Re-Thinking The Beatles

There really is a story for everyone about the Fab Four.  There are 1,001 books on all things Beatles’ related.  The musical side, the friendship angle, the ex-bandmate angle, the spiritual stuff, etc.   This article examines the spiritual stuff, and while most of this is not entirely new, it is enlightening, and gives us a lot to think about in terms of how The Beatles effect us as spiritual people. 

The Beatles really did spark a revolution in human consciousness, and this article reminds us of that.

Thanks to Mrs. Marples and her Beatles’ blog for sending the link.

Here’s what we’ve read.

A great spiritual confusion arrived during the 1960s and in many ways it came most powerfully through music — especially rock music, which helped cause monumental societal, moral, and even spiritual change.

In a way that often seems hard to peg, a revolution occurred. There was suddenly long hair. There were t-shirts. There were jeans. There was liberation — from everything conventional, and from tradition. It was the onset of anti-traditionalism. There was freedom to dress any way. There was freedom to flee religion. There was freedom to use drugs (which replaced the spiritual “high”). There was “free” sex. There were often good intentions spurred by excesses in society but there was also the spirit of rebellion during an intriguing and in many ways dark period that was to deeply alter the moral landscape.

None of this is to impugn the goodness of those who enjoyed such music, nor all of those who produced it. Like most things in life, it was a “mixed bag.” Dark was with light.

But dark much of it was, if we want to be honest about it. What was it about the music? How did it have such a hold? Why was it that there was such an “explosion” of rock-and-rollers during that decadeThe best place to look, it would seem, is the most prominent group of that era, and here indeed are keys to the mysterious forces at work (and still in play) in our culture — as well as insights into the spiritual struggles that beset not only musicians, but all of us as individuals.

The Gospel According to the Beatles — which carefully sets forth what many of us (I include myself as a former Beatle fan) suspected: at the base of the music was often an occult or at least an agnostic force that rose from music — some of it, at least — like a genie from a bottle, the cork for which was lost long ago, as the genie, in other guises, still roams.

They were four young men with a traditional Christian background who like so many of us strayed from it and brought the culture with them as those forces — which we can identify as “magical” (recall the hysteria, the screaming, the raucous concert halls, the fainting women) — took hold in a monumental way.

In 1967 the film historian Gene Youngblood argued that, ‘The allure, the excitement, the glory of Beatle music is the suspicion that the Beatles might just succeed where magicians of the past have failed,'” points out the author, Steve Turner. “Two years later rock critic Dave Marsh, writing in the pages of the rock monthly Creem, concluded that everything before the Beatles now seemed indistinct and unimportant to him. I Want to Hold Your Hand may not seem significant, but to people my age that is a line of demarcation between history and life as we know it.’ The poet Allen Ginsberg concluded in 1984: ‘The Beatles changed American consciousness.'”

That they did. But in point of fact they were part of a larger spirit that had been moving for years (starting at least as far back as “beatniks,” and probably back to the Roaring Twenties), but one that reached a crescendo in the Sixties — and largely through the Beatles, who caused an hysteria that was greater even than that spawned by Elvis Presley and explainable only when one entered the realm of the spiritual.

It was as though the culture was involved in a giant ritual in which the Beatles got themselves stirred up with drugs and music and then reported back what they had seen and experienced,” writes Turner, a secular biographer. “They were descending to the lower world on behalf of their public.

The famed quotes from a song called Strawberry Fields: “Let me take you down…”

Was there love? There was love. More than the vast majority of groups, the Beatles used the word “love.” This tended to the good. There was a goodness in many of their lyrics.

But too often, it is now clear, the power behind it, says Turner, was the power of shamanism. “Although there were no precedents in Western pop music for musicians as spiritual leaders, there were in other cultures. The most pertinent was the tradition of the shaman in areas such as Africa, South America, and Siberia. The shaman was trained to get into an ecstatic state during a ritual, usually driven by music and drugs, and be taken into the spirit world to deal with the spirits on behalf of the tribe.”

They were hardly alone. Once a gospel singer, Elvis had a deep interest in the occult, and many bands directly spoke of New Age themes and “black magic” women. The Rolling Stones were far more direct, with albums like “Goat’s Head Soup” (a symbol in satanism) and songs like Monkey Man (which all but apologized for being “too satanic”).

There have been reports of witches who actually conducted rituals at recording studios, or dedicated songs to the devil.

Indeed, the Beatles were considered too soft for many who followed music of the era — their lilting and brilliant melodies including classics that orchestras now play: Hey Jude, Yesterday, and Let it Be. More than most bands, they preached what they thought was right.

But they were confused as so many of us were confused and there was a dark underside that helps explain both the hysteria and the fruits of the entire Sixties. Confusion is often the first sign of the devil, and rebellion, says Scripture, is as “witchcraft.”

Raised Christian, two of them with backgrounds that involved Catholicism (Paul and George, born to Catholics who married Protestant agnostics), the Beatles showed the danger of seeking spirituality away from the safety of that tradition.

“They were skeptical and even dismissive of the Church, yet many of their core beliefs — love, peace, hope, truth, freedom, honesty, transcendence — were, in their case, secularized versions of Christian teachings,” notes Turner.

It was John Lennon who came out with the enormously controversial comment that the Beatles were “more popular than Christ” — and while he later backtracked from that, he also believed that “we’re all Jesus and we’re all God. Jesus wasn’t God come down on earth any more than anybody else was. He was just a better example of a good guy.”

Such demonstrated the erratic course of Lennon, who alternated between atheism or partial belief and a mix of Christianity with Eastern and finally outright occult practices — the latter his leaning at the time of his death (which also had a strong occult connection; more on this later). The musician’s great uncle studied to be a priest, but by the time Lennon was born, Catholicism had left his family line and if there was an influence it was Anglican and Methodist.

Some saw parallels between their effect on crowds and shamanistic ritual or the celebrants at a Pentecostal church “overcome by the Spirit.”

I’d stay with the shamanism. The parallel to Pentecostals is not fair to worshippers. Shamans often used hemp with music — marijuana — and for many, the Beatles would famously symbolize the use of drugs.

Click below to read the rest of the story…
Source: Spero

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One Response

  1. And interesting follow-up to this article can be found at http://www.spiritdaily.com/beatles2.htm. It deals more with the death of John Lennon.

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