The Mystics in the Music of Loreena McKennitt

Loreena Mckennitt is a singer, songwriter, and musician of works that explore the depth of the human journey. The whole of her music provides the feeling, meaning, and message of a unified mystical transformation and spiritual creativity. She seamlessly interweaves the desire for the transcendent within our immanent spiritual life in the world. While Loreena McKennitt’s music is a wonderful mix of different musical, literary, and spiritual traditions, today I will focus on an element in her music that I am the most familiar–the influence of the Christian mystics.

On each of Loreena’s last three albums, is a song that communicates the heart of the mystic journey. First, from “The Mask and the Mirror” is “The Dark Night of the Soul.” The lyrics from the song are from John of the Cross’ poem “The Dark Night.” The music beautifully captures the depths of one of humanity’s greatest mystical poets in a way that is very harmonious to the human journey as spirit, soul, and body in the earthly world.

In her 1997 album, “The Book of Secrets”, she includes the song “Dante’s Prayer” inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” She captures the element of sadness that is often present within earthly struggles along with the soul’s deepest yearnings of hope and love. In her most recent album, “An Ancient Muse”, “The Never Ending Journey” again conveys the heart and soul of the mystic journey. Here, she includes the influences of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila as she relates the universal mystic vision from the influences of mystics across many spiritual traditions.

I find in both Loreena McKennitt’s music and lyrics an expression of the new vision of mystical transformation and spiritual creativity. As we build the landscape of this vision through thought, daily life experience, self-observation, meditative awareness, relational intimacy, creativity, and artistic expression, Loreena’s gift is an inspiring example of the vision in the musical arts.

Guidance from the Heart

The only place we find truth, love, and creativity is from within our interior. The place within is the human heart where we open to the Spirit. The prophet Jeremiah said that God has written his truth within the heart and Jesus teaches that the kingdom of God is within.

Often in a fear based consciousness and culture, we take a misguided approach that tells us that our true self can come through the externals of the world or from what others think. In reality, we can only express our unique being that is the true self from the Spirit in our heart. From the heart, we express our love and creativity through the mind and body in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

As we heal and gain the trust to listen to our heart, our soul’s desire for self-giving love expresses itself in relationships, creativity, and work. It all emanates from within and moves outward. The truth of the soul can never begin outside and move inside. A fear based culture always seeks to control from the outside. Attempts to control emerge from fear of lack, loss, or rejection, and never allow the inner freedom to grow. The true wealth of contribution flows through the abundance of love from within, not through fear imposed from without. Love motivates in joy and gratitude. Fear only establishes underlying resentment and restriction. The resulting anxiety stifles peace, enthusiasm, and creativity. When we realize that we find love and creativity solely within the heart, our desire to share in community and create for others continually expands.

A New Vision of Transformation in the World

The quest of this blog will be to express a new way of living through the transforming self in the world. I envision authentic transformation to the true self of love in seamless harmony with our deepest desires to create infinite potential. The joy of loving relationships, play, and unlimited creativity is our gift as human beings. Our goal as we journey is to create the clarity of this vision.

We will accomplish this in two ways–1. Developing continual ways of transforming practice that move us beyond the negative inertia of fear and into the heart, and 2. Revealing this way of the mystic life as the normal human life path on earth. My hope is to convey the true challenges of transforming from our ego personality to the true self of love and creativity while illuminating a joyful pathway in the world. The vision extends us beyond the conditioning of a fear based consciousness and culture.

I will use observations, experiences, and insights to help bring the inner vision into a concrete reality. In doing so, I will draw upon books, films, entertainment, daily experiences, human relationships, and the creativity of work. While I will attempt to limit theory and philosophy, at times I will provide insights of mystics, philosophers, and scientists. Our effort here will be to see the vision in a more practical, simple, and tension free way. You can find greater insights into my model of transformation, multidimensional anthropology, and the integration of the spiritual traditions and the sciences in my website and books.

The intention of the blog is to help bring the new vision into focus. As this occurs, transcendent union and earthly joys will no longer be understood as an “either/or” choice, but as a “both/and” experience. The unity of mystical transformation and spiritual creativity is our true being in divine union. As we proceed along the journey, the vision will emerge.