“The world around us has failed to sustain our humanity, our spirituality. The deep woe inside black metal is about fear that we can never return to the mythic, pastoral world that we crave on a deep subconscious level. […] We are weak and pitiful in our strength over the earth in conquering, we have destroyed ourselves. Black Metal expresses disgust with humanity and revels in the misery that one finds when the falseness of our lives is revealed. (Wolves in the Throne Room 2006 – Source: Nocturnal Cult)”
I’m certainly not going to undertake the task of “defining” what Black Metal is and what it is not. It is something that exists beyond such simple definitions. However, one aspect I understand about some forms of Black Metal is that it evokes a feeling of despair and darkness – a feeling of living in dark times. There is an idea that humanity has failed, and we are disconnected from the primal vitality of our own nature.
The great heroes of our mythology mark a golden era where man was molded out of harsh winters, deep forests and nature’s lessons into the stuff of legend. Yet we today are shallow beings, with shallow roots, living in environments constructed from plastic and chemicals. We ourselves are just brief shadows of the blazing torch of our ancestor’s glory.
Ragnarok and Kali Yuga predict a great reckoning where a tidal wave of death and destruction will erase the errors of this time, and carve a new, verdant green world out of the flesh and blood of the old. The last living Gods will die fighting the Titans of chaos, but in the end a few Gods will survive to usher in a new and better world. At least this is my personal reflection. Black Metal is a reflection of today’s Dark Times – and almost a yearning for a coming destruction to wash it all away.
This is something that can’t be explained in mere words, but is understood in the subconscious by listening to the music itself.
Mother north – how can they sleep while their beds are burning ?
Mother north – your fields are bleeding
Memories…The Invisible Wounds
pictures that enshrine your throne (gone?)
A Future benighted still they are blind
Pigeonhearted beings of flesh and blood
keeps closing their eyes for the dangers that threat…ourselves and our
And that is why
they all enrage me
Sometimes in the dead of the night I mesmerize my soul
Sights and visions prophecies and horror
they all come in one
Mother north – united we stand (together we walk)
Phantom north – I’ll be there when you hunt them down
A careful study of ancient mythology will reveal that a singular “mother, maiden and crone” Deity is nowhere to be found in ancient myth. There are triple Goddesses in the Ancient Celtic Mythos – but they do not exist within this archetype. The Celtic Goddess Brigid is a classic example of a triple Goddess. Yet she is one of three sisters, not a maiden, mother or a crone. Each sister is also named Brigid. They have similar but different attributes.
There are also a fair share of triunal deities in Greek Myth, however, these also do not fit exactly into the mother, maiden and crone mold either. Hecate is a prominent example. In Greek artwork she was sometimes paired with the two moon Goddesses Artemis and Selene. Artemis is a virgin and Selene is a mother to some 50 daughters. However, there is no hard evidence that any Greeks saw these triple Goddesses as aspects of one person. They each had their own distinct lives, mythological tales and purposes.
It is important to note that the Mother, Maiden, Crone archetype is a modern invention of the Neo-Pagan or Wiccan movement. It is a concept that was influenced primarily by Robert Graves, a mid-20th century novelist. This was popularized in his novel The White Goddess (written in 1948).
However, the fact that the mother, maiden, crone aspect is new does not mean that it isn’t valuable. It is a useful archetype for a woman venerating the different phases of her life. Perhaps though, instead of lumping all these aspects into one person, it may be useful to think of different Goddesses who existed in each of these different phases. A Goddess is a Goddess – not an “aspect.”
THE MOTHER, MAIDEN AND CRONE ARCHETYPE
The phases basically speak for themselves: there is youth, adulthood and old age. In a culture that celebrates youth and pressures women to look young forever, learning to celebrate other phases of your life is important. Think of the fact that the Cosmetic Industry is worth billions, it makes major bucks off of women’s insecurities. So let us examine the three phases of the Mother, Maiden, Crone archetype below:
She is a young and virginal girl who has not yet awakened. She is often associated with innocence and beauty. She is probably the archetype most celebrated by our current society.
Concepts: Associated with new beginnings, youthful ideas and enthusiasm
Season: Springtime and Ostara
Symbols: Flowers, the colors pink, white or green
Maiden Goddesses: Persephone, Artemis, Hestia, Rhiannon
The mother Goddess is associated with creation, birth, marriage, sexuality, nurturing, care-giving and protection.
The Mother doesn’t get enough credit in this day and age. “Powerful” and “Assertive” are positive traits ascribed to females. But people often dismiss “nurturing” and “care-giving” as weaker qualities. It is not so. It takes a lot of strength to be compassionate and nurturing in the face of overwhelming stress and frustration. Isis was certainly a powerful and yet nurturing Goddess. She literally went to the ends of the Earth to help put her husband Osiris back together, so that’s pretty nurturing. Yet is she powerful? Hell yes. Her name literally means “throne,” the symbol of the pharoah’s power.
Concepts: Associated with harvest, achievement and fulfillment.
The Crone represents the inevitability that all things must come to an end. She is associated with death and what happens after death. However, death isn’t a bad thing, it is a necessary phase in creation. In Traditional Cultures, the “Crone” aspect of womanhood received much respect. For example, in India and China, women who traditionally lived to old age received more status and respect in the family than younger women. The ancient reverence for older women is connected to the fact that living to old age was rare, and thus those who were capable of this feat were wise and had sagely advice.
Today, women often feel embarrassed by their age. I have some female friends at 27 who feel “old.” Really?! I think some chicks have been reading too much Twilight (I apologize for the reference). Sorry, you can’t be a teenage vampire forever, grow up! Celebrate your age. Celebrate the fact that you are ripened with experience and life knowledge that the young wipper-snappers lack. You are like a fine wine, getting more refined with age.
In this song, a man leaves his home in Russia in search of happiness. He travels through Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, and the Netherlands in that order. Yet in his journey he learns that true happiness is back at home where he belongs.
A surprising number of guest vocalists have contributed to this Arkona ballad. We have the vocalists from Heidevolk, Menhir, Månegarm, Obtest, and Skyforger participating in this song.
Hrmm… so we have six vocalists and six countries. Does each vocalist in this song represent their home country?
In examining this idea, I matched voices to lyric and for the most part it is true. There are some instances, where other members of a band – in addition to the vocalist – are singing. Like I think the bassist of Skyforger might be singing the part for Latvia. So this makes matters slightly complicated. But for the most part, I’m sure each of these bands is representing their home country.
Masha Scream of Arkona is obviously the Russian traveler. In order, we have Månegarm (Sweden), Obtest (Lithuania), Skyforger (Latvia), Menhir (Germany) and Heidevolk (Netherlands).
At the end there is a chorus where different vocalists all sing “lai la la lai” together. They all come from different lands, but they are all happiest in their mother lands.
Notes on the lyrics: * Nerthus: Germanic Earth-goddess * Svitjod: An Old Norse name for Sweden or its people * Sunna: Germanic Sun-goddess * Veles: a major Slavic god * The One-Eyed: Odin, the chief Norse god * Žemyna: Lithuanian earth-goddess * Velinas: Lithuanian creator-god, represented as a blacksmith * Ąžuoliniai mounds: earth mounds in the village of Ąžuoliniai * Thuringia: a German state, renowned for its natural beauty.
Examining the Lyrics:
(Russian Traveler,Vocals Masha Scream of Arkona)
Oh, Once at dawn the scarlet sun was rising. The sun was scarlet, that early morning
The maid was seeing her fellow off, To far, far away. Far, far away distant lands.
Seeing him off, giving her tender word. A tender word, and a word of protection.
“Oh darling, oh I will, I will wait for you I will wait for you, And meet you at the crimson sunset.”
The maid’s fingers trembled, And caught the tears And caught the tears Flowing from bright eyes.
With gentle hand she removed her amulet Removed her amulet and prayed for good fortune.
“I pray, I enchant this And give it to my beloved for the journey in that distant place, Protect my beloved from death.”
And that fine fellow departed to foreign lands to seek happiness for the years, hey!
Trail after trail, toward the sun. Through cold and heat, in light and dark.
Into gray mist, Into Fading light, Again turning to the Gods.
Bare feet worn bloody. You follow an unknown road.
And hearing the sea’s call. You fell into the embraces of Northerly winds.
You went after happiness! Again you ask this land about it.
(Sweden, Månegarm Vocalist)
Hear Nerthus* breathe heavily
Svitjod’s* primordial soul
The North Star’s bleak light
The wolf in the night wind
The dawn over the Northern Land
Raven’s wing in Sunna’s Sea
Here my forefathers stand guard
By the one-eyed’s side*
Here I sacrifice to my Gods
the soil of my roots
(Russian Traveler,Vocals Masha Scream of Arkona)
This house is beautiful
But foreign and cold
I hear the voice of winds of other countries
Reveal the roads thither, O Veles*!
The voice of a new land
Your foot treads upon it
Again, you turned from the road
Far off a foreign river I lured you.
People! Pray tell,
For what is your joyous land reknowned?
The Gods, who are they?
What do these lands hide?
(Lithuania,Vocals could be Obtest, I’m not entirely sure since they sound slightly different.)
Boundless woods raised us
Like horses of the wind, in freedom
Black bread like the soil,
Thick foamy mead…
Protects our children in the sun
Teaches us of steel, awakening us…
The Ąžuoliniai Mounds*
Look into the distance
As Far as the eye can see-
The land of our forefathers.
(Russian Traveler,Vocals Masha Scream of Arkona)
Gazing on the beauty of golden fields
I will bend the knee
I will offer tribute to this land
Again, I will leave without a trace.
In the sunset’s brilliance again
A new land’s expanse will blaze
For what is your joyous land reknowned,
Dear to a foreigner’s eyes?
(Latvia, Maybe Skyforger…but the vocals don’t sound like their typical vocalist. I do know that they also have their bassist singing…so that might be him.)