I will never forget the first time I heard the music from the Pure Moods album in the early 90s. I was a tweeny and my parents brought home a copy of the CD. I clearly remember dancing around the living room while listening to it. I needed to move my body in order to manage the emotions I was feeling. I felt…bigger somehow. Brighter. Connected to something beautiful. The visions in my mind included a lot of golden light and a sense of floating or flying.
I was raised in a non-theistic household, so it took a few more years to start labeling what I was feeling in those moments of ecstatic dance as spiritual connection. Although my background includes a good deal of classical music, I did not encounter ecstasy of spirit in the same way through traditional Western music. Pure Moods was my first introduction to New Age music. Although the genre as a whole takes some kicking around, there’s so much beauty there as well. I’m still partial to Enigma and Deep Forest after all these years.
Music became both an entrance point and a thread to follow when it comes to my spirituality. I use curated stations on the Pandora app for different kinds of spiritual connection. I have a meditation station for yoga practice and gentle spiritual connection. My Pagan station includes more upbeat and active music that reminds me of the joy and deep power of my spirituality. I even have a Pagan metal station for when I need to connect to sacred rage.
We are spiritual beings all the time but there are specific moments that call for a ritual state of mind. I’ve found that music is the most effective way for me to change my mental “gear” from practical/pragmatic to ritual/mystical. One of the best parts is that it seems to work even when I’m not in the mood for a ritual or spiritually focused activity. Using the same music again and again as a trigger for spirituality also increases the strength of that trigger. I have a particular album I listen to prior to a Kindred Crow performance (Kindred Crow is my Pagan folk band). Now, just hearing the opening notes to Omnia’s album ‘Prayer’ causes my mind to begin transitioning out of the mundane and into the mystical.
I listen to my Pagan station before rituals, workshops, and gatherings, even when those gatherings are on Zoom. I listen to my meditation station when I’m feeling disconnected, stressed, or anxious. I listen to my Pagan metal station when I’m channeling my rage into sacred work (or even sometimes mundane work – rage cleaning the house is a good use for anger).
So, what goes on a spirituality playlist? That depends on you. We experience connection in different ways and music impacts us variably. The spread of Omicron has led to a lot of event cancellations and adjustments, and many of us are once more spending lots of time inside. What a wonderful opportunity to listen to a bunch of new music!
Crafting Your Own Spiritual Playlist
Start with music you know you love that also helps you feel connected to your spirituality. Then, explore music that shares attributes with songs that already work for you. Building a playlist on Youtube is pretty easy. The Pandora app pretty much does it for you if you can give it one or two songs or artists you already like. A lot of people also use Spotify although it’s not my preferred platform. You have a lot of options.
As you listen to different songs, ask yourself some questions:
- What emotions am I feeling right now?
- What sensations are present in my body?
- Are any memories surfacing?
Feel free to add or remove tracks, or build different playlists as you explore. High-energy festival-feeling music has a different place in my life than calming, relaxing, drinking-from-the-well-of-
And, if you’re looking for some artists to try, here are some of my current favorites from different spirituality boosting playlists:
- Wardruna: Norse dark ambient ritual music
- Omnia: Pagan folk, lots of traditional instruments
- Faun: Upbeat Pagan folk that includes dance beats
- Heilung: Primal ritual music – stuff you can hear your ancestors talking to you through
- Loreena McKennitt: Beautiful Celtic-inspired folk music
- The Hu: Super awesome Mongolian folk metal
- Spiral Dance: Pagan folk music, lots of great chants
- Corvus Corax: High energy neo-medieval music using lots of traditional instruments
- Tyr: Melodic viking metal
- Amon Amarth: Viking metal, not as melodic but super fun. Wanna burn down the patriarchy? This is your soundtrack.
Once you’ve built a playlist or two, remember to use them. When you’re feeling disconnected, put music on in the background. Before your next big Working or ritual, put your playlist on and notice how it shifts the way you feel. One of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed in my life is the ability to access so much music becoming normal. Even with the most niche tastes, it’s possible to build an impressive music collection now.
So, what’s on your playlist? Hit me up in the comments. You never know when something you share will be exactly the tool another person needs to support their spirituality.