Music in Ritual

This PBP is focusing on music within ritual, both in terms of being used as a way to set mood and as a way of honouring the gods and nature.

From throat singing and drumming to full blown symphonies and pipe organs music and song music has been used throughout history in spiritual and ritual settings. Music can create a profoundly moving and powerful experience which can remain with us for the rest of our life.

Music is often used in ritual and meditation to create a mood and affect a change in psychology and state of consciousness.  Although music doesn’t directly affect our psychology it can can affect our physiology by increasing or decreasing our breathing rate which in turn affects our brain activity. Frequency also has an effect which is why some people prefer deep resonant drums as part of ritual.

Chanting is the easiest way to incorporate music into ritual. As well as allowing energy to be raised in preperation of magical works ahead chanting is an opportunity to achieve a higher state of mind which beings closer communication with the divine. Alone or in number, whispered or sung aloud, chanting can dramatically change the mood of the space and cause divine energies to draw near.

Whilst on a camping trip to wildest Wales a friend of mine had an experience with the genius loci of the area through the medium of song. Although she can’t remember exactly what she sang her voice drew the attention of the local spirits, causing them to dance around her and her companions and test their resolve. The act of singing itself became inadvertent ritual, drawing the genius loci close and she closed with offerings and thanks because, as with all ritual those who attend should be honoured.

Working with Greek Gods and Goddesses I have found that music is most pleasing to the gods. As you might expect the Homeric Hymns loom large in my practice but initially as spoken invocations as the music itself is long lost. Recently I came across this modern adaptation of the Orphic Hymn to Hekate which I have come to use in my own rituals to honour Hekate. The effect still raises the hair on the back of my neck and no matter how quietly I intend to sing it I always end up giving full voice to my praise.

I have subsequently gone on to blend the Homeric and Orphic Hymns to Pan into a single Hymn to Pan set to the the same melody as that created by Melissa of the Bees.


Pan teaching the shepherd Daphnis to play the pipes. 2nd century AD Roman copy of Greek original ca. 100 BC, found in Pompeii

I call to Pan, Lord of the Woodland, Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
From ancient lands of Arcadia Land of springs, of heard and flock.
Born of mortal and of Heavenly Hermes child of hoof and horn.
Through woodlands glade with nymphs he wanders shepherd god with beard unkempt.
Cross snowy peaks and o’re the mountains,  following his wayward flocks.
Returned from chase he brings his music,  pipes of reeds most sweetly played.
In glades arrayed with fragrant blossom, spirits dance and leap and twirl.
In caverns deep he takes his shelter, they echo with his pipers song.
Panic driven by his music, fear is driven by the sound.
His guidance brings a generous bounty there for all mankind to share.
By Victoria Newton


About knotmagick

Weaving Magick and Crochet in the madhouse I call home. I am a devotee of Hekate and a follower of Pan.
This entry was posted in Hekate, Magick, Pagan Blog Project, Pan and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Music in Ritual

  1. Really great post! I’ve had a lot of fun exploring music in rituals, and it seems like you have, too.
    (Also, don’t want to nag, but the Orphic Hymns are different from the Homeric Hymns. You linked to the Orphic Hymn, but have it labeled as Homeric hymn, which doesn’t exist! it’s a great song, but I figured you’d want it labeled correctly.)
    Thanks for the great post, as well as the great Hecate song! I’ve been working with her recently and this song is just perfect!

  2. This is wonderful, thank you for sharing! I’m on an ongoing mission to find and create music for ritual. If only we Pagans could organize enough to have a central site to share things like this with the community!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s