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Author Topic: Beltane Chase Song? Folklorists in the house?  (Read 3870 times)
Malkin
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« Topic Start: April 29, 2010, 06:33:43 am »

Many of you may be familiar with the "Beltane Chase Song," found in full here: http://www.skepticfiles.org/en003/beltane.htm  (I chose this atheist link because it didn't involve purple, sparkly backgrounds.)

Now, I'm seeing this song described here and there as "traditional." Is it? Because it sounds suspiciously to me like somebody sat down and wrote it only a few decades ago. Probably because the series of transformations described closely mirrors those found in the story of Taliesin's birth by Cerridwen, only here, the female is being chased while the male is doing the chasing. The verses also closely mirror Isobel Gowdie's rhyme for turning into a hare. (I'd link, but this is easily googled.) I guess that doesn't mean some Victorian gentleman couldn't have been inspired by the Welsh story and composed this, or that the turns of phrase Gowdie used weren't common in traditional British verse. But I wouldn't know for sure. Does anyone have any thoughts?
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Thessaly: It's time to draw down the moon.
Foxglove: We did this. Or something like this. We had water and salt, not blood. We invoked the goddess in her aspect as the moon. We called down her power...
Thessaly: Did she answer you?
Foxglove: Well, it felt good at the time. Empowering.
Thessaly: Hmph.

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erinnightwalker
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« Reply #1: April 29, 2010, 05:07:43 pm »

Many of you may be familiar with the "Beltane Chase Song," found in full here: http://www.skepticfiles.org/en003/beltane.htm  (I chose this atheist link because it didn't involve purple, sparkly backgrounds.)

Now, I'm seeing this song described here and there as "traditional." Is it? Because it sounds suspiciously to me like somebody sat down and wrote it only a few decades ago. Probably because the series of transformations described closely mirrors those found in the story of Taliesin's birth by Cerridwen, only here, the female is being chased while the male is doing the chasing. The verses also closely mirror Isobel Gowdie's rhyme for turning into a hare. (I'd link, but this is easily googled.) I guess that doesn't mean some Victorian gentleman couldn't have been inspired by the Welsh story and composed this, or that the turns of phrase Gowdie used weren't common in traditional British verse. But I wouldn't know for sure. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Seems similar to the Two Magicians. Maybe someone heard that story and Pagan-ed it up a bit?
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« Reply #2: April 29, 2010, 06:44:15 pm »

Seems similar to the Two Magicians. Maybe someone heard that story and Pagan-ed it up a bit?

That's true. (Man, the Two Magicians makes me want to die inside every time I hear it. Embarrassed) It reads like a mixture of that song and the beginning of the Hanes Taliesin.
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Thessaly: It's time to draw down the moon.
Foxglove: We did this. Or something like this. We had water and salt, not blood. We invoked the goddess in her aspect as the moon. We called down her power...
Thessaly: Did she answer you?
Foxglove: Well, it felt good at the time. Empowering.
Thessaly: Hmph.
erinnightwalker
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« Reply #3: April 29, 2010, 09:46:17 pm »

That's true. (Man, the Two Magicians makes me want to die inside every time I hear it. Embarrassed) It reads like a mixture of that song and the beginning of the Hanes Taliesin.

? Why does it make you want to die? I'm just curious XD
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I dance upon the edge of shadow
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SunflowerP
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« Reply #4: April 29, 2010, 10:26:56 pm »

Many of you may be familiar with the "Beltane Chase Song," found in full here: http://www.skepticfiles.org/en003/beltane.htm  (I chose this atheist link because it didn't involve purple, sparkly backgrounds.)

Now, I'm seeing this song described here and there as "traditional." Is it? Because it sounds suspiciously to me like somebody sat down and wrote it only a few decades ago. Probably because the series of transformations described closely mirrors those found in the story of Taliesin's birth by Cerridwen, only here, the female is being chased while the male is doing the chasing. The verses also closely mirror Isobel Gowdie's rhyme for turning into a hare. (I'd link, but this is easily googled.) I guess that doesn't mean some Victorian gentleman couldn't have been inspired by the Welsh story and composed this, or that the turns of phrase Gowdie used weren't common in traditional British verse. But I wouldn't know for sure. Does anyone have any thoughts?
There's a (quite different in many respects) version of it in Ed Fitch's A Grimoire of Shadows - there, it's associated with Midsummer, the woman is the pursuer and the man pursued, there's more in the way of various animals and less in the way of "through the seasons", and quite a bit more archaic/pseudo-archaic language.

One recurring line from the Fitch version ("aye her whistle would fetch him back") struck me as both eminently Googleable, and likely to appear in other versions - and I hit pay dirt.  If you scroll down a ways on this page at The Mudcat Cafe (a folk music forum/database - I was delighted to see that link appear; folk music buffs tend to be finicky about tracing back to earlier sources), you'll find it attributed, with detail making it easy to confirm if you have a copy of The White Goddess, to Robert Graves, along with a transcription of it.

While Graves isn't, strictly speaking, a Victorian gentleman, he fits your hypothetical pretty closely.  I'm figuring that the variants - the one you linked, Fitch's, the Samhain and Beltane ritual uses of it I ran across in my search, and doubtless many more - are all neoPagan derivative works (I didn't refer directly to the "derivative works" aspect in my reply in the Ethics of Sharing Information thread, but it's definitely part of the picture I was talking about).

The version you linked to, with its male pursuer and female pursued, might have been influenced by that pattern in "The Two Magicians", but it reads to me as written by a (probably male) neoPagan who missed the deeper Wiccish-pagan themes of Graves (or of Fitch's or whatever derivative work he was familiar with), and reframed it in context of the dominant paradigm to which he was accustomed, in which men feel desire and have agency to act on it, while women are objects of desire and can only react.  I may be overstating this somewhat (feminist bias o noes!), but I really did find it both squicky and less in tune than other variants with Wiccish ideas.

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« Reply #5: April 30, 2010, 12:49:47 am »

...
One recurring line from the Fitch version ("aye her whistle would fetch him back") struck me as both eminently Googleable, and likely to appear in other versions - and I hit pay dirt.  If you scroll down a ways on this page at The Mudcat Cafe (a folk music forum/database - I was delighted to see that link appear; folk music buffs tend to be finicky about tracing back to earlier sources), you'll find it attributed, with detail making it easy to confirm if you have a copy of The White Goddess, to Robert Graves, along with a transcription of it.
...

The version you linked to, with its male pursuer and female pursued, might have been influenced by that pattern in "The Two Magicians", but it reads to me as written by a (probably male) neoPagan who missed the deeper Wiccish-pagan themes of Graves (or of Fitch's or whatever derivative work he was familiar with), and reframed it in context of the dominant paradigm to which he was accustomed, in which men feel desire and have agency to act on it, while women are objects of desire and can only react.  I may be overstating this somewhat (feminist bias o noes!), but I really did find it both squicky and less in tune than other variants with Wiccish ideas.

Sunflower, you are a prince among men. There's no female equivalent for that, but you know what I'm trying to say. I knew I was on to something!

I am of the same opinion in regard to the swapped gender roles. Grin Might I have permission to quote your comments elsewhere? (Blogspot and/or livejournal, specifically.)

? Why does it make you want to die? I'm just curious XD

Maybe other people find themselves able to interpret the story as a seduction, but to me it's just a story about a rape. By the end of the song I feel sick!
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Thessaly: It's time to draw down the moon.
Foxglove: We did this. Or something like this. We had water and salt, not blood. We invoked the goddess in her aspect as the moon. We called down her power...
Thessaly: Did she answer you?
Foxglove: Well, it felt good at the time. Empowering.
Thessaly: Hmph.
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« Reply #6: April 30, 2010, 01:07:40 am »

Sunflower, you are a prince among men. There's no female equivalent for that, but you know what I'm trying to say. I knew I was on to something!
"A gentlewoman and a scholar" seems to fit well with the circumstances Cheesy.

Quote
I am of the same opinion in regard to the swapped gender roles. Grin Might I have permission to quote your comments elsewhere? (Blogspot and/or livejournal, specifically.)
Certainly!  <clicks link in sidebar profile and bookmarks Blogspot blog; uses already-bookmarked link to LJ and adds as friend (and why didn't I do that a long time ago?)>  Heck, if I'd realized you specifically wanted feminist deconstruction, I wouldn't have been so restrained.

Sunflower
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I do so have a life.  I just live part of it online.
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others
to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde
My blog "If You Ain't Makin' Waves, You Ain't Kickin' Hard Enough", at Dreamwidth and LJ
Malkin
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« Reply #7: April 30, 2010, 01:25:49 am »

"A gentlewoman and a scholar" seems to fit well with the circumstances Cheesy.
Certainly!  <clicks link in sidebar profile and bookmarks Blogspot blog; uses already-bookmarked link to LJ and adds as friend (and why didn't I do that a long time ago?)>  Heck, if I'd realized you specifically wanted feminist deconstruction, I wouldn't have been so restrained.

You're entirely free to elaborate if you're so inclined!

Yes, we should have added each other a long time ago. Aren't we silly? Cheesy
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Thessaly: It's time to draw down the moon.
Foxglove: We did this. Or something like this. We had water and salt, not blood. We invoked the goddess in her aspect as the moon. We called down her power...
Thessaly: Did she answer you?
Foxglove: Well, it felt good at the time. Empowering.
Thessaly: Hmph.
erinnightwalker
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« Reply #8: April 30, 2010, 07:39:54 pm »


Maybe other people find themselves able to interpret the story as a seduction, but to me it's just a story about a rape. By the end of the song I feel sick!

Oh. The version I have is a funny one.... The man ends up getting raped XD Granted, he does turn into a female first, but maybe its just my odd sense of humor....
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I dance upon the edge of shadow
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An ember smouldering in my heart
is my only guide, my light.


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