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.

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