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.
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.
In the wake of my article on Canadian Pagan music, I had an opportunity to interview Thom of emerging Canadian Celtic folk rock band Raven’s Call, who was happy to share with me the details of what was going on with his band! For the full interview, check out my podcast as of June 10, 2013, at http://paganpathfinders.webs.com.
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.
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.)