Reclaiming & Friends (with Starhawk),
Let It Begin Now
(Serpentine Music, 1992)

Let It Begin Now is a recording of the music of one of Reclaiming's annual Samhain Spiral Dance celebrations. It has become a very special part of my personal Samhain season; despite its beauty and power, I only listen to it then since it seems to me to be enhanced listening in the appropriate time of the year's wheel.

During Samhain we face the reality of death. It marks the end of the old year; the harvest is past, and everything prepares for winter; even the trees look like they're dying, although they will leaf again in spring. The shortening of the days becomes ever more noticeable, too. Still, the end of the old year is the beginning of the new, and we can remember this during the winter. Metaphorically we can take comfort in this, and mix hope with grief. Let It Begin Now ties death, hope, grief and love into a beautiful whole that honors the world and its inhabitants.

Words and music blend to enhance both. The singing is featured, and the words are very clear and easy to make out; the instruments enhance the singing rather than themselves being prominent.

The whole makes up a ritual, and is best listened to all the way through and in order. It's hard to pick out particular parts for comment. The traditional Lyke-Wake Dirge's lyrics were very slightly adapted, and the result is stunning. "The God Song" and "Demeter's Song" evoke the God and Goddess beautifully. But it's unfair to pick these three parts out; each of the pieces is wonderful in itself, and a powerful part of the whole.

The centerpiece is "Let It Begin Now," a prayer of hope for the newly dawning year and what it will contain. This never fails to bring tears to my eyes -- how I would love to live in the world it describes! I come away with a determination to do what I can to bring that world about.

I was delighted when they produced a CD of Let It Begin Now since my tape was wearing out! I'm also pleased that the liner notes include the words to the "Let It Begin Now" part of the album. Also included is information about the Reclaiming Collective, with contact information. (You can also check out their Web site.)

I don't think this is a CD that can be listened to casually or just for fun; at least, I can't listen to it this way! It's one of the pieces of music I treasure the most, and I hope this review does its part to introduce it to people who might treasure it like I do.

[ by Amanda Fisher ]