Inadvertently Pagan Pop Songs – Shelter from the Storm

Bob Dylan’s Shelter from the Storm is my favourite inadvertently Pagan pop songs. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that Dylan wrote this song about the Goddess, only that it can be interpreted that way, and when it is, it’s quite beautiful and profound when held as if it was Pagan sacred music.

To me it’s about the Goddess providing us shelter in a patriarchal world, removing our ‘crown of thorns’, the suffering embedded in the Christian paradigm, being ravaged, the possibly phallic one eyed undertaker and then being welcomed by the appearance of the Goddess, with silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair, giving shelter from this world again and again, always available just across the line. Also, turning “back the clock to when God and Her were born”? The Goddess as a contemporary to God and there from the beginning? So Pagan.

But what makes is most compelling as a song about the Goddess (or a Goddess) is the deep hunger for Her solace and protection, and the feeling of being separated by one’s own barriers from connection with Her.

To underscore the interpretation of this song as the embrace of the divine feminine rather than a romance (and also because Dylan sounds terrible) I’ve chosen two women performing their versions of this song. The first is a more polished, but smoky version of the song by Claire Anne Taylor. The second is a 2011 recording by then emerging female singer Sofi Marshall. complete with harmonica intro, that has a raw, vulnerable feel to it, and preserves Dylan’s narrow melody.


The full lyrics are below. I’ve capitalized the She, which was not in the original to my knowledge.

Shelter from the Storm Lyrics by Bob Dylan

‘Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
I’ll always do my best for her, on that I give my word
In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved
Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail
Poisoned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail
Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Suddenly I turned around and She was standin’ there
With silver bracelets on Her wrists and flowers in Her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, I got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on an uneventful morn
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

I’ve heard newborn babies wailin’ like a mournin’ dove
And old men with broken teeth stranded without love
Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm
In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation and they gave me a lethal dose
I offered up my innocence I got repaid with scorn
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Well, I’m livin’ in a foreign country but I’m bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor’s edge, someday I’ll make it mine
If I could only turn back the clock to when God and Her were born
Come in, She said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm