Learn how Classical Music harbors subliminal and not-so subliminal Pagan messages.

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Amarfa

Amarfa

Amarfa has been studying the occult, wicca, and paganism for 17 years and counting.  She has been a musician since age 5, studying first guitar, then accordion for 10 years, placing 2nd in her division in the 1995 ATARI/ATAM New England Regional Competition,  and has been studying voice for 9. She has directed small early music ensembles, performed publicly, and starred in local theatre works, particularly the World Premiere of Nightsong, a musical theatre piece with direction and book by Jon Brennan and music by Kari Tieger and Kevin Campbell, as well as composing a musical of her own and writing music in her spare time.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Four years ago, when I first started my Pagan Music Project, I got asked "What's the difference between Witchcraft and Paganism?"  That was difficult for me to answer. I struggled with it for a while, and then forgot about it.  Now, I think I've got it.

Witchcraft is about energies and powers that be.  Witchcraft spells and Witch magick are about working with the energetic machine that the world and universe are part of.  It's almost more of a job than it is a religion. Witches around the world are people that "do." Whether good or bad, Witches "do" things.

Paganism is religion. Pagan spells are about sharing the power of a Deity, should that Deity choose to share with you.  Pagan rituals, spells, and magick are about worshiping Deities, who, in return for long-term service and offerings to them, grant you boons, and may even visit with you on the material plane if They find you worthy of it.  Whether a Deity is good or bad, you will find Pagans worshipping Them.

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  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    @lizann: Even though I myself find it hard to believe in Christian religion and tradition, I am so glad you've found a balance.
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    Thank you. It was a random 3am type of writing. Sometimes, those are the best!
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely and nuanced wisdom, thank you for sparking my continued processing of those concepts as a witch whose deities tend to be in

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

What would happen if all the BNP's (big name pagans) got together and did magic?  Would they agree on method, goal, and execution, or would they fight to the death?

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  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    That's a good idea! To take turns. In my question, I was envisioning the traditional "circle" format, where, of course, there a
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I realized that you had postulated an "irresistible force meeting an immovable object" scenario, which would be almost guaranteed
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Good question. I think if they were big ENOUGH, each would let the others do their individual presentations before the crowd, and

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

So, a friend let me borrow a book to review.  It’s called ‘Rhythmajick’ and on the front it says: Practical Uses of Number, Rhythm, and Sound.  by Z’EV.  I sat down with my drum one day and opened the book, looking for inspiration.

If I had a picture of myself scratching my head, I’d attach it to this post.  You see, I’m a musician and I know how to read music.  I’m also an educator and I know how to teach music.  A lot of people learn music by rote instead of reading it, so it can be hard to write about music if you don’t have the notation. 

Z’EV doesn’t have the notation.  He’s got the Qabbalistic Tree of Life and numerical correspondences down pat.  But so far, in the book, the first rhythmic exercise doesn’t have any explanation of beat, rhythm, rests, tempo, meter, or duration.  Not even in a form that would be easy to understand by a ‘rote’ learner.  The correspondences are for numbers and they are unconnected to any known rhythmic patterns, tempi, time signatures, or other rhythmic terms.

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  • Travis Crockett
    Travis Crockett says #
    Hahaha Yes Yes YES to all of this. Im actually working with a musician to produce some sound scapes for meditation on the Tarot.
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    Something I do recommend is a book by Joscelyn Godwin, titled "Music, Mysticism and Magic." It's a series of excerpts from early

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

This isn't my usual post about music, but music kind of drew me in a weird direction, because I joined a band with people in it I didn't know, and then this happened.

Sometimes, it doesn't work. The relationship.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to respect someone, and no matter how hard they try to respect you, your respective respect for each other just...isn't. Here's a story.


It's like learning how to eat at the table.  Joe Schmoe learned that it was tasteless to put your napkin in your neck.  Josephine Schmina learned that it was untrustworthy to put your wrists below the table.  They met each other and initially liked each other, and started working together and making great music.  It worked out until one time, they went to dinner and Joe Schmoe saw Josephine Schmina put her napkin in her neck.  Then Josephine saw Joe put his napkin on his lap, and therefore his wrists under the table.  They each asked the other, "Don't you know how bad that is?" and "How could a respectable person do that?"  They threw down the napkins and had a fight.  Each one realized that the other one had some deep issues concerning napkins, and they made up.

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  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    You're welcome! It comes from hard experience. As Pagans, we're focused on getting along, and world peace, and sometimes it benef
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    This is fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

You know, there are times when I feel like I have nothing to contribute to Paganism.  I've gotten a lot out of it, but then I think to myself: What happened?  No, I don't want this to be all normal and easy to digest, I want it to be mysterious and exciting, and for some reason, it isn't anymore.


Why do I feel as though what I have to say isn't special? I'm scratching my head on this one, because it's an important part of my motivation to keep my blogs-that what I'm saying is important and useful.  Maybe I'm having my mid-Pagan crisis or something.  But where went the power and majesty of worshipping the Moon and the forbidden Gods? Because let's face it; what we do is forbidden by mainstream culture. 

I'm particularly at a loss with trying to connect classical music to Pagan culture-even though it's my specialty, somehow I feel like I can't write for the Pagan audience. I just don't know enough about their musical skill or what they'll accept. 

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  • Gabriel Moore
    Gabriel Moore says #
    Candi, I agree with Carl on doubt. In addition doubt slows us down and makes us consider our intent and actions. To many have forg
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    We all have our moments of doubt and feelings of disconnection. One thing that helps me in those times is to reflect on how I cam

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

My apologies to those whom I've asked for ideas for my next article:

I've just found out that Yo-Yo-Ma will be playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the RI Philharmonic  in Providence RI on Sunday, June 1st at 7pm.

This is an incredibly important occasion for me, and it is the reason I'm putting off my next blog about Gender and Paganism in Opera.  I realize I haven't yet spoken about Elgar here, and why he should be important to the Pagan, more especially, Occult and Ceremonialist communities.  I will now do so.

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Gender Role Switching in Opera-A Source List

Peter Ringo asked if I would write an article on Gender Roles in Opera.  I can't.  There are already so many good ones out there and I'd just be stealing their work.  I would much rather create a list of good articles so we can get a good discussion going about how these things came about and continue today, and see what may possibly apply to modern day GLBTQ-types of Pagans and our music at large.

So, here are some articles and my own little paraphrases of what they are about:

Cross-Dressing:

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Hi Folks!

 

In the spirit of my more successful posts, I would like to ask you if there's any topic you'd like me to research, based on "Pagan Music" or "Paganism in Classical Music." What would it be?  Would you like to see articles on archaic, pre-christian music and instruments, or would you prefer that I show you the darker side of Classical music?

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  • Peter Ringo
    Peter Ringo says #
    I don't think I was real clear. The gender nonconformity would need to be connected to spirituality in some way--as an attribute o
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    @Peter: Sure! For example, there are a number of works from the 18th century that involve a man or boy cross dressing in order to
  • Peter Ringo
    Peter Ringo says #
    The Balumain practice is awesome, but I'm looking for music literature--traditional songs and classical pieces that allude to gend

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

We know that the ancient Romans and Greeks played and sang lots of music and performed lots of dances and dramas and SACRIFICES!!!!  MWA HA HA HA! AND THEN THEY SANG ABOUT THE SACRIFICES! (I like to say sacrifices).

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Hi.  I am NOT god-phone material.  I am so lazy and procrastinat-ive that I just don't keep up regular communications with any deities at all.  I had a thing with Bast a while back, but I"m a lazy mo-fo. And I'm proud of it.  I'm still Pagan and live my life as naturally as possible (except for Taco Bell and the occasional battery-powered indulgence) with the caveat that I'm a hedonist. 

Anybody else out there who is okay with being a regular every-day sort of Pagan? No need to be a priest of anything? No need to have direct communication with a deity? Just enjoying the pleasures of natural living and natural worship?

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  • Roy
    Roy says #
    I personally go one step further. I Do Not Truck With Deities. Period. I don't worship, I don't invoke etc. I work with certain ar
  • Cat lover
    Cat lover says #
    I find this encouraging as I have never had an inkling that anything is out there. I might as well be talking to myself.
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I spent twenty years as a Pagan without any clear conception of deity, much less a conversation with any. It can be a satisfying

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Hi!  In the spirit of my last "entry," I thought I'd hazard the question: Where are the musicians among the readers of Witches and Pagans dot Com, and what is your level of experience?  Private lessons, high school band, church choir, pagan choir, college degree?  Community orchestra?  Rock Band? What's your main instrument? How long have you played/sung? Have you written any music? If so, is it 'secular' or for the Gods?

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  • Kenny Klein
    Kenny Klein says #
    Candi, I'm a fellow Pagan Square blogger, a W&P reader, and I am a professional musician who has been playing for Pagan audiences
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    there's a ton of Pagan musicians on Facebook (Witches&Pagans feed), over 40 comments and 60+ likes to our posting of this blog ent
  • Kathleen Rusher
    Kathleen Rusher says #
    I have a Bachelor's Degree in Music, concentrating in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting. I am a classically trained soprano,

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Where are the "Witches" on Witches & Pagans dot com?  I see Pagans of all kinds, Heathen, Norse, Greek, Celtic, but where are the witches? The Gardnerians, the Alexandrians, the Feri?  Reclaiming? Dianics, even?  Anybody out there?  Are there any pagans out there who AREN'T priesthood? 

I'm not priestesshood; my path is too divulgent for that. Is there anyone else out there like me, who is searching for their path somewhere between Wiccan and Pagan?   

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  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte says #
    Witch? Pagan? Wiccan? Not exactly sure myself what it is that I am. I am a 'featured performer' at a SoCal Renaissance Festiv
  • Rev William Greyowl Snodgrass
    Rev William Greyowl Snodgrass says #
    I am British Traditional, Fam Trad, also a Pagan Clergy in the state of Ohio, I teach Witchcraft Degrees and intro to Wicca, Been
  • Brigid Barner
    Brigid Barner says #
    I was taught to believe that Shamans were of both sexes and were represented across the globe. Not just from one people, or regio

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
NOT WAGNER

When I started to wander out into the brick-and-mortar Pagan community, I noticed that there were a lot of people who believed in Norse mythology and Pantheon. Some Asatru, some called themselves Heathen, some Northern Tradition, etc.    And when I'd talk about how I wanted to find out more about how Pagans relate to music, especially if any relate to Classical music, I found that some Norsefolk liked metal and Beethoven, and others liked Richard Wagner.  Richard Wagner, for those who don't know, is hailed as having "revolutionized" music during the middle of the 19th century, and he did this via writing operas about Scandinavian 'sagas' and the 'Nibelungenlied.' I wouldn't be surprised if Wagner was the origination for a connection between Norse/Scandinavian spirituality and anti-Semitism.

I am against the man and his works.  Alright, maybe not.  Maybe I am confused and heartbroken that someone who could write such beautiful and moving music, on such a thoroughly Pagan basis, was a megalomaniac, an abuser, and a bloodthirsty anti-Semite.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I happened to come across the following article today, and thought of your post: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130807-how-i-
  • Robert Brown
    Robert Brown says #
    This is an individual question, and an important one. Have you seensome of Hitler's art? He was an awful, terrible guy. Some of

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Debussy: A Return

In response to Joseph Bloch's call for a July Blogfest on Cultural Appropriation, I once again present Claude Debussy.  

Debussy should be wildly important to modern Pagans, primarily as a French composer in Paris at the end of the 19th, turn of the 20th centuries who was admittedly Pagan, participated in some occult activities, (Societe de la Rose Croix that we know of) and is fully part of the Classical music paradigm.   (Paris and Vienna both were hotbeds of occult and new-age spiritual activity, especially due to the opening of new trade routes and better shipping and overseas travel.) 

Debussy attended the 1889 Paris Exposition, and was particularly moved by the display of the gamelan ensemble from Java. A gamelan is an ensemble of mostly metallophones (musical instruments made of metal), and drums.  The tuning used by the ensemble, slendro, is roughly equivalent to our Phrygian mode. Needless to say, Debussy, as a French wunderkind of music, became strangely obsessed with the sound of the gamelan and tried to incorporate its sound into his music.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Gee, Candi, if Debussy is a copycat then so is Shakespeare! The Bard borrowed older storylines in practically everything he wrote.
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    Thanks, Tammye! Afternoon of a Faun was, to me, the greatest Pagan "outburst" of the musical art of the Gilded Age. Have you rea
  • Tammye McDuff
    Tammye McDuff says #
    I love Debussy, one of my favorite pieces is Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. He captures the imagination and transforms his mu

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
On the Occult Side
Question: Does a twelve-tone matrix have any relationship with the 'Averse Table of Commutations' as found in Qabbalistic writings, and how does this speak to composer intent?
 
(In other words, did Arnold Schoenberg just copy from Medieval Manuscripts for his "unnerving" (to say the least) approach to music? And does that mean he's an Occultist?)
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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Recently, someone asked me a question about my music: Do I touch the Gods through my music?

 

I gave the answer that I channel energy through my music. I create with my music. Thinking about it now, I am realizing just how many ways music is communicative and useful to me in my spirituality, and I think I answered for a question that I interpreted in only a certain way.   I thought I was being asked about touching the Gods through a performance, and responded with the experience of the origination of Vivienne in the world premiere of Nightsong. Through the author's words and the composers' (there were two composers) music, I channeled energy to create a character.  The reality of Vivienne was "indoubitable."

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs


    Considering the articles I've read lately about whether or not pop culture icons and fluffy bunnies are appropriate idols for worship, and whether or not to bow to them, I'd like to address the reverence I feel for Classical music and the composers of that art.  At the beginning of May, I sang in a concert of music by Beethoven.  This concert may have changed my life.  Towards peace. 

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  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Well said. And I agree...what we do is ultimately up to each person and whatever path calls to them.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Another confession:  Instead of attacking De Occulta Philosophia, I'm going for the throat on Marsilio Ficino. 


A few years ago, I came across a book called "Music in Renaissance Magic" by Gary Tomlinson.  He focuses on the magic of a man named Marsilio Ficino, who was a priest and the doctor of Lorenzo de Medici.  Ficino is somewhat contemporary to Agrippa in the way that they both translated documents from Greek into Latin, and then proceeded to create their own synthesis of learning from those experiences. 

Ficino stood out to Tomlinson because he wrote magical music.  None of that music exists; it has all been lost to time, as Ficino's De vita libri tres has been out of my reach through library (another long story) and is too expensive to purchase. Until now. 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

I am at a complete loss for what to write about. I didn't write anything in March and I'm a guilty guilter who guilts. True story.  I've got 4 drafts, plenty of stock material on the old secret webpage, and here I am posting at night where no one will see my genius. 

I realize that blogs are places where people bring their fears and opinions out into the open, not just studies, so I hope this one's a bit of both.

I am deathly afraid of contemplating the significance of Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia in terms of music and music theory.  I know that there are solid free resources on the net that I can relatively trust and cross-reference. I have a book here at home, a sourcebook on Music and Magic, of some amazing excerpts from some of the earliest literature available, translated into modern English by an Occult-positive music professor.  There is a man teaching at Yale who has studied the effects of Occult philosophy on one of the Italian Renaissance's greatest composers.   Yet a third man has delved into the Occult-ed-ness of Arnold Schoenberg, the early 20th century MASTER.  (He's really more of a god, but maybe we'll get into that later.) 

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Candi, yes you can. If I can curl up in front of my keyboard and write Pagan poetry and Pagan short fiction and Pagan essays whil

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

So, I'm pagan, I'm a classical singer, and on this blog I've detailed a couple of ways that those things work together.


Problem is, how does a classical singer get their start? By singing in churches.  Yea. Today I went to a church, willingly, to sing music there and try to get my start. 

I listened to the sermons and readings and looked at the sculptures on the altar, and I thought to myself, "Wow. I've learned so much about abrahamic religions since the last time I've been in church, I could tell you where these customs come from, and even what parts of this ritual are roman.." et cetera et cetera.  The layout of the church reminds me of the reconstructed Parthenon in Nashville, complete with gold-leafed sculpture of the Goddess.  The altar facing the sculpture would have been outside in Rome, rather than inside, and the people would gather for public rites on the steps rather than inside.  

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  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    I do much the same, though it's hard for me. I too sing a lot of oratorio, and it's extremely difficult to sing well without putt
  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    I've been working a bit with that issue as well, although in a more secular context. After much thought, I chose to devote my chor

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