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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
"Religious music" could include any number of pre-Christian "pagan" religions, although that term is hard to define. It would include polytheistic religions, like ancient Egyptian and Greek and Roman religions.

I'm thinking that Wikkan religions would be included in this. Maybe Taggert knows about some of this, since there seems to be more of this kind of activity in Britain than in Texas.

Are there any witches out there who use music in their spell-casting, or heavy-metal Satanists or such? It would be interesting to see if they use music in the casting of spells, or to set the mood for rituals.

This would be a very demonstrable example of how music is used as a "spiritual technology" as I have been talking about in my various threads here in this section.

I was in the used bookstore the other day, and was surprised to see how many books about pagan religions are out there. There are books on invoking ancient Egyptian dieties, and tons of books on the Tarot, its history, and the myriad variations in its forms.

This was in the "metaphysics" section; to my surprise, atheism was included with Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism, under "religion." Go figure.
 
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New Age religions, including Wiccans, seem to be the preserve of hippy types, not generally known for their musical sophistication. CDs of whale 'music' or DIY guitar-strumming might be the closest they get.

Composing music is like practising a traditional religion: it takes discipline. Not something a bunch of unwashed poseurs would tend to have. Perhaps I am being too severe, and my own adventures outside the cultural mainstream have admittedly not involved getting to know any actual Wiccans. A few white 'Buddhists' have slipped in under the radar, and generally turned out to be pseudo-spiritual ***** of the highest order.

It's a very interesting question. I wish I had a more encouraging answer. One more thing is that I wouldn't conflate ancient religions, which were in their own time and place what Christianity has been in ours, with more recent and shallowly-rooted revivals. The former might well have attracted talented musicians (who would have had little alternative but to get with the mainstream program) whereas the latter is by definition the preserve of cranks. I know nothing of Eastern music or religion, but I believe Hinduism has common roots with the polytheistic religions of ancient Europe, so a definition of paganism which was widened to include Hinduism and its relatives might yield better musical results. Admittedly the only detailed books I have read on the subject of the shared origins of classical and Eastern religions are Robert Graves' two volume book on Greek myths and Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges' 19th century book 'The Ancient City'- now largely discredited, but still taught at Oxford in the 90s. I don't think either of these treated music in any detail.
 

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I know a couple of wiccans and by and large they wash as often as the rest of us. They do tend to have terrible taste in music though. World music belongs in shops which sell kaftans and joss sticks. Although I was in one not so long ago and they were playing a cd of Rostropovich playing Bach. I think that was just a fluke.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
New Age religions, including Wiccans, seem to be the preserve of hippy types, not generally known for their musical sophistication. CDs of whale 'music' or DIY guitar-strumming might be the closest they get.

Composing music is like practising a traditional religion: it takes discipline. Not something a bunch of unwashed poseurs would tend to have. Perhaps I am being too severe, and my own adventures outside the cultural mainstream have admittedly not involved getting to know any actual Wiccans. A few white 'Buddhists' have slipped in under the radar, and generally turned out to be pseudo-spiritual ***** of the highest order.

It's a very interesting question. I wish I had a more encouraging answer. One more thing is that I wouldn't conflate ancient religions, which were in their own time and place what Christianity has been in ours, with more recent and shallowly-rooted revivals. The former might well have attracted talented musicians (who would have had little alternative but to get with the mainstream program) whereas the latter is by definition the preserve of cranks. I know nothing of Eastern music or religion, but I believe Hinduism has common roots with the polytheistic religions of ancient Europe, so a definition of paganism which was widened to include Hinduism and its relatives might yield better musical results. Admittedly the only detailed books I have read on the subject of the shared origins of classical and Eastern religions are Robert Graves' two volume book on Greek myths and Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges' 19th century book 'The Ancient City'- now largely discredited, but still taught at Oxford in the 90s. I don't think either of these treated music in any detail.
I'm not interested in biases or stereotyping; I'm interested, objectively, in these religions themselves, and how they are used in the present day, and if music is part of this usage.

I think it would be a mistake to think that ancient Egyptian religion and rituals were used only by "hippies;" for several reasons.

The Egyptians had several female deities, which leads me to believe that they would be of interest to feminists. Also, wasn't Egyptian society more queen-oriented than our patriarchal Church structure? It was at least more biased towards equality, and less towards patriarchy.

I suspect that there are practicioners of this ancient religion in our very midst, and who are females of much power and wealth.

Also, Egypt is in Africa, and this has appeal to blacks. In jazz, there are titles by Coltrane such as Nefertiti, Naima, and references to the Sun (RA).

Right here, I have given you two examples of groups other than "hippies" who would relate to ancient Egypt.

Also, all religions have archetypal power. This means they are "spiritual technologies" which never really "go out of style" as you seem to imply. I'm interested in the real power of these pagan forms, and how they could be used in conjunction with music to evoke certain states of mind, harness psychic power which could be directed, and could "evoke deities".
 

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I'm not interested in biases or stereotyping; I'm interested, objectively, in these religions themselves, and how they are used in the present day, and if music is part of this usage.

I think it would be a mistake to think that ancient Egyptian religion and rituals were used only by "hippies;" for several reasons.

The Egyptians had several female deities, which leads me to believe that they would be of interest to feminists. Also, wasn't Egyptian society more queen-oriented than our patriarchal Church structure? It was at least more biased towards equality, and less towards patriarchy.

I suspect that there are practicioners of this ancient religion in our very midst, and who are females of much power and wealth.

Also, Egypt is in Africa, and this has appeal to blacks. In jazz, there are titles by Coltrane such as Nefertiti, Naima, and references to the Sun (RA).

Right here, I have given you two examples of groups other than "hippies" who would relate to ancient Egypt.

Also, all religions have archetypal power. This means they are "spiritual technologies" which never really "go out of style" as you seem to imply. I'm interested in the real power of these pagan forms, and how they could be used in conjunction with music to evoke certain states of mind, harness psychic power which could be directed, and could "evoke deities".
I'm sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick- I assumed that you meant Celtic themed new age religions. I don't know if there are any practitioners of ancient Egyptian religions in our midst, let alone women of great wealth and power. No doubt all sorts of theories can be found on the internet- but you seem to be asking a question to which you already know all the answers. 'Guess what's in my mind' isn't really a promising start for a thread IMO.
 

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Also, all religions have archetypal power. This means they are "spiritual technologies" which never really "go out of style" as you seem to imply. I'm interested in the real power of these pagan forms, and how they could be used in conjunction with music to evoke certain states of mind, harness psychic power which could be directed, and could "evoke deities".
Hey, I'm able to evoke deities, but only when I've had way too much to drink.:cool:
 
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World music belongs in shops which sell kaftans and joss sticks.
I know that NASA has released a sort of music from the planets, but apart from that the term "world music" is of course meaningless, patronising, westerncentric bollards. Which is pretty much what you'd expect for a marketing term originally dreamt up to help shift more units of traditional non-western indigenous music.
 

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I know a couple of wiccans and by and large they wash as often as the rest of us. They do tend to have terrible taste in music though. World music belongs in shops which sell kaftans and joss sticks. Although I was in one not so long ago and they were playing a cd of Rostropovich playing Bach. I think that was just a fluke.
Fluke music? Oh, lovely! :)
 

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A good rule-of-thumb is that there is no religion without music, whether it's chant or drumming or dancing or hymn singing or something. We might be able to find some traditions that explicitly forbid music, but it is unlikely that they have been around long or will be. The essence of religion is (usually/ordinarily) community, and humans have few tools stronger than music for building attachment to community.

I don't have any concrete information on the religious traditions you're asking about, but it turns out that googling "wicca music" turned up all kinds of things. I also found "pagan rock" and one very... interesting... version of it is "black metal," which has some really extreme manifestations, such as Nazism and burning churches.

Good question!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm really interested in how the mind's archetypal powers can be triggered. That's what all religions do, to different ends and extents. If music is used as an extension of that system, it could be very powerful.

Contrary to what Figleaf seems to expect from a good thread, I'm not asking anyone to guess what I'm thinking; I'm just "probing for new meaning."
 
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Voodoo is still alive where I'm from... not so much in the cities anymore, but more in the offshoots. They believe in all sorts of wild stuff. Particularly those who delve in black magic, witchcraft, and shamanism.
Seems to be a thing humans are always going to do. Since we're not very good at intuitive statistics, I'm sure we all have our own beliefs that wouldn't stand up very well under scientific scrutiny. Throw on some ideology (such as "don't trust them know-it-all city-folk") - we will never be without this kind of thing - and you've got all the ingredients mixed ready to begin the morning right like the ingredients of a witches broth.
 

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I'm really interested in how the mind's archetypal powers can be triggered.
I think there is quite a lot of music that can trigger "the mind's archetypal powers." A lot of heroic symphonic works come to mind:

Glière Symphony 3 "Ilya Muromets"
Liszt Dante Symphony, Faust Symphony, other tone poems
Strauss tone poems
Shostakovich Stepan Razin, the symphonies, etc.

etc.

I'm thinking of pieces with heroic archetypal themes. The list is likely in the thousands. These are very inspiring works that draw on our archetypal and historical past.
 

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I enjoy the traditional musics of most cultures. The term "pagan" was used by the early Christians to refer to the polytheistic religions of Greece and Rome that existed before Christianity. There are abundant references to music from this time, but I am ignorant as to whether such music has been preserved to the present day. If it has been, I would love to hear it.

As someone mentioned above, Hinduism would be considered a pagan religion by Christians, and there is a very rich tradition of this complex and beautiful music widely available.

People who call themselves pagans or neo-pagans today are attempting to revive ancient religions, though I am very skeptical of the historical accuracy of their revivals. Of course, people can believe what they like, and a religion invented in the 1960s by people dissatisfied with Christianity is no less valid than any of the older religions considered mainstream.

A lot of the new-age seems to like music that I find utterly vapid, but that's just my opinion. I'm sure a lot of modern pagans like the same music the rest of society likes. I once met the music director of a church who was herself some flavor of modern pagan or Wiccan, and who directed (wonderfully) her church choir in all the usual church music, which ought to dispel any stereotypes.

My guess is that there's no specifically pagan music today, but that modern pagans use a variety of music from traditional to new-age.
 

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A good rule-of-thumb is that there is no religion without music, whether it's chant or drumming or dancing or hymn singing or something. We might be able to find some traditions that explicitly forbid music, but it is unlikely that they have been around long or will be. The essence of religion is (usually/ordinarily) community, and humans have few tools stronger than music for building attachment to community.

I don't have any concrete information on the religious traditions you're asking about, but it turns out that googling "wicca music" turned up all kinds of things. I also found "pagan rock" and one very... interesting... version of it is "black metal," which has some really extreme manifestations, such as Nazism and burning churches.

Good question!
Seemingly, that's what it's become. But, I view music as only an add-on for effect. The sermon and whatever accompanying physical ritual remain the essence for a congregation.:devil:
 

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Seems to be a thing humans are always going to do. Since we're not very good at intuitive statistics, I'm sure we all have our own beliefs that wouldn't stand up very well under scientific scrutiny. Throw on some ideology (such as "don't trust them know-it-all city-folk") - we will never be without this kind of thing - and you've got all the ingredients mixed ready to begin the morning right like the ingredients of a witches broth.
Yea, I don't think life is all about making sense... it just doesn't make sense. I can't look down on these types, because it adds to the interest of life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think there is quite a lot of music that can trigger "the mind's archetypal powers." A lot of heroic symphonic works come to mind:

Glière Symphony 3 "Ilya Muromets"
Liszt Dante Symphony, Faust Symphony, other tone poems
Strauss tone poems
Shostakovich Stepan Razin, the symphonies, etc.

etc.

I'm thinking of pieces with heroic archetypal themes. The list is likely in the thousands. These are very inspiring works that draw on our archetypal and historical past.
Yes, Wagner did this with the Germans. He tapped-into some deep archetypes. Even Schoenberg and Mahler went for it!
 
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Seemingly, that's what it's become. But, I view music as only an add-on for effect. The sermon and whatever accompanying physical ritual remain the essence for a congregation.:devil:
I don't know if you're serious because the devil emotithingy confuses me, but just in case you are, I should explain that I don't consider American / Northern European Protestant Christianity to be very typical of human religion. Prior to 1500 or so, I doubt anyone ever in human history had worshipped any deities by sitting in benches, attending a lecture.

For me, "normal" human behavior is what happened in foraging societies before the rise of agriculture - "normal" human behavior is entirely or almost entirely lost today! Human behavior was first "warped" by the development of agricultural states, with accumulated wealth, (semi-)hereditary status hierarchies, the development of "official" and "folk" versions of things like religion and music. Then the rise of cosmopolitan empires with pluralism and literate bureaucratic elites changed things still more, creating text-centered traditions, competing philosophies, -isms with partial incompatibility.

The results of all this were the famous "world religions" such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism (though the historical situation in India and especially in East Asia tends to be highly distorted if seen through European eyes, expecting distinct confessional identities, emphasis on orthodox dogma ["belief"], a differentiable "church" and "state," or violent antagonism between the official state rituals and popular religious traditions).

The industrial and postindustrial eras have been revolutionary yet again (literally, in politics), as modern and postmodern states have freed themselves from dependency on religion (generally by adopting its tools: hymns, rituals, holidays, monumental memorials, childhood education, marching) and thus no longer feel a need to regulate it closely. The great traditions of the agricultural societies seem to be dissolving as each little community finds itself free to make up its own thing for the first time in hundreds or thousands of years. The spirit world is becoming more diverse and less bureaucratic. All the spirits (including the monotheistic traditions' God) are becoming more accessible, increasingly resembling democratic politicians, sweet and eager to please, rather than distant, demanding monarchs. Now the religious traditions compete to offer us things, rather than to command us; ordinary mortals dare to say things like, "I don't want to believe that," as if that concludes the whole matter.

Arguably that has affected the music. Where someone like Bach, perhaps not wanting to offend his audience but keeping a Greater Audience in mind, strove to please God, today's religious composers must strive to please God by pleasing the people. Presumably, if the people aren't moved, neither is God, and unlike Bach's deity the people apparently don't often find fugues with inverted themes all that impressive.

Or perhaps, whereas earlier generations of composers (when the state religion still predominated) took themselves to be serving a manifestly larger Purpose, composers (and other artists) in industrial and postindustrial states now must strive to replace that purpose. Finding themselves infinitely free and impossibly tasked, the most self-aware have abandoned the larger public to relatively unreflective mass culture, pop culture, consumer culture; as the latter consists of a series of inevitably unfulfilling, even silly, yet profitable trends, the former must strive to legitimize itself with a despairing, prophet-like semi-irrelevance.

Well, I'm just having fun at this point, but I was sincere for the first four paragraphs.
 
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