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that fabulous fiddle

that fabulous fiddle

Last weekend, I had the incredible pleasure of attending two small concerts by one of my all-time favorite musicians, Alexander James Adams. His music has, without exaggeration, changed my life.

So much love for him and his changeling predecessor, Heather Alexander.

If you’ve never heard of Alec or Heather, I invite you to give a listen; Heather has tons of albums and Alec has a handful, as well (navigate to various albums in the little sidebar on the right). Most of their music is pagan-flavored or fantasy-themed; there’s a sampling of filk, a bit of animalfolk, a hefty dose of Celtic mythology and fae, and overall an amazing depth of voice and lyric. These musicians are a large part of the reason I ever thought I could make music of my own, and their songs have been models for how one person really can fill the room with magic and sound.

If you have only time for one song each, then take these: Alec’s Creature of the Wood and Heather’s March of Cambreadth. (March of Cambreadth is more SCA than pagan/polytheist, but it’s arguably one of Heather’s best-known tunes, so it’s a great place to start! I’m also slightly more fond of Heather’s version of Creature of the Wood, but Alec most certainly does it justice in his way.)

So much love for these musicians and their work. I hope you enjoy the music!

a million of music

a million of music

My body speaks, my lips repeat
pure Ihy-music for Hethert.
Music, millions
and hundreds and thousands of it,
Because You love music,
a million of music for Your ka,
In all Your places.

~ King Antef (source: Hathor Rising, A. Roberts)

Personal conjecture: Ihy is Hethert’s (Hathor’s) son, Whose name reflects the jubilation of musical instruments in the sound they produce and in the act of playing them. “Ihy-music” in this may indicate both Ihy, Whose music soothes and pleases His mother, and also, more generally, ecstatic music.

PBP Fridays: I is for Ihy, The Musician

PBP Fridays: I is for Ihy, The Musician

I am writing this late, but yesterday was III Shomu 12, the day of Ihy’s birth… so it is not inappropriate that I catch up on this entry now. :)

Ihy is a child god, son of Hethert (Hathor) and Heru-wer (Horus the Elder), though He is occasionally described as being the son of other Netjeru. His name has been interpreted as “sistrum player” or “musician,” as well as “calf” (being that Hethert often took the form of a cow)—He is called the Bull of Confusion, the Lord of Hearts. He is the youthful patron or creator of music, the sistrum, and the jubilation that emanated from both sound and instrument. While He is primarily a joyful, musical god, He was also linked to the afterlife as “the lord of bread” and was “in charge of the beer,” a boon both for mortal offerings and the cyclical pacification of His mother in Her name of Sekhmet. He has also been linked, as other child gods were, to the blue lotus that represented renewal and birth and was called “the child who shines in the lotus.”

He was usually depicted nude, with the side-lock denoting youthfulness, often with a finger to His mouth; however, he was not always depicted as child-sized and was occasionally shown as large as adult Netjeru. To the right here, He’s shown wearing a uraeus and holding a sistrum decorated with His mother’s face. In some birth houses, He was equated with the king, and scenes celebrated the conception and birth of the divine child, which identified the king with Ihy and bestowed upon him the powers and protections of the child god Himself.

Spell 334 describes His birth:

My awesomeness precedes me
As Ihy, the Son of Hathor,
I am he who begets a begetting,
I flowed out from between her thighs,
In this my name Jackal of the Light,
I broke forth from the egg…
I escaped in her blood,
I am the Lord of blood. I am a turbulent bull…
I came into being, I crept, I traveled around.
I grew, I became tall like my father

In the Coffin Texts, Ihy’s resemblance to His mother Hethert is described:

My perfume is the incense
which my mother Hathor uses for her censing,
My efflux is the sacred oil
which my mother Hathor uses for her flesh…
My intestines are the beads of her menat
which my mother Hathor places at her throat,
And my hands are her sistrum
which my mother Hathor
Uses for her contentment.

And, for His (one day belated) birthday, a modern offering:

A song for You, O Ihy,
most musical of all Netjeru!
A song for You and a song for me,
that we may sing together!
As You shake the sistrum for Your mother
that She may be made glad,
so I shake the sistrum for You
that You may share in my joy!
A song for us, O Ihy,
to exult and celebrate life!

Sources:

  • Egyptian Mythology (Geraldine Pinch)
  • The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (Richard Wilkinson)
  • The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses (George Hart)
  • Hathor Rising (Alison Roberts)

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

Last year’s second I post was on isfet.

PBP Fridays: F is for Feeding The Ka

PBP Fridays: F is for Feeding The Ka

To feed the ka is to nourish one’s spirit, one’s soul. Ancient Egyptians considered the soul to have multiple components; the ka was one of the two most important, as it contained one’s incarnate personality and, after death, would be transformed into one of the blessed dead. The nourishment of the ka in life for many modern Kemetics is just as vital as nourishment of the flesh, and I wanted to share a few things that have been feeding my ka lately.

Feeding my ka is a unique feeling, one not mistakable for “just” happiness or satisfaction; it is marrow-deep and suffuses every part of me with well-being, as though I have feasted on joy and no longer hunger. When I feed my ka, I feel a powerful sense of balance, of groundedness, as though the earth would have to crack before I would lose this fulfilled feeling. It is not something I feel all the time, and I do not seek out ka-feeding activities and situations as often as I would like to… but I realized recently that listening to certain music floods my ka with nourishment like almost no other.

A year or so ago, I discovered The Piano Guys, a cellist and pianist who so loved their music and were so skillful in their passion for the art that their joy was contagious and inspiring. I listened to their Youtube songs on repeat during hard days at work, and their happiness and their music filled my heart when I couldn’t see past the stress. One of my absolute favorites is One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful; if you sample no other piece of their music, at least give this video a watch and a listen.

Another piece of music that uplifts the spirit and fills my heart is Rootless, by SJ Tucker (you can listen to it at that link!). Everything from her voice to the lyrics makes this song deeply impactful and personally meaningful to me (and a whole lot of other pagans, I reckon). Listening to this song alone reminds me of my roots, both spiritual and communal, and honors the hard work that this path sometimes demands.

And lastly, but so far from least, my most staple of spirit-foods is the sky. Stepping outside, breathing, and looking up always stills the frantic pace of the human world, dulls down the sharp edges, and gentles the twinges and aches. The sky is my Mothers, and well before I ever did a thing with Kemeticism, the sky eased my heart.

I hope every one of you has the opportunity to feed your ka regularly; may you never run dry on this strange and wonderful path we choose to walk.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

Last year’s second F post was on feral.

a meditational Tool

a meditational Tool

So, has anyone else ever meditated to Tool’s Parabol + Parabola?

Click here to hear both songs together.

parabol

so familiar, and overwhelmingly warm
this one, this form I hold now

embracing you, this reality here
this one, this form I hold now

so wide-eyed, and hopeful
wide-eyed, and hopefully wild

we barely remember
what came before this precious moment

choosing to be here, right now
hold on, stay inside

this body, holding me
reminding me that I am not alone

this body
makes me feel eternal
all this pain is an illusion

parabola

we barely remember who or what came before this precious moment
we are choosing to be here, right now
hold on, stay inside
this holy reality, this holy experience
choosing to be here in

this body
this body holding me
be my reminder here that I am not alone in
this body
this body holding me
feeling eternal, all this pain is an illusion

alive

in this holy reality, in this holy experience
choosing to be here in

this body
this body holding me
be my reminder here that I am not alone in
this body
this body holding me
feeling eternal, all this pain is an illusion

twirling ’round with this familiar parable
spinning, weaving ’round each new experience
recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this
chance to be alive and breathing
a chance to be alive and breathing

this body holding me reminds me of my own mortality
embrace this moment
remember, we are eternal
all this pain is an illusion

Bonus PBP: C is for Creating With God

Bonus PBP: C is for Creating With God

Disclaimer #1: Where I say “God”, substitute your preferred term. God, Goddess, the Divine, the Great Spirit, Netjer, an individual deity’s name, etc. This is shorthand, not exclusion. :)

Disclaimer #2: This post will make me sound pretty crazy. That’s okay. Creation is a weird, intense thing.

If you’ve seen this blog’s past entries at all, you know I like to create things. I’ve made paintings for my four primary Egyptian gods (and one more is planned for the Red Lady), a sculpey pendant for one of those four (and planning another as a gift, plus a sculpey-ture), and several songs or mini-songs for all of the above. I’ve also been writing a re-imagined Egyptian fairytale, combining the myth of the Destruction of Mankind with the myth of the Distant Goddess.

And, since I keep inundating this journal will the results of such creativity, I figured now is not a bad time to talk about the process of creation, especially when there’s one or more gods involved.

When I write “regular” fiction, my characters drive the story. I may have the vaguest seed of an idea or a well-planned plot and setting, but once I start writing, the characters take the wheel, and I wind up being a side-seat driver or, at best, a navigator. “No, no, turn left up here, trust me.” It’s an incredibly enjoyable process, but it’s not exactly an exercise of logic and intellect for me. I’m just along for the ride, taking notes as I go.

Working on a project for or with God is even weirder more out of my hands. I’m not imagining the end result and working towards it; I’m stating my intention to create X for/with Y and then listening. It’s a full-body listen, like my mind cracks open and stretches out, no longer a self-contained sphere. I’m receptive and open and subconsciously, intuitively aware.

Writing a song, I’m not analyzing the words or carefully structuring a rhyming pattern. (I’m bad at rhymes, anyways.) I’m relaying a story that’s slowly coalescing in my head. I’m asking the song what chords or notes it wants, what tempo, what texture of voice. I’m asking God, “is this okay? is this part right?” and I can always feel, quite strongly, if it’s right or not. There may be a point in the song where any of three chords will work musically, but there’s always one right chord and two wrong ones. I have editorial license – I can rearrange verses or choose synonyms or use a capo sometimes – but the core always comes from outside of me when I’m making spiritual music.

Same with paintings. I’ll have a vague idea of the overall layout of objects/figures in the painting, but God picks the colors. I have argued, on two different paintings, about the colors God has chosen, but I used the preferred colors, and God was proven right both times. (I have since stopped arguing, although I still express my incredulousness sometimes.) By the time the painting is done, I may be exhausted and not very impressed with my limited skills, but by gum, the painting feels right. The god I’ve made it for likes it, because that god had a hand in the whole creation process.

In the end, when I’m creating something for God, it’s always co-creation. I always have the god in question leaning in, a presence in the space around me, giving me wordless nudges towards this color or this chord. And that’s magic, right there. That’s my interactive prayer. The times when I am co-creating with my gods are when I am the closest I get to Them, and as challenging as it can be, I love it and appreciate it immensely.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

a song for Ma’ahes

a song for Ma’ahes

Cripes I wrote a war song.

So, I’m still pretty new to this whole song-writing business, right, and since I’m participating in FAWM, with the challenge to write 14.5 brand new songs in the month of February, I’m a little intimidated. It feels like it did before my first NaNoWriMo – exhilarating and terrifying. I think the month will give me a heap of experience in songwriting, music-playing, and being creative consistently and frequently, but that makes it no less daunting to leap in head-first!

I was listening to the FAWM Jukebox all day at work yesterday. I was getting really excited and impatient to get home and start trying to make music. And when I got home, I had dinner, then started brainstorming. Too many ideas, none of them rooted enough to start playing with. I picked up my classical guitar, then traded her for a scandalous affair with J’s electric guitar (and got lost for a little bit in the fun of amp effects). I got a simplistic chord progression and a crappy first verse for… something that just wasn’t clicking. I put the electric back.

I hit that unfortunate-yet-common spot in the creative cycle where my brain says ALL I DO SUCKS AAAGH and got sad. I kept trying, wanting to push through; I hit that low point when I was doing Nebt-het’s painting, too, but that came out alright! I can do this! …but eventually, tired and whiny, I stopped.

See, I did not realize that Ma’ahes wanted a song.

My sister clued me in when we briefly chatted and I begged her for musical help. I started writing a couple lines for Him, got distracted by other things, and it fell by the wayside. After I got tired enough to quit, my stubborn side reared its bulldog-like head and sent me into the (quiet, distraction-free) bedroom to write down the lines and see if I could, at least, make a little more progress on them. Anything to make this evening not be a musical wasteland. Some better note (pun intended) to end on, before I slept.

Some short time later, I had a song for Ma’ahes. It did not merely flow as I wrote it down; it poured out like water over a broken dam. And it is not like anything I’ve done or attempted to do before. It’s rough, of course, but that’s the idea of FAWM: to create, not to spend endless hours polishing and perfecting. And I think I really do like it.

If you’d like, you can listen to it and read the lyrics right here.

Dua Ma’ahes!

The Blessing of Brigid

The Blessing of Brigid

From The Virtual Abbey:

Our celebrations, always full of spontaneity, are grounded in our own liturgical traditions. On Brigid’s day, we culminate with this song adapted from “The Blessing of Brigid” in Carmina Gadelica:

One group sings over and over:

I am under the shielding of Brigid each day,
I am under the shielding of Brigid each night.

While others sing in counterpart:

Brigid is my comrade-woman,
Brigid is my maker of song,
Brigid is my helping-woman,
my choicest of women,
my guide.

This is incredibly heartfelt and gorgeous.