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Songs for the Night Sky
Archive of Ages to Come,
Fire in the Head.
by
Emerald Rose.

One of the groups I heard at the Mythic Journeys conference (see article about Atlanta conference) was Emerald Rose (website http://www.EmeraldRose.com), who play Celtic-style music, often with pagan or ancient themes. One of their moving pieces was Gwydion’s Song to Lleu, from the fourth branch of the Mabinogion, and Fire in the Head was a loud piece with a strong beat, based partly on the traditional Song of Amergin and partly on other traditional Celtic themes.

They also sang the pagan version by Gwydion Penderryn of Lord of the Dance. This is a good song, but they only mentioned the Shaker version and Michael Flatley as predecessors. The tune is an adaptation of a Shaker tune (the Shaker words,  Simple Gifts”, have their own fascination) and was used by Aaron Copland in his Appalachian Spring. They were not aware, as most of us in England would be, that Gwydions  words are a pagan reworking of  original words by the late great Sydney Carter, and I had to tell them this, as I feel strongly that creators must be acknowledged. Many of Carter’s songs are amazing, and his Christian songs have an appeal that reaches to non-Christians also (and he wrote one of the best anti-war songs, The Crow on the Cradle).  Carter’s words have a Christian theme, itself possibly inspired by a traditional song Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, and Gwydion’s version is just one of many rewrites of Carter’s song from a different point of view; I particularly like the Goddess-centred Lady of the Dance by Miriam Scott and Kate Ness.

But their gem was Urania Sings which in itself made the whole conference worthwhile to me. I have often been asked how I reconciled my Goddess spirituality with my mathematics, a supremely rational field. This song provided an answer that resonated with what I had previously felt but seldom expressed. Urania is one of the nine Muses, the Muse of Astronomy, and the song said very clearly that the Goddess calls some people to study the sciences.

This, and some of the other songs, were on a limited edition CD, Songs for the Night Sky, and are also on their new album Archive of Ages to Come. Some lyrics, and streaming music, can be found on their Web site. I very much recommend listening to them.

Pentacle 11, Samhain 2004
© Daniel Cohen

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