Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Use of Music in Rituals-Donner Swings His Hammer

For a while now I have considered introducing music into my Wodenist rites. Some Wodenists/Wotanists/Odinists already do this and  if the music is chosen carefully it can add to the feelings of awe and reverence as we enter into the presence of the Gods.

Suitable music would include extracts from Wagner`s Der Ring des Nibelungen. One of the highlights of Das Rheingold and Der Ring generally is the latter part of Scene 4. The section of music in particular that I have in mind is Schwueles Geduenst:

"Schueles Geduenst
          schwebt in der Luft;
          laestig ist mir
         der truebe Druck:
         das bleiche Gewoelk
         samml` ich zu blitzendem Wetter;
         des fegt den Himmel mir hell.


          "A sultry haze
           soars in the air;
           burdened I am
           by its cloudy weight

           the leaden clouds
           I`ll collect into a raging storm;
           which will sweep the heavens clear.
           [Wotan`s Krieger`s translation]

Donner[Thunor/Thor/Donar] then climbs a rock promontory overlooking the valley and then He swings His hammer, gathering the mists to him.

"He da! He da! Hedo!
           Zu mir, du Gedueft!
           ihr Duenste, zu mir!
           Donner, der Herr,
           ruft euch zu Heer.

"He da! He da! Hedo!
           To me, you haze!
           you mists, to me!
           Donner, the Lord,
           calls you to be his army.
           [Wotans Krieger`s translation]

Donner then swings His hammer.

"Auf des Hammers Schwung
           schwebet herbei:
           dunstig Gedaempf!
           Schwebend Gedueft!
           Donner, der Herr,
           ruft euch zu Heer!
           He da! He da! Hedo!

"On the swing of the hammer
           soar here:
           misty vapour clouds!
           Soaring haze!
           Donner, the Lord,
           calls you to be his army!
           He da! He da! Hedo!"
           [Wotans Krieger`s translation]

Following this Donner disappears, completely enveloped in the thundercloud. His hammer then strikes the rock. Flashes of lightning appear, followed by the crashing sound of thunder.

The astute reader will observe Wagner`s nice play on words, rhyming [Donner der] Herr[lord] with Heer[army]. This is a common feature in Wagner`s work.

The most appropriate stage to introduce this music would be before the commencement of the Hammer Rite. In effect what we would then be doing is performing a rite already accomplished in the heavens by Thunor: "as above, so below." This should then set the right spiritual atmosphere for what will follow. 

The best version of this highlight-with words is probably that of Bernard Haitink and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, featuring Andreas Schmidt as Donner. His vocals are some of the deepest I have heard for this role and the orchestral effects are nicely bombastic which is how this piece should be done!


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