J no. 2 – ‘Magical Jams’
No, readers, I haven’t taken up the lengthy, particular, and rewarding art of preserves and spreads. I’m talking about music; your jams. The music that you craft to, that you work with, that moves you and makes a magical experience that much more lush.
Like most of my generation, music is omnipresent in my life; I’ve had some sort of portable music device since I was in grade school (bright yellow athletic Walkman, anyone?) and I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t have easily accessible music.
Obviously, this means that music has, and still does, play a big role in my spiritual life. In some instances the relationship works in one direction; I am performing ritual and chose a playlist. Eventually these songs will develop a magical association in my mind and become enriched with ritual meaning. But, on the rare and exciting occasion, it works the opposite way; I am listening to a song, and it fills me with a heightened spiritual sense. Rather than working its way into my spiritual mindset, it creates one on its own.
Music creates my ritual space for me so easily (although, I do try to remind myself that the world has its own soundtrack, and try to walk or work in the natural sounds from time to time) because it envelopes a space. This goes beyond just setting the mood; for me it creates a space the way that casting a circle or raising a hedgerow does. It pushes out the negativity as it travels away from the musical source and it helps to keep it at bay. And, whats more is that it brings me into a magical mindset and then helps to keep me there. The sound fills up some of the otherwise empty space in a room and enriches it, and it fills the otherwise empty spaces in my thoughts and gives me something to focus on, even if only peripherally. The music keeps me in the magical space, and doesn’t allow my mind to drift far from the task at hand.
As a dancer movement is a big part of my practice as well, and so music is key to expressing myself and raising energy during workings. Obvious choices for music are things like drums if I want to move, or gongs and bells if I plan to sit still and need to focus, but I also do not shy away from any particular genre of music if I feel it will enhance my energies and help me achieve my purpose.
Here are some examples of some of my favourite albums for use during rituals:
Bjork – Anything. Everything.
I love Bjork. She is my ultimate favourite. Her work inspires me so much, and each album is so individual and carries a whole different character; there is so many moods and styles to choose from. Her music is decidedly Pagan and the lyrics work beautifully during so many different workings and rituals.
My favourite album for magical use is Vespertine; she describes it as a ‘winter album’. Made up of clicks and cuts, rather than the sweeping strings and volcanic noises of her previous album Homogenic, it represents creating your own little world under your kitchen table and exploring it. I find it a very sensual album and love to use it during massages with my fiance, or while I’m doing ritual in the tub (one of my most intense spiritual experiences involved this album and sitting in the tub for 3 hours).
Check out all of her videos for some seriously powerful imagery (or some pure silliness, depending on the video).
Esthero – We R In Need of A Musical Revolution
An amazing Canadian artist who started in the trip-hop genre, and has since expanded into R’nB, with a heavy jazz influence. She is an amazing lyricist and this E.P. has a few stellar songs on it for ritual use, particularly I Drive Alone, and Amber & Tiger’s Eye.
Imogen Heap – Ellipse
Another artist who seems to have a bit of a Pagan bent is Imogen Heap. A singer/writer/producer, she does almost all the work on her albums by herself. Her Ellipse album is particularly excellent for ritual work because it includes an instrumental version for all of the songs (she encourages people to remix, sample, perform, and create to/with her music, which is rare in the music industry). Her work with Frou Frou is excellent as well (songs like Let Go, or The Dumbing Down of Love are great.) Here is a song she’s written for her upcoming album written from the perspective of an abandoned park (to which I choreographed a duet for a Pagan fundraiser this winter.)
Florence + the Machine – Lungs or Ceremonials
A new addition to my ritual list, the expansive and highly charged songs by Florence + the Machine are perfect for some more Dionysian dancing. Her work is beautifully poetic, and is easy to dance wildly too, but still has so many classical components that it still has that magical, lush feeling. Cosmic Love is one of my all-time favourite songs, and the video is a nearly flawless adaptation of the song.
Various Artists – Happy 2b Hardcore
This one is obviously unlike the others. This is my favourite music from back when I used to rave. Exciting, happy, wild, and ecstatic! Happy hardcore was created for people to experience ecstasy (the feeling, and the drug which I have never taken) and the Happy 2b Hardcore albums were the compendium of the best of the best. You finish ritual exhausted, thrilled, buzzing, and euphoric and you know that you’ve raised enough energy to break through a bank door!
So, what are you favourite magical jams?
What gets you in a magical mood?
What songs do you offer up during ritual?
What song/music was playing during your most intense spiritual experience?