is the time of year that my thoughts drift back to the life and
death of my friend, Gwydion Pendderwen. He left the physical realm
on a weekend in early November, just after Samhain, and –
in the interest of keeping his memory alive and also in introducing
him to those of younger generations, I offer the following…
Pendderwen was my first exposure to Pagan Music. In fact, I believe
he was one of the first to put out a Pagan Music album (yes, the
vinyl album!), and I wore out several copies of it in the '70's!
He was the first "Official Bard" of the "Church
of all Worlds", and a dear personal friend of mine whom I've
stayed with in Ukiah - his forested ranch property was adjacent
Oberon Zell-Ravenheart's and Morning Glory's and Orion's, and
many other Pagan big names of the times.
were forerunners in the California Pagan movement, and fellow
Druids, in the way they had the annual Winter Solstice tree plantings
(redwood and incense cedar trees), which Pagans from around the
country would attend, and the hot tub parties were always a delight!
first band was called the "California Wicca Blues Band",
and considering how long ago it was when they were popular - before
the fancy musical technology we have today - they had a distinctly
"homegrown" and "earthy" sound, which may
sound quite "primitive" to modern ears, but I still
appreciate it to this day...it reminds me of those outdoor Pagan
festivals where the music was necessarily acoustic because there
was no electricity...
was also one of the first teachers of the "Faery Tradition"
of Witchcraft - being an initiate of Victor and Cora Anderson
who began the tradition. His lineage tended to emphasize the Celtic
elements of Feri. (I've been to his workshops, which generally
took place at the annual Pan Pagan Festivals, and believe me,
you really did learn to see Faeries in this workshop! :)
also gave me my first Welsh book - and was instrumental in my
learning to speak Welsh (it was his heritage, and he kept a house
of his poems is called "Goodbye." (This was recited
across the country when he died in an accident in 1982 - we lit
a white candle (as did hundreds of other Pagans across the country)
and read all his poetry and sang his songs in memorial...his shrine
is his old house - the "Shaggy Mushroom", a little cabin
he lived in on a hill called "Old Fluffy" - upon whose
rain washed out road his truck slid off during a storm and rolled
over and over downhill, where he died - I had just seen him at
a Samhain party hours before...). Here are the words:
not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die."
had also written a song about how he wanted his body disposed
of after he would die - some of the words were:
an acorn on my grave, and pass the whiskey around..."
this following link tells something about Gwydion, and be sure
to read all the pages, as they contain some song lyrics and CD
those of you who are unfamiliar with the Pagan Music movement,
and have therefore missed out on the unique spiritual beauty and
inspiration of such music, I have compiled for you just a few
of the many links out in cyberspace of some of my favourite sources
of pagan music:
Weird Sisters website has a list of wonderful Pagan musicians
- many of the best are on here:
Round Music has many songs and focuses on raising children in
- an all female ethnic music group - here is some info on their
most "witchy" album, where you can actually listen to
samples of all the cuts:
of Pagan Song" CD, featuring many famous pagan artists and
Salem's High Priestess of Song and a Witch from Salem, has this
beautiful CD that includes rituals, initiations and trances and
chants (you can even listen to samples on this page):
McKennitt is a Canadian musician who plays beautiful and trancey
harp music, and sings with a Faery-like voice of the magickal
places she has traveled to, and her inspired perceptions of the
spirituality of the Earth mother, standing stones, and Pagan Holidays:
Sanctuary (with whom I lived a short time when I was in southern
Wisconsin)...I especially recommend the final four examples from
this page - the ones by Jim Alan - truly unique ones that really
take you somewhere! (Most of these were done LIVE, and I think
some of my drumming and chanting can be heard on them in the background!):
is, of course, just a small sampling of the Pagan music available
out there. It is amazing to me how much the Pagan Music Movement
has grown since those early days when Gwydion was one of the only
it continue to grow and thrive…