I’ve been a Mumford and Sons fan since the first time I heard their breakout hit “Little Lion Man” from the Sigh No More album. If I was musically inclined, and trust me when I say I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I think that I would aim for a sound like theirs. Rooted, folksy, but with a vibrancy that I compare to a good cup of coffee. Caffeine coated banjo with a splash of bass guitar; yet it’s the lyrics that are left in your mouth. I really can get lost in listening to them play. If I’m in a bad mood, I can usually set my Spotify to Babel or Wilder Mind and just drift away. Especially when I can’t be pleased by my more country leaning bluegrass favorites.
More recently, their music came back into focus when I accidentally(?) discovered the song “There Will Be Time“, which is a collaboration with Sengalese singer Baaba Maal. The song just hit me, and I have fixated on it for a bit now, for many reasons. The language, the blunt lyrics, the way that the song builds, the sound of it all. PSH if I fell in love with people the way that I fall I love with songs? Who knows where I would be in life! Now, to make my point, I’m a fan of Mumford and Sons because I connect with their music. I’m drawn to that sound, the twang and the bitter undertones, and it never fails to resonate within me. Connection is key here; I don’t apologize for my musical preference because I don’t have to – I’m connected to it. That usually suffices by way of explanation. Now, why do I have to apologize or feel inclined to offer a disclaimer when discussing my religious lean, when I am more deeply connected to the Gods than a band?
Can we think about that for a moment?
Music is universal and seldom argued over to the point of wars being started (though, I could be wrong here). Yes, we each have our own preferences and will discriminate based on those preferences, but for the most part I feel that we all just accept that music is wonderful, beautiful, and essential to our lives. Right? Is religion and our respective school(s) of belief so drastically different? My belief that there is something bigger than each of us, this is something I’m connected to and recognize that others feel the same, just to a different extent.
So, what does Mumford and Sons have to do with Paganism? Well, I think of their music and their relevance today as a good metaphor for how I see my own religious label. I love that they’re taking what was common, what was the norm musically, and not just “bringing it back” but really giving it a new life decades later. The whole concept of “everything comes back around” definitely comes to mind when I think of Mumford and Sons. Paganism today is a renaissance of beliefs and practices that existed hundreds of years ago in a different cultures around the globe.
It is my (very) broad understanding that much of what falls under the “big tent” of Paganism in today’s society is a recreation or adaptation of ancient religious practices. It is in no way accurate to say that Paganism today is the same as Paganism then. Take my personal path, Hellenism, as an example of this. To quote from Hellenion, when it comes to Hellenism, the focus is on connection to ancient Greek practice and bringing it into the present with the caveat below:
We strive to be as historically (and mythologically) accurate as the state of the evidence allows. When gaps in the evidence, or the realities of modern life, make it necessary to create something new it should be:
- As consistent as possible with what we do know about the ancient Hellas and its colonies throughout the Mediterranean up until late antiquity .
- Clearly presented as a recent innovation.
Let’s be clear, the same way that Mumford and Sons is NOT the same as The Carter Family, Hellenistic Paganism is NOT the same as the Ancient Greek Religion. The former draws from the core of the latter, but it has been adapted to modernity. Mumford and Sons claim to have drawn influence from artists like Old Crow Medicine Show and Emmylou Harris who are perhaps, in terms of sound, more connected to the bluegrass and folk roots that you hear at the heart of a Mumford and Sons song.
I think that the larger point that I’m attempting to make is that religious beliefs/religion is ever evolving – just like we are. The way that musicians and artist today draw inspiration and influence to those who practiced their craft before them, I as a Pagan draw from those who practiced and worshiped the Gods before I even knew their names. My thought is that if I can continue to find more parallels between what we, collectively as humans, connect with then maybe Paganism will get it’s time in the sunlight instead of remaining totally in the shadows.
Writer, Wannabe Artist, Overthinker, List-Maker, Photographer, Chronic Under-Salter