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Witchvox Chapter: Pagan Music
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|Come, Witches, to the Dance!|
(words & music by Lady Isadora)
Come, Witches, to the Dance,
to the merry Dance!
Our Lady loves our Lord, O!
With pipe and drum in Moon and Sun
For fair Dian and merry Pan
The old ways are made young, O
The old ways are made young!
When midnight fills the sky,
my true love and I
Will cast a circle round, O
With voices strong in chant and song
We'll work our will and drink our fill
And dance the darkness down, O
And dance the darkness down!
CHORUS: To the Lady’s Dance of Life
Her sweet Piper calls
But if you should stumble
If you should fall
Rise up to the Rhythm
That embraces it all
Come, Witches, to the Dance!
All hail the Beltane fire! May it well inspire!
Burn triumphant to the Lady!
She is crowned this day the Queen of May
O’er woods and fields Her green sceptre
The Mother now holds sway, O
The Mother now holds sway
Farewell, Our Lady Green! It is Hallowe’en!
Now the Crone wields Her winter sceptre
Though old and wise, young are Her eyes
Though Death She brings, “Rebirth!” She
To all that fades and dies, O
To all that fades and dies
Once in the Full Moon’s gleam as I lay in
Came the Lady to my chamber
In earthly form like woman born
All Time, all Space lay in Her face
I rose to Her embrace, O
I rose to Her embrace
So queenly was She, I fell to my knee
And bent my brow to Her, O
“O no!” said She, “Kneel not to Me
But stand! Arise! Open your eyes!
It is yourself you see, O
Yourself you see in Me!”
Come, Witches, as before, to the Shining
Fear not to fling it open!
Fear not to see the Mystery:
That we are Pan and fair Dian
And evermore shall be, O
And evermore shall be!
copyright 1981 Lady Isadora
Lady Isadora ...
Come, Witches, to the Dance!
(by Lady Isadora)
Audience Count: 8,593
“All hail the Beltane fire! May it well inspire!” begins the joyful third verse to this Renaissance-style vintage original from my very first album, *The Witching Hour*, recorded nearly 25 years ago. (“Ah, sweet wild youth, whither hast thou fled with such unkind, unseemly haste?” muses Lady Dizzy Aura to herself in a pentacularly poetic pique of wry whimsy and reluctantly middle-aged disbelief. She peers hopefully, if just a wee bit nearsightedly, into her white woodruff-enhanced May Eve chalice in hopes of some sort of retro-divinatory clues in answer to that age-old question, "Where did the time go?". But she sees only that said sacred vessel is, alas, empty. Whereupon Lady Diz shrugs philosophically, breaks suddenly into her trademark Eternal Pixie grin, and defiantly bursts into an only slightly fractured rendition of “I Won’t Grow Up!” from her lifelong fave Broadway musical, “Peter Pan”. After all, she considers, she can now proudly cite 54 good reasons why the Maiden is still and always will be her primary personal Goddess archetype, with all due respect to the Mother and the Crone, who have also been known to show up rather regularly in her life and psyche. But we won't go into all THAT now.)
Back to the song, Diz! “Burn triumphant to the Lady!” the above-cited verse continues, referring to the Beltane fire itself, of course, not to us celebratory Witches-- perish the thought, and not we! May that fire indeed continue to inspire: before our eyes, and in our hearts, minds, and deeds.
Dear readers, all ye who wish to read more of the story behind this song, or to learn more about the recording of my soon-to-be-re-released first album, produced in the very early days of Wiccan-Pagan music, or to find info about my other forthcoming albums, both old and new, AND who don’t mind encountering some of my wild and wacky “Musings, Meanderings, and Miscellaneous Madcap Mayhem”, ye are heartily encouraged to follow my website link below. All things considered, I’d really rather give the rest of this space to something else. It all ties in, though, I promise.
I started my May Eve celebration a bit early. This afternoon, in fact. Today, 30. April 2006, is, among other Pagan designations, Walpurgisnacht-- a high point of the Germanic heathen year. But it's also the 61st anniversary of the ignominious death of Adolf Hitler, who has seemingly earned himself the dubious distinction of being the most hated "man" (insert explosive epithet of choice) of all time.
Now, while I'd like to think there is potential good in all people, I'm afraid I do draw the line on occasion, what can I say. There's such a thing as taking the theoretical too far. Yup, I admit it: the mental image of Hitler does not turn to white-light doves and rainbow-hued butterflies when I chant "Om", sit in full-lotus however long I may. (OK, so I didn't really try that-- I knew it was a venture doomed to "failure", for more reasons than the mere thought of Hitler) . Any and all fluffy bunnies and their crystal-caressing buddies in my vicinity will no doubt flee right and left before my unresolved "negativity", but I do believe righteous anger has its place in this universe-- a place not to live in forever (though in this case that's awfully challenging) , but from which to galvanize and gain momentum for some good or holy reason. I further believe forgiveness is a grace, not a debt. Accordingly, for strong reasons of my own, I fervently feel Hitler (may he never rest in peace) deserves to be consigned for all eternity to the Outer Realms of Darkness, at the very, VERY least. I would even go so far as to say I have little doubt that this is what, in fact, occurred. He deserved it. For sending young boys out to fight in those chaotic last days, while he hid his craven cowardly hide in that infamous underground bunker of his, not to mention for having executed the heroic and handsome Count von Stauffenberg, leader of the failed 20. Juli assassination attempt, if for no other reasons. But, as we all know, there were PLENTY of other reasons, some of which have been recounted much more often than some of the ones I've cited, to be sure, though I heartily consider mine to be just as worthy of note. In any case, I decided I could observe the 61st recycling of the gladsome occasion of the sinister Schicklgruber's despotic demise in no better wise than to honor the inspiring memory of yet another of his tragic victims.
I have been deeply drawn since my early teens to the subject of the German anti-Hitler resistance movement, especially the military one, incongruous though that may seem to some for an erstwhile Flower Child like me (though trust me, it isn't) . But the civilian and clergy resistance movements have also been of compelling interest. Let's face it: one could never have too many loyal comrades in the "Down with Hitler" crowd. The more, the-- well, "merrier" wouldn't be quite the right word, but you get the gist.
Today I went to see “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days”, a critically-acclaimed German film which just opened yesterday in a local cinema. It was nominated last year for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Julia Jentsch was absolutely superb in her lead role as the real-life heroine of “the White Rose”, the anti-Nazi student resistance movement at the University of Munich in 1943. Jentsch won Best Actress at the latest European Film Awards. But of course, it’s Sophia Magdalena Scholl herself, a heroine of my own since my teen years, who’s the real star of the story.
Imagine being executed after a farcical trial simply because you’d distributed anti-Bush pamphlets on your college campus, and said after your arrest that you were proud to have done so, and refused to recant what you‘d said, because you felt with all your heart and soul that what you’d done was right. On second thought, don’t imagine any of that. Things aren't really that bad here-- YET. Just ponder the grim reality of what happened to Sophie under Hitler, and go see the movie if you possibly can, or watch it when it comes out on DVD. But whatever you do, hold your own ideals close to your heart, and really live them. Speak out and stand up for them, always.
As the last verse of my song proclaims: “Fear not to see the Mystery: that we are Pan and fair Dian and evermore shall be, O! And evermore shall be!” Pan and Dian, or Isis and Osiris, or Wotan and Bruennhilde, or Jesus and Mother Mary or Mary Magdalene or Hagia Sophia (take your pick!) , and all the rest of the fabulously multi-ethnic deified cast of thousands. Yes, the old gods really do still show up in this war-weary but wonderful old world of ours. They're in us-- in you and me-- so let's do them proud. As aptly-named Sophia Magdalena Scholl did, in her own courageous fashion.
A bouquet of white roses in your memory, Sophie. Though you lost your life, it was you, not Hitler, who won in the end.
Recorded: Des Moines, Iowa, August, 1981
Guests/Players: Lady Isadora: lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar, drum. Lord Pan: recorder, tambourine, backing vocals on chorus.
Technical Notes: Recorded in the apartment I lived in at the time, affectionately dubbed "Broom Closet Recording Studios", on a multi-track mobile Tascam unit.
Artist Profile: Excerpted from Isadora's website (Lykaina, webmistress) :
An experienced Witch priestess and ritual artist, Lady Isadora is also a critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter, guitarist, arranger, and producer. She was one of the early founders of the Witch & Pagan musical genre. Her classic albums *The Queen of Earth and Sky*, *Priestess of the Pentacle*, and *The Witching Hour*, long awaited on CD, were re-released on that format Samhain 2010, with new recordings in the works.
Isadora, or "Dizzy Aura", was born on the very first day of the Neo-Elizabethan era, and is very glad to be here, even if she does find the original era much more interesting-- sometimes. After all, there were no Beatles, no detective novels, and no fabulous designer yarns to knit with in Elizabethan days-- and what's worse, there was no Johnny Depp. Or was there?
Isadora is a longtime writer and researcher in a number of diverse fields of interest. She has published articles in various Pagan, New Age, and mainstream journals, is working on a series of novels, and is also compiling for publication a compendium of original rituals, poetry, and essays, entitled *The Pen is a Magic Wand*.
Isadora has been among the most acclaimed Pagan bards for nearly three decades. She has been described by recent reviewers as “Queen of Musical Witches” and “a Pagan National Treasure”, having already earned such accolades as “a voice that rivals Judy Collins’”, “guitar prowess to rival Lita Ford”, and “the Joni Mitchell of the [Witchcraft] movement”. However, Isadora declines to style herself with such titles.
“Of course, I’m very flattered to have been given so much praise, ” she admits. “If somebody says it or writes it, I’ll have it put on my reviews webpage, with great appreciation. If all the promo quotes sell somebody on checking out my music, so be it, and I hope they enjoy my songs. Like any other musician, I want to be able to make a living from my work. Like all musicians, I have my influences. But I don’t want to get stuck on them.
"I’ve always felt it’s the individual voice one represents, and what one brings to music that’s new and unique, that are truly important. I don’t want to play the Jonier-than-thou game some young female singer-songwriters today seem rather caught up in. Yes, Joni Mitchell and other great mainstream recording artists have been pioneering musical sisterspirits for many of us. Listening to their work in our younger years helped awaken the chords of our own beings – and those are the chords we really should be playing, when all is said and sung.
"I put my own Witchy and very personal stamp on my influences, I feel, and took them in new directions. I’ve continued to grow and deepen as a songwriter, so I’m eager to share my previously-unreleased and more recent material with fans, as well. Yes, Joni et al are fabulous, without doubt, but so are we. We’ve got our own voices to raise and our own songs to sing.
"So... I don’t see myself as Judy Collins in a tall black pointy, or the Witch Lennon-McCartney, or Empress of Ethereal Sopranos, or the bitchin’est, bewitchin’est Broomstick Babe of Bards, or whatever. [Laughs and winks.] OK, OK, well, under the circs, I can see I'm FORCED to confess I was once known to certain veddy British male admirers in my desperately mod girlish days in the '60s as "Queen of the Birds", tee hee. A story I shall NOT at present delve into in any detail. [Chokes back a wee chortle-- just barely.] At any rate, I suppose it might be cool to be considered the next Billie Holiday, or the next Hildegard von Bingen-- or maybe a quirkily groundbreaking new combination of the two [laughs again]-- but I'd really rather be the one and only Lady Isadora, anyway. If I happen to be somebody’s favorite musician, then sure, I’m happy, but I do keep it in perspective. Music is an art, not a contest! And there is such a glorious amount of talent in the Pagan music scene these days... a true joy for us all!”
Isadora is co-founder with friend Lykaina of the sorcerously subversive social club network, the Black Witch-Hat Society. In the early 1970s, Isadora was the one and only lonely founder of the only partly tongue-in-cheek Society for the Prevention of Witchcraft Being Called "Wicca". (As she is all too fond of advising to whomever will listen, the original word was documentably "Wiccecraeft", pronounced "WITCH-eh-creft", from the Old English/Anglo-Saxon-- a Germanic, not Celtic tongue.) Isadora, of "mixed" British Isles and Danish descent, has been an avid enthusiast for her own ancestral languages and many others for most of her life. While at university, she was inducted into Delta Phi Alpha, the National German Honor Society, having won a number of academic awards in that language, including two from the German government. One of Isadora's specialties at Bluestocking & Broomstick is the studious pursuit of the Celtic and Germanic branches of the Indo-European language family tree.
A longtime clergywoman of the Craft with legal ministerial status, a trustee of the Universal Federation of Pagans, and a member of ASCAP and the international Fellowship of Isis, Isadora has been a biographee in *The World Who's Who of Women*. Following an absence of some years from the Pagan music scene due to family commitments and other aspects of her life and career, Isadora plans to make it up to her bewitched, bothered, and bewildered fans by releasing a series of long-awaited new albums and gigging as often as possible at festivals and other gatherings and events.
Wrote legendary Pagan journal *Green Egg*:
"In Lady Isadora's voice hear the singing of quartz bowl bells. In her heart feel the dedication of Witch and bard. Her voice slides waterlike from strong high places to splash into pools of evenly-grained alto note progressions, then carries us all willingly down storystreams of love, defiance, ethics, evolution... [Her albums] are a wonderful collection for Pagans, Witches, and writers. Her voice is an instrument of surpassing beauty with which she tells our tales and sings our souls."
Additional review accolades for Lady Isadora include:
"...soaring flutelike exaltation... lushly beautiful melodies combine with words of power..."
"Her pure soprano voice comes from deep within her soul... moving, strong, poetic lyrics... Inspired and fulfilling music, highly recommended."
--*Heartsong Review* (1st review)
"Once more, Lady Isadora touches Pagan heartstrings with her lilting voice and magical melodes... themes of power and mystery... good thinking music...deep messages for contemplation mixed within the lovely harmonies."
--*Heartsong Review* (2nd review)
"... don't miss... sparkles with top professionalism... a voice that rivals Judy Collins' for clarity and emotion.“
--*Circle Network News*
“The Joni Mitchell of the Wicca* movement... powerful...” – Website for “Psyche van het Folk, ” Radio Centraal, Antwerp, Belgium
*Isadora greatly appreciates the praise, but notes that she herself uses only the term "Witchcraft".
"An intelligence not often seen in this field...Raise your expectations for Pagan music.”
– *The Red Queen*
"...a Pagan National Treasure..."
--Michelle Mays, *Fireleap: the Beltane Collection*, et al.
"Like the sirens of mythology, Isadora calls our spirits to join her in ecstacy... this songstress is truly the Queen of Musical Witches."
--SkyDragon of Lucidian, *For the Lady and Lord*
"Isadora sings like the mermaids, full of truth and magic... lyrical, yet politically astute as well. A rare combination..."
--Shekhinah Mountainwater, *Songs and Chants of the Goddess*, *Witch-a-Way*, et al; author of *Ariadne's Thread*
"... a cauldron of mixed delights and metaphors... unique approach and style... the layered voices and harmonies of 'Samhain Fires' would make Freddie Mercury and Queen proud... Candy for the ear, intellect, and spirit."
-- Lord Foxglove, author of *Advancing the Witches' Craft*
“...excellent... delightful... I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending her work.”
– Raymond Buckland, PhD, author of *Witchcraft from the Inside*, *Wicca for Life*, et al.
"Lady Isadora's songs stir the heart of the Witch, and resonate in the endless cycle of things that are ever ancient and ever new."
--Raven Grimassi, author of *Hereditary Witchcraft* at al.
“I was absolutely filled with joy... Every song, every line spoke to the heart... I can’t imagine any Pagan being without them.”
– DJ Conway, author of *Celtic Magic*, *Flying Without a Broom*, et al.
"There's a CD out there actually claiming to be the 'Best of Pagan Song' without Lady Isadora on it. No comment, except that's like having a 'Best of '60s Folk' without Joan Baez!"
--Annie Redbird, MN (via e-mail, used with permission)
"...this gorgeous haunting voice to rival Sarah Brightman, guitar prowess to rival Lita Ford, and a songwriting gift to rival Lennon-McCartney."
--Phoenix NightSong, NC (via e-mail, used with permission)
"Thank you, Lady, for sharing your amazing talent with the world."
--Eternal, poet & writer, of "Support Pagan Artists" website (via e-mail, used with permission)
"You're AWESOME! Thank you thank you thank you for YEARS of enjoyment of your music! You ROCK, sister!"
--Hunter Nolan, musician, NE
"...a joy to listen to...inspiration while I write."
--Bettina Lindsey, author of *Swan Witch*, *Waltz with the Lady*, et al
"... a truly beautiful voice... brilliant."
--Kenny Klein, formerly of Kenny & Tzipora, *Moon Hooves in the Sand* et al; author of *The Flowering Rod*
"... a fabulous achievement."
--Angie Remedi, *The Mother Calls*
"My cat Seraphine has given her emphatic 'meow' of approval-- and believe me, she doesn't impress easily!"
--Lisa Thiel, *Songs of the Spirit* et al
"...miraculous... spine-chilling... a true feast for the heart in all Lady Isadora's works."
--*The Wiccan Rounde*
"... amazing... haunting... a precious gift..."
--*The Beltane Papers* (1st review)
"Listen to this music in a darkened room lit by candlelight, and let the magic happen."
--*The Beltane Papers* (2nd review)
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