01:59:52 pm »
I am mostly a solitary practitioner and I do some simple rituals for myself and my pagan practice. I was wondering how people might use music in their rituals, worship, and maybe spellcraft (if you do spellwork).

I know that drumming is popular with some people to raise energy and get into trance states. Do you ever use recorded music? I really get into Peter Gabriel's Passion soundtrack. Do you have particular music that you use?

Thank you Aisling and Jennett! A lot of good stuff to go through. Aisling- I have a CD of that techno mix of O Fortuna by Apotheosis. I love Peter Gabriel and listen regularly to Peter Murphy and Bauhaus, amongst others.

I like the idea of specific songs for specific deities. I have lately been approaching Hekate. She strikes me as a witchy and gothic type goddess, so I will maybe do some ritual and worship for her with some goth rock. Cool stuff!

Donal2018

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Re: Music and Ritual
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2020, 02:07:30 pm »
Thank you Aisling and Jennett! A lot of good stuff to go through. Aisling- I have a CD of that techno mix of O Fortuna by Apotheosis. I love Peter Gabriel and listen regularly to Peter Murphy and Bauhaus, amongst others.

I like the idea of specific songs for specific deities. I have lately been approaching Hekate. She strikes me as a witchy and gothic type goddess, so I will maybe do some ritual and worship for her with some goth rock. Cool stuff!

Also,  I appreciate the thorough response Jennett. I am reading the links you provided. Very good stuff. I think it is going to help me build a better ritual practice. Right now I just do very simple things ritually. I am getting deeper into it though. Thanks for the information and guidance that you provide.

Aisling

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Re: Music and Ritual
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2020, 04:31:53 pm »
I like the idea of specific songs for specific deities. I have lately been approaching Hekate. She strikes me as a witchy and gothic type goddess, so I will maybe do some ritual and worship for her with some goth rock. Cool stuff!

I've found it useful to make the connection between deity and specific pieces of music. Usually, I can make the match quickly, but it took me a good year or so to realize that My Name Is Ruin wasn't for Loki. There was a bit of a light bulb moment when I finally did figure that one out.

I haven't done a lot of work with Hekate, but goth would probably be a good genre for her.
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sevensons

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Re: Music and Ritual
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2020, 05:21:44 pm »
I am mostly a solitary practitioner and I do some simple rituals for myself and my pagan practice. I was wondering how people might use music in their rituals, worship, and maybe spellcraft (if you do spellwork).

I know that drumming is popular with some people to raise energy and get into trance states. Do you ever use recorded music? I really get into Peter Gabriel's Passion soundtrack. Do you have particular music that you use?
When I awaken I find out my own mind what state it's in through Music. I then work out the spell to get into Genius state of mind. my feelings get heightened as a result.
Awaken myself alive and well loving to start learning today ahead a challenge set by the Gods. Haven't

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