Music for Rituals & Music as Ritual

Music for Rituals & Music as Ritual

6 min read

Music is an important part of many religious and spiritual practices and human life. Who has never been involved in a rhythm and started to mark it, without even thinking, with their feet, or perhaps started to dance? Who has never felt a strange nostalgia, or joy, or sadness, or other feelings while listening to music? How can organized sounds, not necessarily accompanied by words, lead us to such diverse movements or emotions? How can instruments or voices have such diverse effects?

These experiences point to a magickal character in music, thinking of magick as a way to interfere with reality. Such a magickal aspect is something that permeates the different conceptions about music that permeate the stories of humanity.

Music And Ritual

Analyzing the past we will find that all the rituals were permeated with music. However, in such an organic way that we cannot separate the performed music from the ritual itself. Music, in its internal structures, is directly linked to rituals, magickal practices, and the very culture in which the ritual is practiced. The idea that music participates as an accessory to shamanic, magickal, mystical or religious rituals, that is, as an element to help entrain a certain climate is something much more recent than it seems because in the history of humanity, music, and ritual are so intertwined that it is not possible to separate one from the other exactly.

Think about mantra meditation practices. Are mantras parts that assist the practice or are they the practice itself? In Umbanda or Candomblé rites, are the percussion rhythms auxiliary to the rite or are they the rite itself? In our minds we tend to think of these musical aspects as parts of the rite that help to reach a certain mental state; however, these are so intrinsic parts that they are the rite itself.

Music still remains associated with the supernatural in religious activity, and many lovers of music attest to feeling “transformed” by certain musical experience as well as bonded to the emotional associations that these evoke and represent.

Ellen Dissanayake

How and Why Should Music Be Included In Rituals?

There are many reasons to include music in your rituals, and there are also different ways to do it. Most of the songs produced in ritual spaces by magickians have the voice as their main instrument, as well as instruments such as the flute, violin, drums, bells, etc. It is best to keep things simple, in order to participate as completely as possible in the ritual.

Basically, you can make music alone. When you repeat a chant over and over for a few minutes, you quickly enter a meditative state of mind. This way, inspirations arise, or the solution to a problem, or a new way of visualizing the way to reach a goal.

In a group, music is powerful and particularly useful. When singing, dancing, or performing a movement meditation together, the group easily sees the energy concentrated in the same place. In rituals where we use the same music regularly, repetition makes it increasingly easy to enter the ritual mindset together. This is part of the reason why singing or other forms of participatory group music are such a common part of religious rituals in many traditions. They bring everyone to participate. It’s not about how well you sing, it’s about everyone who is participating.

Listening to previously recorded music will work better than others in specific situations. We should avoid music with lyrics and narrations. Unless the narration or voice is specific and helps to quickly get into the desired state. In my playlists, I have many songs with lyrics because they help me to achieve determined states I wish. I also use determined recorded music and sound to recreate an atmosphere of nature when I’m in an artificial space.

Finally, music, singing, and intonation are things that many people just like and are part of our collective unconscious and conscious. Rituals can and must have emotion and intention, be it joy, honor, comfort, praise, etc.

Conclusion About the Use of Music in Rituals?

Music should be used whenever you feel it resonates. Whether before or during a ritual step, to fill a blank space, or anytime you need to raise and focus energy. One use of music is the creation of playlists that function as a divination tool, whether they are previously recorded songs or chants that we learn and use posteriorly.

Part of my daily Magick practice is focused on listening to music, and journaling about the emotions and insights that the music conveys, choosing the ones that serve my work and ritual magic on a long term, as well as the ones that convey me the emotions that I want to feel and things that I want to be part of my life.

Majka Meraki Music For Rituals Suggestions

One band I love is Dead Can Dance. The legendary duo explores the myths of ancient Gods and Goddesses in an unknown language. They create mesmerizing harmonies, borrowing everything from Gregorian chant to Middle Eastern progressions, and Celtic myths and rhythms.

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

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