August 23, 2011

Indigenous singing circle

Today I share a fascinating indigenous ritual that I once read and unfortunately I cannot remember where it happens. Do tell me if you know where the singing circle comes from.

In this tribe, people get together and make a big circle in the middle of their village when they have their significant moments. Nothing new, so far.

When a child is born they place this person in the middle of circle and create a unique welcome song for this person that reflects the joy of having a new group member. When it is this person’s birthday, the person goes to the middle and everybody sings it. This ritual is repeated when the person goes through passage rituals, including adulthood and marriage. The unique song is also sung when the person dies and after that to frequently remember this loved person.

But the part that struck me the most was that when this person did something very wrong, they didn’t expel the person from the tribe.  They would put the person in the middle of the circle and sing their individual song. So, discipline would be fostered through group acceptance.

I have no data on how effective it was, but if it lasted long enough to become a tradition, it must have worked somehow to a certain degree. This singing circle method puts us to think on how social institutions usually address troubled children, teens, and adults with anger and repression, making their way back to society much more difficult. This is certainly not an easy them to handle, but this indigenous singing circle is something to have in mind.

Hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did when I first learned about it.

A big hug,


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