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Witchvox Chapter: Pagan Music
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Bardic Circle Featuring...
(words & music by Lady Isadora)
Waiting for the wind to rise
In the wintry skies
I keep watch, fearing sorrow
Will there be tomorrow?
Will the Earth be given to the Mother
Or to the Crone?
The choice is ours alone
Wait – it’s not too late!
It’s not too late!
It’s not too late!
copyright 1990 Lady Isadora
Lady Isadora ...
(by Lady Isadora)
Audience Count: 11,350
At this sentimentally spooky yet spectacularly serendipitous Samhain, 2005-- the First Day of Winter by ancient Celtic reckoning-- I raise my cheery cup of heavily-spiced, honey-vanilla-white-tea chai in a New Year’s toast to the Old Ones and the spirits of our dear departed. (Only moments before, I was raising a Crafty chalice of companionable champagne, I must admit... then, er, suddenly decided some caffeine was more in order.) Hallowed Hecate be praised, after a lengthy absence for personal reasons from "active duty" in the Pagan music scene, I am at last on the eve of the long-overdue re-release of my music albums onto CD! When I stopped producing the cassettes several years ago in order to upgrade formats, I'd intended for that to happen shortly thereafter-- but, as I wrote on my new website, Life in all its complicated fullness "intervened". As John Lennon once said, or sang (and come to think of it, if he sang it, it was surely *more* than once-- but alas, if only he could sing it yet again!) : Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.
Well, don’t look now, folks, but I am currently in the thick of assorted plottings and plannings to release several NEW albums, too (including the far-too-long-forthcoming *Masquerade*) , onto a semi-unsuspecting Witch World. (Heh, it might be more UNsuspecting if I hadn't just announced it, now, wouldn't it? ) So... a hip-hip-hippie Hallowe'eny hooray from me about that, right here and now, sitting (as it happens, if you MUST know) in a rather fetching Cleopatra costume at my trusty computer, "Auntie Abracadabra". (WHAT wig? You didn't know Cleo was BLONDE? Tsk tsk tsk-- or should I say-- "Tut, Tut, Tut"-- boo, hiss...) Anyway, back to "Auntie". The dear gal's really got "her" Crone up bigtime lately for Hallowe'en-- you'd better believe it! In fact, "she's" getting so full of "herself" these days, "she's" going to be writing a, well, "agony aunt" column soon on MY website, of all places-- all by "herself". Broomstick-Brownie Scout's honor. [Giggle. It's not the celebratory champagne, honest. It's not even the counteractive chai. I ALWAYS write like this! ;-) ]
Hey, I've really missed you all, any of my cherished longtime fans who may be reading this-- and I look forward very much to sharing my music, old and new, with new friends and fans, as well as listening with joy and admiration to the newest works of the many fine bards in our ever-expanding genre of Wiccan-Pagan music.
The thrilling array of diverse vocal, instrumental, and songwriting styles we can boast nowadays really makes me wanna get up and jam with ALL of you, by Holy Hera's High Heels! What a live album THAT would make, now wouldn't it? It would definitely shoot straight up to #1 on the Pagan Hit Parade-- after doing a token brief symbolic stint at #13, no doubt, just on general principle, heh heh. Shall we plan on this Witchy wail-fest sometime soon, fellow magic music-meisters?
But to get on with the story behind "Wintry Skies"... it's fairly simple, really. A line in my song “’Tis Hallowe’en” (from my 1981 album with Lord Pan, *The Witching Hour*) refers plaintively to “voices on the wind”. But “Wintry Skies”, as recorded and released several years later on one of my solo albums, *Priestess of the Pentacle*, actually depicts those voices. The working title for the main melody, before I came up with any words or any of the overdubbed, mostly-improvised harmonies for it, was “Wind Lament”. A "lament" of course, is historically more or less an older version of "the blues"-- just one more proof that there's really nothing new under the sun.
People the world over, free or enslaved, whatever the era, no matter what their ethnicities, have been known to bewail their woes in crude or complicated cathartic song in times of trouble. Except the lamenting souls I was singing for symbolically in "Wind Lament", which became "Wintry Skies", aren't people-- or if they ever were, they're not now. They're otherworldly entities of whatever orientation or persuasion. What are they bewailing, exactly? Well, what would *you* bewail with unrestrained ultra-eerie gusto, if *you* were an otherworldly entity with a bird's-eye view from windswept wintry skies, far above the tragically overabundant battlefields of the greatest folly of humankind?
Recorded: Indianola, Iowa, 1989
Guests/Players: Lady Isadora, vocals and guitar.
Technical Notes: Vocals and acoustic guitar, with multi-overdubbed, improvised vocal harmonies. Recorded in professional 24-track studio. Words, melody, and musical arrangement by Lady Isadora.
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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