Next Forestdance: September 4, 2019, at Camp Timber Trails in Tolland, MA.

What Happens at the Fire Circle?

I’ve been asked to answer this question many times. And the first thing that always comes up for me is a lesson I once received on the meaning of the first line of the Tao te Ching: “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.” It took years for me even in person to describe well and touch upon the inspiration that comes from our circles. It is not in reading words that one would come to understand all that happens in the space co-created, but it is in the process and effect of the shedding during the rite. It is in the attuning that occurs. It is in making the agreement that though we all come from different walks of life, and different ways and beliefs, that for our time together, we are open to trying this experiment of life force, will, faith, artfulness and service.

Many of us have been moved by music, art and dance. Something happens when we “lose” our selves for a while on the dance floor. Bliss, ecstasy, frustrations come and move, and sometimes we break through something. We break through the voices we carry that sometimes say: we are tired, we are not beautiful, we are not whole.

This model is designed to cultivate our energy together. It is designed to be in service together and to create an atmosphere for deep listening, where the musicians, which can include all of us, are swept up together in the energy that moves through the circle. Through the timeless action of circling the fire, in part from the pulsing of moving closer to music and away, and closer and away, there is a breaking away of the armor. The pieces we sensitive people need to cope day to day, come down and we begin to expand and open.

In this expanded place of service, we remember how much more capable we are. We call ourselves back to a presence we did not even realize we were missing. Our connections to our hearts come back to us. Our acceptance of our bodies comes back to us. Gratitude for our minds comes back to us. A genuine caring for others comes back to us. A connection to the other living creatures around us is remembered.

I can share of singing together, of brewing teas on the root fire, of dancing through sweat, of tears, laughter, truths being spoken, and of people sharing wisdom, of rattling for one another in the space, and of spontaneous words to new chants moving the group. I can write about epic dawns of deep peace, with renewed faith in humanity, and in our selves. But even then, there are the pieces left untold in relation to the Unseen beliefs of what is happening. What I can say, is that we look to make something Whole from something Broken. We honor our Ancestors. And we aim to embody in service, to be animated as divine beings between Heaven and Earth. For this small amount of time together, we agree to take risks to explore all that we may be capable of. Our dance is a healing ceremony, a rite of passage, and an honoring of all that we are.

There is so much more to share.

—Jason Cohen