Friday, September 10, 2010

How to celebrate Winter Solstice using A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual

Speaking of other facets of my ministry: music.  And one aspect of my music ministry is that every year since 1997, I've been part of a community-wide Winter Solstice Celebration in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley area, which then eventually became a book and compact disc, and has spread to other parts of the US (and maybe other countries, who knows?). 

When Julie (my co-author) and I put together the book and cd package, one of the things we thought could be useful would be if groups of different sizes could use it to put on these same Winter Solstice Celebrations (WSCs).  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 gotten, and from the experience I've had during the time I lived in other parts of the country, 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 sharing 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 sharing readings
Groups that Julie and I have worked with, or know have done this (often working together) include:
  • a number of Unitarian Universalist congregations, either with their own choirs or in partnership with community choirs
  • community choirs, especially feminist and LGBTQ choirs
  • Pagan community groups 
  • churches
  • Quaker Meetings
  • YM/YWCAs
  • LGBTQ community centers
  • peace centers
  • private covens
  • individuals
  • families
  • community groups that aren't Pagan or religious at all, who have wanted to do some interfaith community-building around/during the winter holidays, and have wanted to escape the commercialism of the season
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?  

(I'm so glad you asked!)

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 volunteers 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 as a performance or just for yourselves. 
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 or LGBTQ choir somebody you know sings in.)  
  • Find out if your spiritual community or congregation is interested in doing this as a service, as an interfaith 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.  Julie and I are members of the UU Musicians Network, and we can put you in touch with other UU folks who have done this.  
Feel free to contact me directly for encouragement, advice, practical assistance, and spiritual support.  

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.  (She will charge you less than Amazon, plus she's an independent bookseller.)  

For lots more information, see the 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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