Selected Pagan Dirges & Songs

from The Pagan Book of Living and Dying
by Starhawk, M. Macha Nightmare and the Reclaiming Community

Reclaiming is Starhawk's Goddess community. You will find many traditional Wiccan chants and original chants with lyrics and guitar chords.    

To learn more about the Reclaiming Community, go to

To buy CDs from Reclaiming, go to   Recommended: Chants, Second Chants.

For Reclaiming books, go to  Recommended:The Spiral Dance, Circle Round, The Pagan Book of Living and Dying.

These dirges come from The Pagan Book of Living and Dying (available here at Amazon) from the Reclaiming Community.
Lyrics and chords for some of these songs such as "Let the Spiral Turn and Turn", "When We Are Gone",
"Island of the West", and "Weaver, Weaver" can be found here below,
but the standard musical notation that features the melodies has not been reproduced.
One can find the melody lines in the book. Go to for Reclaiming CD's and books.

Island of the West

LET THE SPIRAL TURN AND TURN -words and music by Starhawk
(tune guitar down a whole step)

 G        D     Bm      Em
Let the spiral turn and turn
 G         D        Bm   D  Em
Wind will blow and fire will burn
 G     D      Bm       Em
Water flows upon the earth
G       D          Bm   D   Em
As we dance from death to birth

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SHE CHANGES MEDLEY -words and music by Starhawk

CH: She changes everything she touches
    C                        C Dm
and everything she touches changes (2x)

Everything lost is found again
      C                 Dm
In a new form, in a new way
Everything hurt is healed again
      C                 Dm
In a new time, in a new day

On  the same wheel we spin
C             Dm
into life and out again
Dm            F   F C Dm
One is many, many one
 C                  Dm
Brewing in her cauldron  (Ch)

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WHEN WE ARE GONE –Words by Starhawk, Music by Anne Hill
(capo iii)

             D                 G
When we are gone, they will remain
          A              D
Wind and rock, fire and rain
              D             A
They will remain when we return
                G                     D
The wind will blow and the fire will burn

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    F   C       G           C          F             C
1. The ship is on the shoreline, the crossing it is near
     C                G  Am  Em
The time has come to say goodbye
    C                    F
To all who’ve loved you here
 G    C             G  Am   Em
Give back your body to the earth
         C                     F
Like a child to its mother’s breast
     C       G                 C         F              C
And may you then grow young again on the Island of the West

    F   C          G            C
2. Lay down, lay down, your burdens
     F                   C
Lay down your treasures too
     C             G   Am Em
The love you gave and gathered
    C                 F
Is all you take with you
 G   C              G Am Em
But know to me your memory
     C              F
will ever more be blessed
     C       G                 C         F              C
And may you then grow young again On the Island of the West

    F    C         G       C       F                 C
3. They say there is an orchard across the farthest sea
        C            G   Am Em
Where fruit and bud and blossom
        C              F
grow together on the tree
 G   C                G   Am Em
The hurt will there find healing
     C                F
The weary there find rest
     C       G                 C         F              C
And may you then grow young again on the Island of the West

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RETURN TO THE MOTHER -Words and music by the Wind Hags, after a poem by Judy Grahn
(capo v)

          Em            D Em
And so return, return, return
               D Em
Return to the Mother

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GONE BEYOND -Traditional Buddhist
(capo v)

Gone, gone
      D  Em
Gone beyond
 Em   D  Em  D  Em
Gone beyond beyond
Dsu4   D   Em
Hail the go-er!

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THE BEAUTY SONG –Words and music by Donald Engstrom
(Tune guitar down a whole step)

 D        A        D        A
Beauty before us, Beauty behind us
 A              E    D                  E     A
Beauty to our left side, Beauty to our right side
 D       A         D       A
Beauty above us, Beauty below us
A                  E(6)         A
We have beauty surrounding our lives

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WEAVER, WEAVER -Tune Traditional, words by Starhawk
(capo iii)

     D  A   Bm  A    D     A     D
CH: Weaver, weaver weave (her) thread
  G          D     D   Bm  A7
Whole and strong into your web
 D  A   Bm  A    D     A    D
Healer, healer, heal (her) pain
    A         D       A7    D
In love may (she) return again.

  A            D  A        D
1.We are dark and we are bright
A              D   A    D   A7
We are formed of earth and light
      D   A   D         A        D
From joy and pain our lives are spun
     G       D    A    G         A7
But all too soon the spinning’s done (CH)

   A              D  A      D
2. No one knows why we are born
   A           D  A  D   A7
A web is made, a web is torn
      D    A    D       A    D
Like wand’ring seabirds we alight
    G       D  A     G          A7
To rest one moment, then take flight (CH)

    A            D   A     D
3. May she find the hidden way
   A              D  A     D   A7
Beyond the gates of night and day
     D    A    D         A       D
To that sweet land where apples grow
     G      D   A    G      A7
And endless healing waters flow (CH)

   A         D         A         D
4. At that spring may she drink deep
     A             D   A  D   A7
and wake to dream and die to sleep
      D  A     D    A      D
and dreaming spin another form
    G        D       A    G  A7
a shining thread of life reborn (CH)

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a.k.a., “FATES CHANT” -Words and music by T. Thorn Coyle
(capo v)

    Em           D  Em
CH: In the cave of destiny
      D    C    Bm    D   Em
She spins she weaves she cuts
 D   Em          D    Em
Our fate is fashioned by these three
     D    C    Bm     D   Em
She spins she weaves she cuts


    G        D          G  D Em  D
1. Whether we walk with light or heavy tread
     G        D           G  D  Em   D
Our lives flow from the end of her silken thread (CH)

   G  D  G  D  Em  D
2. In the den of the wise
      G     D       G D  Em  D
Her shuttle ‘cross our tapestry flies (CH)

    G   D   G  D  Em D
3. When the pattern is done
     G        D      G   D   Em   D
She cuts the threads of life that were spun (CH)

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