Participants of Sacred Fire events share their stories:

Corn as Teacher: Moving beyond Obstacles

Jaime Velez is a Sacred Fire Firekeeper and a mara’akame (traditional healer in the Huichol tradition.) This quote is taken from an article, The Divine Mystery of Corn, published in Around the Fire.

“Corn is a teacher because the plant itself teaches us how to move beyond obstacles. Corn can fall down because of wind and animals, but it can recover its vertical ascent towards the sky. One night, the whole stand of corn may be on the floor, and the next day it can be up again. Moreover, corn has amazing adaptability to different types of terrain and can grow in very harsh landscapes and climates.”

—Jaime Velez

Tepoztlán, Morelos, México

A Role for Initiated Young Women

Sacred Emergence, as offered by Sacred Fire, guides young women through ritual initiation into adulthood. When a young initiated woman has reached a certain age and time in her life, she may help a new group of candidates by serving on the Initiation Staff. As this Fire Story shows, such volunteer service can bear gifts for all involved.

When I emerged from my own initiation three years ago, I wondered how the experience would continue to impact me. Naturally, the next two years unfolded how they were supposed to. By creating an intentional and ritual separation from my mother and my childhood, I created enough space to finally connect to my core and discover the essence of who I was as a woman. And I found that as I followed this deep, feminine, instinctual self, more and more opportunities and connections flowed naturally into my life.

Still, two years later, I had reached a point of feeling lost, disconnected from my life purpose, and unsure of what I had to offer the world. Serendipitously, I was invited to join the Sacred Emergence Initiation staff and hold space for the next group of young women during their initiation process. The experience of being on “the other side” not only helped me to reconnect deeply to the pace of the land and the warmth of true community, but it also allowed me to rediscover the gifts I already possessed and had to offer to the next generation of women. By helping those remarkable souls step into their womanhood, I simultaneously stepped deeper into mine. By giving back to the community that has selflessly supported me, I felt the roots of connection and the lineage of this particular initiation ritual growing deeper and deeper.

Bio:
Sylvie Mei-Cheong Lam lives in Boulder, Colorado and studies psychology at the Naropa University there. She was initiated in 2012 and describes herself as an explorer, dancer, yogi, reader, and artist. Since she was young she has loved using art as a way to explore the beauty and rawness of being human. She hopes that through her creativity she can add a little more beauty and honesty to the world.

—Sylvie Lam

Boulder, Colorado (USA)

In the Company of Women

When I attended Ukalái, Sacred Fire’s Annual Gathering of Women, I found it a safe place to be vulnerable, to let things come up. Over the previous years, sparked by a particular renewed friendship with a woman I’d known in youth, I had slowly been opening up to the idea of community, accepting the possibility that I didn’t have to live my life as a loner and could be part of a supportive circle.

At Ukalái, a big revelation to me was how universal feminine trauma actually is. I also realized how far I’d already come in my personal healing over six decades of life.

The facilitators Sherry Boatright and Annie King held a safe and beautiful container. And the setting at the Blue Deer Center, a sacred place I had already come to love, helped contain our work as well.

Since my Ukalái experience, I find that I am much more tolerant and less judgmental of myself and others in my life. I have an increased appreciation of myself as a woman, and of that innate feminine aspect in me that has the capacity to create life, to keep the warm safe place of womb and hearth and home, literally and figuratively.

It’s an experience I highly recommend to all women.

—Anne Freels

Knoxville, TN, (USA)

Fear Transformed: The Benefits of Fire

I walked away from my first Sacred Fire community fire mesmerized. That night, I slept so deeply. I’ve actually had a fear of fire all my life; I even took a course in how to put fires out! But when I came to this consecrated Fire, I remember staring at the flames and thinking, “Even if I fell in right now, it would not hurt me. It is here for us, hearing us, allowing us to be heard. It’s medicinal. It’s beautiful.”

Since that first time, I try not to miss the monthly fires, even when I’m exhausted. To go means that I know that there will be relief for me. There will be brotherhood and sisterhood, openness and acceptance, and that is something that I want. I want to feel all the things that Fire allows to happen in that space, all guards to be down, to be there in my spirit. This is a very powerful medicine that I need in my life.

Just like yoga and meditation are part of my daily practice, I recognize these community fires as part of my monthly practice. Even when I do a hundred things in my day, I commit to this.

—Cindy Nelson

Sacred Fire Long Beach, CA (USA)

A little window into the life of a new mother

This little boy was born on August 31, 2018 to parents Cleis and Fassika. All is well. Let us welcome him!

“My baby boy, 4 days old today! I had an amazing delivery, with support from my partner, mom and aunt and an amazing midwife! No complications (prolonged rupture of membranes only) and feeling great, strong and supported. I labored at home, meditating, doing yoga, walking, spending time at my altar for about 24 hours and I got to the hospital 10 cm dilated and gave birth within 2 hours. I am so grateful, happy and in love. It was a magical experience like an adventure to another world. Thank you for helping me trust myself, my body and the unknown through the process of initiation into womanhood. —Much love, Cleis”

Mother and physician, Cleis Nordfjell was initiated into adulthood in 2013 through Sacred Fire’s Lifeways offering, Sacred Emergence.

—Cleis Nordfjell

Sweden

Fire Speaks is an Emotional Journey.

Fire Speaks offers an opportunity to experience the wise, funny, provoking, and profoundly insightful counsel of the Spirit of Fire, commonly known as Grandfather Fire in the Americas. Read on to learn what Fire Speaks attendee Heather Poole experienced in Grandfather Fire’s presence.

I’m generally an introvert and not very sociable by nature, but I feel like every time I come to one of these events, everyone is so nice and welcoming.

Fire Speaks is hard to put into words: it’s an emotional journey. Yesterday was full of engagement and connection for me. I think I was so engaged for the entire evening, I didn’t get out of my chair once. I somehow managed to write four pages, in the dark, of beautiful messages from Grandfather Fire.
The connection that Grandfather has talked about a lot—the present-mindedness—I try to incorporate into my life every day. The connectedness, not only with people around me, but everything around me: the weather, the plants, all of the creatures. It brings me considerably more joy to live my life with these things in mind! I feel so humbled and almost so small, in a sense, to be in Grandfather Fire’s presence.

—Heather Poole

Sacred Fire Asheville (NC, USA)

Prioritizing values, like family

“I had an amazing time at the men’s retreat. It inspired me to live my life differently, prioritizing values, like my family, which are very dear to me.”

—John Huang

Long Beach, California

Deep Roots, Strong People to Renew Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican resident María Benedetti shared with us her recent experience with Grandfather Fire at our Fire Speaks event in Mexico.

I don’t usually stray from my beloved Borikén, Puerto Rico’s main island. But just after Hurricane María, in September 2017, while contemplating my school with no roof and my medicinal herbs buried under fallen trees, my cell phone rang for the first time since the storm. It was my good friend Erin and her husband Adam calling from the United States, checking on me. They also invited me to join them in Tepoztlán, Mexico to participate in their Nahua Weather Work spring ceremonies to pray for and welcome beneficial rains. Thanks to the hurricane, 2018 looked entirely unpredictable; my plans for the next few months had already gone up in smoke. So I closed my eyes, asked my heart, and . . . said yes!

Once gathered in Mexico, our group was gifted an evening of wisdom teachings by Grandfather Fire. I dared to ask for advice: “I need perspective about a crisis we are living in Puerto Rico. Since the hurricane, we are seeing an exodus of thousands of families, as well as an economic siege. Our political leaders are taking advantage of the crisis to cut pensions, close schools and dismantle our unions, cultural organizations and even our public university. They are using repression, violence and other methods of extreme capitalism.” I started to cry. OMG. Had I gone too far with my words? Was this an appropriate place to ask a sociological question?

Grandfather Fire didn’t wait long to respond. He described how hurricanes clean the environment . . . eliminating the weak trees, leaving only the strongest, while creating conditions ripe for new life. He compared the people who have decided to stay on our island to the “strong trees.” He compassionately reminded us that the role of our governors is to implant order and stability, and that they are desperate because the system they represent is disintegrating. He closed by suggesting that for us strong trees, this could be the best moment for creating – from our deep, underground roots – the new Puerto Rico that we visualize for all, and then those who have left will come home.

I was thankful to receive that answer because the future of my adopted country looks painfully hopeless. Grandfather’s words helped me to see I must nourish my vision that another Puerto Rico is possible, and that now, as an educator and as a leader, it’s clearly my job to keep on co-creating – without being distracted by the bad news – the transformed Borikén we will thrive in.

María Benedetti is an ethnobotanical author and educator living since 1989 in her mother’s family’s homeland, Puerto Rico. She can be contacted through her website, www.botanicultura.com.

—María Benedetti

Puerto Rico

Timeless Soul Chemistry

As Director of Firekeeping for the international Sacred Fire organization, I support Firekeepers from all around the world. These dedicated women and men hold a special space for people to gather around fire. What I have observed, time and time again, is that there is something profound and yet simple that happens in this setting.

The stories begin. We share. We listen deeply to each other—not to fix or take away someone else’s problems—but to truly hear and bear witness. We share lessons learned and support each other to discover meaning and purpose in life. This deeply satisfies innate human needs and provides a way of connecting that is often not possible in the hustle and bustle of our modern world. We leave the fire feeling renewed and fortified to meet the challenges of our daily lives.

Gradually, as human connections are deepened and become trusted, the gift of “community” can take root. One could say that “community” contains a chemistry that has been part of our soul from the beginning of time: it is a manifestation of Fire itself!

Fire has another unique property: it can spread. Sacred Fires are available as a dependable place to find solace, balance and renewal. If you feel called to attend, and perhaps one day to offer, this supportive healing space, please do contact me at firekeeping@nullsacredfire.org.

—Annie King, Sacred Fire Director of Firekeeping

Florence, SC, USA

On Being Yourself in Community

An attendee of the 2017 Ignite Your Heart event in County Mayo, Ireland, had this to say:

I think the thing that impresses me most is people being themselves. To me the root of the breakups of community and the breakups of society is mainly due to people trying to be something that they are not and forgetting to behave in simple, honest, open relationships with each other. In so many respects we need community everywhere and all attempts to creating it are valid.

This is one of those places where it is good to be you.



Ignite Your Heart, Ireland

What a gift. What a mystery!

“What a great thing it was so to do this workshop! I remember saying to a fiend at the end how I didn’t really know if anything had happened even though I totally loved being there. I think it was only a week later that my father died. My friend said to me then: ‘do you still think nothing happened at the transitions workshop?’ I want to thank you for the magical and powerful nature of your work. It totally prepared me for what was to come – I was able to really throw myself into the process and the practices. What a gift. What a mystery!”

—Jacqueline Murphy

Drawing on Feminine Courage and Strength

A Sacred Fire Annual Gathering of Women participant has this to say:

I feel as if now I have a deep core strength and courage to draw upon that manifests in the feminine, which has always been there, I just didn’t know it. I appreciate what it means to be a woman more and am able to see this in others also: our beauty, generosity, gentleness, courage, communicative abilities, creativity and more. I appreciate men more and the masculine as it plays out in my two young sons as they grow. I am now seeking out the counsel of women more in my life. I am so grateful to have been able to participate in this experience and have spoken of it to several female friends since. Five years on from the retreat, the experience continues to be a gift that keeps on giving.

—Zoe

Perth, Australia

Growing Leaders and Elders

There comes a stage in life when we get a glimpse of our own mortality and we begin to question our goals and accomplishments, as in, “If I were on my deathbed, would I be satisfied?” That time came for me around age 50. I was an MBA, making lots of money, being successful in the way our culture has defined it, and yet I felt something missing. There was a calling inside me, and that eventually led to my involvement with the emerging Sacred Fire community, in parallel with my own personal development toward becoming a healer and Nahua Weather Worker.

One of my responsibilities for Sacred Fire has been co-leading Young Men’s Initiation, which is part of our Sacred Fire LifeWays offerings. We follow the wisdom of our ancestors: Fire is central to these initiations, which also depend on the support of community and elders. Not only has it been a privilege to observe the dramatic and important transformation in boys moving to manhood, it has also allowed mature men to do good work together, to offer their service and sacrifice as part of a dedicated ritual support team. I have seen how this gifted each man with renewed energy and self-confidence.

It is part of a natural cycle of a human life, of a community, even of an organization: life experiences (some hard-won) and lessons well-learned naturally grow future leaders and elders. Now in my 70s, I do feel much more fulfilled in my life and look forward to taking my place as an elder, with wisdom to share. Sacred Fire and its important work in the world, is central to that.

—Dan Sprinkles, Board Member, Blue Deer Center

Sacred Fire Men's Initiation Council

I Started to See the World Differently

A veteran Sacred Fire Firekeeper talks about what inspired him to deepen his relationship with Fire and ultimately take on the life-long commitment of being a Firekeeper for his community.

I started going to fires in 2000 in Santa Barbara, on the beach. At the time I was an atheist, although I had been meditating for a few years. I remember feeling genuine connection at the fire. The way in which people spoke authentically from their hearts was very touching.

I realized this is what I had been craving and searching for for a long time. I kept going to the fires and would feel the love and connection. People would talk about “Grandfather Fire,” and over time I started to see the world differently.

I started to acknowledge that there probably is a higher power. I also started to see the commonality of the many spiritual paths that people follow, with their focus on compassion and forgiveness, on helping other people and on doing good. Fires have transformed my life. I’ve now been a Sacred Fire Firekeeper since 2005 and have seen many others touched in a similar way.

—John Huang

Firekeeper, Long Beach, CA (USA)

Listening to Fire at Mt. Tamalpais

For many years I have attended the Fire Speaks event at Mt. Tamalpais in Northern California. The setting is extraordinary and deeply sacred. This year, in the shadow of the great mountain, we were warmly welcomed into the camp where the evening’s event was to be held. The tent was festooned with colorful decorations. There were familiar faces and new ones, a feeling of warmth and calm excitement. There was delightful laughter and beautiful songs and poems as we waited for Grandfather Fire.

When the Spirit of Fire began speaking, the feeling of deep heart and wisdom was palpable, a source of nourishment and sanity in a fragmented world. He spoke of how much we need our connection with community and with nature, how we have over-complicated our lives and become disconnected. And this leaves us with a gnawing sense of something missing. He generously answered our questions about how we deal with the challenges of our contemporary lives.

I was most moved when Grandfather Fire spoke of finding our sense of purpose and meaning by willingly “picking up the heaviest thing” we see set before us and learning to share those burdens with others, so that we find that it is not so hard.

 

—Maxima Kahn

A very safe space for delving into both fear and grief

“Prema….guides people with ease, clarity, confidence and gentleness into territory that our culture seldom explores. She creates a very safe space for delving into both fear and grief and experiencing the beauty of feeling these emotions, for they bring us more deeply into life.”

—Anonymous Participant

Longing for Something Lost

Reflections on the Life Cycle Living weekend in Brookfield, Massachusetts (USA) 2018

I found the Life Cycle Living workshop to be as informative as it was deeply emotional. As I listened to one of the stories, I felt a strong resonance and yearning for ‘village life’—for a deeply supportive community.  This story also produced strong emotions in some of the women present, which sparked a lively discussion about gender roles.

In listening to and learning about how each stage of life contains a particular gift for community as well as a job of personal growth, I felt some pain and sadness at how I had moved in my own life, as a father and young man, without proper guidance to navigate that part of my life. This discovery awakened a need to grieve and let go of old sadness and shame, and to claim a deeper sense of purpose in my work and a stronger connection with my children, who are now young adults.

—Shawn Bennett

Norwich, Connecticut

And so goes another night at Ritaka

“The fire crackles and burns brighter as one of us places another piece of wood into the center. The flame in our hearts does the same as we express ourselves, placing our fears and joys into the circle and igniting a flame of a different kind. The young men and women sitting around the fire laugh as another “so bad it’s good” joke is shared. As we talk, the words move with a joyful ease, like a conversation between old friends, flowing between stillness and movement as we all take our turns listening and sharing. The topics ebb and flow and the emotions move with it.

“Blissful tears are shed, as a young woman with her guitar serenades us. Her voice, already beautiful, is sweetened by the courage she displays in sharing it. Powerful words of anger arise, as one of us gives voice to pain, the wound inflicted by another sitting around the fire. The expression becomes at once more essential and more difficult and listening to it is almost as hard. But after those tense moments of conflict die down, we still sit with each other, somehow feeling closer than we were before. And the river of conversation flows again. There is no destination we aim for, nothing we are looking to attain, simply content with enjoying the companionship and love that the circle exudes. We put more wood on the fire.

“And so goes another night at Ritaka.”

—Colin Lenhart

Seattle, WA

More Joy in My Life

Soon after relocating to Asheville last year, through what could only be defined as a series of serendipitous events, I discovered the Sacred Fire Community.

I return each month to the community fires because these people are truly interested in authentic connection; to each other, the divine, the natural world, as well as to timeless ancient wisdom. Sitting around the warmth of fire regularly has been transforming, healing, and grounding as I build a new life.

The simple acts of making offerings to the fire, expressing my gratitude, and listening to others share their joys and struggles, has opened my heart to a new level of connection. Sharing time around the fire with a conscious-minded tribe has satiated my hunger for belonging in a way that nothing else has. With more fire in my heart, I now have more joy in my life.

—Sally Casper

Asheville, NC (USA)

The Role of Parent

I got a lot from participating in the Life Cycle Living workshop. By reflecting upon my current stage in life and my role as a parent, I realized that I needed to go back and do some inner work to deal with earlier stages in life, stages during which my natural development as a human being had been blocked. For instance, while growing up in Brazil and when I was just 11 years old, I had to take over a parenting role for my younger brother, and so I lost out on fully embracing my childhood at that time. Paradoxically, even though I took this ‘mature’ role as a child, I realized that in some way I had retained a degree of immaturity.

I have since worked on this, including taking an Emotional Wisdom workshop facilitated by Prema Sheerin, one of the Sacred Fire Community Lifeways providers. This is allowing me to be more fully present as a father for my children and as a man for my community. I am also hoping that we will get enough interest to start regular Men’s Fires around our hearth, just as the women are gathering around the Fire every month.

—Eduardo da Silva

Greensboro, North Carolina

Tending the Garden of Community

As a Sacred Fire Firekeeper, I see myself and fellow Firekeepers planting seeds for the future, at a time when that future does not seem particularly promising.

Humanity as a whole is destroying the planet and there’s a place inside each of us that knows this. In the face of this current reality, the incredible power and healing energy of the Spirit of Fire, which we affectionately call Grandfather Fire, comes as an amazing antidote to the disconnection and challenges of modern life. There is mystery and magic when people gather around Fire: inside of us, something that we may have forgotten or discounted can germinate. I’ve seen and felt in my guts how Fire deeply touches those gathered, how people light up and go home afterwards with a smile, with their hearts full of gratitude and more open to the challenges they’re facing.

The isolation and lack of meaning in the life of so many has deep roots, going back many generations, and it takes patience and commitment to tend to the loneliness and lostness that people are feeling. It may take generations to turn things around. As Firekeepers we are like gardeners, tending communities in our local settings, offering a space around Fire each month, each moon, each cycle. It is a great privilege to be called to this work. Now with 70 Firekeepers in 10 countries, I can feel the fruits of our labors casting fresh, welcome seeds of renewal and connection far and wide.

—Ana Cortés, Firekeeper

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico

A Circle Within a Circle: Human Life and Community

Some reflections on the Life Cycle Living weekend in Santa Monica, CA (USA)

During my recent experience of Sacred Fire’s Life Cycle Living program, ably facilitated by Prema Sheerin and Lisa Lichtig, I was introduced to the natural flow of human life through eight important stages. It was compelling to see how each stage organically feeds into the next, and how each has its particular work, gifts, and associated emotions. It felt good to begin to understand these stages and to see with fresh eyes how I may have moved or failed to move naturally through each of them. I saw the possibility of revisiting each stage, fully grieving opportunities that had been missed, honoring the lessons that had been learned, and claiming healing forward movement. In particular, I saw the beauty of looking at life as a circle rather than as a line, recognizing how elders are meant to contribute their earned wisdom to the youngest members of a community.

All of us present expressed our ideas and feelings and there was room for it all: excitement, grief and hope. Most of all, we came away with a knowing that we cannot do this alone. It is the connecting warmth of the fire, the community of people and the divine natural world that will gracefully carry us through these beautiful cycles of life.

—Angela Ocone

Sacred Fire Ojai, California

Elder wisdom

One of the wonderful things that came out of our Life Cycle Living workshop here in New Freedom, PA (USA) is remembering the importance of the elders within our community. As part of their role in service to the younger generations, elders are asked to share the wisdom gained from their life experiences. As a result of our discussion, we hosted a Story Telling Fire, with participants ranging from age 5 to 75. We laughed, cried and learned as people shared stories from their own lives, as well as from different Native American traditions. We decided on the spot we will do this again!

—Linda Felch

New Freedom, Pennsylvania

Community, Respect and Compassion

The sense of community, of respect, of compassion for what people go through in their daily lives was so entirely comforting that it stayed with me for a whole week. I’m ready for another fix!

—Gene Malowany

Boulder, Colorado

Women’s Fires: The Gift of Sisterhood

Sacred Fire women's fires are facilitated by specially trained women, and held within the container of a consecrated fire. Here is one attendee's experience:

A close friend introduced me to the Sacred Fire Santa Monica, CA (USA) community fires, which are held monthly. After my first visit, the Firekeeper announced an upcoming women’s fire. At first, I didn’t think that I would need to sit around a fire with a bunch of women, as I was perfectly satisfied with the community fire, and so I thought nothing more about it. One evening, however, I was invited by a friend to accompany her to the women’s fire. She was aware of personal trials I was experiencing and suggested I might attend to gain some much-needed strength.

Although I had been to several community fires with the same ladies, the women’s fire experience was definitely different. There was a magical sense of caring and inclusion that was so strong it filled me with pure energy. I felt emotion; not emotional to the point of crying, but if I had cried, I knew it would be okay to do so. It was more that I felt very aware of our sisterhood, and that we were all there for a soulful purpose, not only to be reenergized and renewed through the consecrated Fire, but through each other. This experience was life-changing. Even if the women present that night might be unaware how much their gift of stories and presence impacted and strengthened me as a woman, I have formed a special bond with each of them.

I will forever make the women’s fire part of my personal soul-cleansing, self-nourishing practice. During the community fires, I find that sharing may be tailored by women because of the presence of men. Yet among themselves, women feel understood by each other and can more openly discuss private matters and intimate feelings. I can see the difference in how we share and feel more open, unhindered and unleashed. That freedom is what makes the women’s fires so special. I now realize that I can have healthy, fun and growing relationships with other women, and that the particular setting of Sacred Fire women’s fires is ideal for this.

—Tamara Meagan

Santa Monica, CA, USA

The kindness act that I could do for myself

“This was the kindness act that I could do for myself! Our conversation about death and dying was all about life (and) since the workshop I have been more available to live this life!!!”

—Anonymous Participant

Finding Answers around the Fire

After a period in my life when I was heading in the wrong direction, I turned to exploring spirituality as a path to addiction recovery.  Through serendipity, I found myself talking to a woman who, through her intuition, sensed that I would benefit from a drum or fire circle.  As I started asking around, a friend of mine led me to the Sacred Fire community fires hosted by Tim and Karla Cole in Poplarville, MS.  Once I got there, I realized it was no coincidence that I had been led to this community specifically. I’ve overcome so much through the people I’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned around the hearth there. So many of the answers to my questions in life have come from listening to, or observing the growth in others, around the Fire.  For instance, one community member participated in the Sacred Fire Community Annual Gathering of Men.  I watched his journey toward claiming his more feminine/emotional side; it wasn’t easy for him at first, but ultimately the transformation was inspiring.

I’ve come to appreciate the importance of community, and how beneficial healthy communities are to society.  I’ve learned the importance of letting go of judgment.  And now I’ve found the courage to take a huge leap.  In March I will quit my well-paying job, and move to the Pacific Northwest where I hope to start a community-based healing center.  I take with me lessons about new beginnings and the wisdom I will need to carry with me, and of the courage it takes to leave things behind.

—Casey Russell

Poplarville, MS (USA)

An Opening of Heart

A first-time Sacred Fire attendee had this to say about the 2017 Ignite Your Heart event in County Mayo, Ireland:

Community is lacking in the world and there is an illness too (about) that in society…Today was quite amazing, It started off with the Fire ritual. When I gave to the Fire, the Fire returned what I would call a change of consciousness, an opening of heart, and it was felt in the group. And it’s been around all day ever since. Beautiful.



Ignite Your Heart, Ireland

How I became a better father

Chris Griffin is a Sacred Fire Firekeeper candidate, offering community fires in Wilton, NH (USA). He looks forward to another opportunity for inspiration and recalibration in the company of men at Ukilái January 2019.

While the world needs the expression of the deeper feminine ways of being, as men we need to remember and embody a balanced manifestation of masculinity, and experience how these two different human expressions mutually support each other. I attended Sacred Fire’s Ukilái Gathering of Men in 2014 and found it to be a wonderful and pivotal experience which helped me to recognize and reconnect with the masculine. It helped me to show up as the kind of man I want to be, both in my partnership and as father to my daughters.

—Chris Griffin

Wilton, NH (USA)

Digesting the Sacred Lessons of Corn

I recently attended a Sacred Fire Community event in New Freedom, Pennsylvania (USA) where Grandfather Fire shared an ancient sacred story of Corn that applies directly to our times and our lives today.

I learned many things from that story. Because the story has just been planted in me, it’s like a kernel in the soil, germinating and growing. Most of my learning is not quite ready to emerge, but one thing that affected me strongly then and still brings emotions of grief and awe rising up in me right now is this:

What does it mean to sacrifice my short-term motivations so that I can build a good life for the people?

To plant something now that will only come to fruition in the future takes not only vision, but also patience and self-sacrifice. I can catch a fish or collect some cress that appeared this week by the creekside and have food for today, but if I join with my now-settled community, work out our differences as people who live together must do, and cultivate the fields, not only I, but also my family and my community will be nourished for this season and future seasons. The renewing nature of Corn, and its dependency on human communities in order to grow, is striking.

It is a fact that Corn needs human beings to grow. There is no way for it to come to fruition without our concern and care. Could it also be true that, without Corn and its teachings of self-sacrifice for the good of all, human beings will cease our own ability to grow?

As I continue to engage with the Sacred Fire Community as a fire-goer and volunteer, I feel myself, sometimes kicking and screaming, becoming humbler. I can feel the medicine of Corn and settled community working my soil. I stand out less. I work more, doing things that aren’t all about me…in fact, often they don’t seem to be about me at all.

Somehow I’m changing, becoming the opposite of a super-star in my own life. Somehow I’m being cultivated by something larger than I am. And I’m grateful, nourished and in love with this way of living. Now that I’ve been introduced to Her in a new way through the sacred story, I thank the Corn Mother for Her help and lessons, which are changing my life. I start each day in hope that She will render me and my efforts beneficial, perhaps even nourishing, to those around me, giving me the satisfaction of a life lived very well.

 

 

—Erin Everett

Asheville, North Carolina (USA)