Friday, January 3, 2014

Pagan Blog Project - Week One - A - Arcade Fire (or, "Hey, Orpheus!")

 Pagan Blog Project - Week One - A - Arcade Fire (or, "Hey, Orpheus!")

(I promise this is a Pagan post. Just trust me on this one, please!)

Art is often divinely inspired. Artists, writers, and musicians are smiled upon by the muses and then magic happens. Or maybe they’re tapping into a social zeitgeist, picking up on cultural trends and energies in some type of Jungian, archetypal sense. Maybe they give us what we need, or maybe we give them the stuff they need to sing about. But it doesn’t really matter what happens because we all know that something happens, and that when it happens, it can be very beautiful and meaningful and life-changing.

I feel this way about Arcade Fire.

I first heard them back in 2006/2007 and didn’t really pay much attention at first. As a DJ at a college radio station I was hearing a lot of stuff, some good, some bad. I liked Arcade Fire, but I didn’t love them.

We bought their album Funeral in 2007, after I had graduated from college, initiated into a coven, got married, and was preparing to move across the country and start a new life. And while funerals usually mark the end of a life, for me this album marked so many new beginnings. As they say, "out with the old and in with the new!"

The sound and feel of the music captured the energy of a youthful innocence I was leaving behind but still wanted to cling to, but the lyrics tapped into something deeper. I had just stumbled into Gnosticism, reading Freke and Gandy, and listening to Joseph Campbell documentaries.  

Arcade Fire was telling me to not close my eyes, to not give in, to not sleep, to WAKE UP and to REBEL. This hip indie band provided a soundtrack for me as I was leaving behind immature thoughts and feelings on religion and beginning to glimpse behind the veil.

Their next album was a blur to me. I like it, sure, but the songs are a jumble, which is how my life was at the time. For many years I had no real direction, no devotion or religious practices.  

I was just fluttering along, shallow like one might imagine a neon bible to be, whatever that is. Then before I knew it, I was nearing 30, dissatisfied with my job, thinking about buying a house, getting a car, going back to school, setting down roots, starting a coven…  

Domesticity had set in, and as a 20-something neo-Pagan, I had a lot of contradictions to reconcile between my traveling, restless heart and a stable, All-American life.

REFLEKTOR came out this fall and my mind has been blown in a way that I didn’t think was possible anymore. I thought I had bought this album out of loyalty, but I think it’s more than just that. I think it’s because Arcade Fire has been able to provide thematic background music to my life, and I think to be able to do such a thing must be divine inspiration. Or maybe it’s just my mind being open to the right things at the right time.

Either way, the Universe provides, doesn’t it?

I had a mini-existential crisis in July after a long summer of ritual and devotional practices. I thought intensifying my religious practices would be a nice thing to do, but I hadn’t quite been ready for the profound ways that constantly practicing magic and witchcraft, engaging in intense study, meditation, ritual, and devotion would open my mind, my life, and change me. It was crazy. At one point I even began to question the nature of reality itself.

“I thought I found a way to enter. It's just a reflector. thought I found the connector. It's just a reflector.” 

Months later I’m still reeling from the experiences of last summer, even though I had been convinced for a while that the magic and epiphanies had dramatically slowed down. But once one gains momentum on these things, it’s hard to slow down. The profound revelation and magic that came to my life this summer hasn't gone away. It's just a little different.  

This town's so strange. They built it to change.

Years ago my husband gave me this lovely Orpheus amulet. When I’d sleep with it I’d have strange dreams, quite unlike my regularly strange dreams. But I haven’t slept with it in a while, and quite forgot all about this Divinely Inspired priest and poet, aside from a brief love affair with the question “Am I Orpheus, or am I Eurydice?” which of course I'm still trying to figure out.

And then one of my favorite bloggers started writing a lot about Orpheus last year…

And one of my Magical Sisters wrote our Circle’s Samhain ritual around Orpheus and his descent, and I had an amazing and upsetting, startling experience that both broke my heart and restored it.

Maybe I forgot all about Orpheus.

But he clearly hasn’t forgotten about me. My attention is back on him in a big way, thanks to Arcade Fire. Of course, this might not be without some controversy. Remember that big mess about pop culture Paganism that had been a hot topic in the past year?

But like us, the Gods are always changing, and Orpheus continues to inspire and I’m convinced Arcade Fire has been inspired in a big, big way.

Right now as I finish up graduate school, work hard with my local Pagan groups, continue to doubt in things like evil, time, and reality, Arcade Fire continues to speak to the things that are rattling around in my mind, still calling to me and shouting my name, like a message from the Gods themselves.  

I believe pop music can reflect trends in our society and in our minds, and in our hearts. If we wake up to it, music can speak to us, because the gods are speaking to us all the time. We just need to put on our headphones, crank up the volume, and listen. 

1 comment:

  1. You sound like you're ready for something. That's my takeaway... readiness!