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My selection of songs is for a project for the Reformed Congregation of the Goddess. I am to study 10 different Goddess and then apply that research to a creative project. When I heard "The Voice" by Brendan Graham, I knew that I wanted to put together a collection of songs. During performance, I allow the songs to speak for the Goddesses without explanation, but in case you were wondering, here is a list of my songs with the explanation of how I came to associate them with a Goddess.
"The Voice" by Brendan Graham
When I heard this song I was completely drawn to it--the music is captivating and the lyrics are deeply spiritual. When people inquire as to why I chose to become pagan from a Christian background, I often reply that I feel that the Divine is a Woman. The fact that this song soars in the vocal range of a woman, makes it the perfect spiritual hymn for Goddess Woman. The Goddess Hecate from Greek Mythology is the Goddess for whom I sing this. Hecate is usually associated as Demeter's Consort and Persephone's Handmaiden. The true depth of Her power goes far beyond those roles. She is an ancient Goddess as old as the earth and held domain over magic. She was one of the only Titans Zeus, the King of the Olympian Gods, revered.
"The Call" by Regina Spektor
"He'e'e, A Hopi Kachina chose this song before I have even completed my research! He'e'e is a maiden who was having Her hair done by Her Mother when Their homestead is invaded. He'e'e imediately grabbed Her bow and joined the battle. She is depicted by the Hopi Tribe as having Her hair only half-done. I was drawn to Her spirit and She reminded me very much of Diana (or Artemis) who is my patron Goddess. "The Call" sings of triumphing over personal battles.
"The Black Swan" by Gian Carlo Menotti
A song about Death is of course befitting of the Norse Goddess of the Underworld. I had learned this song years ago in college and Hel let me know that the black swan is a symbol of Hers. Norse Mythology comes from an oral tradition and it is very difficult to find written research sources. The name Christensen is nordic in hertiage and I have almost eerie knowledge of this mythology. JRR Tolkien was once reported as saying that he didn't "create" his Elvish language, but that he "remembered" it. I too think I may be remembering reverences to Hel; and although I cannot provide documented proof, the black swan is an animal sacred to Her.
I chose Kwan Yin of Buddhism as a private joke. As a single mother I rely on Au Pairs to help me with child care. I have had three beautiful young women from Thailand in my home and not one of them will eat beef. Given that vegetarianism is against my religion, it is very difficult for me to cut sacred cow from my diet. What most do not realize of Buddhism is that there was more than one Buddha to reach enlightment. Kwan Yin was the only documented female and She sacrificed Herself to save Her father's life. Her father was so horrid to Her however that he was reincarnated as a cow, and buddhists who give reverence to Her do not eat beef out of respect. Kwan Yin's compassion is what led Her to enlightenment. No song came to me and so I began scowering the internet for ideas when I came across "Kwan Yin's Prayer for the Abuser" translated into English. The next day I wrote "The Prayer".
"The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun" by Brendan Graham and David Downes
Alright I cheated on this one. I'm a huge fan of Mr. Graham and I just found this song to be so beautiful that I specifically chose Eos (also known as Aurora) from Greek Mythology just so I would have an excuse to sing it. Eos had such great love, that was what made the dawn.
I found "The Voice" while looking for song attributed to Diana (also known as Artemis) from Roman and Greek Mythology. But the more I listened to it the more I felt it belonged to a more ancient crone Goddess and therefore, Hecate claimed it. Diana's song above all others had to be perfect as She is my patron Goddess. She has been the Goddess I associate with the greater divine since the birth of my son. After 4 days in the hospital I went home with my gigantic baby boy (10 pounds 2 ounces thank you very much) when a blood clot the size of a softball passed out of me and my temperature sky-rocketed past 105. I was shaking and near delirium when I looked over at my new little baby and I realized, I was dying. "Diana!" I cried out, "Please don't let me die. I need to be a mother to my son." Now the doctors will tell you that the antibiotics are what saved me from the broken placenta that went septic inside me; but I swear to you my fever broke the second after my plea. I found out later Diana the Eternal Virgin Huntress is also the Goddess of Childbirth. Who knew? ...well She did. After that day I felt summoned to Diana, but as a petite 5'4" I have constantly struggled with why She would chose such a girly girl to be Her amazon. One of my heros, Dave Grossman, has great respect for female warriors and it was after I was able to attend one of his empowering lectures that I wrote this song.
"That Old Black Magic" by Harold Arlen
Next to Diana, the Goddesses of Norse mythology are of great reverence to me. Freya was heralded as Queen of the Vanier Gods and even Odin deferred to her. She is a powerful Goddess of Magic with truly awesome power, so when Mr. Arlen's popular standard was presented to me I rebelled! How could I possible sing a song so mundane for One so Great. Freya Herself, I think thumped me on the head. She reminded me that with all her power, She is a love Goddess. Her message I think is that divinity can be found in everything, even in the mundane, even in the popular.
"Ava Maria" by Franz Schubert
I have yet to perform this song in public, but obviously I chose it for Christianity's Virgin Mary. Just because I am pagan it doesn't mean that I detest Christianity. If the religion is what speaks to a person and it brings them peace and a sense of connectivity to life, then it has value. While Christians may argue that the Virgin Mary (who incentally is a mother Goddess, not a Maiden) is not a Goddess allow me to offer Merriam-Webster's definition of "God:" a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality or a person or a thing of supreme value. Mary is said to have supreme faith and if prayers to her and offering to her are not considered worship then I'm afraid I'm confused on that defination as well.
"The One Who Knows" by Dar Williams
I am also studying another Hopi Kachina, Angwusnasomtaka, the Crow Mother. She took a long time to choose a song. All I got from her was "pick a song about motherhood." Angwusnasomtaka will never ask a child to do something that she will not do herself. She is however, a firm believer in learning by doing. The things hardest won, are those most treasured.
"Persephone Waking" by Ruby Sara and Matthew Ellenwood
My 10th required Goddess is once again from Greek Mythology, Kore/Persephone.
I was singing at a Pinic for The Chicago Pagan Fellowship as was Terra Mysterium. They announced during their performance that their new original show "Finding Eleusis" was playing as a part of The Chicago Fringe Festival. The show is a modern day depiction of the Eleusinian Mysteries a pagent filled festival recounting the story of Demeter, her daughter, Persephone and Persephone's violent marriage to Hades. After their amazing performance, Terra Mysterium came up to ME and asked me to play the role of Persephone. I am honored beyond words. I believe that coincidences are gifts from the Goddess. I find it highly coincidental that I was missing my 10th Goddess when I am suddenly handed Persephone on a silver platter. I feel that I chose to study the first nine, but Persephone undoubtedly chose me. I hope I will be able to honor her.