What’s been going on


From left to right: (front) initiates Justin Reid and Gearoid Rafferty; (back) initiation support team Paul Varecha, David Wiley, Roger Menadue, Don McVay, Gary Weidner, Dan Sprinkles and Amel Kadic

Since our solstice (July) edition many exciting things have happened. In August deep in the heart of Mexico, two of our community members — Justin Reid and Gearoid Rafferty — undertook the Young Men’s Initiation. This initiation is a very special Lifeways offering provided by the Sacred Fire Community, and young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 are invited to apply. As Jessica De la O mentions in her article on the Women’s Initiation below, traditional ritual initiation of young adults is critical to bringing forth mature adults connected to the living world around us and aware of their purpose in life, which is our best offering to future generations.


New marakame initiates Randy Whitlock and Linda Felch (sides), with Huichol elder Eliot Cowan (front), and community member Andi Tilmann (back)

And just a few weeks ago, the Huichol Medicine Path group initiated two new marakateLinda Felch and Randy Whitlock. This was the first marakame initiation to be held at the tuki we built and empowered at Casa Xiuhtecuhtli, the ritual center for the Huichol and Nahua medicine groups in Tepoztlán, México.

Please join us in welcoming these initiates back to our communities!

News from our sister organizations

The Blue Deer Center is moving forward with exciting new plans to form the College of Plant Spirit Medicine. This will help to ensure the enduring continuity of the precious medicine rediscovered by its founder and Huichol elder Eliot Cowan. This is a very large undertaking and will be a major step forward in the development of the Blue Deer Center as a Home for Ancient Wisdom.

The Sacred Fire Foundation has launched their 7 for 7 campaign, asking people to invest $7 — the cost of one latte and muffin, or one movie night — each month to help ensure the enduring continuity of indigenous spiritual wisdom for another 7 generations.

Elders Kahontakwas Diane Longboat (Mohawk) and Wanbdi Wakita (Dakota)

The Foundation just held a very successful Voices of Wisdom program in Toronto, the first of its kind to be held in Canada. Elders Kahontakwas Diane Longboat (Mohawk) and Wanbdi Wakita sat in circle with 59 participants. The Foundation is planning several more Voices of Wisdom programs in 2017. These events offer an opportunity to sit around the fire and learn from elders of original traditions. The plan is to schedule them in various regions of North America to make the experience available to as many community members as possible.

Prosperity and Gratitude

It is with great excitement and gratitude that we are seeing the beautiful ritual planting and growing of corn with our prayers for prosperity bearing fruit in many ways.  Our Sacred Fire volunteer staff, along with many of you, work tirelessly to improve and grow the programs and projects that spread the warmth of Fire to communities across the world.   It has become clear that as we strengthen our offerings, expansion of all that we do is the next step.   Just as we completed our August business meetings (see below) laying out plans for this expansion, an anonymous gift of $100,000.00 was made to help us in our endeavors.  We shout out our joy and gratitude for this gift of fuel for the Fire!

What’s coming up

We have some exciting events and programs in the works. As this newsletter goes to press, we just finished an Ukalai Women’s Gathering in Carrollton, Georgia. Mark your calendars! In 2017, we look forward to the historic event of the first Grandfather Fire in Ireland on June 10, and the second Ukalái Men’s Gathering in Scotland April 20-24. We’ll also be holding an Ukalái Men’s Gathering in Moab, Utah, March 9-13. Other events are in the planning stage. As of this writing, we have two Grandfather Fires scheduled in California: March 18 in Santa Monica and March 25 at Mount Tamalpaís, and the Weather Workers host a Grandfather Fire in Tepoztlán, Mexico at the end of April, to which they invite all community members.

We are planning several events for Firekeepers. At the end of this year we will be initiating an international group into the role of Firekeepers, including folks from Wales, Ireland, Australia, and the United States.  Early in 2017, we plan to hold a Women’s Fire Facilitation Training in Asheville, North Carolina. In March there will be a Dancing with Emotions program for Firekeepers accompanied by a Moving with Emotions workshop open to the public in Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia. On June 6-9, we’ll be holding a Firekeeper Retreat in Ireland preceding the Grandfather Fire, and we’re looking at dates in late June or early July to hold a Dancing with Emotions training for Firekeepers and Firekeeper Retreat in Carrollton, Georgia.

Please mark your calendars, watch your inbox for Hot News updates, and check the Sacred Fire Community website for more information and registration soon.

News from the Summer “Business Meetings”

The Sacred Fire Community was delighted to invite some new and old faces to our business meetings in August. For the past two years, our meetings have included only the Leadership Guidance Group and the Community Service Team (the board and the directors of the departments). This allowed us to adapt to our new structure and nonprofit status, and to focus our work on developing critical systems of support for our two main areas — Firekeeping and Lifeways. So it was really exciting to expand our ranks!

Our meetings saw some shifts in staff. Jeff Bartlett has stepped down from the many support positions he has held for the organization to take a prominent (and demanding!) role in the Blue Deer Center’s Plant Spirit Medicine College project. Please join me in offering him immense gratitude for the tireless work he has offered the organization. One of four executive directors when I came on board, Jeff has been the mainstay of the organization’s operations, playing an essential role managing Grandfather Fires and publicity.

Everyone knows that Dave Wiley (the younger) really loves beer, so much so that he just accepted a job working for Anheuser Busch’s craft brews division. That’s great news for him, but bad news for us, since demands of his new job have left him with no time to head the Outreach department. Dave will continue as a consultant to help us understand our audiences as we reach further and further into our surrounding culture.

For the time being, I will add to my responsibilities those of Director of Outreach. Having spent most of my life working with communications, this is a welcome opportunity for me to immerse myself in communications and viscerally understand our needs, so I can help better support and structure this area for the future.

New and returning people who attended our meetings included:

Jen Collins from the New Freedom (PA) Hamlet was the new kid on the block. Jen will be assisting Sherry Boatright with the many Lifeways activities she coordinates.

Erin Everett from the Asheville (NC) Hamlet will be assisting me in the Outreach department, where our first priority will be updating our messaging, web site and other materials with our updated look and refined messaging (see below).

Kathy German from Austin, Texas (where sadly there is no hamlet!) will continue to help us as the wizardess of the Neon database we use to manage event registrations and keep track of fundraising activities.

Tim Simon from the West Brookfield (MA) Hamlet will continue the work he has done for years serving as Annie King’s valuable Events Coordinator.

And finally, Christine Staub from the Greensboro, NC hamlet will continue offering her inspiration and talents to produce this Around the Fire  e-newsletter in service to the Outreach team.

Sacred Fire Orgs - formal

A unified look for the three Sacred Fire Organizations (click for larger view)

Refreshing Our Face to the World

The exciting news is that the community now has a new logo that is in line with the new logos of our sister Sacred Fire organizations — the Blue Deer Center and Sacred Fire Foundation. I wrote a little article for the Firekeepers recounting the journey we’ve taken over the years in the development of our imagery and messaging, and describing why we have moved in the direction we moved. You can view it here (it’s password-protected, so please use the password provided below):

password: grandfather-fire-xo

Over the next few months, we’ll be working to spread our new look across all our materials — the web site, our social media channels, newsletter headers, banner, etc. We’ll also be creating guidelines for using the new logo to help keep our presentation of the highest quality. If you have questions before then, please write me directly.

A new look for our Founder and Chairman, David Wiley

We are also happy to announce the launch of David Wiley’s new web site. The new site brings Gene’s magic touch to David’s presence. We worked long and hard with David to skillfully word what it means to be an elder in a way that we hope will convey the essence to people in today’s world:


I hope you find these new developments as exciting as I do. And I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts. Please share them in the comments area below if you are so inspired.

Until next time!