Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to use "A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual" for a Winter Solstice Celebration of your own

A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual book and compact discI've had a couple of conversations again recently where people seem to think the only way to use A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual is with a big group, a choir, etc., etc.

Definitely not, I promise! 

When my co-author and I put together the book and cd, one of the things we thought could be useful would be if groups of different sizes could use it to put on these Winter Solstice Celebrations.

We'd only worked with large-ish groups, with Celebrations open to the community, but what if individuals and solitaries, and isolated Covens, and small groups who weren't Covens and maybe didn't know each other well, and groups we hadn't even thought of yet, could use the book and cd to do this Winter Solstice Celebration?

From the feedback I've received, and from the experience I've had during the time I lived in different parts of the US and now in Scotland, it works as we'd hoped.

I've used (experienced!) A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual in a bunch of different ways:
  • with small and medium-sized vocal groups and volunteer narrators and readers, in Celebrations open to the community
  • with a group of drummers and the cd, narrating myself and with all of us sharing the reading
  • with 13 people who sight-sang it in an unheated gazebo and no artificial lights, passing reading around the circle
  • by myself in my living room in the dark
  • with four other adults and a preschooler in my living room during a snowstorm, with the cd, with one narrator and the rest of us sharing the readings
  •  in an open community Celebration, using the recording for some pieces, with one person leading group singing for the other pieces, about four people who'd learned songs ahead helping to anchor the singing, and one person anchoring drumming (everyone was invited to use other percussion as moved)

Who has done this?  Not an exhaustive list, but:
  • individuals
  • families
  • many Unitarian Universalist congregations, either with their own choirs or in partnership with community choirs
  • community choirs, especially feminist and LGBTQ choirs
  • Pagan community groups 
  • private covens
  • Christian churches
  • Quaker Meetings
  • YM/YWCAs
  • LGBTQ community centers
  • peace centers
  • community groups that aren't Pagan or religious at all, who have wanted to do some multi-faith community-building around/during the winter holidays, and/or have wanted to escape the commercialism of the season
  • music therapy groups
  • drumming groups

Okay, that sounds like fun!, you say.  How do I do it?  How do I use A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual for a Winter Solstice Celebration? 

Host an event on your own or with some family or friends. 
  • You can do it by yourself, using the book and cd.
  • You can do it with a small group of friends and/or family, using the cd for music, and asking people to narrate and do readings.
  • You can get together a group of friends to learn the songs, and do it at one of your homes, either for family and friends or just for yourselves, and ask people to narrate and do readings.

Partner with an organization.
  • Find out if a choir or chorus you know is interested in doing this as an alternative to a Christmas concert, as a community-building event, and/or as a fund-raiser.  (For example, a women's choir, LGBTQ choir, peace choir, or some other kind of community group you or somebody you know sings in.) 
  • Find out if your spiritual community or congregation is interested in doing this as a service, as an multi-faith community-building event, or as a fund-raiser.

If you're part of a Unitarian Universalist congregation:
  • ... and your congregation has a music program, talk to your music director or some of your musicians to see if they're interested in this as a service.  My co-author and I are members of the UU Musicians Network, and we can put you in touch with other UU folks who have done this. 
  • ... and you have a CUUPS group (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans), ask them if they're interested in doing this. 

Start your own singing group. 
  • You can do this with a group of friends, or cast a wider net in your community.  

For some examples, see the Past Locations pages:

Feel free to contact me directly for encouragement, advice, practical assistance, and spiritual support. You can also join our Facebook group

We have a Facebook group for anyone who's been part of A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual in any way -- Been to a Celebration or a workshop, participated as a singer, reader, congregation, behind-the-scenes organizer, etc. -- or is interested in hosting it.

There are lots of practical suggestions in the second half of the book.  If you need to order books and cds for your group, please contact the publisher:

For lots more information, see the main Winter Solstice page at my website:

But most of all, have fun!  Enjoy the music, sing along, take time for the silence, and appreciate both the gifts of the sacred Darkness and the rebirth of the Light.

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