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

Inadvertently Pagan pop song #1 – Love Can Move Mountains

Mount Aetna, site of the workshop of the God Hēphaistos By BenAveling - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3350813
Mount Aetna, site of the workshop of the God Hēphaistos
By BenAveling – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3350813

One of the nice things about being Pagan is that the forces of life – earth, air, fire, water are held sacred by many people, which means that we can relate spiritually to much of popular culture, particularly music.

As a devotee of the Goddess of Love, many love songs have a double meaning to me. Songs that might seem over the top when sung to or about an actual person, make perfect sense when framed as coming to or from the Goddess of love.

Forge of Vulcan by Antoine Wiertz, 19th century. Public domain.
Forge of Vulcan by Antoine Wiertz, 19th century. Public domain.

I was dancing with some women last night and a song came on called ‘Love can move mountains”. It occurred to me that it works perfectly as a hymn to the power of Aprhodite. The power of love is such that it can transform anything. Aphrodite’s association with her husband Hephaistos, who lives under mount Vesuvious, adds another layer of meaning to the song. While we may at times lose faith in a particular love or experience of love, we cannot lost faith in Love herself.

Here’s the   text of the lyrics, written by Diane Warren and first recorded by Canadian vocalist Celine Dion in 1992

You can listen to her version here.  For a version that is, well, a little less Celine Dion, you can listen to this version sung by the young Sara Niemietz (or click on the album at right to see, stream or buy the album)

Lyrics to Love Can Move Mountains by Diane Warren

Faith
Trust
Love (love)
(Love can)
Love can move mountains
There ain’t a dream
That don’t have the chance to come true now
It just takes a little faith, baby
Anything that we want to do we can do now
There ain’t nothing in our way, baby
Nothing our love couldn’t rise above
We can get through the night
We can get through the light
Long as we got our love to light the way
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
With a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in love
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, love can
Love can move mountains
Oh yeah, baby
Oceans deep and mountains high
They can’t stop us
Because love is on our side, baby
We can reach the heavens and touch the sky
Just believe it, believe in you and i, baby
If we got love that is strong enough
We can do anything, we’d get through anything
‘Cause through it all, love will always find a way
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Just a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in love
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, baby, love can
Love can move mountains
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
(You need love)
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
Oh yeah
You believe in me
I believe in you
If we believe in each other
Nothing we can’t do
If we got love that is strong enough
Then we’ll find a way
Just a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, love can
Love can move mountains
Trust love, love can, love can move mountains (you need love baby)
Trust love, love can, love can move mountains (you got to feel it baby)
Love can, love can move mountains
Love (trust love, love can move mountains)
If you believe in me and I believe in you (trust love, love can move mountains)
We can believe in love, baby
Love will find a way (trust love, love can move mountains)
Love will find a way, baby
We’ll believe in each other (trust love, love can move mountains)
Oh, baby
Believe in love (trust love, love can move mountains)
Love can move mountains
Believe if you’re feeling love
Love
You got to believe it baby
You gotta, you gotta, you gotta
You gotta, you gotta, you gotta baby