In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
Witches know the power of words. Words are carried on the breath, and the breath is the gift life. Words express thoughts, which form the blueprint of the manifest world. Words can change our perception of reality—and they can change reality itself.
Chanting combines words with rhythm to induce a trance state, allowing us to change our consciousness at will. It’s a vital part of the Eightfold Path, which comprises a witch’s fundamental magical toolkit. On a more mundane level, chanting has been found to “oxygenate the brain, reduce heart rate, improve blood pressure, and calm brainwave activity. It can even cause the left and right hemispheres of the brain to synchronize,” says writer Alexa Erickson.
Whenever I feel touched by the sublime or experience a wave of unexpected awe, chanting helps me lean into the moment. It lights a spark in the mundane. It bolsters me in moments of darkness. It reminds me of who I am, what I am, what I believe. I’m never far from sacred space.
Chanting reminds me to use my voice.
Here are a few of my favorites:
We all come from the Goddess
We all come from the Goddess
And to her we shall return
Like a drop of rain
Flowing to the ocean
For many pagans, this chant is one of the first we learn learn upon stepping onto the spiral path. Public ritual spaces the world over ring with its simple message. My coven has often used this chant to raise energy. Some call it the pagan Kumbaya.
For me it’s a basic touchstone that brings me back to my connection with Source and my place in the cycle of life and death. Like the smallest droplet, we are both individuals and part of a larger whole that encompasses all of creation. I use it to calm my emotional storms, and I often sing it while walking the threshold between land and sea.
Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inanna
Long ago, I stumbled on this chant by accident, and its raw power pulled me in. For months it circled ’round and ’round in my head. When chanted in tandem with “We all come from the Goddess,” it serves as a haunting counterpoint.
This chant stirs in me the primal fury and creative juice of the Great Mother, She of Many Names. It spontaneously surfaces in my mind every now and then, usually when I need to draw upon her strength. I often use it when invoking the goddess in her protective aspect; it’s a potent way to cast a quick circle of protection on the fly.
Song to the Secret Name of the Star Goddess
You who opened the vault of heaven
Out of the blackness comes spinning of stars
I recently discovered this chant while researching the Star Goddess. It evokes the moment of Genesis—the big bang that spun out the universe—and speaks to the Goddess as the original source of all things, whose love grinds out the stars into manifest creation.
When I want to draw upon the orgasmic power of moment of first creation, I recite this chant. It fills me with a sense of awe at the mysteries that lie at the center of the universe. It’s perfect for gazing up at a star-filled sky or staring into a flame. I also use it to connect with the Welsh star goddess Arianrhod.
In the name of the Holy Mystery, I call my Power back to me!
In the name of the Holy Mystery, I call my Soul back to me!
In the name of the Holy Mystery, I call my Spirit back to me!
In the name of the Holy Mystery, I claim my Crown of Sovereignty!
In the name, in the name, in the name of the Holy Mystery!
I’ll never forget my first workshop with Orion Foxwood. A pagan friend strongly recommended attending one of his “pagan tent revivals”—a term he affectionately uses for Orion’s speaking style—and I was glad I did. Hundreds of voices raised in ecstatic chant to heal their primal wounds.
I use this chant whenever I’ve lost my center and need to reclaim my power. I find it has the effect of a mini-soul retrieval, helping me claw my way out of my victim mentality and stand firmly in my own strength. It helps me unleash my voice and re-align with my truth.
A powerful chant can sweep you away on a tide of ecstasy. It can reconnect you with something ancient and much larger than yourself. When we chant, we are expressing—and we are the expression.
Featured image: Dance of Apollo and the Muses by Baldassare Peruzzi, PD-US