Read these stories from participants at Sacred Fire Community Fires.

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)

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)

Becoming a Deeper Listener

I came to my first fire after seeing a hand-written note on the Co-op bulletin board: “Eliot Cowan speaking this weekend.” That was back in April 2010, and I didn’t know what to expect.

In those days, I lived in my head, always looking for answers in what I already knew. As I sat around dancing flames listening to Eliot, Grandfather Fire’s warmth subtly invited me on a journey back to my heart. I had heard that “Fire speaks,” and I curiously waited for revelations at each community fire I attended. What I came to realize is that listening to people’s stories of their hopes, dreams, fears, questions, passions, and wisdom is what has led me to a deeper connection to the rhythms of life and my own humanity. Through those stories, Grandfather has given me all that I have needed to embark on my journey from head to heart. I am grateful for each storyteller and the connections we have made. At our community fires, I feel heard: in words, deeds, and spirit. This has allowed me to become a deeper listener. I still don’t know what to expect going to any given fire, but that is the magic that keeps me coming back.

—Mark Kocher

Olympia, WA (USA)

How Fire moves me

The fire frees my emotions and heals me in ways that nothing else has to this point.

—Jeni Ascosi

Hurleyville, NY, (USA)

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)

Sense of Community

I’ve been attending Sacred Fire community fires for 12 years. What keeps me coming back is the sense of community and the power of transformation that the consecrated fire brings me which supports me in my life. Most precious to me is that, on a fundamental level, those who gather around the fire in this community share key values and awareness of the importance of living our lives in relationship with the Place – the beings of Nature and the elements –where we live.

From the start, I was impressed and relieved with the freedom and ease inherent in the non-dogmatic structure. I continue to show up because sometimes there is profound heart sharing (others or my own) which deepens my own heart-connection, my connection with others and with the entity of Fire. I appreciate the invitation and guidance to share from the heart instead of the head. This can be challenging, but is growth-producing. During and after the fires, I notice and like the sense that something is happening that is much bigger than I even know, and that I am part of this. What happens at and because of the fires is beyond comprehension: comforting and empowering, both.

—Robin Rainbow Gate

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico

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

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

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)

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)

Sacred Fire: Building a Better Future

In “Why Fire Makes us Human,” Jerry Adler’s story for Smithsonian Magazine, he writes, “Wherever humans have gone in the world, they have carried with them two things: language and fire.”

Though we’re more “connected” now than ever before because of social media, so many feel alone, isolated and disconnected. For thousands of years, gathering around a fire was the original social media. Stories were shared, memories recalled and celebrations held. Coming together around the fire is a way for us to reconnect to ourselves, our community and our ancestors. It is a way for us to see our place in the Universe and find our way home.

Sacred Fire provides thousands of experiences of fire and community around the globe; this is how they are building a better future for people everywhere. (Photo credit: Jane Feldman)

—Kim Langbecker, Executive Director, Sacred Fire Foundation

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

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

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)

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)

A Sense of Optimism

I have been attending the Church Stretton Sacred Fire community fires for about 7 months. I love our Firekeepers, Lucy Wells and Michael Locke. The gatherings are so important for community. Each one is very different due to different combinations of people sharing their thoughts and stories. I’m fascinated by what arises within myself when I open to new ways of seeing.

The conversation around the fire has massively helped my confidence through contributing and being heard within a caring and compassionate circle. Everyone is treated equally and there’s no pressure. If I’m feeling quiet, I can also just enjoy listening.

The changing seasons and weather also create a different energy for each community fire. Whatever the elements throw at us, people still turn up. I love that we make that effort to go out on a stormy wild night and sit around a fire. It’s so…refreshing! The hot chocolate is also fab!

There are always friends of friends whose lives overlap and interconnect and I notice many fascinating coincidences. When I leave the fire I always feel a sense of optimism and a glow that can last for days, so I will only miss a fire if I’m away or have another commitment.

—Jenny Scott

Church Stretton, Shropshire, UK

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

Reconnecting with what is important in life

Last year a customer came into the health food shop where I work and gave me a gift: she told me about our local Sacred Fire community fires. I have tried to go to every fire since. I am extremely lucky as I have two fires near me, each with Firekeepers I have come to think of as friends. They welcome all who attend. Going to a fire helps me to reconnect with what is important in life, with earth and Fire. I get to see the world from a different perspective; I never used to sit outside in the middle of winter wrapped in blankets! I get to listen to beautiful souls who have come from near and far, talking from the heart, safe in the knowledge there will be no judgment, no interruptions. I have grown so much since listening to the wisdom shared around the fires and found comfort in the stories of others. I have even felt safe enough to sing!

Love and gratitude to the Firekeepers, all those who attend the fires, and most importantly, to Fire.

—Debbie Gough

Church Stretton, Shropshire, UK