When I was writing about Art Magick, I thought about all kinds of art and how they can be used in your witchcraft practice. You might have noticed there was no mention of music, even though it is a well-loved art form. Many of us benefit from music daily, whether or not you create it. It has the potential to be such a powerful form of magick because it reaches into our very souls.
How can you use music as witchcraft? Well, that was the exact question I asked myself and the reason why it wasn’t included in my Art Magick article. So I asked my friend, Sterling LoveBug DeCarie (they/them/theirs), who is a talented musician and music teacher, an eclectic art witch, and a practitioner of music magick. DeCarie had so much to say on this topic I felt it deserved its very own article!
What is Music Magick?
The first thing I wanted to know is what exactly is music magick? According to DeCarie, “Music magick is using music as a tool of expression, reflection, intuition, interpretation, ritual, spiritual connection, and manifestation. Just as some people use a journal or burn things or dance or arrange crystals in grids or draw sigils, music can be used in many contexts.”
DeCarie sings and plays multiple instruments, including piano for more than twenty years, and guitar for more than fifteen years. “Piano is my first love,” DeCarie says. “It feels like an extension of my emotional and spiritual self.”
From Fearing Witches to Becoming a Witch
DeCarie had a conservative fundamentalist Christian upbringing and didn’t discover witchcraft until after adulthood. In fact, they were taught to fear witches but found themself drawn to things like crystals and the meanings of flowers and colors. “Because books were my friends — my escape — literary symbolism and metaphors added poetic connections to my intuitive mind,” DeCarie recounts. “I loved to collect mementos in boxes, and make “potions” and press flowers.”
Later, DeCarie learned to let go of the ideas they were raised with and allowed themself to freely explore different expressions of spirituality. “It was only when I realized one could be a witch and also believe or not believe whatever one wished — and therefore I could be a witch and still love Jesus — that my mind and heart opened to the idea,” DeCarie says. “Stepping away from such a restrictive, patriarchal place, and into the empowering identifier “witch” allowed me to stop thinking I had to dumb myself down and decrease my shine for others’ comfort. I am not Too Much. I have much to offer the world, and I’m so glad I finally am in a place where I can do so without burdensome filters and religious rules weighing me down.”
Music as a Spiritual Practice
DeCarie started out using their musical talents in the church, first as part of children’s choirs then into worship. Within the past decade, they have been exploring outside of that box and discovering music in a new way.
“For me, music has always been spiritual,” DeCarie explains. “It was a form of wordless or unspoken prayer. I still improvise on piano as a form of offering and petition, but usually to Mother Earth instead of Jesus these days. So I would say my music magick practice began as a spiritual exercise.”
But what if you connect to music as a spiritual practice but unlike DeCarie, you don’t have a musical bone in your body? According to DeCarie, music magick need not be limited to the musically trained. “Ringing a bell or clapping hands are both simple ways of using sound to clear the air and the mind,” DeCarie says. “Cultures all around the world have been using drums in communal circles to create a sense of togetherness. Singing in a choir can literally sync heartbeats with your fellow singers. And even speaking aloud can be rhythmic and melodic, a form of music.”
How To Practice Music Magick
When asked how a music magick ritual might look, DeCarie describes it as an intuitive experience. It is a liminal space where you can connect to your higher self. But it can also be used as a tool for mindfulness and shadow work.
DeCarie goes on to say, “At times my piano playing is much more pragmatic, a way for me to work through strong emotions like confusion, anger, or loss. I will often start with some “ugly” sounds of dissonance to reflect my discomfort. This allows me to express and sit in my reality instead of trying to ignore or distract myself from it.
Once I have done this mindfulness exercise of awareness and acceptance, I will take those notes and add musical context, reframing that dissonance in ways that turn it into something beautiful and meaningful. I am not stuck in my current situation, and I have control over how I view things and move forward. This whole process also helps me step back and not take the struggles that felt so all-encompassing as personally.”
A Music Magick Ritual
- Ground and center yourself, sitting in a meditative state with your instrument of choice.
DeCarie: I might just sit down at the piano and start by playing one note. I’ll close my eyes and listen to that sound, and then I’ll see if there’s more I want to add. Usually there is, and I may improvise for a good twenty minutes straight before opening my eyes again with a deep sigh of gratitude.
- Set an intention for your music magick practice. What is it you wish to accomplish with this ritual? Make it clear in your mind or even speak it aloud.
DeCarie: Sometimes I’ll approach the piano with a question or concern, and just really focus in on that idea as I play. And then begins a lot of positive, soothing self-talk that I could choose to attribute to a deity, but that really feels more like it’s coming from a calm and wise place deep within. Either way, I often cry at that point, while I play along to those beautiful words of love.
- Try combining music magick with other areas of your practice, such as pagan sabbats, esbats, divination, and more!
DeCarie: Sometimes I play music to reflect current astrological happenings, meanings on tarot cards I pull, to cleanse my crystals with sound, or to simply help a friend sleep.
Closing Thoughts From an Art Witch
—> Sterling LoveBug DeCarie | https://www.instagram.com/decariemusic/
Music, like magic, is very personal. If some sound or combination of sounds feels right to you, that can be your Soul Music. It could be nature sounds like frogs in the rain, or tapping your pencil against the kitchen table, or screaming along to death metal.
The most important thing is to make it your own and to embody it as possible, perhaps through swaying or singing or sleeping. Let music be part of you — an extension of you — and you may be surprised by what emotional truths come to light, or how meaningful it can be to connect with someone else who loves the same sounds.
I am currently writing a curriculum with my husband to teach students basic skills to start improvising music for their own well-being. The course will cover piano, guitar, ukulele, and singing, incorporating breath-work and mindfulness exercises throughout. The goal is to have all these video lessons up on my website by the 8/8 Lion’s Gate Portal of 2022. I’m so excited to bring to life and share with the world something that has proven so essential to my own coping and growth through the years. The website is live, but the subscription portion is not yet available. Check it out at MakeZenMusic.com.
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