|This compilation of 21 ritual chants, soulful invocations and haunting Scottish Faery ballads from the Reclaiming community is a must have! The truly remarkable thing is that most the chants are of the simple, trance-inducing sort that can really focus the intent of a ritual or invite in Brigid, Lugh, the Wyrd Sisters or the Moon's silver fingers, and yet, woven together with the inspired violin solos of Pam Otsuka, the whole recording lulls you like a soundtrack into the world of Faery. And the harmonies! The stark beauty of "Weaver Weaver", Starhawk's song for crossing over** brought tears to my eyes. "With Every Breath is Sacred", "Round the Tree of Life We Go" and "Companion of the Earth", it's as if you've slipped off into the wild with the Faery Queen herself singing to you. (My only complaint is that I would like longer versions of at least half the chants!)
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*Not to be confused with the CD by D Generation of the same title!
**from The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over by Starhawk, M. Macha Nightmare (contributor), the Reclaiming Collective M. MacHa nig, Harper San Francisco, 1997.
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"Through the Darkness is a haunting, magical CD that opens the gates to faery, it includes many of my favorite songs and chants (including a few I've written myself). Beverly's voice is both powerful and exquisite."
--Starhawk, author, The Spiral Dance et al
"The layering of harmonies is exquisite. The chants, invocations, ballads, and violin solos display a lucid poetic musical intelligence. Beverly's voice is a passionate instrument full of mystery
. Sends chills up the spine."
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Judy Foster & George Franklin
Starhawk described Beverly's 1998 ritual-like release, subtitled Chants from the Reclaiming Community as "
a haunting, magical CD that truly opens the gates to faery. It includes some of my favorite songs and chants (including a few I've written myself)". Beverly's voice is strong and intense, sometimes solo acappella, other times with layered harmonies. It features 21 rich and varied selections from "between the worlds". Every Step is Sacred/The Midwife's Song; Weaver, Weaver; Goddess of the Sun; Faery Queen Invocation; At Brigid's Well; and more by Starhawk. Sparky T. Rabbit, Beverly herself and others.
Chants (like ritual) are participatory by nature. They are tools meant to raise energy, invoke deity, fix and focus intent. As such, they are most successful when simple, easy to remember and sing. This being so, it is not easy to create a musically-interesting recording of chants which can stand up to repeated listening. Beverly Frederick, who produced and arranged this CD (also available on cassette tape) as well as doing most of the vocal work, has done it. "Through the Darkness" is well named. The sequence of choices that move through the darkness to light - chants, invocations, ballads and beautiful violin solos by Pam Otsuka - display a lucid, poetic musical intelligence. Beverly's voice is clear and strong, a passionate instrument that is by turns sweet, intense, dark and full of mystery. The layering of harmonies is exquisite, sometimes delicate, sometimes wild and almost Balkan.
While the CD will surely be a source of chants and songs for your rituals, part of the reason we return again and again to this recording is that the selections themselves are arranged in a ritual-like flow. The early chants which include Call Unsworth's "Every Breath is Sacred" and San Mueller's "Round the Tree of Life We Go," help ground and open the listener to sacred space and magical experience.
A violin solo gives the listener a chance to pause and deepen this grounding before the lyrics resume with a series of God and Goddess invocations. July Lewis and Beverly's "Lugh Return" interweaves two simple "Goddess of the Sun," by Mer/Mary DeDana, likewise combines two melodies in a rich tapestry. And Allen Stinson and Beverly's "Companion of the Earth," one of the vocal highlights of the CD, is an excellent addition to the all-too-sparse repertoire of God-invocation songs.
The heart of the recording is a series of songs that evoke the core of many a ritual. Starkhawk's "To the Crossroads" carries us into "a world unseen," where we stand between the worlds in a moment of mystery. From the vantage point, we are treated to the Childe ballad "Tam Lin," arranged and performed by Beverly as part of Reclaiming Witchcamp rituals in 1996 and 1997. The haunting beauty of both melody and story wonderfully evoke the heroine Janet's encounter with the realm of Faery. Pam Otsuka's "Faery Gigue" solos frame "Tam Lin," gems surrounding a diamond.
'Weaver Weaver," a song for crossing over written by Starhawk and used as core music for the Spiral Dance ritual the past several years, is sung in a spare, almost medieval harmony that sends chills up the spine.
Several more songs calling forth the Faery tradition make this an especially rich part of the CD. Suzanne Sterling's "Catch Me" captures the ear like the chorus of a favorite pop song. And one might wish Beverly had sung more of "True Thomas," just because the verses she does sing are so tantalizing.
Three songs are dedicated to the Goddess Brigid. Sparky T. Rabbit's reworking of the traditional "Brid," as well as "Holy Well and Sacred Flame," are sung each year at Reclaiming's Brigit ritual.
The finale of the CD, is of course, a devocation: "The Elements Reel," written by Vermont Witchcampers a couple of years ago. The only song on the recording that is accompanied by drumming, the Reel assures a spirited conclusion to the CD.
Accompanying vocals are performed by Terry Ann Gillette. Words to the chants and short songs are included on the artful insert, which was designed by Reclaiming Quarterly's own Elka Eastly.