Campfire Chants – The Chants

Click here for the first part of the booklet – includes background on Reclaiming, witchcamps, our chants, and more!

Click here to download a full-color PDF – or to buy a color print copy!

The Chants

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  1. Wake Again (Faerie Prelude) – by Maxina Ventura
  2. Sweet Water – by Starhawk
  3. We Are the Rising Sun – by Ravyn Stanfield
  4. Circle Round the Balefire – by Laurie Lovekraft
  5. Weave and Spin – by Starhawk
  6. My Soul – by Suzanne Sterling & Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney
  7. The Welcome Flame – by Seed (Calla Unsworth)
  8. Harvest Chant – by T. Thorn Coyle
  9. We Are the Power in Everyone – by Starhawk
  10. Wheel of the Year – by Teen Earth Magic
  11. Come The Night, On – by Maxina Ventura
  12. Body of the Earth – by Starhawk
  13. Let the Beauty We Love – by Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney
  14. Rising of the Moon – by Starhawk
  15. Cycles of the Moon – by George Franklin
  16. One With the Darkness – by Meg Yardley
  17. Skit: Around the Campfire
  18. Goodnight Sweet Witches – Traditional
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Song 1: Wake Again (Faerie Prelude)

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© 2016 by Maxina Ventura

Wake Again

Wake Again

Wake Again, Life is calling to you

Guitar plays Em throughout

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History & Lore

Maxina:

Wake Again is a meditation on finding our way back from the Isle of Apples on Samhain, even as the Faeries try to lure us away from returning to our loved ones back home in the gradual, gentle waking back into this life.

As the Faeries try to lure us from our work together at the Spiral Dance, we sing: Wake Again, Wake Again, Wake Again, Life is calling to you….

George:

We sang this as a gathering song at San Francisco Spring Equinox 2016, right before the album came out. The crowd was naturally in two large clumps, and we got a call/response going.

For the recording, we also saw this as a gathering song – the ritual is over, the dessert dishes are washed, and the faeries are calling us to the late-night bonfire.

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Photo by Alla Irwin / Witchlets in the Woods

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Song 2: Sweet Water

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© 2016 by Starhawk

Em                                              D

We are sweet water, and we are the seed

D                                                                  Em

We are the storm winds that blow away greed

Em                                                 D

We are the new world we bring to birth

D                                  Em

A river rising to reclaim the Earth

Descant

Sweet water

Storm winds

New world

River is rising

See Zay’s notes in History section below for additional lyrics

History & Lore

Starhawk:

One of my goddess-daughters, Morgan, came to California Camp one year in the early 1990s. She brought us a song that was supposed to be one that the Vikings sang as they went to sea. The men would sing Hey-Oh, Ho-Hey (Em-D, D-Em), and the women would sing this la-de-la la part over it. We found that the low part made a great bass for lots of chants, or when you needed something without words.

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The Pagan Cluster’s Living River in Miami 2003. Photo by Ruby Perry / courtesy RQ Archives.

In 2003, Code Pink was doing a big demonstration in Washington DC, right before the start of the (2003 Iraq) war. Pagan Cluster people went there. We came up with a whole myth and prophecy that was about The River. The last verse was We Are Sweet Water.

For the pageant they had a giant puppet that represented greed, war, and poverty. We threw balls of yarn over it and pulled it down.

* * *

Zay:

Sweet Water or The Living River chant originated with a peace march in Washington DC on International Women’s Day in 2003 as part of a fable written by Starhawk.

However, I learned it in late 2003 as tens of thousands of people – including over 70 Reclaiming witches – converged on Miami to protest the Free Trade Area of the Americas ministerial meetings, the latest in the plans to globalize capitalism.

The privatization of water was a key concern to us. If you didn’t know the chant before, you learned it that day on the long march in the hot, abandoned streets of Miami under the oppression of the “Miami model” of police militarization. It kept us going through tear gas and rubber bullets.

Sweet Water became the theme song of the Pagan Cluster, aka the Living River, the current that carried us forward. It was a spell to remind ourselves of what we were doing, of our collective power even at the most hopeless of moments.

To this day when I need strength for a protest, an action, this is what I sing. It reminds me of the deep magic of collective action.

Our hands remember how to spin

We spin freedom on the rising wind

We spin threads of hope, the cords of fate

We spin love into a river that can overcome hate

We spin justice burning like a flaming star

We spin peace into a river that can overcome war

And if you want to know where true power lies

Turn and look into your sister’s eyes

Break the chains that have kept us bound

Weave the web to bring the monster down

In the face of truth no lie can stand

Weave the vision strand by strand

We are sweet water, we are the seed,

We are the storm winds that blow away greed

We are the new world we bring to birth

A river rising to reclaim the Earth!

***

George:

We’ve used this some years as the closing song at Teen Earth Magic, and it’s a regular part of Reclaiming’s Elements of Magic classes.

In 2015 we sang Sweet Water for the final Reclaiming ritual at Cellspace, an artists’ warehouse in the SF Mission district that hosted our annual Brigid ritual for about 15 years. Cellspace was also home to many of the local artists who helped create Dia de los Muertos / Day of the Dead in the Mission.

As the Mission gentrified in recent years, pressure increased to make more profit from the land, and ultimately the warehouse was bulldozed to make way for dot-com condos – another nail in San Francisco’s artistic coffin.

The final collective that ran the space, which was known as Inner Mission SF for the last few years, decided not to contest the eviction in return for one final year in the space. In early 2015 we held our last Brigid ritual there, and later in the Spring helped organize a weekend jamboree of performances, music, dance, and one final ritual.

The ritual included a long go-round where each person spoke about our history in the space, and those of us from Reclaiming got to see our pieces in the larger jigsaw puzzle of Cellspace.

During the pre-ritual organizing meeting we discussed what song to use for the final spiral dance. Several possibilities jumped out, but the line about the “storm winds that blow away greed” sealed the deal for Sweet Water.

Not to mention bringing a new world to birth and reclaiming the Earth!

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Follow Pagan Cluster and other activist features at ReclaimingQuarterly.org

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Photo: Solstice in the Streets 2011. Young folks from Teen Earth Magic helped anchor this colorful day of ritual and activism in downtown San Francisco. Photo Luke Hauser / courtesy Directaction.org

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Song 3: We Are the Rising Sun

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© 2016 by Ravyn Stanfield

C

We are the rising sun

C

We are the change

C                                                           F

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, and

C        F       C     G

We are dawning, we are the…

The third line of this song is quoted from June Jordan: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

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Anti-war march, San Francisco 2003. Photo by Luke Hauser/DirectAction.org

History & Lore

Ravyn:

This song was written in my living room in Albuquerque, New Mexico in January 2003, just before the US declared war on Iraq and invaded the country based on misinformed beliefs that the Iraqi government had “Weapons of Mass Destruction”.

This song was first sung in the streets of Albuquerque, marching down Central Ave to protest the declaration of war on Iraq. It has been sung all over the world for rituals, protests, meetings, festivals, concerts and other events. A friend even called me from Zuccati park during Occupy New York in 2011 and said “Thousands of people are singing your song in the streets!”

This recorded version is different that what I wrote originally, other people have changed the tune. It’s a true folk song.

I believe that humans singing in the face of adversity and oppression is one of the most revolutionary things we can do. I am inspired by All Those Who Have Sung in the streets, in the churches, in the fields, on the railroad, in the hospitals, in the schools, in the factories, in the rituals, in the forest, in the births and deaths of those we love. Singing heals us and gives us resilience. That is why I keep writing chants.

Sometimes we face terrible loss and a long, painful night of the soul. We have no idea what happens next. It all seems to be going downhill and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But the sun will always rise. And after entropy and death, comes dawn and regeneration. This is true. This is my religion. We are meant to sing ourselves back to life.

George:

Rising Sun must have made its debut at CA Witchcamp in Summer 2003. It became an instant classic, sung repeatedly through the week and ever since.

When I first heard the song, it sounded like a seamless loop. I couldn’t figure out where the start of the verse was, or where to jump in. Once I learned it, I was surprised how few words there were.

As we compiled this album, we noticed how many of our songs feature the words “We are” in prominent spots. This song helps run up the tally!

Someone once said about Rising Sun: “This should be the first song in a new folk songbook – the way This Land Is Your Land was when I was a kid.”

I was talking with another songwriter who wondered why a particularly heartfelt song of theirs had not become a “pagan anthem.” Obviously there’s no formula for an anthem. But Rising Sun seems to boil it down to its essentials. Take four concise, uplifting, poetic slogans – weave them into a simple, major-key melody that recalls older spiritual songs – travel around and teach it to a bunch of energetic people who can’t wait to share it with others – and voilá – instant anthem!

The Clarinet Orchestra

Our clarinet orchestra was performed by dress, longtime stalwart of the Bay Area’s Brass Liberation Orchestra and featured soloist at many a witchcamp fire circle. When you’re straining the memory cells to recall the umpteenth verse of American Pie, it really helps to be able to say “take it, dress!” and catch your breath.

On the same night we taped the long, melancholy clarinet break on Cycles of the Moon (Song 15), we recorded the sparkling fragments featured on Rising Sun. The inspiration for the cascading fanfares was Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli.

Kids & The Dawning Song

Of all songs on this album, We Are the Rising Sun might be the kids’ favorite. There are kids’ voices in our mix, and we’ll include a kids’ version on the Bonus disk.

Sometime in the mid-2000s, Rising Sun became the closing spiral song at Witchlets in the Woods. When Redwood Magic Family Camp started in 2013, it adopted the song. Perhaps it will become the standard at all family camps.

The intensity of the final spiral at any camp or retreat anchors the song deep in our hearts. As adults, it’s bittersweet to know we are parting for at least a year, maybe much longer.

For little kids, this future-parting isn’t so real. What is real is the jubilation and ecstatic power of dozens of people singing and dancing to this song.

No surprise it’s a huge favorite with the kids, including some who can barely speak.

Here are two stories:

A parent told me her young kid asked, What does “dawning” mean? The mother explained, It’s like starting.

So the kid thought it was fun to sing the final line as We are starting…

But then they reflected (this was a very young kid): If I sing it that way, will people know what song I’m singing?

The mother agreed this might be a problem, and the kid decided it was better to sing “dawning.”

Speaking of dawning:

At Redwood Magic 2015, a camper who was under three years old signed up to sing the song in the talent show. This was a kid who didn’t really speak in full sentences yet. But she loved this song.

Paul played conga, I strummed the guitar, and with her mother onstage with her, the kid led the camp in a vibrant version of what she called The Dawning Song.

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Witchlets in the Woods and Redwood Magic are all-ages family camps, where adults, teens, and kids have their own magical paths. Teens tend to form a sub-community within the main camp. Visit witchlets.org and redwoodmagic.org. Photo by Alla Irwin.

Family & Youth Camps

http://www.Witchlets.org

http://www.Redwoodmagic.org

http://www.TeenEarthMagic.org

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Song 4: Circle Round the Balefire

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© 2016 by Laurie Lovekraft

Am                                G             Am

Circle round the balefire, friends

Am                              G      Am

Circle round, it never ends

Am                      G          Am

All is holy, prayer is song

Am                      G          Am

Spirit rising, you belong

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History & Lore

Laurie:

I wrote Circle Round the Balefire in 1998 when I was living under the redwoods in the wilds of West Sonoma County, California. It all came out in one smooth flow.

I had been doing a lot of public and private rituals in nature and loved the feeling of circling in community around a nighttime fire – a group of witches and Pagans joining hands in the dark around a glowing bonfire while singing, dancing, and raising energy.

I’m now living in an urban area and when I sing this chant it reminds me of quiet times under the woods beneath the stars (when I could see the stars!).

Hear more of Laurie’s music at <www.Lovekraft.com>

George:

This was a fun song for us to arrange (Laurie’s original version will be on our bonus disk – visit CampfireChants.org).

Paul arrived early for rehearsal one afternoon, set up his conga, and started drumming tumbao rhythm. I fooled around with a Keith Richards’ type guitar figure.

We weren’t sure we had anything until we shared it with the others. Right away a couple of people started dancing – always a good sign on a song about dancing around a fire!

The first time we played this version around a bonfire was at Mysteries of Samhain 2015, as part of a ritual that ended with 30 minutes of dancing. Balefire wasn’t on the set-list, but it seemed perfect. I grabbed my duct-taped campfire guitar, Gwion picked up the rhythm on a djembe, and it fit right into the dance groove.

Thus mote it ever be!

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Photo courtesy of Trillium / RQ Archives

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Song 5: Weave and Spin

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© 2016 by Starhawk

Dm

Weave and spin, weave and spin

C                                  Dm

This is how the work begins

Dm

Mend and heal, mend and heal

C                                            Dm

Take the dream, and make it real

Verse 3:

On the same wheel we spin

Into life and out again

One is many, many one

Brewing in Her cauldron

Descant:

Strand by strand, hand over hand

Thread by thread, we weave a web

History & Lore

Interview with Starhawk by Reclaiming Quarterly

Starhawk: This chant came from a multicultural ritual we did in 1993 at the Hall of Flowers.

RQ: Right, this was one of several Ancestors of Many Cultures rituals co-sponsored by Reclaiming and other Bay Area groups.

Starhawk: We came up with this idea of weaving a basket. We had altars to many different ancestries and different cultures. Each altar had different strips of cloth. You could go to the altar and tell your story or hear a story, and take a strip of cloth.

As part of the ritual we tied the strips together and danced the spiral. We danced into the center and wove a multi-colored basket of our visions.

RQ: This song is really versatile. It can be the first chant you sing at a camp, or the last one – “This is how the work begins,” or “Take the dream and make it real.’”

Starhawk: Yeah, it just kind of fell together that way. I wanted something around weaving.

RQ: What about the other lyrics?

Starhawk: Strand by Strand comes from Powerful Song (on Second Chants). It came out of BC Witchcamp, I think Pandora wrote it, possibly with somebody else. It works really well with Weave and Spin.

RQ: What about the other verse we sing, “On the same wheel we spin”?

Starhawk: That’s something I wrote for the Pagan Book of Living and Dying. It’s the same tune as Weave and Spin – but I tend to write a lot of things to the same tune! It goes with the chant We Are of the Body of the Earth.

RQ: That’s funny – so we paired it with the wrong chant? Were there more verses?

Starhawk: No, just those two.

* * *

George:

This might have been the first song chosen for this album – ever since I first sang it at the 1993 ritual, I’ve wanted to record it.

Weave and Spin pops up regularly at Bay Area rituals. In recent years, it has been the closing spiral dance song at Teen Earth Magic, where the line “Take the dream and make it real” captures our aim – to take our magic back into the world.

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Image: Weave and Spin was written for a 1993 multicultural ritual co-sponsored by Reclaiming and other Bay Area groups. Flyer courtesy of Reclaiming archives.

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Song 6: My Soul

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© 2016 by Suzanne Sterling & Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney

E                                              A                   E

I am breathing, I am open, I am willing

E                                                      F# – B7

I am stepping out into the unknown

E                                                     A                        E

I am walking, though uncertain, I am willing

E                                      A                      E

To listen to the yearning in my soul

E                                                  A                        E

Cuz if my soul says so, I do as my soul says

E                                         F#                       B7

If my soul says so, I do as my soul says

E                                         A                         E

If my soul says so, I do as my soul says

E                                 A                        E

I listen to the yearning in my soul

Chord progression by Magic Brook – see below

History & Lore

Suzanne:

I started writing this chant for a Witchcamp at Diana’s Grove many many years ago. I was with Alphonsus, Dawn Isadora, and Thorn Coyle and we were talking about the myth. I cannot remember dates or themes after all the years of teaching at camps but it must have been about taking leaps of faith and going toward the Unknown!

I wrote the verses, and Alphonsus created the “If my soul says so” line. We added it to the verses… and voilá!

It’s been sung in a lot of different camp settings. I hope that it has helped people to live authentic truthful moments and take risks that speak to their own souls.

Alphonsus:

Sometimes creating a chant for a ritual a good focus. Is your writing relevant for tonight’s ritual?

Maybe a single line is. It’s thinking about how your creativity helps serve the point of the ritual.

Suzanne and I had each had luck writing with the word Soul. She had those beautiful lyrics, and I had this one great line: “If my soul says so, I do as my soul says.”

I didn’t write that line for camp. I was lifting it from my past writing. I had that line, and I tried singing it with hers.

There’s always a nice warm feeling to hear people sing it. When I hear those lines, I feel there’s liberation in them.

But I also feel in my body that I don’t always do as my soul says.

And then there’s the private, behind-the-scenes version: “If my soul says so, you do as my soul says!”

So I go back to what my own soul says. Its scary. In a way it’s a dare. Am I doing what my soul says? How do I know? Sometimes doing what your soul says will kick your ass.

George:

The song began life as a chant around 2000 – a striking version can be heard on Suzanne’s album Wings – see next page – and is part of the bonus disc to this album.

Magic Brook, around 2005, put chords behind the chant and defined it as a song for his album The Great Blues Sea. Brook’s version (also on the bonus disk) is in a jazz idiom – but the underlying bass line lends itself to a folk treatment, and it quickly morphed into a campfire classic.

In 2006-07, I taught at Lorely Camp in Western Europe. The tri-lingual camp welcomed simple, repetitive songs and chants, and the refrain of My Soul became a favorite (along with Let It Be and Get Up Stand Up!).

The first time the Loreley Teens Path sang My Soul, my co-teachers Petra and Anje translated it into German, French, and Dutch – then we all sang it in multi-accented English.

Recording: Our Vocalist’s Latest Avatar

The melody proved challenging for a group effort. Luckily, we had in our chorus Max Ventura, who sang on two previous Reclaiming albums.

Let It Begin Now: Music from the Spiral Dance (recorded in the early 1990s) features a younger Max sharing lead vocals on the 18-minute title song.

And on Second Chants (1997) she sang a soaring descant for Anne Hill and Starhawk’s song, When We Are Gone, which is perhaps the favorite elements-devocation song at San Francisco rituals. Whenever we use the song in a ritual, a few sopranos sing Max’s part.

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Wings: Simple Chants for Everyday Rituals

W138

New Recordings from Suzanne Sterling

Suzanne Sterling’s songs have been integral parts of Reclaiming’s past three albums: Second Chants, Witches Brew, and now Campfire Chants.

As part of creating this booklet, we asked Suzanne to tell us about her own new chants album, Wings.

I write chants and songs constantly. After creating chants for many Witchcamps over the years, I have released an album called Wings.

As long as I am teaching at camps, I will be writing chants for ritual! I have sung some of these chants all over the world.

For many years now, I have been co-creating rituals for connection, community and transformation. I have been blessed to work with incredible colleagues and communities, remembering and reinventing the myths and stories that give our lives hope, meaning and a deeper connection with source. And in each of these numerous and diverse situations, singing and song has been a deeply unifying force.

I have seen thousands of people dance and sing in unified prayer for peace. I have heard voices raised in grief and sorrow, in joyful ecstasy, and in heartfelt devotion. I have sung with birthing mothers and dying fathers. I have sung in garbage dumps in tent cities, with irrepressible children in orphanages, at huge public festivals and in shimmering temples deep in the woods. I know the power of the collective song and I can imagine a world where we remember that singing is our birthright… as natural as breathing.

I created this recording as simply as possible. 25 short chants to be used for coming together, raising energy, invocations and prayer. My hope is that you make them your own and that you sing them with passion!

Thanks to my friends and mentors from the Reclaiming Community who encouraged and supported my first songs and will most likely be there for my last. It was during 25 years of Reclaiming Magic and Activism gatherings that most of these songs were born. My years as Director of the Off The Mat, Into the World Seva Challenge has led me to understand the power of music as a universal language that can transcend differences and change us forever and I am so grateful for that. Thanks to Jacob Nasim and April Taylor for instigating this project, for Chris Krotky for years of musical collaboration and to all who have supported me over the years.

As merry we have met

As merry we have been

So merry may we part

And merry meet again!

Bright Blessings – Suzanne

Wings is available at CDBaby.com, iTunes, and other online outlets

Hear more music at SuzanneSterling.com

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Song 7: The Welcome Flame

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© 2016 by Seed (Calla Unsworth)

Let the fire rise in me, and let it move me

Spark, Blaze, Ember, Ash

Whoa, Whoa, the welcome flame

Spark, Blaze, Ember, Ash

Whole song in Em (or any minor key that works for you) – to sing as a round, don’t change chords

History & Lore

Seed:

The Welcome Flame, also known as Spark, Blaze, Ember, Ash, was written in the mid-2000s. It was first sung in a Reclaiming Elements of Magic class, on Fire night.

I was partly inspired by a circle many years ago in which the group chanted the words “spark, flame, blaze, ember, ash”. I don’t remember who the priestess was, but I would like to acknowledge them here.

As a community, we co-create many classes and rituals exploring the elements; earth, air, fire, water and spirit. There are many wonderful songs honoring the other elements, but fewer about fire. So, for me, this song arose out of a need.

Fire can be destructive, purifying, fearsome. Here, I wanted to invoke fire in its “welcome” aspect. The comfort of the hearth fire, the joy of the bonfire, the fire of our creativity and of our sensuality.

Our lives and emotions, as well as the cycles of nature, seem to flow in a pattern of arising, fullness and release. I hope this song will allow people to embody and celebrate this cycle, and to honor the quieter states of ember and ash as well as the excitement of the spark and blaze.

How often do I write chants? Every once in a while, a song will come to me out of a strong feeling or an intriguing thread of meaning. At other times, a song will arise in response to a specific need, as did this one. After the initial inspiration comes the harder work of finishing them. I’m always glad to receive them. It feels like I’ve been visited by the “song fairy.”

George:

When we think of fire magic, it’s often the blazing, passionate energy we have in mind. But as Seed captures here, fire has a life-cycle of its own. Ash is just as much part of fire as flame.

Kids like this song a lot, and we wove our Campfire Kids Chorus in at the end when we needed a third set of voices. We’ll add a kids’ version on the bonus disk (visit our website for info).

Welcome Flame is fun to sing as a round. Learn the tune carefully so the harmonies work. To end, start singing Spark Blaze Ember Ash over and over, and others will join in. You might raise a blazing cone of power, or you can let it settle into the glowing embers as we do here.

When we recorded the song, we did the drum and vocals first, then played around with guitar parts, eventually landing on a John Lee Hooker motif inspired by his signature song Boogie Chillun – a trancey blues rhythm if ever there was one!

Alison added the fiddle in her final session. We didn’t have anything planned, but we had some extra time after recording other songs. We did two takes and wound up using both. You’ll hear a low part enter at the top of the second stanza, and a higher part mid-way through the third.

The canon vocal arrangement is so dense that the fiddle was getting buried. When we got to the end, we rewound the instrumental tracks to the point the second fiddle enters and let it roll again.

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Song 8: Harvest Chant

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© 1997 by T. Thorn Coyle

C                                                   F                   C

Our hands will work for peace and justice

C                                                F               G

Our hands will work to heal the land

C                                          F         C

Gather round the harvest table

C                                    F               C

Let us feast and bless the land

 strike11-SpD-TTC6089

History & Lore

Thorn:

I wrote Harvest Chant for a Fall Equinox ritual, many, many years ago.

A few years later, at a witchcamp, Starhawk wrote a descant to go with the chant. At the time, I believe we also changed “feast” to “dance” for that particular ritual.

Take the gift of love and death

Take the gift of blood and bone

Weave the circle breath by breath

Build the vision stone by stone

Every once in a while, people tell me that they use the chant for ritual. I’m glad it has some longevity. I’m glad people are still doing what they can to work for peace and justice in this world.

These days, however, I’d settle for more justice. Real peace only comes when justice is present.

Find more of Thorn’s music, writings, and teachings at thorncoyle.com

George:

A 50-second acapella version of Harvest Chant was included on Second Chants, and immediately became the “traditional” Fall Equinox song for San Francisco Reclaiming rituals (still being sung as of Fall 2016).

The 50-second version felt like a teaser that begged for a longer treatment. May this be the first of many!

For the instrumental section, we recorded fiddle, flute, and clarinet parts, plus Max and Jaden did an extended la-de-da duet while Meg continued the descant.

We tried various mixes, but none seemed quite right. Finally we dumped all the tracks in together – and voila, it started to sound like a Beltane maypole!

Never mind that it’s a Fall Equinox song – this actually is what the music for a Reclaiming maypole sounds like. There’s always the suspicion that some of the musicians have no idea what others are playing (which was certainly the case with these tracks, done in separate recording sessions) – but somehow it all comes together in the end.

We cut a few extraneous sounds, boosted the repeating clarinet figure (which reminds me of Tennessee Jed by the Grateful Dead – not surprising, as clarinetist dress attended more than a few Dead shows back in the day), dubbed in some firey fiddle parts by Alison – and we had it – the Psychedelic Latter-Day Beltane Meltdown Mix of Reclaiming’s Fall Equinox Classic!

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Photo: Author T. Thorn Coyle leads a spiral dance at the Occupy Oakland General Strike, 2011. Photo by Luke Hauser / courtesy Reclaiming archives.

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*****

Song 9: We Are the Power in Everyone

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© 2016 by Starhawk

Em                      Am           D      Em

We are the power in everyone

Em                       Am                 D                Em

We are the dance of the moon and sun

Em                      Am             D            Em

We are the hope that will not hide

Em                       Am      D          Em

We are the turning of the tide

History & Lore

Starhawk:

This chant was written for the anti-nuclear actions at Livermore Lab* in 1982. We were blockading on Summer Solstice, and there also happened to be a lunar eclipse around that time.

I had written the chant We Can Rise with the Fire of Freedom (on Chants: Ritual Music) for the February blockade (at Livermore) that year. It was meant to be a closeted Brigid song.

So I was looking for another idea for Summer Solstice, and I thought of the dance of the moon and sun.

Sometime in the 1990s I was down in Mexico for a Bioregional convergence. A friend who taught organic gardening invited me to come to her course. At the end of the course she had people sing a song – and it was We Are the Power in Everyone, translated into Spanish. She had no idea I’d written it or where it came from! It was really nice to see it had taken on a whole life of its own.

In some ways it’s not so great as a power-raising chant. She Changes Everything She Touches (on Chants: Ritual Music) is so simple, you can pile on the harmonies. We Are the Power doesn’t work quite that well.

* – RQ Note – Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco is one of two US nuclear weapons design labs. Civil disobedience actions have been organized there for years, with a total of about 3000 arrests between 1982-85, and hundreds more since then.

The dozens of affinity groups for Livermore and other actions of this period included pagan groups that helped create Reclaiming.

Anti-Nuclear Activism and the Birth of Reclaiming

Reclaiming was born in the alchemy of Earth-based, Goddess oriented spirituality and grassroots activism.

In the late 1970s, anti-nuclear protests on both US coasts began to create a new political culture based in consensus, feminism, and small group (“affinity group”) process.

On the west coast, huge direct actions at Diablo Canyon power plant (1979 and 1981), Livermore Weapons Lab near San Francisco (1982-83), and Vandenberg AFB (1983) led to thousands of arrests and fed a thriving activist/artistic culture that endures to this day.

People who helped organize Reclaiming in these years took part in these actions, some as part of pagan affinity groups such as Matrix. The actions were formative for Reclaiming’s culture.

The story of these early 1980s actions is recounted in Direct Action: An Historical Novel, by Luke Hauser. Get a copy of the book or download a free PDF (plus many other activist resources) at DirectAction.org

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Song 10: Wheel of the Year

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Lyrics © 2016 by Teen Earth Magic

D (C)

The wheel of the year goes round and round,

A (G)                                  D (C)

Round and round, round and round

D (C)

The wheel of the year goes round and round,

A (G)                       D (C)

All through time

Verses

Brigid is the time of the cauldron fire

Spring Equinox means colored eggs

Beltane is the time of the maypole dance

Summer Solstice is the longest day

Lammas is the time we bake our bread

Fall Equinox means harvest time

Samhain is the time we spiral dance

Winter Solstice is the longest night

Chants15-Booklet-Pic-AmokehSabbats
Amokeh and Jaden created this mnemonic chart to help the kids record the eight verses.

History & Lore

George:

This song was born at a Teen Earth Magic retreat (see next page for more on TEM) – although it’s never sung at TEM.

No, we don’t sing nursery rhymes with the teens. In 2011, we did a weekend workshop in the basement of the Oakland Peace Center. It was midnight on Saturday, following an all-day workshop and all-evening ritual. At least one teacher recalls already being in their sleeping bag.

Some teens were still running around and singing, and somehow the chorus of this song emerged (you can picture the “round and round” part, with the teens dancing in the middle of a gymnasium that has a big 11-circuit labyrinth painted on the floor).

Pretty soon verse ideas were popping up. The earlier-referenced teacher got out their flashlight and a pen and paper and started jotting down lyrics. By the time the energy ebbed, we had most of the song.

We sang it that year at a San Francisco ritual, and kept honing the words. Some of the verses changed as we did the recording – parents in the chorus pointed out that more visual, active lines worked better than reflective ones, so we changed “Brigid is the time we make our pledge” to “Brigid is the time of the cauldron fire” – the sort of detail a five-year-old is likely to remember!

The song comes complete with sabbat-coordinated hand motions – hopefully someone makes a youtube! Naturally it’s a kids’ favorite, and you can hear them singing along on the refrains.

A note on terminology: Bay Area Reclaiming uses neo-Celtic names for the cross-quarter holidays, but mostly uses the neutral terms Equinox and Solstice for the quarters, to honor that these are holidays of the planet and all peoples, not just one culture.

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Teen Earth Magic

TEM10-LiftUp2974

A Reclaiming Youth intensive

Visit TeenEarthMagic.org

Teen Earth Magic is Reclaiming’s first witchcamp for young people – an intensive retreat weaving magic and Earth activism.

Begun in 2008 as a short retreat for teens from Witchlets in the Woods family camp, TEM has expanded to a full witchcamp for teens age 13-19, and for young adult mentors ages 18-25.

TEM is an opportunity to explore our relation to the Earth and to one another. We practice ritual creation and group facilitation, hone community and magical skills, bond with people facing many of the same joys and challenges, and find out about ourselves as we head into the world in ever new and more adventuresome ways.

As campers return and join our Mentors path, people tap into what each has to offer from our hearts – which might be leadership and service, mentoring younger folks, skill-sharing, kitchen-witching, or something unexpected and mysterious – to help create our camp.

Our camp is based in Northern California, but campers and teachers from a number of communities around the Reclaiming network have taken part. Group-building and trust exercises are part of our work, and we aim to create lasting connections among Reclaiming’s young people.

Teen Earth Magic is strongly supported by parents, who help with cooking, transportation, and in-camp support.

Teen Earth Magic Through the Years

Teen Earth Magic began in 2008, when teachers, parents, and campers from Witchlets in the Woods family camp decided to organize an Earth-based teen retreat.

The first year, twelve teens worked with the legend of Savitri and Satyavan, visited the Yuba River, did rituals and magic, and built group bonds.

In 2009, 24 teens and young adults focused on the life-story of the salmon, native inhabitants of Northern California’s rivers and creeks.

2010 again drew two dozen teens and young adults for the Pentacle of the Great Turning, inspired by the work of Joanna Macy.

Recent years have seen 25-30 teens and young-adult mentors follow the Journey of the Bard, the Life of the Butterfly, and Sweet Magic of the Beehive.

Contact teenearthmagic@gmail.com

Teen Earth Magic: the Workbook!

Teachers from Teen Earth Magic have created a workbook featuring dozens of exercises, ritual outlines and ideas, and guidelines for starting a family camp.

This book is for all ages – a complete compendium of Reclaiming-style magic and activism!

Many exercises include Solo Working sections that people can do on their own or with a few friends.

There is no better introduction to serious Earth-based magic than the TEM Workbook!

Order a print edition – or download a free PDF – at teenearthmagic.org

Photo: We will lift each other up – literally and magically, teens learn to support and lift one another – a stark contrast to the competitive put-down culture most of us grew up with. Photo courtesy Reclaiming archives.

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Song 11: Come the Night, On

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© 2016 by Maxina Ventura

Gm

Come, come the night, on

Gm

It is a time of growing

Gm

It is a time of changing

Gm

Come, come the night, on

Chants-BlackLivesMatterSinging-1857

History & Lore

Max:

A year after my youngest child Blake’s birth on the Winter Solstice in 2001 (our midwives told me later he crowned at the apex of the change to Winter, and was fully born three minutes later), I was awash in the magic of each of my children’s births: first Ingrid, next Andy, and finally Blake (our pet baby, as we called him – who’s now six feet tall).

Each was different, and reflected some of my children’s ways in the world, and perhaps their interactions between the worlds.

This song is invoking the beauty of Night, when we commune with the quiet times of birth, and our place in the processes of the cycle of conception to growth and change in us all, leading to birth, to life, to death, and to rebirth, once again.

Singing as a Round – to singstephengpocock@gmail.com as a round, you can add a new part after “Come, come the” or after “Come, come, the night, on.”

When I was singing it with a trio, one of the guys said “what the heck timing is this thing?” We figured out it was in 13/8. He noted it instead for us Westerners in 1/2 (think of swaying palms). Let go and enjoy!

George:

This was a difficult song to arrange, as the lines are different lengths.

Our idea was to have David play a steady droning rhythm on the jaw harp as the voices wove together.

This is possibly the first neo-pagan song ever to begin with jaw harp. We wondered whether we were the first pagan band to feature this instrument, period. But a bit of internet research turns up the European band Faun who include it in their lengthy list of instruments.

Faun’s list of instruments also includes a hurdy-gurdy – we’re seriously jealous!

Photo: Reclaiming singers carol in downtown San Francisco for Black Lives Matter – Winter Solstice 2014. Photo by George Franklin / courtesy Reclaiming Quarterly archives.

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Song 12: Body of the Earth

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© 2016 by Starhawk

Em                                                 D Em

We are of the body of the Earth

Em                                                           D Em

The Earth is of the body of the stars

Em                                                        D                         Em

We are stars that circle from life to death to birth (2x)

Descant

We are Earth

Earth is star

We are stars

Life death birth

(Alternate final line: Like a diamond)

History & Lore

Starhawk:

I wrote this for the Pagan Book of Living and Dying (around 1994). I felt we needed some songs about death and rebirth.

I’ve often used it at Winter Solstice rituals. Something about the Winter Solstice and the night and stars.

We used to do Winter Solstice up at Sebastopol Community Center, and they have a disco ball. It’s really nice to be singing about the circling stars with the disco ball – it’s quite trancey!

When I was writing this song, I was thinking about physics. The Earth literally is made of stardust, and so are we.

George:

It turns out there is another verse to this song, which magically migrated to Weave and Spin – see the History & Lore section of Song 6.

I learned this song from Sage Goode and Amy MoonDragon at California Witchcamp around 1998. We sang it over and over during a trance about caring for our bodies and recognizing them as divine.

Ever since, “calling down star energy” has been my favorite purification.

The song has been sung at various Bay Area rituals, and is a staple of Earth night during Reclaiming’s Elements of Magic classes.

Body of the Earth was the spiral song for the opening ritual at the 2016 Witchy Disco (a fundraiser for the Mysteries of Samhain retreat).

Musical note – the “Strand by Strand” descant of Weave and Spin also works with this song.

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tem09-Trust-M2488

Photo: Trust-falling into the arms of one’s peers – embodying the change. Photo from Teen Earth Magic, courtesy of Reclaiming Quarterly archives.

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Earth Activist Training

Listen to a playlist of Starhawk’s Earth-positive chants on Spotify or YouTube

EAT is permaculture, Earth-based spirituality, organizing and activism with Starhawk and a team of stellar teachers and designers

Chants16-Pic-RanchPlanters2093

Listen to a playlist of Starhawk’s Earth-positive chants on Spotify or YouTube!

Planting the Seeds of Change

With Starhawk and Earth Activists

Earth Activist Training (EAT) can set your life on a new path… or show you how to save the world.

Green solutions are sprouting up around us. Permaculture shows us how to weave them together into systems that can meet human needs and regenerate the natural world.

EAT, begun in 2000 by Starhawk and Penny Livingston-Stark, is practical Earth-healing with a magical base of ritual and nature awareness, integrating mind and heart, with lots of hands-on practice and plenty of time to laugh.

Permaculture has many tools to address the problems of climate change and environmental degradation, and our courses focus on solutions and positive approaches to the grave problems which confront us today.

We believe learning should be interactive, participatory and experiential, so our courses include many hands-on projects, games, songs, exercises, discussions, and rituals as well as classroom time.

EAT has a special interest in what is now being called Social Permaculture – the application of ecological principles to designing beneficial human relations.

EAT teachers are deeply involved in organizing around climate change, anti-racism, and social justice as well as environmental issues. We work with the Black Permaculture Network, and co-wrote the solidarity statement that is on their website.

We were instrumental in organizing the Permaculture Climate Change Solutions group with an international scope. EAT grads have worked in Brazil, Africa, Palestine, Israel, Mexico, Jamaica, India, Thailand, Spain, France, England, Australia, and all over the U.S. and Canada.

We have a commitment to share these skills and tools with the communities most impacted by injustice.

Permaculture Design Certification

Our two-week intensives are Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses, offering the basic, internationally-recognized 72-hour permaculture curriculum with an additional focus on social permaculture, organizing tools, and spirit.

We also offer training in Social Permaculture and Facilitation, mentoring for teachers and designers, and consult with community groups.

EAT intensives are offered several times each year, in varied bioregions. For dates and info, visit our website.

EAT’s Mission Statement

To bring the knowledge and resources of regenerative ecological design to communities with the greatest needs and fewest resources.

To teach visionary and practical solutions and personal sustainability to social change activists, and to teach practical skills, organizing, and activism to visionaries.

To cross-pollinate the political, environmental, and spiritual movements that seek peace, justice, and resilience.

Listen to a playlist of Starhawk’s Earth-positive chants on Spotify or YouTube!

Contacts

Web: EarthActivistTraining.org

Web: Starhawk.org

Email: earthactivisttraining@gmail.com

Phone: (800) 381-7940

Photo: Planting seedlings with intention, magic, and micorrhizal fungi.  Teen EAT mini-intensive, 2015. Photo by Luke Hauser/DirectAction.org

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*****

Song 13: Let the Beauty We Love

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Melody & arrangement © 2016 by Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney

C

Let the beauty we love, be what we do

C                                                                  G                                 C

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground

Lyric adapted from a poem by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī and translated by Coleman Barks:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.

Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

fire-candleNC113

History & Lore

Interview with Alphonsus by Reclaiming Quarterly.

RQ: Was Let the Beauty written for a specific ritual?

Alphonsus: I didn’t “write” the song. I found a way to take a poem and give it legs. I want to say it was at Missouri Witchcamp, maybe 15 years ago.

I’d been discovering Sufi ecstatic poetry. I look at these poems and there is an initial “aha!” But also a real challenge – it would kick your ass if you really understood this poem!

I was seeing that there was this long historical lineage. Here I was, reading some person’s words from the distant past, and I was like the new kid on the block. Reclaiming was a new spiritual path, we’re singing around the fire – and these words are so in alignment with the spirit we are trying to conjure.

RQ: You used the word “lineage.”

Alphonsus: There is a gravitas, a legitimacy. People from other parts of the world, from long ago, who were revered – and we’re saying what they’re saying. It wasn’t about trying to be Sufis. It’s about breathing into heart space, wishing the world well, not getting caught up in material means.

I was looking at these words and I thought, it speaks to such a beautiful mind-state, such a nice feeling-state. It’s so inclusive: “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

It affirms everyone in such an inspiring way.

RQ: Where did the melody come from?

Alphonsus: I didn’t want to sing the whole poem, just that one line. I thought, what’s the feeling here? I hummed, and a tune came. It just fell out that way.

Sometimes I come up with a song, and a month later I think, I like these words, but there’s a different melody.

But with Let the Beauty, I remember it coming out really naturally. The muse came to me. And more people know the line because it’s sung.

RQ: What’s it like to “write” a chant that people love, yet they aren’t your words?

Alphonsus: It’s a funny thing about the folk tradition – ownership. You feel grateful that something has come through you. Other people are singing this song, its very affirming of your own creativity. It’s passed some test if other people also want to sing it.

I was at a witchcamp where someone started singing Let the Beauty We Love, and didn’t say who it was by.

And I thought: That’s my song that I didn’t write!

George:

At our late-night campfires at California Witchcamp around 2000, (in between songs and rounds of Truth or Dare), Alphonsus would drum and recite fragments of Rumi poems. The lyrics of this chant often formed the final words of a free-form Rumi improv.

This is a favorite chant at Reclaiming rituals and classes. Once we sang it at two San Francisco rituals in a row, because the first time, when we were at the beach, it didn’t sound so great. We wanted to get it right.

Photo by Naeomi Castellano/RQ.

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Chant Writing: Interview with Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney

Chants15-pol-PaganDrummers5159

Reclaiming Quarterly talked with chants author and witchcamp teacher extraordinaire Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney about how he writes chants. The chant he discusses is I See, from our earlier album Witches Brew: Songs and Chants from the Reclaiming Cauldron (2006). See also his comments on Songs 6 and 13.

RQ: When do you write chants? For specific occasions, or do they just come to you whenever?

Alphonsus: Let me tell you a story. I was teaching at Vermont Witchcamp, and it was the mid-week ritual, which tends to be the deepest. We don’t want to start or end the week deep, but we can go deep here.

I was finding myself having a very hard time with some people on the teaching team – I was getting triggered. But we have to work together, and I’m supposed to come up with a chant for the ritual – and now it’s after dinner.

I’d been teaching a path all week about chants, writing, words of power – all that stuff.

RQ: Sounds like an air-type of path, personal expression.

Alphonsus: I ran to the spot where I was teaching the path, and I literally said, “Words, please come to me.”

My first parameter was – say things that are true. I started writing a few lines, and I noticed this other part of me had managed to find lines that rhymed.

I felt like I was on a roll. It was a new moon… Mars was in sight… A new moon, dark night…

“New moon night, soon Mars in sight” – now what?

“Deep silence finds us when the words aren’t right .” And I thought, this is going to be good!

The rest came out, uncorrected: “Free us from fear, may our hearts sing clear, Make a spark in the dark for our soul’s delight.”

RQ: What about the chorus?

Alphonsus: I needed a rallying point. We were doing shadow work on a dark night.

And privately I’m being triggered. I needed to do my own work.

I came up with “I see myself in you.” So in the ritual, we walked around the fire and looked into each others eyes, singing, “I see myself in you.”

For me to look into the eyes of the person that I was upset with and sing this, there was a divine chuckle! There was an instantaneous shift. It softened the edge.

That was an experience where the words all came as an inspiration. It was like, where did that come from? Which then makes it funny to say, “I wrote it.”

RQ: Well, you wrote it down.

Alphonsus: I know I had something to do with it!

RQ: What’s your goal when you write a chant?

Alphonsus: When I think of a good chant there’s a compressed energy that makes you want to say it over and over again. Short, repetitive language – it’s like spell-crafting.

Another place I think of compressed language like this is in the streets.

RQ: Right – that’s the other place we use chants.

Alphonsus: Some of the slogans get a bit tedious. Can we come up with something more clever that many people can join quickly? That’s the point – what helps many people sing together?

The word “conspire” literally means to breathe together.

We’re part of a history of collective joy, as Barbara Ehrenreich says. What do we bring to this history?

Photo: Drummer Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney and other Pagan Cluster musicians chant in the streets of San Francisco – Make Banks Pay, 2011. Photo by Luke Hauser/RQ.

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Song 14: Rising of the Moon

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© 2016 by Starhawk

Dm                                                                                     C                        Dm

(We are the) Rising of the moon, we are the shifting of the ground, we are the

Dm                                                          C                                 Dm

Seed that takes root, when we bring the fortress down, we are the… 

Chants15-pol-SolsticeDA-MoonCone4467

 

History & Lore

Interview with Starhawk by Reclaiming Quarterly

RQ: I associate Rising of the Moon with the globalization actions of the 2000s.

Starhawk: This is a song we’ve used a lot in political actions, in the streets. It’s a nice one to teach to activists. People really like the sense of bringing the fortress down – stamping down as they sing.

RQ: Did you write it for a specific action?

Starhawk: Yeah, in 2002, the G8 met in Calgary. We had a Pagan Cluster that went there to organize. We had a full moon ritual right before the action at a Unitarian church which had a labyrinth, and I felt like we needed a new chant. I was walking the labyrinth and preparing for the ritual, and came up with that.

We got to doing a lot of magic around the organizing. At first it seemed like the action would be really scary. These “terrible anarchists” were coming to town, and there was this big militarization around it. We did some magic where we set a magical drain for fear in downtown Calgary, and it seemed like things turned around. Suddenly the cops were all in bicycle shorts –

RQ: It’s always a good sign when the cops are in bicycle shorts!

Starhawk: So there was a big march, and nobody got arrested. It was a very successful first day of actions.

Then we had a second day. Like most mobilizations, we’d spent months planning the first day of actions, but no one had planned the second day. So we did a group trance about it.

RQ: Thank goodness for magic.

Starhawk: Somehow in the middle of the trance I was reminded of this vision that I’d had the one and only time I ever took ayahuasca. I had been invited to this ecumenical conference in Brazil. Everyone was doing their different rituals, and I was invited to a Santo Daime ceremony.

You’re supposed to go in with a question. The question I went in with was, “Do we have enough time to make all the changes we need to make?”

I had been asking religious leaders (at the conference), and getting various answers.

I asked the ayahuasca, and it said “No! But you’re a witch — you can work outside of time. Part the curtains of time, and plant the changes in that timeless place where they’ve already taken place.”

Then I had a vision of this huge fortress, overpowering, soldiers and clone-like robocops coming and coming. But when I looked, it was all cracked and brittle. And I heard “the fortress falls, and the ground beneath it shifts.”

RQ: So you brought this vision to the Calgary protests?

Starhawk: Yes. At the G8 protests in Calgary we worked with this image of the fortress, with vines and leaves pushing through the cracks and breaking it apart.

RQ: Which is the theme of the song. What was the actual protest you did?

Starhawk: We got this idea that on the second day of actions we would do Mud People, which is something a bunch of crazy artists and dancers were doing in SF. They’d go down to the financial district, strip off almost all their clothes, and cover themselves with mud. Once covered with mud, the rule was, you couldn’t walk normally or talk. So they’d be grunting and writhing through the financial district at lunchtime as an art piece.

RQ: I remember being part of a mud people action at California Witchcamp around 2000.

Starhawk: Right, Beverly brought this to witchcamp. So periodically, when we were having some deep consensus meeting, mud people would erupt and start crawling around stark naked.

We had this idea to do it in Calgary. Well, Calgary is like the Texas of Canada. All the oil companies are there, it’s the most conservative place in Canada.

We had 60 crazy people who stripped off their clothes and dove into the mud. A few of us were like, I don’t think I’m going to get naked and writhe through the streets of Calgary. I think some of us need to be able to talk.

So we started to write a flyer, and I suddenly said, this doesn’t call for a flyer – this needs a prophecy!

*          *          *          *

George:

I was in a spiral dance with Pagan Cluster people just back from the Calgary action. Every time we got to “bring the fortress down” they’d cast their hands downward – which in a spiral dance is rather jarring!

As we were recording Campfire Chants, I was part of a late-night song circle at 2016 Jewitch Camp. I started by sharing  We Are the Rising Sun (Song 3 on this album).

Someone who had no knowledge of our not-yet-released album said, “That’s a beautiful song about the vision we’re struggling for. But life isn’t all about beauty. Sometimes we’re really angry. I want to share a song about those moments.”

And she launched into Rising of the Moon.

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Photos

Top: Solstice in the Streets, San Francisco 2011 – the moon rises over a cone of power outside energy profiteer PG&E. Photo by George Franklin/RQ Archives

Bottom: Pagan Cluster folks join a march for Climate Justice in Oakland, 2015. Photo by Luke Hauser/DirectAction.org

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Song 15: Cycles of the Moon

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© 2016 by George Franklin

Am                       Em

Cycles of the moon, the stars, the Earth

Am                          Em

Secrets of the path, from death, to birth

Am                        Em

Keeper of the flame, the source, the light

Am                            Em

Presence of the deep, the dark, the night

Em                           Am                                Em

Stay with me a while, Spirits of the Nile

***

History & Lore

George:

The music for this song, originally called Spirits of the Nile, was inspired by Bob Marley’s song Exodus. The lyrics were inspired by a long-ago crush.

In about 1992, a friend and I were recording a pirate radio show in a garage studio in the SF Mission District. She did a segment about preserving the Berkeley wetlands – my role was making quacking sounds in the background.

By the time we finished, we’d missed the last train back to the East Bay. We spent the night at the studio and wound up going out into the postage-stamp back yard and doing a long ritual, during which she invoked Egyptian deities I dimly recognized.

A week later I was fiddling around with the guitar figure and started singing “Daughter of the Nile.” Pretty soon a whole long song about life and death and rebirth unfurled itself – not topics I typically wrote in those days, when I was playing in the political band Funky Nixons.

The chant here is the chorus of that song, with the lyric changed from Daughter of the Nile to Spirits of the Nile for musical and cultural reasons.

The Music

The chant is in 7/4. This was an accident, following the natural rhythm of the words. I only discovered the odd meter when I tried to put a drum machine under it.

For this recording, Paul did several takes on conga until he found a beat that kept the choppy 7/4 rhythm moving steadily forward.

The guitar part is basically in Em. The snaky guitar figure is an Am chord with the first finger lifting on and off to play the melodic lines, then resolving to Em on the down-beat as shown above.

Dress’s clarinet solo in the middle 4/4 section was done on a single take. The two of us have played the song around Witchcamp and Witchlets campfires for many years, and he knew the spooky feel it needed.

(Dress and I became friends in jail at Livermore Weapons Lab way back in the 1980s, notably when he wore a white formal wedding gown for the June 1983 protest – a sartorial choice which led directly to his current nom de guerre. The action is described in Luke Hauser’s book Direct Action: An Historical Novel – see sidebar to song 9).

Original Verses

Original verses to Spirits of the Nile, written 1992 and © 2016 by George Franklin

Cast your sail, ‘cross the River Nile,

Cross the desert sands, out past the pyramids

Search for signs of the older days

And feel the rhythm of the ancient ways

What did they know that we don’t know?

They knew something that we don’t know,

We don’t know, we don’t know…

Cycles of the moon, the stars, the Earth

Secrets of the path, from death, to birth

Keeper of the flame, the source, the light

Presence of the deep, the dark, the night

Stay with me a while, Spirits of the Nile

Verse 2 

If I knew, if I knew the words,

Knew the magic signs, I knew the formulas

Call you back from the distant shore

Sweet incantations ringing evermore

Bring us truth from the other side

Bring us the truth from the other side

Other side, other side

Cycles of the moon, the stars, the Earth

Secrets of the path, from death, to birth

Keeper of the flame, the source, the light

Presence of the deep, the dark, the night

Stay with me a while, Spirits of the Nile

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Song 16: One with the Darkness

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© 2016 by Meg Yardley

The chorus of this song is from a poem by Wendell Berry.

Song is recorded in C. Capoing 3 frets and playing in key of A makes some parts easier (we recorded guitar in both keys and did mix-and-match editing). Here are both versions.

Chorus

C (A)                                                        F (D) C (A)

At night make me one with the darkness

C (A)                                            G (E)                C (A)

In the morning make me one with the light

C (A)                                                         Am (F#m) – C (A)

At night make me one with the dark     –     ness

C (A)                                           G (E)                 C (A)

In the morning make me one with the light

 

Night Verse 1

Cm (Am)                           G (E)

The night is time for dreaming

C (A)                                   Am (F#m)

of what may come to be

Cm (Am)                           G (E)

The night is time for drifting

Cm (Am)                       D7 (B7) – G7 (E7)

through possibili – ty

– CHORUS –

Morning Verse 1

F (D)                                         C (A)

The morning is time for opening

F (D)                                              C (A)

our minds, our hearts, our eyes

F (D)                                         C (A)

The morning is time for shining

Dm7 (Bm7)                 G7 (E7)

as like the sun we rise

– CHORUS –

Night Verse 2

The night is time for letting go

of burdens that we bear

The night is time for trusting

for comfort and repair

– CHORUS –

Morning Verse 2

The morning is time for stepping out

onto the path that’s true

The morning is time for changing

for building the world anew

– CHORUS –

History & Lore

Meg:

I wrote this song around the time of the Winter Solstice. My daughter was a toddler and I wanted a lullaby to sing to her about the blessings of darkness as well as the blessings of light.

The words of the chorus, from a poem by Wendell Berry, were in an illustrated child’s book of blessings I used to read with her.

One day as I was running around doing errands to get ready for our winter holiday travels, I started putting the words to music.

I wanted to use both minor and major keys to represent the balance between darkness and light, the sweet and the bitter. I started to write a verse about nightmares and fears that can arise in the night – I wanted to be real about the fact that night isn’t always easy and restful.

But I thought that we humans already give these aspects of night plenty of attention. I wanted to bring more awareness to the blessings and benefits.

(And of course I didn’t want to write a lullaby that would scare my kids into staying awake!)

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Song 17: Skit: Around the Campfire

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Our honored guests chime in

Part of the magic around the late-night campfire is never knowing who might still be awake and stop by.

It might be a beloved friend or teacher. It could be an emissary from the kitchen with some leftover snacks.

Or it might be the spirit of an ancestor. They’re with us all the time.

Some come to sing, some to hum along. Some love it when we sing their songs. Others get cranky because we change the words.

Some savor the smell of smores. Others flee at the first lines of Puff the Magic Dragon.

You never know what dear comrade or cantankerous predecessor might contribute to the proceedings.

Our Honored Guests

To round out this recording we invited a variety of special guests to lend their voices around the campfire. You’ll hear them following several songs.

Witchcamp friends Starhawk and Magic Brook discuss music and ritual. Chorus members warm up while kids play in the background. Fiddle and flute diligently tune up.

Careful listeners might also hear ancestral voices of (or readings from) the Gnostic text Thunder, Albert Einstein, Virginia Woolf, John Lennon, Baruch Spinoza, patrons at the Café Americain, the gospel of Luke, Groucho Marx, Jane Austen, Leon Trotsky, Charles Mingus – and that’s Janis Joplin’s witchy cackle following Wheel of the Year.

Welcome all!

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Photo courtesy of Trillium/RQ.

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Song 18: Goodnight Sweet Witches

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Traditional – arrangement © 2016 by George Franklin

C                                                                                                      F                        C

Goodnight sweet Witches / Redwoods / Witchlets, lay down and rest

C                                                                   D                          G

Lay down your weary heads, and be the forest’s guest

C                                                                 F                           C

The stars will guide you, your dreams’ll do the rest, we bid you good-

F                              G                     C

Night, good-night, good-night

*                      *                      *

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History & Lore

George:

Goodnight Sweet Witches came to us straight out of Western Appalachia. A late-1990s California Witchcamper visiting from Kentucky sang this song with great enthusiasm, and it’s been a staple of our campfires ever since.

After I’d sung this upbeat-lullabye version for a while, someone told me that the Grateful Dead used to end concerts with a quiet acapella variant of the song, which can be found on youtube as “And We Bid You Goodnight.”

Their melody and lyrics are rather different, but both versions include “lay down and rest,” and both end with “and we bid you goodnight.” The Dead’s version gave us the idea for the slow-down ending recorded here.

When a kid leaves the campfire for bed, we try to stop what we’re doing and sing this song, beginning with their name: Goodnight, sweet so-and-so….

Truthfully, the tired kids seldom seem very impressed by the effort. But it’s fun to sing it to them just the same.

About Those Redwoods:

Verse 2, Goodnight Sweet Redwoods, is sung for Redwood Magic Family Camp, which organized this album. If we were going to sing a verse for Witchlets, we pretty well had to sing to the Redwood Magic folks too!

But it’s nice to think of singing a lullabye to the redwood trees that encircle us, too – even though they sleep standing up.

*                      *                      *

A wise elder once said: When you talk with redwoods, you have to wait a while for an answer – your words have to travel to the top of the tree, and its answer has to travel all the way back down.

*                      *                      *

Circled close round the witchcamp fire, we gaze into the coals as the last flames flicker.

Our campfires are made from fallen branches. Someone quotes Buckminster Fuller:

“Fire is the sun unwinding from the trees.”

The flames turn to embers.

And we bid you goodnight… goodnight… goodnight.

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Photo courtesy of Trillium / RQ Archives

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Revolutionary Pagan Workers Vanguard

The Voice of the Pagan Proletariat 

Special Chants Edition

The RPWV was a satire page of Reclaiming Quarterly magazine, 1997-2004, with special editions in years since. This is issue #37. For past editions, visit ReclaimingQuarterly.org/web/rpwv/

***

Music Industry Stunned as Reclaiming Wins Special Grammy

Following the chart-topping success of its latest release, Campfire Chants, Reclaiming has been awarded a special Grammy that presages major changes in the new-age music industry.

The award, for Most Songs Written to Same Tune, cited five songs from the new album as well as numerous songs from earlier albums.

Grammy voters were especially impressed with the minimalist lyrics. “Most artists would write one song with five verses,” mused one elector. “It’s quite revolutionary to turn it into five different songs with identical tunes.”

Reclaiming’s success is sending shock waves through the neo-pagan music business, which immediately began repackaging older melodies with a wide variety of new Earth-friendly lyrics and rushing them into production by the dozens.

***

Next Reclaiming Album Slated for Spring 2037

Please advance order now!

The next Reclaiming chants album is already underway!

The new recording, tentatively titled Chants My Goddessmother Taught Me, will include all of the greatest Reclaiming songs written from now until then.

Based on past projects, we anticipate the album will be released in May 2037, give or take a decade.

Please help us produce this beautiful and inspiring new album of not-yet-written chants by advance ordering now!

***

Revolutionary Pagan Barricade Chants

Undaunted by Reclaiming’s Campfire Chants, the Peoples Pagan Party has announced the long-delayed release of their soon-to-be-classic album of Earth-based dialectical materialist singalongs, Revolutionary Pagan Workers’ Barricade Chants.

Barricados, as the legendary album is known on the front lines of the Great Leap Into the Unknown, features such gems as Weave and Spin the Unity of All Oppressed Wiccan Workers; We Are the Rising of the Spiritually-Aspiring Masses; We All Come from the Peoples Pagan Party; and of course, Goodnight Sweet Proletarians of the World.

Tracks for Barricados were recorded by a solar-powered cultural-vanguardist production team embedded at direct actions in Calgary, Miami, Oakland, and Headwaters Forest.

Benefit Mega-Event Planned – Arrests expected

Barricade Chants is to be released with great fanfare, including a tour of pirate radio talk shows, pop-under ads on grassroots media websites, and a massive globally-streamed mega-event on Permanent Revolution Day.

The festivities will culminate with a seven-continent live multi-media sing-along of the new album’s #1 hit, Our Hands Will Work for Peace, Justice, Solidarity, Diversity, Gluten-Free Options, and a $15 Minimum Wage.

Immediately following the benefit concert, a spontaneous international civil disobedience action resulting in thousands of arrests is planned. All charges will be dropped later as part of a final settlement mediated by the Covenant of the Goddess’s Special Envoy for Charity Concerts.

Copyrights Challenged

Potential snafus arose for Barricados when the Neo-Wiccan Latter-Day Disciples of the Mysterious Ones claimed copyright violations on several chants, citing numerous cribs from old Reclaiming albums, Pentacostal hymnals, and vintage IWW songbooks.

But the claims were dismissed by a Popular Pagan Chants Tribunal, which ruled that all

continued on page D-125

***

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Photo – Revolutionary cadre practice hand motions for barricade chants in preparation for showdown with San Francisco Police. Foreclose the Banks, 2011. Photo by Luke Hauser/DirectAction.org

RPWV Archives at RQ.org

In an exclusive scoop, Reclaiming Quarterly offers reprints of all 37 past editions of the RPWV. Visit us at ReclaimingQuarterly.org/web/rpwv/

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produced by Reclaiming Quarterly

WeaveAndSpin.org – our current-posts site, viewable on all devices

ReclaimingQuarterly.org – our old-school archives site

In addition to producing this Campfire Chants booklet, Reclaiming Quarterly brings you photo-journalism, magical features, plus Reclaiming’s online archives:

  • back issues of Reclaiming Newsletter and Reclaiming Quarterly dating back to 1981
  • activist and magical features and theme sections
  • Reclaiming chants, music, and trance recordings
  • dozens of archival documents from Spiral Dance scripts to witchcamp brochures to ritual outlines –and more!

Visit us online at ReclaimingQuarterly.org

WeaveAndSpin.org – our current-posts site, viewable on all devices

Listen to our albums free on YouTube and Spotify

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