Best of Pagan Song: Holly Tannen
Holly, who hails from California, is known as "The Mistress of Folklore". Often using ancient melodies, she conjures images old and new with tongue-in-cheek mirth and gracious wit. Holly is a master of the mountain dulcimer, as well as a scholar of ballads from many lands. Her one woman show "Practical Alchemy" is just one example of her giftedness as a storyteller.  She hangs with the artsy crowd in Mendocino, CA.
Below are the chords and lyrics to her hilarious "Rime of the Ancient Matriarch" which presents the imaginary journey of the Goddess from ancient Turkey to modern California that is at the same time both ahistorical but very hysterical.
You can find her CDs and more at

"Rime of the Ancient Matriarch"
by Holly Tannen (1998)

capo ii

  Am                              G             Am
1. I  was born in Turkey thirty thousand years ago
    C              Am                G                       D
I taught the women and the men the things that they should know
     C            Am        G                D
The patriarchs invaded, and I was forced to roam
  Am     C      Am            G               Am
I am an Ancient Matriarch a long way from my home

2. So I escaped to Brittany way up in northern France
I met some Gauls with hairy balls who thought they wore the pants
Until I had them brought to me inside my pleasure dome
I am an Ancient Matriarch a long way from my home

3. Across the channel I was called to help the Celts carouse
Where fungi flourished on the plops and droppings of the cows
In jest, I said, in jest, these things need be henged with stone*
I am an Ancient Matriarch a long way from my home     (instrumental verse)

4. Tis then across the Irish Sea I boldly made my way
Where I was worshiped as a queen on each St. Brigit's day
Invading Brits disdained my tits and threw me from my throne**
I am an Ancient Matriarch a long way from my home

5. Amongst the Appalachians I then did take my stand
Likewise in Nova Scotia and up in New Foundland
In New Orleans them Voodoo queens embraced me as their own
I am an Ancient Matriarch a long way from my home      (instrumental verse)

6. It's now in California this matriarch belongs
where ponchy bards in star trek garb sing oldtime Gaelic songs***
Til Madam Péle calls me I shall no longer roam****
I am an ancient matriarch a long way from my home
I am an Ancient Matriarch a long... way... from... my home


original 1995 version:
*...In jest, I said, "Ingest these things" and thus the henge was stone(d)
** tits and I was forced to roam
***...sing ersatz Gaelic songs
****Though Madame Péle calls me...


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Last Updated MABON 2009 ce