Invitation to the Sacred Fire

I invite you, friends.

Come with me to a place of celebration.

The forest stands, ancient. It is night. The tents and pavilions have been set: your bed awaits you if you want to go.

It is midnight.

And you don’t want to go there.

None of us does.

The scent of the damp earth and the old wood, stained with a little smoke, perfumes the air. All is dark save the odd candle, the odd lantern that marks the trail to the Place.

There are drums. Incredible drums, rising and falling, pounding into ecstasy, diminishing into intense, near-silent fervent rhythms. The drums call us to the torch-circled Place. The Place of magic, where burns the fire.

There are already many of us there, dancing in their bright finery, flying close about the fire or moving stately, slowly in an orbit at a distance. They are dancing, they are singing about life, about living. The drums quiet and they are listening to the night, they are moving in slow motion, they are reciting poems.

We are an old people, we are a new people; we are the same people, stronger than before

There are altars, flickering with candle flames, gems and flowers and feathers and chalices and bones. Those who dance will sometimes slow to contemplate them, to reflect on what they mean.

I have seen this, friends. It is real. You can come.

Dragon’s blood resin is on the air, and burning oak, and the jettisoned pain of those who have shed their wounds, and that flickering light in the darkness from the Sacred fire.

It is Sometime O’clock now, deep in the night, and you step away for a snack at the food altar, and beloved friends are there, and you talk about the deepest truths of yourselves, your challenges and beauties. Because that is the only currency in this place: the trading of soul truth.

We believe in a better world
We believe in justice
We believe in peace
We can heal our planet
We won’t bow down

And at that sometime o’clock, as the drums strike up again, there is fresh wood on the fire and you enter, feeling the heat lick against you, and you dance as though–as it is–no one, including yourself, is judging you. You dance to the sky, you dance to the sacred ground, you dance in love to those you love. You dance as you feel best expresses the you that is You.

Around you, magical costumes and sheer nakedness. Frenzied motion, slow marching. Deep in trance, the People of the Earth dance together.

When the sky lightens, there is a pang: must this night end? And yet it must, as all do, and when the Sun peeks golden over the horizon all are there to raise hands high, to say “good morning!” and weep at the sheer beauty of this: another day of Life, gifted to us.

Wrung out, stumbling, we hug our hugs and kiss our kisses, and head for our beds to sleep. There has never been a night like this before, nor will there be again. But we were there.

We saw, we felt, we made it. Love is the ground, love is the air we breathe.


For the people of the Fire Family community. Photo by Leo Avalon.

Authenticity

We revere the world because it is real. It verifiably exists, and it is magnificent: it sustains us, it unfolds in its myriad, fractal ways: in forests and grasslands, in oceans and deserts, in mountains and valleys and canyons, in lakes and rivers and fog and rain and snow. It feeds us, it waters us, it sustains us with warmth and so many kindnesses that, though it isn’t volitional, we might as well poetically conceptualize it as Love.

We celebrate living because we are living. We sing, we stomp, we chant, we write poetry, we make art, we drum, we play. We light the candles, we burn the fire, we lay out the sacred objects. We paint the cave. We dance around the fire.

I have just returned from a weekend with friends, a retreat for the Core group of the Spark Collective. Spark conducts monthly fire-circle-style rituals (indoors), and in most years, throws a summer festival of three consecutive nights of all-night rituals around a blazing fire. It’s a magical community of fine, creative, kind people, and I love a great many of them very much.

The Core group coordinates the activities of Spark, and serves as its legal board of directors. But mostly, we just made sure that there are leaders  for the monthly rituals, and we organize the summer festival.

The fire circle tradition is a Pagan path quite different from many others. Ours is an ecstatic path about connection with the exquisite Earth, and with one another, through movement about a leaping fire.

It sounds simple, but it is anything but that.

There is something that happens when it is four AM and you are circling about a fire with others, singing and dancing to the beat of drums. Perhaps you take a little break, exhausted, and go to the food altar to restore yourself, drink some water, eat some nuts.

And others are there, and you converse.

I will tell you, the conversations at a time like that are the truest, most genuine exchanges imaginable. People are tender and open and ready to reveal what is true about themselves, and they are ready to connect with what is true about you.

Authenticity.

So rare—so resisted—in our cultures. But so precious.

I envision a world in which we can be true with one another about the things that matter. In which we need not mask ourselves. And we can start in our own communities, with one another.

Authenticity is the greatest gift we can give to one another: the honest truth of our experience. It takes courage, and it takes trust.

If we can build trust amongst ourselves, we can find that courage.

If we can assume kindness as the core intention of one another, we can bridge the great gulf that lays between us.

So say a true thing—a fragile and vulnerable thing— to someone you love. Share the beauty within you, for it is a lens opening into a landscape of wonder and joy.

Speak your truth. Acknowledge your love.

Be authentic. It is the greatest gift you can give to another.

There is a Way

There is a way we can be with one another.

It is a way of kindness and mutual respect, of vulnerability and accountability. It is a way of playfulness and joy in the uniqueness and creativity of the other, a shared celebration.

It is a way so powerful and yet so simple, a way so pleasurable and so deeply comforting, that it brings me to tears to think of it.

And for the past three days, I have been immersed in a warm bath of it.

I have been—again—to the fire circle.

IGNITE 2017 was a gathering of some of the most incredible, complex, beautiful, creative humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I imagine that could be said about most any cohort of people, if they were able to live in the truth of their being. But this group is able to do so, and that is the difference between the ordinary and the extra-.

It’s hard work, too. Hard to be that brave and open. Hard work simply in the logistics of erecting the circle itself, providing food for fifty people, camping in hot and dusty conditions.

But the nights. Oh, the nights, until dawn comes. The drumming and dancing, the singing and poetry and stories. The heartfelt conversations outside the circle, the flickering torchlight, the fire blazing in the circle’s heart. The reunions with old friends, the finding of new ones with love shining in their eyes.

No “woo-woo”. No supernaturalism. Just wisdom and love.

Hard to believe it’s a substance-free event, isn’t it?

There is a way we can be with one another in a ritual space that brings out the very kindest and best in us. And then, learning, to carry that out into the world. To be better people, on a planet that badly needs them.

There is a way.