On Music – My Path to Paganism

It’s no secret that music can influence who we are, who we want to be, how we think. Music has always had to the power to bring people together through emotion, topics or perspective. Artists and composers have expressed themselves in such ways that they have empowered others to find a voice. They have helped people to overcome troubling periods of life. They have enlightened their listeners to find a deeper spiritual meaning in their lives. Through music and art we can increase the positive impact each individual should have on the world, or negate the positivity through the wrong messages.

My first memories of music in my life are as a small child listening to my dad’s collection from the 60’s and the biggest artists of the 70’s and 80’s that my mum would have grown up with. I soon found my own musical identity in part thanks to MTV which still had music at the time.

Turning on the TV and seeing Jamiroquai’s music video for Virtual Insanity was a game-changer. Aside from the video (which was captivating by the way), the lyrics hit on some level that I didn’t understand as a 6 year-old, but it stayed with me until I grew up enough to understand the message. Sure, the Spice Girls were HUGE around the same time and I had some of their albums on cassettes. I was a big fan in my own small way and the message they gave through their image and slogan “Girl Power” was largely positive. The Spice Girls came and went, on and off ever since, but Jamiroquai stayed. I have all the albums, I have seen them live.

Black Crow

Black crow, black crow, tell me where you really go
When you fly into the sunset, high in evening sky.
Black crow, black crow, tell me what you really know
Will we flourish in this hurricane, or will we fall and die?

“Black Crow” – Jamiroquai (from the album “A Funk Odyssey”)

I’m not sure when I heard Jamiroquai’s Black Crow the first time, but it hit hard. I soared with the image of this crow, high above everything and everyone and looked though his eyes at the landscape of trouble and desolation presented below. Was I a passive onlooker or did I want to call it out? Could I do anything about it or was I much like the crow, too small and too incapable of speaking up to be considered anything more that a herald of destruction?

My first answers came from Nature itself. It called out to me to go beyond the Christian messages of seeking redemption for who-knows-what in view of my death. I had a life and it was happening around me, whether I chose to take part or not. I had a choice: live and be the best person I could, or curl up and watch myself dragged to places I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. I found my little corner of beauty, peace and health.

This corner of the earth is like me in many ways
I can sit for hours here and watch the emerald feathers play
On the face of it I’m blessed
When the sunlight comes for free
I know this corner of the earth, it smiles at me

“Corner of the Earth” – Jamiroquai (from the album “A Funk Odyssey”)

From Nature to Nature-worship

At 16 I explored spirituality in my own way and I did what any kid in 00’s could do. I searched online and found Universalism – it didn’t fit. I was looking for something more, something different, something that went beyond common concepts taken from major religions that could be applied generically. It was no different than some of the concepts from basic national laws: don’t kill, don’t be a jerk, don’t be racist, think of yourself and apply to interactions with others. That’s less than music and literature can tell you. There was no Nature – only humans thinking of themselves. “Do onto others as you would to yourself” – it’s not so bad on face value, but it’s lacking reward. Underneath, it’s really about chastising yourself but mostly others until others conform to your ways. There’s no empathy there, no positive change to be had.

Paganism and neo-paganism, on the other hand, had many more ideas. It contains a multitude of variations on similar concepts, from the very karma-like “what you do to others shall return to you three times” in Wicca, to the holy-within axiom “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. […] Love is the law, love under will.” from Thelema. I explored as many ideas as I could until I found shamanism, druidry and OBOD. The exploration of Nature, story, introspection, and the Divine as it exists within and with-out. The eternal cycle of life, how stories and legends have shaped us as a society, how activities can bring us together and music can help us rediscover our past, increase awareness of the present and shape the future.

I was home. Music was my key out of a place I didn’t want to be. It was the driving force away from depression and suicidal thoughts. It opened my eyes and my heart to something greater. I’m now in a place where I can feel safe when emotional or empathically overwhelmed. I know I’m safe, I’m healthy, and most of all, I can feel I’m loved and how I can pass that love to others.

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