Call for Donations: Skaði’s Shrine Room at Many Gods West   3 comments

“Skade” by Carl Fredrik von Saltza (1893)

In July I will be building and hosting a shrine room for Skaði at Many Gods West, and I would like to invite donations of devotional writing, art, and other materials. Here are a few guidelines.

Skaði’s Shrine Room will be assembled in my hotel room as a meditative space designed to facilitate quiet prayer and contemplation of Her mysteries.  It will feature shrines (of course), art displays, devotional writings, decorations associated with Her myths (snowflakes, bow & arrows, mountains, wolves, etc.), and a beautiful devotional playlist of dark ambient music continuously playing in the background.

Small offerings for Her (e.g., coins, stones, mementos, beaded jewelry, etc.) will be welcomed.  There will also be a “Dear Skaði…” box to hold written prayers and words of praise.

I will be putting together a small binder with drawings, poetry, and devotional prose for Her, and will make this available for guests to look through. I will accept electronic submissions for the binder, as I can print them out in black and white on a home printer.

If you have statues, figurines, craft items, miniature skis or snowshoes, etc. to offer, please bring them to my hotel room at the conference.  (Preferably on Friday, before official open hours for the shrine room start – it will open at 6 PM on Friday, July 31.)

The devotional playlist of dark ambient music that will be heard in the shrine room has been carefully curated to facilitate praise for Her, and includes several tracks I often use for my ritual dance project.

For a preview of the music, check out the following sublime tracks…

…all from the (criminally underrated!) German musical project named after Her.

And speaking of exciting musical news: I have confirmed that the devotional playlist will feature an exclusive new Gydja track, “The Iron Pine Tree’s Daughter.” It was generously crafted for the shrine room by the brilliant Abby Helasdottir, whose work has inspired my own, and whom I recently interviewed for Heathen Harvest.

No liturgy, libations, ritual, or performance will take place. My intention is for the shrine room to be an intimate retreat for contemplation and prayer, set apart from the hustle-and-bustle social environment of the rest of the conference. As an introvert, I have often wished for hermit-friendly spaces like this when I’ve attended events – a place to retreat and recharge my batteries where I’m not expected to speak or be “on” in any kind of public way, and can focus my attention inwardly. I am pleased to have the opportunity to create and hold a space like this for Skaði and for the polytheist community.

Here’s a list of things I can accept, providing you can bring them to the conference or they can be electronically submitted:

  • Devotional poetry and prose (e.g., “Dear Skaði…” letters and prayers)
  • Statues & figurines
  • Crafted items for Her (e.g., miniature snowshoes, skis, bow & arrows)
  • Devotional art and photography featuring winter scenery, mountains, etc.
  • Scarves and “wintry-looking” fabric remnants in white, silver, black, and dark blue (for draping over tables)

Scented items could be problematic, as I have fragrance allergies and other sensitivities, so please check with me in advance if you would like to make any kind of scented offering.  If you’d like to contribute something that isn’t on this list, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

Official open hours for Skaði’s Shrine Room are 6 PM to 9 PM on Friday Jul. 31 and Saturday Aug. 1 only.

For ideas, check out some imagery on Pinterest or Tumblr, explore Skadi’s shrine at the Northern Paganism site, or take a look at the previous shrines I’ve built for Her over the years I’ve worked in Her service.

And here’s my short bio:
Danica Swanson is a freelance writer, devotional polytheist, animist, and dark Pagan monastic.  She is best known for her influential writings on alternatives to conventional employment, and her expertise on dark ambient music for ritual and meditation.  Her solo devotional dance project, Shrine of Skadi, is inspired by ten years of service to Skaði accompanied by “music you can’t dance to” – dark ambient.  As resident hermit and anchoress-in-training at The Black Stone Hermitage, a private Portland-based sanctuary, she lives in a haven of solitude made possible only by a web of thriving community relationships.

Contact: shrine.of.skadi AT gmail.

Chthonic Cathedral Playlist: Dark Ambient for Grief and Mourning   Leave a comment

Figures of Mystery - Grief and MourningToday I had the pleasure of serving as a host for a guest at the Hermitage who scheduled a session in the psychomanteum, and asked me for a dark ambient music playlist with a grief and mourning theme.

My guest was very happy with the playlist, and I let her know I would make it available here.  She told me she was already a fan of Kammarheit, so I complimented her on her excellent taste, and started off with one of his tracks.

I feel so fortunate to be able to do this kind of service work. It is a joy for me to create sacred space – even on a very small scale – and to have the privilege of witnessing its effects on people when they experience it.

To also be able to share the music that is nearest and dearest to my heart in a context of such appreciation is a pleasure beyond compare.

I read somewhere about volunteer service work that “it isn’t service unless both people are being served.” I am glad I’ve found one of the ways I can best be of service as a Pagan monastic – to the gods and spirits as well as my extended community (including the many musicians whose work inspires me and keeps me company in my sanctuary of solitude).

In the process of conducting this service, I too am served.

Here are the tracks I selected.

For prep/orientation time:

  1. Kammarheit – Hypnagoga
  2. Psychomanteum – Inward Eyes

For the 1-hour psychomanteum session:

  1. raison d’être – Mourning
  2. Claustrum – Penitential
  3. Cisfinitum – District Delta
  4. Phelios – The Funeral of the Wizard
  5. Maldur Atai – Endless Labyrinth of Chanting
  6. FoetusDreams – Revealed Behind the Gates
  7. Desiderii Marginis – Come Ruin and Rapture
  8. New Risen Throne – Lands Filled With Silence and Grief
  9. Skadi – Sadness of Love
  10. Arcana – Closure
  11. Sophia – Miserere

The Black Tent Temple: A Space for Incubation and Endarkenment   7 comments

Black Tent Temple divination table

Black Tent Temple divination table

Recently I received a lovely e-mail from a fellow Pagan who found my blog via a Google search for Pagan monasteries. She expressed great enthusiasm for the ideas I put forth in my 2012 post “A Black Tent Temple,” and asked for my permission to adopt the idea and build a Black Tent Temple of her own. I don’t claim ownership of the idea, as it was given to me in a vision. I’m happy that others find it useful – I strongly suspect that’s what the Powers I serve had intended, anyway – so I put together this post to offer some suggestions for would-be Black Tent Temple builders.

In my original post, I wrote a bit about how the Red Tent Temple movement inspired me to come up with something darker and more suitable for the kind of inwardly focused incubation work I do at the Hermitage. “Not everyone who is attracted to the darker side of religious experience in a contemplative, monastic, or artistic sense is interested in joining an occult lodge, magical group, coven of witches, Heathen kindred, or esoteric society,” I wrote in that entry.  “The Black Tent Temple is a nice alternative.”

So what is the Black Tent Temple?

A Black Tent Temple is an enclosed physical space – usually a tent-like or cave-like space – that is consciously designed to facilitate spiritual incubation work and honour endarkenment. There are many ways to define endarkenment (see my endarkenment reading list for more ideas, and read the inspiring writings of Lauren Raine and Molly Remer on the subject), but the one I use most often is “a clearing and strengthening of inner vision, and grounding it in the Earth through an alchemical reckoning with the sacred dark.”

The Black Tent Temple is inspired, in part, by my passionate love for dark ambient music as a facilitator of mysticism and inner journeys, and by Peter Kinglsey’s book In the Dark Places of Wisdom. “We already have everything we need to know, in the darkness inside ourselves,” Kingsley writes in this extraordinary and unique book.  It is also born of the intense grief and loss I suffered when my 14-year marriage ended in 2007.

Incubation work, for me, includes not just the quiet, motionless lying down for long periods of time that Kingsley describes so brilliantly in his book, but also tea meditations, grief work, ritual dance work (especially veiled lamentation dances for Earth grief), and devotional offerings to the dark divine and the dead – all accompanied by dark ambient music.

For the Black Tent Temple space I maintain at the Hermitage, which of necessity must be kept within the confines of my very small studio live/work space, I installed two sets of black curtains to introduce a sense of separation between the temple space and the spaces I use for sleeping, grooming, etc. When I do incubation work (including sessions in the psychomanteum or mirror gazing room), I draw the curtains closed to mark the boundaries of the space. For everyday activities, I simply leave the curtains open.

When I do this work for others, I sometimes set up a divination and scrying table (see photo) featuring tools with darker themes:

  • Geomancy tools, including a dry-erase shield chart, stones for casting (the ones I use are beautiful black and grey-mottled larvikite from Scandinavia), and reference books
  • A set of runes made of black stone (elder futhark)
  • A set of black-and-white rune cards (Anglo-Saxon futhark)
  • A black obsidian scrying mirror (not pictured)
  • A Bohemian Gothic tarot deck

The music I use for the Black Tent Temple always focuses on themes of descent, alchemy, grief, subterranean spaces, underworld deities, and so on. Here are a few sample playlist titles from my Chthonic Cathedral project:

  • At the Shadow of the Gates: A Devotional Dark Ambient Mix for Mordgud
  • Blood of the Earth: A Dark Ambient Mix for Facing Ecological Grief
  • Chthonic Ritual: A Dark Ambient Mix for Cave-Dwellers
  • From the Blackness: A Dark Ambient Mix for Tea Alchemy
  • In Sorrow: A Dark Ambient Mix for the Bereaved

It’s perfectly appropriate – and in fact required, if you follow Kingsley’s model – to do absolutely nothing in the Black Tent Temple – to just sit or lie down inside the space, secure and unseen, without an agenda of any kind…and simply make room for whatever might come up. The temple space, hidden away from the insanity of the world, is there to provide opportunities to experience the power of such surrender and receptivity. But with my work I have found that there are times when “dark” emotions overflow as we allow ourselves to slow down and immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of the incubation space. Ritual dance, tea meditations, and offerings to the dark divine are a few of the tools I use to ritually receive and witness these processes when they arise in the moment.

The Black Tent Temple can be used many ways, however; there’s lots of room for creativity. One of the commenters on my original 2012 post says:

“I really love this idea. As an introvert, I need to have those moments of inner silence to function well, but they are difficult to come by in my hectic life…sometimes my taste for darkness, silence and contemplation is not understood very well by my fellow Pagans, however much I appreciate them. So I try to make moments where I don’t speak, when I dress all in grey and black, when I light a dark candle and meditate on the gifts of sadness, mourning, and endings…but I would love to be able to go to a Black Tent Temple.”

I wrote in response:

“There are very few places in our culture where it is acceptable to allow ourselves to mourn our losses…I wish I’d had a Black Tent Temple available to me when I was grieving the loss of my marriage. I would have made frequent use of it, and I think it would have helped me heal.”

Here are a few things I’ve used in creating Black Tent Temple spaces over the past few years, and some ideas from my notes. Feel free to adapt these for your needs.

  • A canvas labyrinth that can be unrolled and laid into the temple space
  • Textured fabrics and overstuffed pillows in dark colours
  • Subdued red, blue, or purple lighting
  • Floor-to-ceiling thick black velvet curtains to keep out distraction and soften the acoustics
  • Essential oils and incenses of chthonic spaces and the deep woods (cedarwood, spruce, fir, moss, etc.)
  • Ensure that all smartphones are turned off in advance, and kept off for the entire duration of the incubation work
  • Dark masks and diaphanous black veils to be worn for ritual work
  • Chthonic shrines – burying offerings in the ground
  • Framed wall art featuring abandoned spaces, serpents, ossuaries, crypts, caves, etc.

My studio Black Tent Temple space only permits room for one or two people, but the concept could be adapted for a slightly larger group. (Probably not too much larger, though, as this could detract from the meditative context that supports the incubation process.)

I’ve found that the Black Tent Temple seems to work best in the darkening days: the deepening time of autumn and winter that so readily lends itself to inner focus and underworld spiritual work.

One of the beauties of the Black Tent Temple concept is that with the appropriate supplies, it can be pulled together in any suitable space. A basement, a garage, a tent at a festival, whatever suits your needs. There’s no need to wait until a permanent Pagan temple is built.

Ultimately, the endarkenment and incubation work I do in the Black Tent Temple is about strengthening and trusting our inner sources of power through walking the path of the dark. It’s also about resisting the countless cultural forces (such as unchecked, rapacious consumer capitalism) that dull our awareness of this power, or otherwise discourage us from following our inner guidance. Sometimes it seems like everything in our toxic culture is designed to lead us away from our inner wisdom. Its voice can be dulled with alcohol, work, sex, shopping, relationship melodrama, spiritual escapism…just about anything, in other words. The Black Tent Temple can provide a space where incubation work can proceed unimpeded, through an unflinching reckoning with the sacred dark.

If you are inspired to start a Black Tent Temple in your area, feel free to take the idea, get creative, and run with it! This is just a starter guide to the concept as I have envisioned it so far. I’d love to hear what you come up with, and I invite you to share photos and descriptions with me. If enthusiasm for this idea continues as it has been lately, perhaps the Black Tent Temple effort will eventually become a movement of its own…lurking in the shadows of the underground.

Dark Ambient Obscurities: Magna – Nordic Chants (Ritual Music)   2 comments

Magna - Nordic ChantsSince I am in the process of writing a book about the esoteric in dark ambient music and culture, I spend quite a bit of time tracking down details about obscure releases and musical projects. In the course of my research, a tip from my friend Pär Boström, who is also my illustrator for the book, led me to an album called Nordic Chants by a little-known project called Magna. It’s a hidden gem from 1997 that deserves to be more widely appreciated. The full album was recently uploaded to YouTube, which delights me, as it is long out of print and near-impossible to find. Go give it a listen while it’s available!

If you enjoy projects such as Andréa Nebel‘s Hagalaz’ Runedance & Nebelhexë, Wardruna, and Forndom (formerly Heathen Harnow) you may also appreciate this album.  Technically speaking I would not classify it strictly as dark ambient, but it has many of the same atmospheric elements, and it’s definitely ritual music in any case.

With the help of, I dug up this text from Magna’s old website (from 2004; edited slightly for readability):

“Magna’s music is inspired by the shamanic world. In the shamanic tradition song and music are medicine for both body and soul. The shaman uses song and music to fall into trance and travel to other worlds and realities. Magna have chosen to describe their music as “ethno-electronic soundscapes” as they use both ancient acoustic instruments and modern electronic music technology. Their inspiration is drawn from the very origins of music itself and their vision is to create music which gives healing, power and relaxation. Magna’s meditative music reflects ancient musical traditions while representing a contemporary approach to sound.”

“The members of Magna are highly creative artists whose contemporary world music concept incorporates influences from tribal music-traditions in the Scandinavian countries and beyond.”

Since I’ve been studying the Swedish language for almost a year now, I decided to translate the lyrics from Swedish into English as a learning aid. Such a great way to learn! I retain the Swedish words better when I learn them as song lyrics too. Pär, who is a native Swede, gave me helpful feedback on my translation and also corrected my errors. Here’s the final result of that collaborative effort for your enjoyment.  The titles and subtitles are copied from the entry on discogs.

Áss – “the rune for air and inspiration” (0:00 – 5:52)

Vilda väsen jag kallar er nu
Från ljusalvheim, från svartalvheim
Här i midgard vi sejdar nu

Wild beings I call you now
From the home of the light-elves, from the home of the dark-elves
Wild beings I call you now
Here in Midgard we (sejdar)* now

Ur – “the rune for creative power” (12:44 – 19:08)

Känn hur den kallar, hör hur den kallar
Kraften den kallar dig
Kallar dig i den egen kropp
Kallar dig i den egen själ
Kraften den kallar dig

Feel how it´s calling, hear how it’s calling
The force, it calls you
Calling you in your own body
Calling you in your own soul
The force, it calls you

Ken – “the rune for fire and life energy” (19:10 – 27:21)

Jord och eld och ande är jag
Bär min glöd, natt och dag

I am Earth and Fire and Spirit
Carry my glow, night and day

Sol – “the rune for sun and love” (27:30 – 33:25)

Såsom solen sig stiga i öst
Så ska vi vandra som gryningens barn
Såsom solen sig sänka i väst
Så ska vi drömma som skymningens barn
Hela denna jord, hela denna jord
Låt den leva

As the sun rises in the east
We will walk as children of the dawn
As the sun sinks low in the west
So we shall dream as twilight children
Mend this earth, mend this earth
Let it live

Naud – “the rune for magic and destiny” (33:30 – 40:23)

Där månen möter dimman, där faller du i trans
Där dimman möter månen, där faller du i trans
Väver din dröm, väver din dröm
Drömmer din väv
Väver din dröm, väver din dröm
Drömmer din väv

Where the moon meets the fog, there you fall into trance
Where the fog meets the moon, there you fall into trance
Weaving your dream, weaving your dream
Dreaming your web
Weaving your dream, weaving your dream
Dreaming your web

Algiz – “the rune for guardian animal” (40:31 – 46:41)

I fullmånenatten jag ser din dans
I fullmånesken jag går i dans
Jag går i dans med min fylga här
Jag faller i trans bland dimmor och jär**

On the full moon night I see your dance
As the full moon shines I go to/into dance
I go to dance with my guardian angel here
I fall into trance among the mists and (spiritual signs)

Dagaz – “the rune for light and insight” (46:50 – 53:00)

Under himlavalv
En väv av ljus
Dagaz människans dröm

Under the canopy
A web of light
Dagaz, humans’ dream

Translation notes:

* According to Pär, “sejd” is untranslatable into English. But he adds that “when people in ancient Nordic tradition were sejding they looked into the future and could harm or influence other people.”

** Jär or järtecken are signs that are considered to herald strange or spiritual events.

Twilight Magick: An Interview with Abby Helasdottir of Gydja   Leave a comment

gydja logoI’m delighted to announce that the interview I conducted for the venerable Heathen Harvest Periodical with accomplished musician, artist, writer, and esotericist Abby Helasdottir of Gydja has now been published. Her Shadowlight website was pivotal for me at a time when I very much needed it, and I am a longtime fan of her music, so I was pleased to have this opportunity to interview her. She has fascinating things to say about artistic work as devotional and spiritual practice, post-industrial music as a boys’ club, her upcoming album with Edgar Kerval of Emme Ya, the Rökkr or shadow-dwellers of Germanic and Norse cosmology and the history of the term Rökkatru…and much more!

“Using the name gydja,” she says, “is not intended to be a boast about having a religious title (which is ultimately meaningless) but rather about the way in which occupying a spiritual office can be a devotional act, with music being the manifestation that this devotion takes.”

And I agree wholeheartedly with her enthusiastic take on Bandcamp:

“I’m a huge fan of Bandcamp…I love the way they appeal to so many of those little things that lock into what it means to be a passionate music fan: the nerdy building of collections, the little but not overwhelming social media elements, and the fact that you get to pay the artist directly. I love the way it allows you to show artists directly how much you appreciate their work, and there’s nothing better than getting that same vibe in return.”

An Outpouring of Gratitude (Or, Skaði Throws Me a Bone)   5 comments

Blue WinterThis past week, my meager savings account was reduced to zilch, thanks to the unforgiving way the self-employed are taxed.

Every last bit of money I had managed to set aside from my solo house cleaning business – intended not just for taxes, but also for my planned trips to Many Gods West in July and to Sweden in 2016 – vanished, unceremoniously, into the grasp of the tax authorities.

It hurt. A lot. And it triggered a rant.

I have long been outraged about the way the heaviest financial burdens in this country fall disproportionately on those who are least able to pay. I think one of the most depressing things about living in the US is that, contrary to all the rhetoric, it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how responsible you are with your money. If you are poor – and wealth is measured only in dollars, mind you – then you are pretty much fucked sooner or later, no matter which way you turn. One misstep or misfortune and you risk falling into a bottomless pit with no safety net. This is one of the many reasons I support a universal basic income.

Ultimately, though, I’m not upset about the tax bill in and of itself. I don’t begrudge paying taxes to support the larger community. If we had a real social safety net in this country, and I could afford it, I’d gladly pay even more without complaint.

In spite of my frustration, I did my best to pay my tax bill with as much gratitude as I could muster. This gratitude is part of my spiritual practice: even in the face of struggle, I am learning to keep my focus on appreciating what I already have.

The real reason this hurt so much, though, and the reason I’m writing about it here, is much deeper.

The real reason is that I am driven by a vision. A vision of The Black Stone Hermitage as a subterranean monastic retreat for contemplatives of a darker persuasion. A place where my passions for tea, writing, dark ambient music, and dark fusion dance can work synergistically within the context of the devotional services I perform for the gods, the spirits, and my community. A place where I can live out the rest of my life as a full-time monastic, serving the divine through writing, ritual dance, shrine building, and other artistic and devotional projects. A place where other cave-dwelling introverts like me can retreat for sessions in the psychomanteum (incubation space), geomantic divinations, tea meditations, and rituals for Earth grief and mourning.

That is what I am here on this planet to bring forth. It is a vision I cherish. It is why this website exists. However, while I do the best I can to live like this right now, I still don’t have sufficient funds to support even a modest version of this vision, even after many years of struggling.

One of my biggest fears is that I will die or fall ill before I have a chance to fulfill this sacred vision of monastic service with which I have been entrusted. My savings account – however meager – is one of the things that has helped me keep alive the hope that I will get there someday. With every financial setback, and every additional year that passes in which I’m working diligently but still barely making ends meet, that dream recedes further and further into the future. Yet I must keep hope alive somehow. If I don’t, I know that I will sink back into the gaping maw of depression.

Of course this tax bill is only a setback. I’ve certainly survived much worse. But I feel like I’ve spent the past seven years of my life trying to bootstrap myself up off the floor, in the face of one obstacle after another. I’m ready for an uninterrupted streak of good fortune. Under conditions like this, every bit of hope I can cling to is precious, and it hurts a lot to have a source of hope taken from me.

In the midst of that hurt, I cried aloud: “Throw me a bone, please, gods…?”

Humbled, saddened, and demoralised, I decided to pray to Skaði for assistance. I asked Her if She would please find a way for me to go to Many Gods West, so that I could build Her the meditative shrine room I had already planned, and for which I had already been given the go-ahead by the Many Gods West staff.

A few days later, my friend David told me, out of the blue, that he had “a surprise” for me, and would give it to me the next time we went grocery shopping together.

Now, David and I have been dear friends for more than four years. We go grocery shopping together every two weeks, chatting animatedly much of the time. Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate shopping. I never imagined a day would come where I look forward to grocery shopping. But that’s exactly what happened. When you’re in wonderful company, even the most dreaded chores can become truly enjoyable.

I originally met David – who, endearingly, describes himself as “kind of a sentimental nerd” – through the Portland Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance, where he serves as Head Cheerleader. ‘Tis quite an appropriate title for him, I might add. His enthusiasm for tea is infectious indeed. Our friendship was forged and took root, in fact, within the context of our shared love of tea. So the first thing that occurred to me is that he might have a special sheng pu-erh tea that he picked up for a song, or a lapsang souchong he knew I hadn’t tried, and wanted to surprise me with a sample.

Instead, as soon as we finished our shopping, he handed me a small envelope. I looked at him quizzically, then opened it, wide-eyed.

Inside the envelope was a cheque made out to me. In an amount large enough to cover my entire tax bill, and thereby replenish my drained savings account completely.

“I would like to put you on retainer,” he said, with a warm smile. He’d be needing me to do some work for him in a few months, he explained, but wanted to pay me in advance for this work. He’d read my rant about my tax bill on Facebook, it turned out, and he wanted to ensure that I wouldn’t miss my opportunity to go to Many Gods West just because I had to pay taxes.

I was stunned into silence. Quickly followed, of course, by a flood of grateful, joyful tears.

(What else would I do? After all, there’s no way to stop the legendary Swanson Family Waterworks. Everyone on my mother’s side of the family cries at emotionally loaded moments – joyful, sorrowful, and everything in between.)

Deeply moved by David’s kind-heartedness, I didn’t stop crying for most of the day. As I told David, I knew immediately that Skaði had answered my prayer. I would now be able to go to the conference. The moment I returned home, I knelt in front of Skaði’s shrine and thanked Her over and over, tears of appreciation and awe flowing profusely.

Turns out I do have a safety net. It is woven through my thriving relationships – relationships with my community, the land, the gods and spirits, and of course my beloved friends.

Heartfelt thanks and much love to David. And Hail Skaði!


Chthonic Cathedral Playlist: Dark Ambient for Magickal Yoga   1 comment

Chthonic Cathedral set list: Dark Ambient for Magickal YogaNot long ago I announced that I’d be posting a series of themed dark ambient playlists for my Chthonic Cathedral project, and posted a preview of all 31 of the set list titles.

Inspired by a recent request for music recommendations from a friend and fellow dark fusion dancer who is teaching a yoga workshop this weekend, I’ve added a new set to my growing collection: Dark Ambient for Magickal Yoga.

As a dark ambient nerd, there are few things I love more than getting requests for customised dark ambient music recommendations. So, with permission of the querent, I’m sharing her request here, along with the tracks I recommended to her. (It was very difficult to keep it to just 16 tracks.)

Most of my themed set lists have long intros and personal reflections about each track – what it means to my spiritual life, the role that it plays in my ritual dance choreography, etc.  This one is a bit more sparse than is my custom, in the interest of getting the playlist up ASAP so that my friend can easily refer her students to it when they ask for more info about the music…as I trust they will, because all of these tracks are outstanding!

I’m teaching a 3-hour Magickal Yoga workshop and am looking for inspiration. I’m going to be blending classical asanas with imagery from Thelema and other more general cosmologies from the Western Mystery Tradition. I’m looking for some dark ambient music as a soundtrack…What would you recommend I listen to?

My reply:

Here’s a sampler for you, cherry-picked from Bandcamp and YouTube with your themes in mind. These are tracks that I often use for yoga. If you let me know which ones you like and don’t like, or give me specific style and mood guidelines (e.g., more ritualistic, more percussion, a somewhat lighter feel, etc.) I’d be happy to give you more recommendations, so don’t hesitate to ask.  I hope this isn’t overkill…you did say three hours!

  1. TeHÔM – Abyss (If you like this track, do give the rest of the album a listen! There are some samples from Liber AL vel Legis.)
  2. Coph Nia – That Which Remains
  3. Lustmord – Congregants Requests 1
  4. Sephiroth – Now Night Her Course Began (In my opinion this is one of the most sublime pieces of dark ambient music ever recorded.)
  5. Mesektet – Aken (Ancient Egypt inspired.)
  6. Vestigial – The Coming
  7. Herbst9 – Lord of the Shining Crown (Babylonian inspired.)
  8. Herbst9 – Blood Whisper (One of their best tracks.)
  9. Desiderii Marginis – Deadbeat I
  10. Council of Nine – Blood Lit Skies
  11. FoetusDreams – Revealed Behind the Gates
  12. Gydja – Snakestone
  13. raison d’être – Metamorphyses Phase V
  14. Mulm – Night Water Reflection
  15. Hadit – Sh T-N
  16. Ordo Vermis – The Eye-Diamond of the Dragon


Feedback from the querent, who decided to use ALL of these tracks: “I’m a total convert.”

As I’ve said many times, I think there is a much larger potential fan base for dark ambient music out there than many people think. And I will keep doing my part to build it.  Dark ambient is more than just music to me; it’s an essential component of my spiritual path.

Pagans aren’t known for proselytising…but I trust that a bit of dark ambient evangelism will be forgiven. *wink wink*


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