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Witchvox Chapter: Pagan Music
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Bardic Circle Featuring...
(words & music by Words:Lady Isadora-Music:Trad.arr.Lady Isadora)
Ye Witches, hear these tidings:
Now Samhain Fires are burning!
Come tread the round on sacred ground
The Sabbat Wheel is turning!
Set your spirits free
By Earth, Air, Water, and Fire
Let none have fear who enters here
But fulfillment of desire!
copyright 1990 Lady Isadora
Lady Isadora ...
(by Words:Lady Isadora-Music:Trad.arr.Lady Isadora)
Audience Count: 32,280
The Crone has been terribly busy in my life since my last Bardic Circle posting a few years ago. I lost both my beloved parents-- a loss for which there are no words. I lost my adored longtime familiar Pyewacket ("Wacky") , an exceptionally keen yellow-eyed tuxedo cat-- the most loyal, devoted, and fiercely intelligent feline who ever lived, and, alas, died. I fractured part of my upper spine in a fall down icy steps. A few months later, my right eye retina spontaneously detached, and had to be surgically reattached. That these things and more came so close together was especially hard to endure, since, despite some sorrows and problems through the years as everyone must face at times, nevertheless I'd been so lucky in so many ways for so much of my life. Instead of more bounties and beauties from Lady Luck, however, there were even more losses and sufferings, too numerous and some too private to recount here. The releases of my '80s and '90s albums on CD, and the expansion with new albums of my recording label Dance of Life Records, among many other personal and professional projects, were delayed many times. (Though thankfully the CDs **are** out at last now, with more on the way ASAP, praise Hecate!) Some of my friends and family members are convinced I was being hexed. I have to admit: it's been hard not to think so sometimes! However, I haven't wanted to give too much energy to that notion. Why would anyone want to hex "little" (5'10") "old" (middle-aged) me? There must be some mistake. After all, sooner or later, into each life some hard rain's a-gonna fall, to Dylanize an old saying, and some fearsome fires must blaze and consume-- or at least, try to consume. But not me. Not yet.
Yes, Samhain Fires have been burning me-- the scarifying, purifying, yet ultimately illuminating flames of Holy Hel. Sadly, I know it's just Her way. She's got the Big Picture in mind, and let's face it: most of that is simply beyond our ken, no matter how we may try to divine some sort of clues. Hey, I've never been a big fan of what I like to call "Comfy-Cozy Goddess" imagery anyway, so I guess I've just been challenged bigtime to put my magic where my mouth is. And the "miracle" of it all is-- no news flash to Herself, I'm sure: I am stronger and wiser (if sometimes sadder) for all this hassle and heartache. Yes, I'm still standing, Dark Lady! I'm still here! At Your service, Great Goddess, as ever, despite Your horrific harshness with me in that crabby old cantankerous Crone mode of Yours. You knew what You were doing, didn't You?
The sadness will fade, in time. I'm smiling again as I write. I still have *so* much in my life-- and indeed, my life itself-- to be thankful for. Ah... and Yule is coming-- my very, very favorite time of year. Bring on the holly and mistletoe! I find my heart is still young. I can't wait for my beloved snow! There's nothing like a jolly good snowstorm for invigoration and excitement, I always say! Yes, snow, snow, and more snow can be purifying and illuminating too. Perhaps I'll write a song sequel called "Samhain Snows"! It's going to be a glorious New Year.
Recorded: Indianola, Iowa 1989
Guests/Players: Lady Isadora sans guitar
Technical Notes: Vocals with overdubbed harmonies, drum
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 certain 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 really 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. I gotta pinch myself when I read that stuff, believe me. [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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