The Pagan Pulpit – Songs of 2018

Happy Sun’s Day. It is also the 11th Night of Yuletide.  This night is sacred to the Valkyries and Warriors.  We remember those who choose the slain as the noble and honored dead destined for Valhalla, and those warriors who were chosen. Today we remember the virtue of Self-Reliance.


We don’t pray here – we figure God, the gods and goddesses, or whatever powers that be either know already, don’t give a fuck, or are busy with more important matters than our petty stuff. We also kind of assume that they expect us to do stuff that we can do for ourselves, and that we will do them ourselves and not be lazy. We also believe in being good friends, so we don’t presume on our friendship with the powers that be by asking them all the time for stuff while giving them nothing in return.

We also don’t take an offering here.  We figure the powers that be probably don’t need it.  Let’s be honest, offerings are not giving to the divine powers, they are given to an organization to support it.  Just being honest. God, the gods or whatever never see a dime, farthing or peso of that money; it all goes to the church, mosque or shrine.

Today’s service resembles a concert more than a service.  Basically, the idea struck me that I should do the past year, one month at a time, in song.  So there will be no text or sermon today.  Just one song per month (two for one month) representing each month as I experienced it. This probably as much as a reflection on this past year, but rather than write about it, I will just give you a song on each month and a little commentary.

I suppose a warning is in order as I am going to be pretty open here about my thoughts.  I also should note that I had to take a break twice while writing this post.  There are a lot of strong emotional memories to 2018 for me. Some good; some bad.  In any case, my hope is a little more closure on a year I hope to not repeat. Overall it changed me for the better, but it was a helluva ride.

Music for me is still a an expression of the real emotions and thoughts I am having I can’t express in words. I think for this reason this way of doing a year review is probably more accurate in many ways than just writing about it.

January: No Rest for the Wicked – Godsmack:

I choose this song for the theme for the entirety of 2018.  I started with the struggle to be a ‘man of God’ who had lost his faith.  The whole year was me not getting enough rest because of all my struggles.  In the end, I dropped the masks and I am probably far more at rest because I am more genuinely who I really am now.  The verses of this song really reflect some of my thoughts to this day, so it fits.

February: American Pie – Don McLean:

In February, my long time organist and friend died. This represented the last of three great musicians/vocalists in my church and with this death for all practical purposes it was ‘the day the music died’ both in my church and my soul. It was my grief over this, and the fact only one person understood it at the time, that left me vulnerable.

March: Losing my Religion – REM:

March was a transitional month for me as I started to fall in love with someone I shouldn’t have. Looking back on it, and as warning to others, grief over the loss of two good friends in less than a year, a weak marriage and looking for comfort, left me open to this.  That and not caring about my religion anymore.  I had lost my faith a couple of years before due to theological reasons, but now the emotional side of it came crashing down.

April: Don’t Stand So Close to Me – The Police:

Lot’s of secret love this month.  Both directions and both forbidden.  I have come to a greater understanding of this song than I ever wanted to this year. Now when I hear this song, I remember the lessons of this past year vividly. Mostly how easy it is to submit to temptation, especially when you are hurting and want something to ease the pain. There is really no excuse for this, but there are reasons people do this which I now know all too well.  I have no excuses, but I did have those reasons.

May: Monsters – Shinedown:

The shit hit the fan in late May and my monsters got loose.  I think I made the remark at the time that the Pagan was freed from his cage and was kicking the Christian’s ass. I suppose this song stretches into June as well.

The reason it does, is I trusted someone I considered to be a friend with something important.  They took advantage of that trust and betrayed me to get one more win over me, probably to stroke his already overly inflated ego. Yeah, rage doesn’t begin to describe what I felt when I found that out.  It became greater as more details emerged during the summer and I began to discover how planned and maliciously thought out this betrayal was. It still is something I struggle with and quite frankly I finally found someone I don’t believe I can ever forgive. At least not until the scale of justice gets balanced first. Til then my monsters stay hungry and patiently wait.

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June: Familiar Taste of Poison – Halestorm:

I fell in love with Halestorm this summer.  I also fell fully in love with a young woman.  It’s a decision I now regret. I think the relationship was full of natural chemistry but part of that chemistry was the additional effect of generating a toxicity that was wonderfully deadly. I didn’t want to be saved and I didn’t want to be sober. In the end, I think that toxicity killed it.  I probably should be glad for that, but there is still a sadness and pain to it all for me. This song definitely captures that feeling for me still.

July: 400 Lux – Lorde:

I don’t like describing people as addictions.  It makes them seem like they’re not people but the relationship I had was addicting. Relationships are things. We were always killing time together in July, so the lyrics fit too. It’s no accident I chose the video for this song that has scenes from The Perks of Being a Wall Flower.  It’s a reminder, that life needs to be lived and not just observed.  It’s also a book I probably will not read again for the foreseeable future. Maybe someday I will pick it up again with new eyes, because I really liked it.  There are too many memories associated with it right now. That and the Song All of Me by John Legend. This song by Lorde I can still listen to and remember without it being too painful, but not that one.

August: Stuck with You – Huey Lewis and the News:

August was a roller coaster month.   It was pivotal turning point.  I went from being very special to the young woman in question to becoming someone they used to know in the space of less than a hour. I found a new job, but this happened the same day, so the joy of that disappeared. I found myself alone and bleeding from my soul pretty bad. In that state, I also woke up and began to think that my wife and I could save our marriage.  From my perspective, it was a long shot and I fully expected my wife to tell me to go to hell.

But she didn’t. She accepted my apology and apologized to me in return. We talked, I mean really talked, for the first time in years. It started a healing process that is still in process, but we are better than we have ever been in a long while.  This was the start of that.

Long story short, we found our way back together. In all of this, the only one who really never stopped loving me is her. The only one who exercised ‘Christian’ love, mercy and forgiveness was her.  It overwhelmed me and I fell in love with her again.  We picked this song as our own while on a weekend away.  I am happy to be stuck with her and she is happy to be stuck with me.

September: Love Walks In – Van Halen:

In August I was standing in a convenience store when this song was played.  I started singing it out loud as the cashier was doing so too. He stopped and asked me if it had meaning to me and I said it did now. I continue to play this song on my ‘Wife Playlist’, it makes me think of this moment and her every time.  Throughout September it was my second favorite song next to Stuck With You.

October:  I have two for this month.  Sorry I couldn’t choose just one. 

Both of these songs are on my current walking play list and have been so for a long time. In October as school began in earnest, I found myself listening to them every day. I still do when I listen to music.

Prayer – Disturbed:

It is the way I pray – ‘living isn’t hard enough without ‘god’ making it harder.  I love the lyrics of this song and the feelings behind it. It reflects a lot of my continued struggles with faith.

Voices – Disturbed:

I love the video of this song as it reflects the song so well.  I like how the guy is bullied, made fun of and has that girl he likes moment where she dissed him.  He then fantasizes about how to get even with them all – the voices speak in his head.  Instead of acting on them though, he just leaves work and goes to a concert and lets it all go instead.  I listen to this one a lot when I am having dark thoughts.  It helps them simmer down.

November – Hammer to Fall – Queen: 

I include this one for a lot of reasons: 1) The biopic Bohemian Rhapsody was released this month and my daughter and I had a date and went to see it.  Best movie I have seen in a long time.  2) I think in some ways it became a month of returning to ‘normal’ where my wife and I, my family and the friends I have left are back to some sense of stability.  This song kind of is symbolic of that as my daughter and I got back to talking music, books and movies – instead of the chaos of my life. 3) The message of this song.  The hammer is going to fall, so live life fully. 4) Plus it wouldn’t a music list without Queen.

December: Dreams – Van Halen:

Reflective of the end of the year. I graduated college (with a little work to do) and my wife, myself and family have been celebrating the holidays together.  I am starting to dream again about what my life will be.  Dreams are what love is made of according to the song and honestly my life has started to reflect that again.

Parting Thought:

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Wishing you the most prosperous journey as you travel through 2019.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.



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