The third weekend of December -- the velvet night of the darkest time of the year -- was for me filled with light, laughter, absurdity, and magic.
That Saturday night was my first Winter Solstice Celebration in Edinburgh. As as I do pretty much every year -- even when I also do something else for Solstice, and even when I work with it by myself -- I worked with A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual. I did a community Celebration, as I often do. And this year, it was completely different from any other year, as is often the case.
I was not working with a choir this year, instead depending on... whomever was led to show up. In the past when this has been the case, I've at least known ahead of time who was coming. Not so this year. I taught two music workshops ahead of time, both of which were lovely, but had small attendance, and then spent an evening singing with my Co-Conspirator, the F/friend who was my co-planner/publicity helper, going over music. (Heh heh heh heh. She subsequently turned up on my doorstep compulsively singing "Imani" and "We've Got the Power." *happy cackle*)
It turned out we would have four singers as anchors, including me. Hmmmm.
Other volunteers are also needed to make this happen: one Narrator, four Readers, some candle volunteers, a greeter, people to set up and break down...
The week before, I had met with the person who'd agreed to be Narrator, someone from my Meeting here. I was really looking forward to hearing her narrate; she has a beautiful reading voice, she was convinced this was going to be lovely, and she was looking forward to seeing it in reality. Co-Conspirator and Beloved Wife had agreed to be Readers #1 and #3 and to help with set-up, and Beloved Wife had agreed to be the welcome person/staff the door. We still needed Readers #2 and #4 as well as candle volunteers, and were going to ask people as they arrived.
We felt pretty confident this would work.
I had no idea who would show up. I'd sent announcements to both the closest Quaker Meetings and to several local Pagan groups, had posted fliers in the businesses closest to the Hall we'd rented as well as several other crunchy-granola businesses and my library, had emailed friends, and had posted to Facebook and Witchvox, etc. -- all the usual.
It was a big experiment, and I had layer of "Eeek!" in there somewhere, but mostly I felt a kind of flexible, happy expectation: I didn't know what would happen, but it was going to be neat to find out.
The night before the Celebration, the Narrator called: she had a terrible cold and barely had any voice.
Beloved Wife had narrated before, and agreed to be Narrator instead of Reader #3.
Now I needed three Readers.
Looking at my to-do/still-need list on Saturday morning, I was somehow delighted and inclined to laugh. I was slightly stressed, and yet convinced it would be fine. Yes, we really would create this together.
And we did.
It was magical.
And it was one of the most drama-free Winter Solstice Celebrations I've ever had. (From the start of planning through to sorting everything out in the end.)
People sang. Starting with "Round and Round." They even sang in parts, they sang together, and they sang with confidence.
People helped with candles.
People took ownership of their experience.
People passed the Light, nourished it, sheltered it from drafts, encouraged it when it faltered, until the room was aglow.
People helped collect our candles and make sure they were safe while we moved around.
With Co-Conspirator's wordless encouragement, people took up percussion shakers during "This Little Light" and "Imani" so that I wasn't alone on my drum.
People sang. People moved their bodies. People sang in harmony.
They built community.
Folks stuck around for a little while after, talking, being together. And then they helped clean up -- my blurred impression is the only things that were left for us to do were the things that only we could do.
The Celebration started at 7:05, and we were out of the Hall by 9:15.
And then, we caught a cab home.