Learn how Classical Music harbors subliminal and not-so subliminal Pagan messages.
Pagan Singer's Dilemma
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.
And when it came time for the group recitations and responses, I found myself speaking along, just as I had been taught to do in catholic grade school. I was scared. Was I continuing a brainwashment? Could I lay it down to respecting someone else's path by observing the right behaviors? This is the religion that not only pagans but many people in general rail against. I changed my maiden name to my husband's name because it reflected that religion too much.
And I said to myself, "Can I do this? Why do I not try to sing for Pagan services instead?" I could do that. After being in a Pagan Choir for three years, I certainly know enough songs. I've even written a few of my own. Should I decide to sing for other groups, I know that I may miss out on my group's activities. I won't be paid, though. I don't know how to even start with that part of things.
Whereas, if I sing for a church, I'll get a weekly exercise in a space designed for singing, and can take the weekends off that I need to in order to go with my group. I can recruit other singing gigs from this vantage point. Weddings, Funerals, parties, other choirs and paying opportunities will open up for me.
Then, at the end of the service, my contact at that church, the accompanist, offered to let me sing the 'offertory'. Score! I won't have to take communion, I can just stand up there and sing and no one will take notice that i didn't join them! Even better, I'll be singing a song in French, "Les Berceaux", which is a really cynical turn of the century Faure piece. This begs the question: Is it ethical to sing cynical songs in church if you really do feel cynical about the whole operation?
There is one thing that comforts me: that since I began singing in a professional capacity again, the Athena chant that I wrote always comes to mind before I enter a church. And if I can have a moment of purely pagan inspiration to keep me going through the day, it's worth it.
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