I was driving recently and listening to a podcast that features “Pagan music.” That’s both music by Pagans and music with Pagan themes or interest. One thing that struck me is that a lot of overtly Pagan music is very literal. It’s basically like Christian rock: they’re both just talking literally about these symbol-systems and experiences that you have to undergo to understand. That doesn’t mean the songs are obscure, just that sometimes they’re a little too on-the-nose. If we’re literally out here on the full moon (just passed) doing magic, it’s not weird to want some music that instills a sense of mystical wonder. So here are a few songs that I feel create that kind of mood. They’re all magical in one way or another, but they don’t just say “we’re doing magic on the Sabbath” (I have literally heard songs that do that).
1: Blue Oyster Cult
That’s the song title, believe it or not. There’s another version titled “Subhuman” which is a little more crunchy, but I like this one because it helps you focus in on the lyrics. The song is all about aquatic spirits, fear, and a mystical experience on the verge of death.
Imaginos is a concept album that BOC worked on throughout two or three decades, which is why so many of the songs appear on other albums first.
Lyrics to listen for: “the oyster boys are swimming now / one deal is what we made / the forest keys and whirlwind cold / green keys too and keys of gold / and even locks that won’t explode / when the skies become a scroll…”
2: The Queen’s Rebuke
Never yet have I heard a better song in the persona of the forest queen, up to and including her lack of human morality. The Decemberists are my favorite band, and this is from their concept album about a love tragedy playing out in an enchanted wood. The queen adopted the male love interest and is pissed he’s coming into his own and trying to get away from her. She turns him into a faun, mirroring many goddess’s power over our bodies and the forms of animals (Ceridwen, Circe, you get the idea).
Lyrics to listen for: “I’m made of bones of the branches the boughs and the bough beating light / well my feet are the trunks and my head is the canopy high / and my fingers extend to the leaves in the eaves…”
There are a ton of Jethro Tull songs I could have chosen here. This is one of the first songs that got me into Tull apart from the classics on Original Masters. This song really digs into what the spirit of spring is doing, for us and for others. Honestly, if you’re into Flying Witch you’ll enjoy this song: the spirit has his job to do, and the speaker is interested and a little worried about him.
According to Wikipedia, one of the advertisements at the time had this to say about the album: “It’s inspired by the thought that perhaps nature isn’t as gentle as we’d like to believe.” Bonus: listen to the entire album Songs from the Wood.
Lyrics to listen for: “will these changing times / motorways, power lines keep us apart / well I don’t think so / I saw some grass growing through the pavements today…”
It’s Friday, let’s leave it here! What music are you using this weekend to get you into your favorite headspace?