It is a joyous time of the year celebrating the cessation of the growing dark and the promise of a returning light. In Rome, solstice festivals merged to become the festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the days of the birth of the unconquered sun. The ancients of the northern hemisphere rejoiced yearly at the sun’s return.
It is also the time of year when I begin my personal lamentations about the general lack of Pagan or Pagan-proximate music available for celebrating. Now, before I get hate mail. There are many fine Pagan musicians, making beautiful music. I’m sure you have yours. They are also easier to find now–and a search for Pagan solstice music will uncover a trove of familiar songs familiar to many Pagans.
I like to find unexpected music for Yule. I don’t really need the songs to be Yule-centric, but rather evoke the mood of mid-Winter, even though, I live in the tropics.
So, let me share my criteria:
- I prefer songs where I’m not yelled at or condemned. The season is stressful enough.
- They multi-task from being in the background for parties to being center-stage.
- They echo the season – even if religious to others – without being proselytizing.
- I don’t really need them to be Yule-centric, but rather evoke the mood of Yule.
- I can play them while driving, through traffic (back to the stress issue) or to the beach. This is not very Yule-ish in the Northern sense, I know, but we make do.
So, here’s a short curated list. I hope you enjoy.
First up is from Iceland. Sung by amazingly talented Eivør Pálsdóttir, Dansaðu Vindur [Dance Wind] is amazing. It does have a little bit of Christmas eve [Jóla Nott] in there but really focuses on the time of the year and depending on your level of Icelandic, you can sing along,
Next up, some Slavic traditional music- Kaval Siri, a Bulgarian Folk song. This translates as “The Flute Plays”. The song is about young woman visiting the village to listen to the music and will decide – I assume for herself — whether to fall in love with the man playing it. It has nothing to do with Yule except that I heard it at Yule for the first-time years ago. The song is chillingly beautiful.
Staying in Eastern Europe and given that this Yule corresponds with the a full Moon, the award-winning American Women’s Vocal Ensemble, Kitka sings Macedonian folk song “Ogrejala Mesečina” [The Moon Shines]. For the curious, no I cannot sing this; but it’s cool. Kitka is an absolutely fantastic group. If you have an opportunity to hear them live, take it.
Part of their Winter Lights album, Camille and Kennerly Kitt, the Harp Twins, offer a true Yule song, Nordic Solstice and is consistent with all the Pagan imagery we might expect: “Sol, sol, hear our song, hear our cries, this blackest night”.
Wake Skaði by Andrea Haugen (Nebelhexë) is one of those songs that I think does it right also. The beginning 30 seconds is hard to hear and not Jeep-friendly but then balances the drumming with the vocals incredibly well.
Keeping with the Norse focus, The Skaldic version of Völuspá by the Norwegian group Wardruna. The song is haunting in its simplicity with vocals by Einar Selvik practically a cappella while playing a kraviklyr.
Obelija is a folk music group in Vilnius Lithuania offinering “Advent” songs to herald the solstice, “While waiting for the Solstice, let’s chant!”. The vocals are amazing.
Belaukiant Saulėgrįžos, giedokim dzūkiškas adventines dainas!Dėkojame Indrei, įamžinusiai šiek tiek koncerto, tad dalinamės su visais, kas nebuvo 🙂 //While waiting for the Solstice, let's chant! (That's an Advent song consisting of two parts – first one is about falcon finding for his beloved one – cuckoo bird in the garden, second one is by analogy about young lad meeting young maid in the manor)Sakałėli sierasai,Žalia rūta, kalėdaKap tu drįsai soduosa,Žalia rūta, kalėdaDrįsau drįsau ne vienasŽalia rūta, kalėdaPirma laidau strazdelįŽalia rūta, kalėdaPaskui sieras inłėkiauŽalia rūta, kalėdaUždabojau gegiułįŽalia rūta, kalėdaPo sodelį lakianciųŽalia rūta, kalėdaVyšnių uogas gerianciųŽalia rūta, kalėdaObuołėlį lasanciųŽalia rūta, kalėda- Oi gegiula, tu manoŽalia rūta, kalėdaRaibos plunksnos tai tavoŽalia rūta, kalėda***Tu brolali, jaunasaiŽalia rūta, kalėdaKap tu drįsai uošvijojŽalia rūta, kalėdaDrįsau drįsau ne vienasŽalia rūta, kalėdaPirma laidau brolalįŽalia rūta, kalėdaPaskui jaunas injojauŽalia rūta, kalėdaUždabojau mergełį Žalia rūta, kalėdaPer dvarelį ainanciųŽalia rūta, kalėdaŽalių rūtų nešanciųŽalia rūta, kalėdaTu mergela, tu manoŽalia rūta, kalėdaVainikėlis tai tavoŽalia rūta, kalėda
Posted by Obelija on Monday, December 17, 2018
I add a Celt-Iberian song for two reasons. First it’s a reminder of the Celtic heritage of northern Span and second there is a rich tradition still present in Cantabrian Spain and Portugal that is both familiar and different to Celts and their descendants from other nations. Brenga Astur, from Nothern Spain, has an incredible discography of Pagan-centric music. They sing predominantly in Asturleonese languages and Agoa Non [Not Now] tells a son to sleep and focus on his soul, much like this time of the year.
And finally, an instrumental by Audiomachine titled Sol Invictus.
Like I wrote, I hope you enjoy. All of us at TWH would love to hear your suggestions. The artists presented here offer their music on various platforms for us to hear. We can support them by purchasing their music or visit their website for other ways for other ways to help keep their music flowing.
From all of us at The Wild Hunt, we thank you again for all your support.
May the break from the darkest night illumine and the rising sun bring many blessings.