Sonorous Sometimes Droning Never

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Readers who have attended Wiccan rituals, especially at large festivals, will have noticed that many of them make frequent use of what I call.

The Generic Pagan Chant

(© 1993, 2001 words & music by IB — and 10,000 Pagans)

This is another Pagan chant. You can tell that it's real old

'cause it sounds just like a funeral dirge. A-minor, D-minor, A-minor, D-minor, A-minor, D-minor, A-Flaaaat!

Too many people in the early decades of Wicca apparently decided that all our songs and chants had to be in minor keys, either to make us sound "more religious" to hostile outsiders, or because they assumed all "British Isles folk music" was that way. Of course, why they thought that Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Slavic, etc., gods and goddesses would enjoy British folk music is beyond me.

The irony is that our supposed revival of a peasant religion should have had such upper-class biases against the rowdy sorts of music that members of peasant cultures usually enjoy!

So please! Unless you are at a funeral for someone (and maybe not even then), use music that is lively and happy. Try modal settings for your instruments, or at least major keys!

Wiccan music does not have to be premodern or stereotypically "folksy." I have heard and enjoyed rock and roll, classical, and jazz in Wiccan rituals (punk, heavy metal, and clash music didn't seem to work as well, but maybe that's just me).

Encouraging your participants to bring drums and other musical instruments, especially rattles, shakers, and other rhythmic ones, can add a great deal of extra energy to many rituals — especially if the people using them bother to learn how! I know several priestesses who routinely bring small baskets of kindergarten-style shakers, tamborines, etc., to most rites, for handing out to those who don't have their own.

I don't, however, recommend that drummers at Wiccan rituals use authentic Santería or Voudoun drum rhythms unless they know exactly what they are doing! The African deities will come when you call Them, and They expect to be treated correctly according to Their traditions — not ours!

Feel free to use modern technology in your rituals. I have done Wiccan rituals in situations where microphones and a sound system were both available and necessary. They worked just fine, though we did have to be careful not to trip over the cords. Using remote headphones/mics will solve that particular problem, though you might want to disguise them as part of your ceremonial costumes.

If you can't get live musicians, use recorded ones through as good a sound system as you can manage. But don't bother trying to record the results of drawings down — the Deities seem to enjoy making that difficult.

In short, use the chants, music, and technology that will inspire and unify the participants, and that fits with the aesthetics of the rituals concerned. And always remember: "It don't mean a thing if it aint got that swing!"

Tape cassettes and compact discs of my second album, Avalon is Rising!, in which the Quarter Calling and Quarter Farewell appear, can be obtained from the ACE website at <www.rosencomet.org>.

Part Three:

Wiccan Resources and References

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