Participants of Sacred Fire events share their stories:

I don’t have to try to please someone else, to be anyone else.

I started going to community fires eight years ago. I only went occasionally, and I may have skipped a year in the first few years. Then I started warming up to it, realizing how much it really affected me, how much it resonated and made me want to be myself.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but as I kept going, it was like, “It’s okay. They don’t want to make you be anyone else.” All the masks fall away and I don’t have to try to please someone else, to be anyone else. It’s hard to put in words, but it’s something that it helps to experience, to be there. Just knowing other people who share their selves with you, it blesses you. When you feel blessed, you want to bless others. It has a snowball effect.

Now, I go anytime I can.

—Tim Reeves

Carrollton, GA (USA)

The Purpose of Life

The call to spirit and a spiritual life has always been in the background of my life. In my younger days, as I contemplated my life purpose, I used to think it depended on transcending the mundane world. I certainly have had experiences that were “other-worldly.” But as I reflect on these now, I see how they were not really about being “someplace else,” but were showing me glimpses of what it is to be truly present here and now, experiencing life fully and directly.

Experience is opening my eyes: to live a life of purpose and meaning, no matter how that looks externally, means to be truly touched by life. By all of it: the ups and the downs, the deep well of love, the grief of loss, the knocks that bring us to our knees and the strength that comes from standing back up. It is about being part of and touched by life. It sounds so ordinary, but in reality it is extraordinary. To the mind it may seem pointless, yet to the heart it is fulfilling beyond measure. It brings me tears of gratitude.

I was at a funeral of a friend recently. The officiating minister, in his address, spoke of these ups and downs, and noted the alternative: a straight line. He pointed out that in an electrocardiogram this “flatline” represents a non-existent heartbeat and signifies death. Through the shared loss and simultaneous celebration of this woman’s life, the grief and the gratitude were both palpable. We were feeling deeply. We felt alive.

It is this being touched by nature and by my fellow humans that draws me to sit around Fire – feeling the wind, the earth, the heavens, the trees, with the dancing flames at the center drawing us together, calling out our stories, drawing feelings forth from our depths. A deep longing in me is satisfied, leaving me strangely settled. Without this time around Fire, I feel that I have lost my bearing, my orientation. When I sit with Fire in this way, it’s a little like going to sleep and waking up renewed and ready for the next day. And for this I am very grateful.

—Annie King

Florence, SC (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

Sacred Fire Women’s Fires Are Different

A personal reflection of attending Women's Fires in Asheville, NC.

My husband and I sailed for 10 years, and while it was wonderful to be out there on the ocean, it was kind of a man’s world. I found I needed women in my life, and that is actually why we moved off the water, landing in Asheville, NC.

Eventually, I found my way to the Women’s Fires held through the Sacred Fire Asheville. While I’ve done sweat lodges with women and am also part of a women’s group that meets monthly by phone, there is something different about circling up in the presence of a consecrated Fire. It has been a blessing, more than I even asked for. I feel seen, and it has shifted me in a very beautiful way. I’ve been interested in how to connect to the elements of nature. This education I am getting about Fire is phenomenal, and I am able to take that into all aspects of my life.

I also have deep gratitude for our facilitators, for their dedication in offering these Women’s Fires. In Firekeeper Lisa Lichtig’s case, I know that she and her husband, Patrick Hanaway, have each also made a lifetime commitment to hold space for monthly community fires and other community supporting activities.

 

—Eileen Gertz

Asheville, NC (USA) Sacred Fire community member

Simple, effective, positive change

Reflections from a first-time attendee of Ukilái: A Gathering of Men in Scotland (2018)

After a steady journey north from Wales, crossing two borders on the way, our group pulled up into the little car park next to an old, typical Scottish granite block building. Schiehallion, one of Scotland’s best-known mountains, looked down upon us. The village was a little walk away, with two huge lochs on either side. I filled my lungs full of the fresh Scottish air, ready for what lay ahead. This was my first Ukilái men’s retreat; now I can say “the first of many.”

We were a mixed bunch of men, all with the similar interest of stepping forward into our world as a masculine expression better equipped with an understanding of our place next to the feminine, and that is exactly what I came away with. The teachings went from morning till night, guided by our sure-footed elder don David Wiley. I felt myself moving through all the emotions, as our teacher maneuvered us along, taking us to that place that he knew we belonged in, a place where we are meant to reside as accountable men. Now, moving forward from my time spent at Ukilái, I feel change. Simple, effective, positive change. Change that I was in need of. Yes, moving forward in life, sure-footed, with an openness of heart—that’ll do nicely!

Thank you, David.

—Simon Huxley

Wrexham, Clwyd, Wales

Fire as First Teacher and First Medicine

We began the three-day ritual by making offerings to the fire. For us, fire is not merely a physical presence consisting of light, heat, and chemical reactions. For us as for many traditional peoples, fire is an important spiritual presence. It is the energy of heart. Fire is what connects us to each other and the world. It is the first teacher and the first medicine. Our ancestors sat around the fire for thousands of years. There they shared the big stories that gave them meaning and helped them live in a good way. There they found wisdom.

—Lawrence Messerman

Some Time for You

When it comes right down to it, all I really want is to be heard, loved, and emotionally supported. Participating in Sacred Fire community fires gives me that opportunity. Once per month, we gather. We come from a variety of lifestyles and bring diverse experiences to the Fire. Each of us has the opportunity to pour our troubles onto the flames and watch as Grandfather Fire burns them away. The fire is there for ME: I speak with Grandfather inwardly, and unload whatever is “up” for me at that time. I get quiet, I listen, and am nourished and refreshed. Nature also “speaks” during each gathering; through the songs of frogs, wind and owls, I hear her educate me. This too is nourishment. Then, the moon makes her appearance and blesses the evening. I have attended the fires for a few years now, and find great benefit in each experience. If you just want some time for you…time away from technology to remember your true nature, in Nature…come to a Fire!

—Alice Beloved

Grass Valley, CA (USA)

Force of Support

Our monthly Sacred Fire community fires here in Tepoztlán (Morelos, Mexico) have been such a force for support in my life: the support of the community, with a big plus…FIRE. The feeling of maturity and benefit in our local community has been growing slowly, but strongly, year after year. The love and care we share is beautiful and nurturing, and I look forward to every fire!

 

—Carlos Romero

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico

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

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)

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

Lessons about Life Direction and Purpose

The international Sacred Fire Community is hosting eight Life Cycle Living workshops on three continents in 2018. Here is what an adult community member in Asheville, NC (USA) had to say about her experience with this program, which engages participants in a conversation about the natural rhythms of a human life.

I’ve struggled with knowing myself and my place in the world since my late teens. I never felt I was taught how to decide which direction to take my life. Somehow, as a 16 year old, I was expected to know what to do with the rest of my life, without anything to base that decision on. As a college student I changed my major several times, unable to decide on anything that really moved me. As an adult, I find myself in the same place as my 18 year old self – like a teenager who’s never really been able to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

The Life Cycle Living workshop showed me that I had missed an essential phase in my life that would’ve allowed me to understand myself better, to move forward in my life with direction and clarity. It gave me context to that which I knew to be true, but couldn’t formulate into words. It’s not that this program gave any answers on how to change this, but I was able to feel like the stuckness in my life isn’t related to something I have failed to do, or to a personal failure. I now understand it’s because the society that we live in expects our children to jump from puberty to adulthood without any support to understand what that even means. This realization made me very angry and also very upset, because so many of us are missing pieces of ourselves that are necessary to be who we really are. And we all have so much to offer as our true, authentic selves.

Life Cycle Living has left me wanting to pursue how I can move through this missing stage. My local fire community seems hungry for more of this medicine as well. We were passionate about brainstorming how to bring a supportive way of aging to our community. We are excited to become involved in the next steps of what Life Cycle Living has to offer each of us. We want this not just so we can heal ourselves individually, but to be able to extend the gifts of Life Cycle Living to all of us, to grow stronger together. Like a community. Like a village.

—Life Cycle Living Participant

Asheville, North Carolina

A Mysteriously Moving Experience

Reflections on the Ukilái Annual Gathering of Men in Southern Utah (USA) 2018

Ukilái was a mysteriously moving experience for me, with deeply felt warmth and embodied wisdom difficult to explain in words because these are already “in” us.

Don David Wiley is a brilliant leader and a kind guide in this mysterious realm. I’m telling my friends about Ukilái because they can benefit from it.

—Tom Edwards

Moab, Utah

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

Meeting situations without aggression

“Situations can be met directly and openly, without a strategy and without aggression. This feels both powerful and gentle at the same time; an expanding of awareness of what it is to be ‘male’.”

—Tom Edwards

Moab, Utah

A place for healing to occur on many levels

“Prema Sheerin is a woman of wisdom. Her program is beautifully balanced with humor, wide scholarship, profound meditations, joyful movement, and deep heart. She brings a capacity for listening deeply, even between the words spoken, and responds from a place of carefully tended intuition. In her program she holds a place for healing to occur at many levels. This workshop is an invaluable exploration of life’s transitions and I recommend it most highly.”

—Sherry Boatright

Carrollton, GA

An Education for Your Soul

What you experience with Grandfather Fire in an event like this feels like a deeper level of education. Not so much for your mind, your intellect, your smarts, so to speak, but kind of like an education for your soul.

There’s a lot of feeling that goes into listening and being in a presence like that. No matter what your life experiences are, or what your background is, and even if you come from a specific religious or spiritual tradition, there’s a truth that you can appreciate at just a human level.

It just feels right, and it feels true.

—Todd Gorham

Sacred Fire Asheville (NC, USA)

Human Lives are Meant To Be Intimately Woven Together

I read yesterday that the suicide rate among youth rose 56% between 2007-2017. Statistics like this appall and sadden me. They also inspire me around my work as Sacred Fire’s Director of LifeWays.

LifeWays is part of Sacred Fire’s critically important work in a world that feels increasingly unstable. These programs and initiations serve to re-introduce and reweave a social fabric that can hold tight in the uncertain future we are facing. This work is very close to my heart; I have found nothing more valuable to devote myself to.

Life Cycle Living, one of our key programs, is based on the wisdom of nature. When I walk into a forest I find a vast, organically intertwining whole. I’m immediately calmed, enlivened and restored. I feel hopeful in spite of all the social and environmental devastation swirling in our world.

Life Cycle Living is a profoundly simple yet effective way to move through life so that, as we grow, we benefit from the awareness of who we are becoming and create fruitful actions and outcomes. This recognition increases the likelihood that, as we begin to understand different life stages, we will awaken to the challenges and opportunities of each, move through blocks or limiting patterns, and embrace our place in the natural pattern of a human life, within community, bringing benefit to ourselves and our families.

Human lives are meant to be intimately woven together, just like the lives of the trees, plants, animals and other beings in a rich, fully functioning forest community. Acknowledging these bonds, we are inspired to take to heart our responsibility for maintaining the web of cultural connectivity that sustains us.

—Sherry Boatright, Director of Sacred Fire LifeWays

Carrollton, GA, USA

Raíces profundas, pueblo pa’lante

Un encuentro con Abuelo Fuego en Tepoztlán

No suelo viajar de mi amado Borikén.  Pero en septiembre del 2017, justo luego del huracán María, mientras contemplaba mi escuela sin techo y mis siembras de yerbas medicinales enterradas bajo árboles caídos, sonó mi teléfono móvil por primera vez desde la tormenta.  Era mi gran amiga Erin y su esposo Adam. Me llamaban desde los EE.UU. a ver cómo yo estaba y a invitarme a viajar a Tepoztlán, México para participar de sus ceremonias anuales de primavera. Como graniceros de la tradición nahual, orarían por las lluvias benevolentes y les darían la bienvenida. 

Gracias al huracán, el 2018 se veía impredecible; todos mis proyectos planificados para los próximos meses ya se habían desvanecído. Así que cerré los ojos, pregunté a mi corazón . . . y les dije que sí.

Ya en Tepoztlán, alrededor de una gran fogata, nuestro grupo recibió el regalo de una noche de sabiduría ofrecida por el espíritu del Fuego, Abuelo Fuego. (Para saber más sobre esto, tocar aquí.)  Me atreví a pedirle consejo: “Necesito perspectiva sobre la crisis que vivimos en Puerto Rico. Desde del huracán, ha habido un éxodo de docenas de miles de familias . . . y un saqueo económico. Nuestros gobernantes están aprovechando la crisis para cortar las pensiones, cerrar las escuelas, desmantelar las corporaciones públicas, las instituciones culturales y hasta nuestro sistema universitario.  Recurren a la represión, la violencia y otros métodos del capitalismo extremo . . . .” Comencé a llorar. ¡Uff! ¿Había yo dicho demasiado? ¿Era un lugar seguro para hacer preguntas socioculturales?

El Abuelo no tardó en responder.  Describió cómo es que los huracanes limpian el ambiente . . . eliminando los árboles débiles, dejando sólo a los más fuertes y creando las condiciones, el espacio para la sangre nueva.  Se refería a la gente que se queda en el país como “los arboles fuertes.” Explicó compasivamente que el papel de los gobernantes es mantener el orden y la estabilidad, y que se desesperan porque el sistema que ellos representan se va desintegrando.  Terminó sugiriendo que para los árboles fuertes, éste podría ser el mejor momento para crear -desde nuestras raíces subterráneas más profundas- el nuevo Puerto Rico que visualizamos para todos, y que entonces, los boricuas que se fueron, regresarán.

Recibí estas palabras con agradecimiento ya que el futuro de mi país adoptivo pinta desesperanzador. Las palabras del Abuelo me aclararon que he de nutrir mi fé de que sí, otro Puerto Rico es posible. Y que ahora, como educadora y líder, me toca seguir co-creando – sin permitir que me distraigan las malas noticias – el Borikén transformado que anhelamos habitar.

María Benedetti es una autora y educadora etnobotánica que vive desde 1989 en la tierra de la familia de su madre, Puerto Rico. Ella puede ser contactada a través de su sitio web, www.botanicultura.com.

—María Benedetti

Puerto Rico

Young Adult Initiation: The role of fathers

A father wonders how to support his 10 year old daughter toward eventual ritual initiation into adulthood. David Wiley, elder and ritual leader, gave this answer:

Traditionally, as a young woman is getting ready to emerge and move into the world and become more independent, the influence often moves from the mother to the father. So in some ways, the mother was there to produce the nest, hold the family, keep and teach about relationships. But when it comes to moving out into the world – “What is the world about? What am I going to encounter there?” – you often find that young women will exhibit separation energy through fights with their mothers. At this point it is common for them to look toward the father. Daughters want to hear from their father in a way that is confident, patient and reassuring. With my daughter, I could make my suggestions and let her be and she eventually picked up on the advice and could move with it.

—David Wiley

Sacred Fire Carrollton

Fire Story: Core Basis of Prayer interview excerpt

from Gathering Blessings: Experiencing Divine, an interview with Sherry Morgan

Prayer helps us to know ourselves more deeply, to know our own true nature, not the perception of self that has been shaped by the good/bad, right/wrong, should/shouldn’t conditioning of the culture in which we were brought up. Cedar trees don’t wonder if they ought to shed their leaves in winter. The fox doesn’t wonder if it should be a beaver. The clouds don’t wonder whether they should let the wind carry them. But we humans question everything! We are often lost, stressed, and confused about who we really are and what our gifts are. We might even believe we don’t have any gifts, which can lead to despair. We all have gifts! Prayer can help a lot in discovering that we’re not alone and that there is much help for us to access our authentic expression and the unique gifts we came here to learn about and to offer.

—Sherry Morgan

Victoria, B.C.

Lighting Fires in the Heart

Vivian Menjivar lives in Corfu, Greece. In this Fire Story, she describes her journey toward her approaching initiation as a Sacred Fire Firekeeper.

I once heard a Greek Orthodox Archbishop talk about the fact that people were missing Fire in their hearts. It felt like he was talking to me! In my spiritual healing practice, I started focusing on how to help light that Fire in my clients. Fast forward a few years, and I realized that while I felt good about my life and myself, I wanted to claim more joy. I was studying Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan at the time, and he suggested I spend more time sitting by fire. So I put a wood stove in my living room, my husband and I started congregating there and it really made a difference. I felt more alive.

Next, I started attending Sacred Fire Community fires. It felt like a door would open, and those attending would feel a strong connectedness in a safe space. That awakened a desire in me to become a Sacred Fire Firekeeper. It has been a beautiful, affirming journey preparing for my initiation to this lifelong work. My Firekeeper sponsor, Lucy Wells, has traveled to Greece all the way from the United Kingdom to support me. My commitment deepens every time I observe powerful and healing moments at my community fires. What shows up is so often not at all what was planned or what the mind would have wanted…and yet, when the space is held in a good way, with Fire’s help, it turns out to be exactly what was needed.

And then, surely, we all end up with more Fire in our hearts, more joy in our lives.

—Vivian Menjivar

Corfu, Greece

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

The Gifts my Parents left me: Following my Heart’s Longing

During a recent Fire Speaks event, Grandfather Fire spoke of the ancestors as those who came before, and how we today benefit from their work, effort, sacrifice, sweat and blood. When they see us sitting around fire, as they once did (whether around a hearth or a candle on a kitchen table), sharing our love and laughter, and also our common human concerns, they see that we are not dismissing the learning they have left us, that their work was not in vain or forgotten. Firekeeper Mai Duong offers this honouring of the gifts her parents left her through their living example.

Fire has been around since the beginning of time. Fire is the great connective energy, connecting us to others, to the living world, to spirit and to our path. I started my path toward becoming a Firekeeper in 2012, but only recently realized that this vocation has been in my blood for a long time and that I had finally listened and followed my heart’s longing.

For the first nine years of my life, my grandparents in Vietnam raised me. My uncle and his wife also lived with us. In Vietnam, most homes had two or three generations under one roof. We always had various people living with us, some for a week and others for years. My father’s first cousin moved in for a while. He tutored me, picked me up from school and was my mentor. My grandparents were retailers and were very entrepreneurial. They raised quails and sold their eggs. Grandpa also made and sold fireworks.

In 1971, I came to Canada to join my parents and siblings and extended family (my mother’s two first cousins and a teenaged second cousin were also living with us). My parents owned a fish-and-chips restaurant and the cousins also worked there. My father was a professor of nuclear physics by day and entrepreneur by night. My parents made Vietnamese shish kabob and sold them in the summer at Exhibition Park. They had an arcade and video stores, just to mention a few of their many enterprises. Dad would have the vision and creativity for new businesses and Mom would be the doer: organizing, setting up and executing his ideas. I’m thankful I inherited all of these traits from my parents.

My father passed in 2014, and my mom passed July 2017. They were married for 55 years. They definitely had their differences. However, there are a few important values that they instilled in their children. Both were extremely generous and giving. We always had many people living in our house, including grandparents and cousins. Our home was like “Welcome House” for many Vietnamese newcomers and immigrants to Toronto. My parents would house them, help them find jobs and homes and get them settled. This taught me a lot about creating community, being inclusive, and helping and serving others. I feel blessed to carry on their teachings.

When Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, we decided to move in together and purchased a home suitable for both of our families. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to be closer to my parents in the last ten years, caring for them and paying it forward. What was most precious was that it gave me the chance to heal my relationship with my mother, making amends for what I felt I didn’t have the first nine years of my childhood. I had the opportunity to work things out for myself, to show my appreciation and love to my mother, to learn to accept her unconditionally, to surrender, to forgive and let go of my childhood stories. I realized that she did the best she could. It is a blessing that our children got to live with their grandparents who shared their dreams, stories and wisdom with them.

My parents were ordinary people with extraordinary hearts. They taught me the value of community, how to extend a helping hand to others and to listen to my heart’s wisdom. They are now like ancestors who have been guiding me on my path, leading me to my heart’s longing.

—Mai Duong

Toronto, ON, Canada

The Joy of Connection

You are warmly invited to experience connection and fun at any of our upcoming Fire Speaks or Ignite Your Heart events (listed at right). An attendee of the 2017 Ignite Your Heart event in County Mayo, Ireland, had this to say about the event:

This community, it’s vibrant… it’s magical. There’s a lot of people here that are really deeply interested in connecting and that’s my sort of hunger and my delight…to connect with other people, with the land, with trees, with nature, with the Fire. That’s what it is all about for me. It’s connection, and I find it here. And it’s fun, it’s a lot of fun.

 

 

—Pip Waller

Ignite Your Heart, Ireland

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

The Gift of Sacred Space

Spending time around the fire for the first time with Grandfather Fire at a Sacred Fire Community Fire Speaks event was a reminder of the timeless wisdom that lies beneath any fear I may be experiencing in my life. Sharing wholesome, alive food in the company of ensouled friends who gathered to support Grandfather’s presence was an added blessing to a heart-felt day. I am constantly reminded when I gather around the fire: there is beauty, kindness and abundance in the world, and we all need a safe, sacred space to offer our laughter and tears to Grandfather. His grounded, wise presence helps us remember that peace, joy and balance are cultivated from within.

Gratitude abounds to everyone who contributed in their own unique way to create a loving presence for Grandfather Fire’s wisdom to emerge and be heard. I walked away with a deepened sense of connection and love with ALL of my relations!

—E. McKeever

California & New Mexico, USA

Tuning in to Natural Cycles

As I ponder my experience of attending Life Cycle Living a month ago, I am surprised by a new quiet in me. I feel that I let go of some of the internal voice that wants to tell me “gotta get to the next stage in life.” I think there was a subtle yet profound transformation with this; the cultural linear thinking seems to have lightened somewhat. I have been living in a rural setting for five years now, having spent most of my life in the city. As a result, I experience the natural cycles much more now and I am in tears for how the Life Cycle Living exploration affirmed this knowing in me.

Several insights are worth sharing. I had trauma in my early life for which I have done much healing work, but during this community dialogue, I deepened my compassion for my younger self. Also, as I look at my young adult sons, I now feel more empowered to let go of concern for them and to allow them to be in the “work” of that stage of life. Further, as an early childhood educator with many degrees and years of experience, I feel validated for my work, which is to preserve the innocence of infants and young children, allowing them to fully be in their respective stages of life. That is the greatest contribution I can make for them.

Finally, as an older adult I now ask myself: Am I fully living into this current stage of my life? So I am pondering what is it to be an elder, and that is a wonderful thing to do in community also. My thanks go to the facilitators, Larry Messerman and Jessica De la O. I felt that they were dwelling in the questions of the workshop for themselves. They brought this insight as well as a deep listening.

—Judy Mann

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Gift: Supporting Young Women’s Initiation

A staff member at Sacred Emergence, Sacred Fire’s Initiation for Young Women, describes her experience:

There we were, a staff of ten women, ages 31–76, snuggled in to a gorgeous wilderness. Four generous and capable men assisted and protected us. Three experienced wise women had worked for months to take the young ones through this Sacred Emergence, perhaps the most meaningful event of their transitioning lives. The set up was perfect…and, for me, there was a feeling that the spirits came for the most important part, enlivening the place, the ceremonies, the people, the animals and the rivers, along with the trees and flowers that sang each day to us of their love and assistance.

Hard emotional and physical work were the order of the day, and each of us appeared in the morning, willing, generously giving of all our gifts. No matter if it was doing dishes, hauling wood and water, or opening our hearts in trusting ways, each of us was present. We intended to make the entire time one of fierce graciousness so the blessings would flow to the girls who had made themselves available to become women, in the most magnificent sense. And they did! All manner of surprise surfaced each day, in casual exchange as well as in deep ceremony, to bring these young women to places from which they cannot return…nor would they want to.

We cannot fully know what has been wrought, yet we have faith that the transformation will continue for these women, as they grow in grace and truth.

—Jane Jackson

Denver, Colorado (USA)