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The Mythos of Music

by Lloyd Michael Lohr

In faith and spirit, the mystical periphery of music evolves and comes to the forefront. Music will invoke feelings of passion, aggression or solitude in all of us.

Looking for an Oasis III by Patse Hemsley
Loking for an Oasis III
by PAtse Hemsley
There are several attributed values or modes associated with the movement of music in relation to myth and religion. The continuous, the infinite, the irrational, and the transcendental, all reach beyond our visceral reality. The exotic, the wild and untamed can be invoked in the ideal of the noble savage (the Native American shaman, the wild man of Borneo, or the naked, sword-wielding Celtic warrior). The primitive invokes the spirit of the primeval. These qualities thus can establish a perception of spiritual romanticism or a meta-physical relationship to all patterns of music, be it the music Loreena McKinnett, Enya, Sun Ra, or Led Zeppelin.

Music and religion have been an essential part of the human condition. Music is part of our cultural fiber, as is religion. Myths and religion, like music, have played a substantial role in the development of culture, society, and humanity, in general.

Music contains an inner quality that connects the spiritual and material worlds with the mediums of speech and song. Oral traditions brought down from generation to generation, from tribal Africa to the ancient Celtic lands of Hibernia (the Latin/Roman name for Ireland) preserve the legend, the hero, and the myth. This oral/singing tradition has survived through countless millenniums of strife and war, and still, to this day, it flourishes in many cultures. The Finnish, Estonian, and Lapp cultures have a long oral tradition through songs, poems, and prayers. Translated from the Finno-Ugrian languages, native to the Northern European regions (the regional area encompassing Scandinavia to the Ural Mountains), these works display and communicate the indigenous people's beliefs, perceptions and artistic impressions as well as their legends and myths. Navajo Indians also still possess a strong oral tradition in their culture. Studies conducted by the University of London and the Linguistic Academy of Finland discovered that regional beliefs and ritual practices are reflected in the oral traditions of storytelling and song, regardless of the cultural region.

Early translations by Christian (Irish) monks utilized pagan oral traditions. By incorporating a Christian message within the context of the pagan tale and converting the ancient Irish heroes to a Christ-like persona, monks transformed pagan mythology into a Church-accepted story. From this union, developed the unique religious perspective of the Irish Catholic Church until Rome intervened around 1100 A.D., and forced a change of doctrine. Britannia monks were able to present their religious views to the Celtic and Saxon pagan clans through the medium of the previously sung, pagan oral songs and heroic sagas. Two examples of this methodology of conversion were "Beowulf" and the Saxon religious chronicle, "The Heliand."

Music is said to have a healing quality within its properties. Music possesses a catalyst for healing both the metaphysical soul and mental mind. Emotional anger or stress can be alleviated by music. This healing affect can be related to a calming or relaxing sensation. Music has the capability to create, heal and become a life-giving force. That is why that most religious rituals include music in the ceremonial structure. From the primitive, to the complex, music plays an important role in the presentation and continual development of humanity's spirituality.

The bard, the great storyteller, is an essential aspect of the union of the warrior's heroic tale, religion and mythos. In Wales, Taliesin was the son of a Celtic Goddess of the white cauldron of regeneration, Kerridwen. He, it was said, could weave a tale so intriguing that the moon itself would drop down and listen to him speak. Bardic traditions are still alive and well today in Wales. The National Eisteddfod of Cymru (Wales) and the Gymanfa Ganu both share a common link to the Bardic past. In India, Hindu saints are considered to be expert poets and songsmiths. Hindi Bhakti is an important method of spiritual expression in the Hindu religious world.

The Greek legends are inundated with religious/musical references. The forest deity Pan is directly associated with the flute, or pipes. The ancient Celtic world had the Beltane fires, a Rite of Passage ritual, involving men and women and their human desire to find a mate. Held around large bonfires, these sacred pagan ceremonies are said to be nights of passion, full of music, wine and dance. The Picts, Scots (the Scottish Highland Celtic clan, originally from Northern Ireland) and Bretons (the French Celtic peoples of Amorica) were said to paint themselves blue and work themselves into a frenzy while listening to chants and music.

In Native American culture, music and dance, such as rain dances, are a necessity as a communication tool. Tribal rituals have always involved music as a mystical medium. Mayan Shamans would chant prayers to the Spirit world, so as to communicate with the spirits of the afterworld. They would ask to heal the sick or bring good fortune to the tribe in times of crisis.

Music has always been a cultural mechanism used to convey ideas. Music, spirituality and the mystic have held humanity in wonderment throughout the ages. Listen, sense a touch of the eternal and enjoy.


Barry, Raftery - Pagan Celtic Ireland - The Enigma of The Irish Iron Age - London, England, Thames and Hudson Publishing.

Branch, Michael, Bosley, Keith, Senni, Timonen, and Honko, Laurie - The Great Bear: A Thematic Anthology of Oral Poetry In The Finno-Ugrian Language - Oxford, England, Oxford University Press.

Carmichael, A., and MacInnes, J., Carmina Gadelica - Hymns and Incantations From The Gaelic - Hudson, New York, Anthroposophic Press.

Cowan, Tom - Fire In The Head - Shamanism and The Celtic Spirit - San Francisco, California, Harper Collins Publications.

Hawley, J.S., and Jueryensmeyer, Mark - Songs of the Saints of India - Oxford, England, Oxford University Press.

James, Simon - The World of The Celts" - London, England, Thames and Hudson Publishing.

Moscuti, Sabintino, Frey, Otto, and Syabo, Miklos - The Celts" - New York, New York, Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.

Murphy, G. Ronald - The Heliand - The Saxon Gospel - Oxford, England, Oxford University Press.

Rowell, Lewis - Thinking About Music: An Introduction to The Philosophy of Music - Amherst, Massachusetts, The University of Massachusetts Press.


Llyod Michael Lohr doesn't have a bio anywhere that I can see???


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