Singing: Discovering the Magic of Music

DSC03320Music in ritual–and in specific, singing–is probably the most potent magic I know. I’m sitting here trying to get all the final prep done for Pantheacon, as I leave in just a few hours. Part of my prep for any event is warming my voice up because I know how crucial it is to be able to have a strong voice to anchor the chanting. And when I travel and teach, I’m singing for days as I lead workshops and rituals, so I need that prep.

I had to rediscover music as an adult, and now it’s one of my great joys. In grade school I had a hard time in music class singing the right notes. I didn’t understand until a lot later that it was partly because of my allergies, but also, my voice was too deep to sing the “girl” parts. I couldn’t sing the high notes so I’d sing off key, and I was admonished to just sing quietly, or just given that “look” that told me I didn’t sound good but they weren’t going to say anything.

I never wanted to take band classes later because I was so afraid of sucking at it because of that experience, though I did have a keyboard at home and I’d figure out the notes for songs I liked. Years later I tried to teach myself how to mix techno, and that went well till I set a stereo on fire…I guess I needed more sound engineering theory. :p
It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I got involved with the Reclaiming tradition that I started singing again. I was told it was ok to sing the wrong notes. After a while, I learned that I could, indeed, sing the correct notes. After a few years, I also learned that most women tend to start chants at a higher pitch than I can follow, so I learned to sing low harmony.
Now, years later, here I am leading chants in rituals getting groups to sing, and teaching workshops on chanting, and I love it.
I’m teaching workshops on chanting at both Pantheacon and Convocation. And many other traditions also have been weaving in more of the power of music over the years. A Pantheacon attendee a year or so ago mentioned to me that they were fascinated to see some complicated musical techniques being used (or taught) that year, and that seemed to be something new but they commented on how effective it was.
This year, I was hoping to have a CD of chants and some trance journeys recorded. It’s not professional level recording work, but it’s at least decent recordings to get things out there as a resource. One thing people always ask me is, “Where can I find the chants you sing?” and, many of them you can’t.
I don’t quite have that done, but I’m committing to finishing it up when I return home from Pantheacon and Convocation.
People ask me all the time about ritual technique and specifically how to make ritual more potent. One answer is simple, it’s just not easy–learn to sing. Learn to drum, learn a simple instrument. Get a singing bowl or a shruti box and learn to use them well. But singing you can take anywhere, singing you don’t need an external tool for.
It’s not going to be quick. Learning to sing took me years, but it’s a big factor in what makes rituals go deeper, more intense. It’s worth putting in the time. Whenever a Pagan talks about ancient mysteries from our lost ancestors and all the druid lore that was never written down, trust me when I say this: our ancestors were singing. Our ancestors were using song and chant and drumming to effect a trance state. The Celtic poets were using the power of word and song to craft magic.
And you, too, can bring this magic.

Filed under: Personal Growth, Ritual Tagged: convocation, pantheacon, ritual, singing

Pantheacon and ConVocation Schedule

AWLogoIconFor those of you attending Pantheacon in San Jose, or Convocation in Detroit, these are the places you are likely to find me. I have my specific workshops, rituals, and book signings that I’m offering in bold, and in italic I’ve highlighted any workshops that are focused on a project I’m involved in, such as a book launch for an anthology.

For those of you who have attended events like this, or are thinking about it, I thought I’d also mention some of how I list things on my schedule. Events like this get overwhelming and I’ve found it helps to not only schedule my time teaching or attending workshops, but to also specifically schedule social time with people I want to meet with. I also plan ahead for times I’m likely to be too tired to attend a workshop or ritual; I put question marks by these items. I work to carve out “blank” places in my schedule so I know when I might have availability to schedule a lunch/dinner/talk with someone.



6-9pm Registration
3 pm Early Bird Social
7–9 pm  All Pagan and Polytheist Meet and Greet
4pm-7pm ADF Suite
9pm Early Bird Evening Gathering


12:30 PM Opening Ritual
–Drop off books in Vendor Room
1:30 PM Connecting to the Soul’s Wisdom with Hypnosis (Brenda Titus)
3:30 The Outer Circle: Marginalization Within Paganism
5:00 Dinner with Patheos Pagan crew
7:00 Finding Your Personal Magic
9:00 Possessing the Dark, the Art of Choreolalia Ritualistic trance dance?
9:00 pm (til later) Gina Pond/Heretics @ suite


9:00 am The Dark Side of Druidry
11:00 am Black Lives Matter: Restorative Justice for Healing and Change
12:30 pm recording podcast
1:30 pm Godless Bless: A Panel on Atheism/Agnosticism in Paganism
3:30 pm Chanting, Trancing, and Story: Ritual Techniques that Work
5:30 pm Book Signing in vendor area
7:00 PM Gender Diverse Pagans: Inclusivity or Hospitality
9:00 PM
11:00 Crossroads of Memory: A Trance Dance Ritual?
Facets of Freya: A Devotional Ritual in Honor of Freya?
12:15 Drum Jam?


8:00 Voice warm up
9:00 Sacred Sound: Advanced Chanting for Rituals
11:00am – 1:00pm – Trance Roundtable (ADF Suite)
1:30 pm Pagan Consent Culture (Christine Hoff Kraemer in the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel suite)
3:30 pm Radical Inclusion for Pagans
3:30 pm Bardic Magic by John Beckett (ADF Suite)
5:00 pm
7:00 pm Creating Culture of Consent: Sacred Sexuality
9:00 pm Matronae Oracular Devotional: Dancing at the Well?
11:00 pm Mother of the New Time (Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe)?


9:00 From the Holy Mountain to the Sacred Cave: Journey of Descent
–or, prep for Sacred Fire ritual
11:00 Sacred Fire: Keepers of the Flame
12:30 pm Closing Ritual




3pm-7pm Setup art in art show
7:00 pm Opening Ritual?
8:00 pm Tentative: Pre-conference discussion/workshop for small group, TBA
10:30 pm Thursday Night Drumming?


9:30 am Climbing the Tree of Life
11:30 am Navigating the Pagan Blogosphere (Patheos crew)
1:00 pm
4:00 Body Stress Ecstatic Practices
5:30 Dinner with ____
10:00 Hel Invocation
Friday Night Drumming?


8:30 Voice Warm up
9:30 am Sacred Sound: Dynamic Chanting for Ritual
11:30 am The Star and the Grail: Lighting our Way on the Hero’s Journey
2:00 pm The Writer’s Craft?
4:00 pm Sex Magic in the Northern Tradition
7:00 pm Summoning the Swan Maidens: An Exploration of Inspiration and Sensuality
9:30 Drumming?


9:30am Rebirth: Pagan Leadership, Ethics, and Community
12:00 pm Encountering the Runes
1:30 Art Show Takedown

Filed under: Pagan Community Tagged: convocation, Pagan, pagan conferences, pantheacon, workshops

Warding and Safety in Ritual: Video

At Pantheacon, I was invited to be part of a panel on warding and ritual safety. I blogged about my thoughts on the topic, but here’s the video of the panel discussion at Pantheacon. It includes everything except the Q&A at the end. So…feel free to ask questions here if you like :)

Filed under: Ritual Tagged: facilitation, Pagan, Paganism, pantheacon, ritual, ritualist, safety, warding