When the Moon Becomes Round: Songs for the Summer Solstice

In Houston, June 21 comes and goes with very little fanfare. While technically it's the first day of summer, anyone can tell you summer around here started about two months ago. Nonetheless, it seems like a shame to leave all the celebrating to the pagans; why, they don't even have a single stadium church to their name.

Even if you're a day or two late (like we are... long weekend), it still might be nice to drag the barbeque grill into the shade of one of Houston's gigantic white crosses and cook up some Salem pork chops - normal pork chops except the meat is tied to a stake - and give thanks that the longest day of the year only comes once a year. And you can dance to these tunes until the heat exhaustion kicks in.

Queens of the Stone Age, "Burn the Witch": From the title, this may seem like a song for the Crusaders, but the video tells a different story. The witches, zombies and monsters emerge victorious over their religious persecutors, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and Queens' Josh Homme start fires with their red-hot guitar licks and everybody learns that if you really think someone has dangerous, evil magic powers, you'd probably be better off leaving them the hell alone.

Tori Amos, "Suede": "Everybody knows you can conjure anything by the light of the moon," purrs Tori in her darkly sexy paean to pagans. Rocks Off doesn't know if she's specifically talking about a rain dance, but we might want to start getting on that, because...damn.

Liars, "There's Always Room on the Broom": From Liars comes this noisy, droning celebration of dark rituals and... summer school? (By the way, Rocks Off does not approve of any ritual involving the injury and/or death of any non-tasty animals. What is it with these rituals and cats, anyway?) As a less adorable alternative, Rocks Off would suggest crawfish or shrimp. You can sacrifice way more of them, and then cook up a post-ritual étouffée.

Spike Jones, "That Old Black Magic": Of course, magic is not always about eye of newt and dragon's scales. In fact, due to the ages-old general misunderstanding of Wicca and its arts, it was probably never about either of those things. Nonetheless, anyone who has ever been in love can't be blamed for suspecting some kind of hex. It's the sort of thing that sometimes takes Spike Jones and some of the trippier Disney works to make palatable.

The Pretenders, "Hymn to Her": Containing clear references to Wiccan figures and themes - the mother, the maiden and the crone - this song is possibly the first example of an actual Pagan hymn. It has all of the same faith and devotion as those songs on that station God listens to, but without the irritating DJ patter and commercials for right-wing politicians.

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John Seaborn Gray