Best of Pagan Song: Charlie Murphy
Charlie Murphy has been working with Jami Sieber to create music that is positive, pro-environmental and Earth-centered for many years. Based out of Seattle, WA, their production company is called "Out Front Music". In the version of "Burning Times" (1981) on the "Best of Pagan Music" CD, it is Jami Sieber playing the moving cello part. That version was originally recorded in 1981 on the album "Catch the Fire" produced by Good Fairy Productions of Seattle, Washington. The song was later digitized in 1994, and this version can now only be found on "Best of Pagan Music" which is sold by Serpentine Music.
Another version of "Burning Times" (1991) that is sung by Charlie Murphy and performed by the band "Rumors of the Big Wave", can be found at Amazon. This CD also has Charlie Murphy's song "I Choose Life" which is a response to AIDS; and the "Only Green World" which reminds us to appreciate our home planet. Also highly recommended is the "Canticles of Light" CD which can be purchased at Serpentine Music (see above), which includes the songs "Light is Returning" and "Blood of the Ancients". Charlie is also famous for writing the song "Gay Spirit" in 1979 as a part of the "Wall to Roses Collective" which can be found at Smithsonian Folkways or at Amazon.
Also note, that Mr. Christy Moore's version of "Burning Times" hit: #1 on Irish charts in 2005. Moore's album was dedicated to Starhawk's friend and non-violent protester Rachel Corrie, who was killed in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer that was tearing down Palestinian homes to make way for Israeli occupation.

And, please be sure to read the notes at the bottom of the page about a few historical inaccuracies in this song that are important to know. Thanks-- CG

Burning Times by Charlie Murphy (1981)
Chorus: "Goddess Chant" by Deena Metzger


intro: Am2 G6 F4 G Am G (ma7 6) G Am

              Am2         G6        F4                       G  Am
1. In the cool of the evening....    they used to gath-er
             G              Gma7     G6  Am       G         Am
'Neath stars in the meadow circle near an old oak tree
     Am2       G6      F6     G   Am       
At times  appointed...  by seasons
             G  Gma7        G6    Am G   Am
Of the Earth   and the phases of her Moon

2. In the center often stood a woman equal with the others
Respected for her worth, one of the many we called witches*
The healers and the teachers of the wisdom of the Earth

3. The people grew thru the knowledge she gave them
Herbs to heal their bodies, spells to make their spirits whole**
Hear them chanting healing incantations
Calling for the wise ones, celebrating in dance and song

       Am                  G     Am
CH: Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate,
    Am                G Am
Demeter, Kali, Inanna  

4. There were those who came to power through domination
They were bonded in the worship of a dead man on a cross
They sought control of the common people
By demanding allegiance to the Church of Rome

5. And the Pope he commenced the inquisition
It was a war against women whose power they feared
In this holocaust in this age of evil
Nine Million*** European women died

6. And the tale was told of those who by the hundreds
Holding hands together chose their deaths in the sea****
While chanting praises of the mother Goddess
A refusal of betrayal women were dying to be free


CH: Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate,
Demeter, Kali, Inanna

7. Now the Earth is a witch and the men still burn her
Stripping her down with mining and the poison of their wars
Still to us the Earth is a healer, a teacher and a mother
A weaver of a web of light that keeps us all alive
She gives us the vision to see through the chaos
She gives us the courage it is our will to survive

CH: Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate,
Demeter, Kali, Inanna

Important notes: This song is a wonderful, stirring and inspirational song that has brought--and still brings -- the Wiccan community together. This is a good thing, so I wish others to continue singing "Burning Times". However, one must note that there are a few historical inaccuracies in the song that everyone needs to be aware of, if we are to be honest and truthful about ourselves and our origins as a religious movement. -- C.G.

* The title "witch" was never a term that Druids nor other pre-Christian religious leaders called themselves.

** Rarely, if ever, was the role of the herbalist and the religious leader of rituals combined.

*** "9 million" is historically inaccurate and highly exaggerated.  The victims of the early modern witch-hunts most likely numbered from 50,000 to possibly several hundred thousand. The vast majority were most likely innocent of the crimes they were charged with. Both women and men were victims as well. People were often accused because of their wealth or public influence, not because they were practicing a non-Christian religion.

**** There is no evidence that this ever happened, and it is most likely based on a mistake in historical research. During an Italian outbreak of hysteria (allegedly due to tarantula bites), the symptom of extreme thirst is said to have caused some people to cast themselves into the ocean. This outbreak happened during the period of the witch-hunts, when some accused of witchcraft were said to have killed themselves in prison. Feminists conflated these two stories and created a powerful, yet ahistorical, story of witches bravely marching into the sea to their deaths rather than facing the witch-hunters.

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Last Updated Mabon 2009 ce