Tuesday, October 22, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 22: Sound

In my mind a good Holiday celebration appeals to and stimulates all senses. The sensory experience of a feast is a huge part of creating memories.
It is also the only way you can separate reality from movies and internet... those appeal only to eyes and ears. You can't feel the softness of a pretty afghan in a movie, you can't taste the delicious looking pie or smell the glorious flowers of a nice decorating photo on the Pinterest. You have to experience that in "real life".
This is very important and a big reason to why you should bother at least a bit and actually do SOMETHING to hallow the Sabbaths.

So, how to appeal and stimulate your sense of sound? And what are the sounds of Samhain?

Sound is very important part of evoking emotions to influence experiences. In movies, sound is even more important than the visual impact. It's the film music and sound effects that color the scenes and make us feel what the film maker wants us to feel. The same scenes change mood by the sounds. If one plays melancholy music behind a love scene, we think it's the last time they see each other. If the music is scary, we are expecting to find out there's something fishy going on. Perhaps one of them is about to kill the other? If the music is epic, magnificent, symphonic, we read great passion in the relationship. If the music is cute and sweet, we smile...

I think it's interesting that I haven't found anything written about this specific subject. All holiday decoration and preparation out there on-line is very much about the classic details, more or less modernized, but not about what in the classics make them classics. Classic love songs are those that create a response and resonance in most of us, of love and being in love. Classic Christmas carols are those that create the response and resonance of Christmas and the values and traditions and wishes we have about it.

So - what are the values, traditions, event, activities, experiences and emotions you associate - or wish to associate - with Samhain? I believe quite a lot of Christmas carols are "traditional", because we want to be connected with our history and culture. I, at least, want the "folk art" connection. I like the German folklore themed Yule, and I know I'm not the only one, because Santa and Mrs. Santa both are dressed in German style folk costumes in Yule-y colors; red, white and green. All the elves are dressed in some sort of Renaissance Fair Yule style. So, my favorite Christmas carols are from time at least 200 years ago. I love Piae Cantiones. (Of course I have some favorites among the modern songs, but my favorite music is very "Pagan". You know, folk music, ethnorock, meditation music, Gothic songs, fantasy and fairytale film music, songs with Pagan theme etc. Here's 15 Pagan songs that are quite OK. If you want to emphasize the fact that Samhain is a Pagan holiday, you use Pagan music to do that.

Sound is a very powerful way to make memories and create Holiday spirit. I know myself that Yule doesn't feel right without the "right" music, my favorite carols. I have a playlist on my MP3 player for just Yule Spirit. :-D Now, there's tons of Christmas songs, but very few for Samhain, with the Pagan message. I have started collecting autumn songs and other songs that deliver the message I associate with Samhain, and I suggest you do the same.

You can listen to the Christmas music, and see how it is build. It's not rocket science to write new lyrics to old songs, and most Christmas music (at least the eldest) is folk tunes with new lyrics. The lyrics aren't especially advanced or great poetry, and mostly just repeating something about Jesus.  I'm not expecting that all Pagans become composers and poets just to get nice music that sets the correct mood, but, as I said, it's not rocket science, and "done is better than perfect". You don't need to write award winning songs and lyrics, just enough to have something that works for you. We really cannot expect that the Western popular culture, that builds on 1700 years of Christian spiritual monopoly, does that for us non-Christians. :-D

Also, one needs to remember that music is not the only auditory stimulant there is. Again, think about Yule.
Jinglebells? The mere sound of sleighbells makes you think of Yule.
What does snow sound? Not only the sound of snow under your steps, but I can hear snow fall. I bet you know exactly what I mean... I'm back in the forest at Yuletime, walking among the trees when the snow falls softly around... I can feel the crisp coldness, the moisture of frozen water, the silence, all voices muffled by snow, I can see the dark branches against the whiteness of snow and the grey, colorless sky... and I feel the winter and Yule.

So - the last day of Autumn, the first day of Winter... what is it like outside? What do you hear when you picture yourself walking in the forest on the first day of November.

Rustle of the leaves? You could always bring in some autumn leaves and sprinkle them on the floor. That way they would not only create the "walking in the autumn leaves" sound, but also the smell and touch, and even the visual effect.

You could also make your leaves of tinted vellum so that you can use them every year. Here's some free printable templates and instructions on how to make autumn leaf wreath and garland.

Here in Stockholm there might be snow already at that time of the year, but most likely it's very wet. It's also cold. It's frosty during the night, so the puddles have been frozen over during the night, so you might here that ice cracking.

How could you repeat that experience in a home?

You could put the punch bowl in the freezer for a while, to make it froze over.

You could make slush punch. If you make cola flavored jello, your punch will looks exactly like the snow slushy puddles of this season. :-D Here's a recipe to ghoul-ade

You could make candy ice. The "sugar glass" looks like clear ice, I think.

Broken Glass cupcakes
stained glass cookies - use clear or light blue candy for ice. If you make the cookie of meringue, you get a little block of ice in snow. If you make it of chocolate cookies, it looks a bit like frozen puddle. The thing is that you are after getting the auditory experience of ice crackling... so make the sugar glass very thin.
Sea glass candy

What about the wind and rain? Autumn storms? I think most songs about wind and rain are very suitable for Samhain. This is Kansas and Dust In The Wind - and I think the melody is so lovely melancholic and the message is very appropriate for this season. :-)

You could also, in stead of the moaning and howling of ghosts and other such sound effects, try to wind the wind whispering in the forest and other such sound effects.

Again, I want to repeat, that this just as everything else I say, is 100% on your terms. Don't do anything that doesn't get YOU to Holiday Mood.

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