What Is Virtual Chant Circle ?!?!?

We’re all connected. We might seem like separate individual creatures – and, ok, on one level, we are – but on another level, we are all part of one beingness, one planetary entity, one shared consciousness. And there’s a strength and a power in this connection that has barely begun to be tapped into.

Virtual Chant Circle is an experiment in using song to feel into this connectedness that we share.

This certainly not an original concept; scientists and mystics alike have drawn on the physical properties of musical harmonics to describe the actual WAYS in which we are interconnected with all of existence. I just thought, Hey, let’s use the practice of singing and the medium of the internet to see if we can perceive ourselves as being connected, heart to heart, mind to mind, soul to soul, essence to essence.

So I started Friday Morning Virtual Chant Circle the day after Thanksgiving, 2018. The concept is super simple: I go on Facebook Live and share one easy to learn, uplifting song, and I encourage people to sing along from wherever and whenever they might be tuning in – and I also encourage folks, as they’re doing this practice, to imagine they’re connected to every other person who’s participating via a network of light.

The whole thing takes between 5 and 10 minutes, and people can join in “live” or do it whenever it’s convenient for them. But there are a lot of benefits that I’m at least hoping to tap into with this experiment:

  1. Like I mentioned, the original impulse was and is to offer an opportunity for people to experience their interconnectedness across distance and time.
  2. Since the chants are easy to sing and uplifting in message, this practice can give participants a nice little energy boost for their Friday – when a lot of us may be flagging!
  3. Why are chant circles almost always at night? Oh yeah, ’cause that’s when we’re off work. But not everyone is an evening person, and many who would enjoy chanting just aren’t that keen on going to evening activities on work or school nights. So this is my chant outreach to morning people 😉
  4. It’s also designed to be accessible and non-intimidating for people who do NOT see themselves ever going to a chant circle “IRL” – whether because of shyness around singing in public, or discomfort with the spiritual aspects of many chant circles, or simply lack of desire to invest hours in an activity they haven’t tried before and don’t know if they will like. This is a “toe in the water” type of practice.
  5. I’m a big believer in putting out into the world what we want more of in the world – and especially of using our media platforms to spread positive messages and help awaken the awareness of oneness. And the more people add their energy to such messages, the more impact they can have.

Because of the diversity of backgrounds among people joining in, I try to choose chants that are really easy to pick up quickly. In introducing them, I try to ground each one in a relatable context, such as seasonal changes, major events or holidays, or – especially – connecting to our own inner wisdom, our own inner spark of the divine. I encourage people to express themselves with harmonies, alternative melodies, drumming, moving, resting – whatever feels right and good in your body and heart.

Do these chants mention God? Yes. Sometimes. Different chants from different traditions use different names for the Divine. However, the primary purpose of the practice isn’t to worship any particular deity (though of course you can if you want to); it’s more about using phrases that have been held sacred by various groups throughout history to feel our connection to the Divine in ourselves and in each other. The rest, as they say, is icing.

Where do the chants come from? All over. I have spent many years studying multiple chant traditions and collecting melodies (and maybe composing a few of my own). I draw on bits and pieces of songs from womyn’s circles, Neo-Pagan circles, contemporary Christian praise songs, gospel hymns, kirtan, Buddhist mantra, Sufi zikr, Jewish songs, children’s songs, and songs from the Dances of Universal Peace… and whatever melodies cross my path that inspire me to share.

Want to join in? Yay!!!

The exact time varies as I’m sometimes traveling or have other schedule bumps (like not being a morning person myself, lol) but it’s usually about 8:30 am Mountain Time. If you want to join in “live live,” friend me or follow me on Facebook and you should get a notification when a live video is starting. (Warning, if you do this, you’ll see other posts about social justice sometimes, but I guess you know this if you read my blog.) Or, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and you’ll get an email when I add a new video, or you can just go there and find the Virtual Chant Circle playlist. (You’ll also see an archive of all the previous chant videos here!)

And if you do decide to join in, and if you like it, it’s lovely if you share the videos so that more people can join the circle and we can create an even bigger energetic impact!

So, to make a long story short, here’s the original announcement:

VIRTUAL CHANT CIRCLE!!! Friday mornings, Facebook Live, one simple and uplifting song that we can sing together from anywhere in the world. Sharing a song connects our hearts across the distances, strengthens our spirits for the work that each of us is here to do, and fills the spaces between us with light. We don’t even have to be chanting at the same time (though it’s fun when we’re there together and can “see” each other in the comments!). You can listen ANY time throughout the day and add the energy of your voice to what I visualize as a beautiful sparkling spiderweb made of light, reaching around the world. (And chanting feels so good, too…) Maybe you join in? 🙂

Something about America

It’s crazy, like
this country my country
that I am a part of, that is a part of me

I see my small personal dysfunction
in your big wide panic
I see your desperation to live up
to what you say about yourself
in the pages of my own journal
And that fear
of being suddenly without comfort
lives in a closet
I don’t like to open
but I know
is down there

So I can’t help but feel
your wound

Your shadow is my shadow
I carry a scrap of that
disowned dark
here in my own heart

For you after all are nothing
but my heart and theirs and theirs and theirs
You are nothing
but us

Each of us in all our complexity
each of us ourselves and also you
each of us ourselves
and somehow one

And I
with my thimble
of memory
becoming an ocean
as I sip
I can’t
look out
on those waves
and say
I don’t see
the water

American flag over liquor store

Learning to Pray

I feel like a dork sometimes, admitting the things I don’t know how to do.  Like, for example, praying.  I am learning to pray.  Last night I went to Bible study at my church for the first time (the first time I have been to a Bible study since college) because I was drawn to the topic — “Purpose, Power and Practice of Prayer.”  It was described as being for anyone who wants to improve and deepen their prayer life in any way.  When I saw that, I thought, Cool.  That’s me.  I want to improve and deepen my communication with Spirit.

Last night’s study was a beginner’s lesson in praying, addressing common fears and hangups that tend to block people’s growth and risk-taking in that area (which I never would have even thought about).  The study leader (the pastor of the church) talked a lot about the ways that some people make prayer out to be very difficult, tricky, or complicated, with specific skills required for the prayer to count, and he emphasized instead simplicity and the need to find the right way for you personally to talk to and with God.  I would say that over the past few months I’ve been becoming more comfortable talking to God in a heartfelt, sincere, and conversational way, spontaneously, with words coming from my heart. 

Something I have not really understood, though, is how to pray in a group, as they do in the church I go to — what is the attitude, the intention one should have, how do I align myself with the person who is praying aloud?  Do I silently repeat the words they say, in my head?  Do I mentally and with my heart respond, “Yes, yes, yes, yes…”?  Sometimes I felt like I was pretty much saying to God, “What she said,” and I felt like I just wasn’t getting it.  I wasn’t feeling satisfied with the experience I was having, wasn’t feeling linked up.

Tonight, after choir practice ended (with closing prayer), I was pondering this question and something came into my mind which helped me to connect with the practice.  When praying as part of a group, being led in prayer, the person can join with the circle — truly become part of it.  Become no longer the individual self.  Then the circle or the gathering becomes as one body, praying with the voice of the person leading as the voice of the body itself.  It came to me that the more I can feel the reality of being part of one body, united on a deep level in the act of prayer, the more I (or anyone) can touch the edge of the experience of the elimination of the illusion of separate selves.  It is an opportunity to communicate with God as a larger, many- souled being.  That kind of blew my mind when I stopped to think about it — the idea of a many-souled being, and being a part of that.

So that’s the way I found in to group prayer, and it resonated with me as a way to express myself in prayer with God in a way that is right for me.  I offer it in case it resonates with anyone else in a helpful way — just a different take that turned my head as it was passing through! 

Blessings and love to all, and may you all have an ever-deepening and ever-evolving relationship with Spirit!


Heartland Soul

As all the trees together are one forest ... (This is at Split Rock in MN)