Burning Times

Author: Charlie Murphy

In the cool of the evening they used to gather beneath the stars, in the meadow, circled near an old oak tree.

At the times appointed by the seasons of the earth and the phases of the moon.

In the centre often stood a woman, equal to the others and respected for her worth.

One of the many we call the witches, the healers and the teachers of the wisdom of the earth.

People grew in the knowledge she gave them, herbs to heal their bodies spells to make their spirits whole.

Hear them chanting healing incantations-calling for the wise ones celebrating in dance and song.


There were those who came to power through domination, bonded in their worship of a dead man on the cross.

They sought control over all people, demanding allegiance to the church of Rome.

The pope commenced the inquisition – a war against women whose powers were feared.

In this holocaust, this century of evil, nine million European women died.

The tale is told of those who by the hundreds, holding hands together chose their deaths in the sea.

Chanting the praises of the mother goddess, a refusal of betrayal, women were dying to be free.


Now the Earth is a witch, we still burn her, stripping her down with mining and the poison of our wars.

Still to us the Earth is still a healer a teacher and a Mother a weaver of a web that keeps us all alive.

She gives us the wisdom to see through the chaos, she gives us the courage it is our will to survive.


More Info

Roy Bailey of Nottingham, England recorded this song having learned it from the writer Charlie Murphy of California. Martha McClelland of Derry heard Roy’s version and passed it on to my sister Terry Moore in Co. Kildare. She rightly thought the song would appeal to me and I began singing it in the early 90s. I have recorded it on three separate occasions finally getting it done to my own satisfaction on “Burning Times” in 2005. Like many songs and poems it does not look great on the page but comes to life when the air is blown into it. Then the beauty of the words, tho’ awful betimes, sail out and create imagery that never fails to stir me as the song gets sung. We are destroying that which sustains us, as sure as the sun has gone down this night. It feels to me like we are past the point of no return so let us sing and dance as if there were no tomorrow.