Pagan Paths

Learn how Classical Music harbors subliminal and not-so subliminal Pagan messages.

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A Slight Departure for Yo-Yo-Ma

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

My apologies to those whom I've asked for ideas for my next article:

I've just found out that Yo-Yo-Ma will be playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the RI Philharmonic  in Providence RI on Sunday, June 1st at 7pm.

This is an incredibly important occasion for me, and it is the reason I'm putting off my next blog about Gender and Paganism in Opera.  I realize I haven't yet spoken about Elgar here, and why he should be important to the Pagan, more especially, Occult and Ceremonialist communities.  I will now do so.


Sir Edward William Elgar was a British composer during the latter end of what is known as the "Long 19th Century" in European cultural history.  Beginning with Beethoven and ending with Debussy, Mahler, and the Impressionists,  the Long 19th Century expressed the emotional and rapturous in art. 

So far in my studies, I've been able to determine that quite a few composers paired up with librettists/poets in order to produce good music, and that when the composer can't usually be identified with Occultism, Paganism, Witchcraft, or other New-Age practices or beliefs, often, the librettist can.  While this particular symphony doesn't appear to be programmatic or to have occult elements (on the surface, at least), Elgar himself possibly had leanings in that direction. 

It's a hard thing to prove for a composer who vehemently denied having 'programmed' his works, but it's another hard thing to disprove his wife's journaling. You see, Elgar had written music for a childrens' drama called "The Starlight Express." It was based on a book by Algernon Blackwood and the play was written by Violet Pearn.  Blackwood worked on the libretto himself. The songs, if you look them up, are about fairies, the stars at night, magic spells, the sun, the winds, and flowers.

Algernon Blackwood was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn.  This doesn't especially show up in the libretto or the play, though one could argue that fairies and magic are a common tell for the New-Age crowd.  One has to look up Algernon Blackwood to find this out. 

But coupled with the entry of Lady Elgar in her journal (see article here)-that Elgar and Blackwood had maintained their friendship long past the war (WWI), it is quite possible that Elgar had indeed a tolerance for occult thought and speculation, if not an outward display toward it. 

So, I urge you to go to this concert, and listen for the sounds of mystery and ritual in this concerto.  Tell me what you hear. 



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Amarfa has been studying the occult, wicca, and paganism for 17 years and counting.  She has been a musician since age 5, studying first guitar, then accordion for 10 years, placing 2nd in her division in the 1995 ATARI/ATAM New England Regional Competition,  and has been studying voice for 9. She has directed small early music ensembles, performed publicly, and starred in local theatre works, particularly the World Premiere of Nightsong, a musical theatre piece with direction and book by Jon Brennan and music by Kari Tieger and Kevin Campbell, as well as composing a musical of her own and writing music in her spare time.


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