Forestdance Massachusetts

Come join us as we share in deep and profound celebration of our lives together on sacred and wild land.

We’ll be in ceremony for three full nights, and two half nights, around the fire.

Our facilitators and teachers will help guide the circle on a profound journey helping us to access and reclaim our own core, our inspiration, and our connection to nature.
 Forestdance is a ceremonial gathering; a rite of passage.

This beautiful gathering has shaped a community. It has reignited passions for so many talented people, reclaiming inspiration, and has shown an alternative way to co-exist that many of us have stopped dreaming about long ago.

This gathering is a celebration of all that we are and all that we can be. Due to the deep nature of this event, to cultivate a powerful space, we have a no re-admittance policy. We are grateful to hold our 35th Forestdance gathering in our location at Camp Timber Trails in Tolland, MA. Thank you for showing up and bringing your magic and medicine.

To get an idea of what happens in our ceremony, please read “What Happens at the Fire Circle?”

Registration and Fees

Click the Register button to reserve your space at Forestdance. Please note that the fees cover our costs: Site rental, food, and supplies. We do not charge for the ceremony and the facilitation. If you feel that Forestdance is the right place for you to be, but you need financial assistance to cover the costs or would like to do a work exchange, please contact register@heartbeatcollective.org. We try to never turn people away because of finances. By the same token, please contact us if you would like to make a donation to help make this powerful experience available to more people.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do we sleep?

Yes, it can be hard to imagine such things. But you can do it. We break up our sleep into two different times during the days after our all nighters. After dawn we sleep until yoga or brunch. And again a bit after dinner we have quiet time until an hour before the circle. Though not a typical model, we find we have all the energy we need to make it though the night. Honoring quiet time is very important. And inside the circle energy is amplified. Shifting our sleep schedules in part helps with the fantastical nature of the ceremony. We dance during dream-time.

Rideshares

Looking for a ride? Or have a ride to offer? Please check out the Rideshare page..

Water and Showers

There is excellent well water available on site. There is a gorgeous spring fed lake to dip in. There are hot showers on site in one location. Bring your solar showers if you’d like to shower at your campsite or deep in the woods. And bring your water bottles!! Please bring a bathing suit and only all natural bio-degradable soap.

Arrival/Registration

Registration Times

Wednesday: 1pm-7:30pm, Thursday: Late Registration: 6-7:30pm

Please arrive during the above listed times, when registration is open.

Food

We provide healthy vegetarian mostly organic and native foods.

We ask everyone to take a shift in preparing the food for others, and for cleaning up after the meal.

We offer two full meals a day and snacks at all other times, including fruit and eggs at breakfast time.

Are children welcome at Forestdance?

Yes, yes, yes. Children are our hope for our future. All children are welcome to participate, and if they are 11 and under they may come for the cost of a donation to cover their food. The Forestdance staff will be providing childcare help from dawn until brunch everyday, and parents will be asked to be on the Kid’s Service Team to hold space for the kid’s during Seed Group times and throughout the night. Parents are encouraged to co-create programming during Seed Group times for their children during the gathering. It can be challenging to have your kids at FD and to do the all night circle. But we encourage the building of our community to include the gifts of the little ones.

Directions

Location:

Camp Timber Trails
1266 E. Otis Rd.
Tolland, Ma

Directions: Google Map to the Site

Which forms of artistic expression are included in the Fire Circle?

In addition to drumming and dancing around the fire, Forestdance attendees add chants, spoken word, melodic instruments, costumes, and ritual theater to the circle. The event is improvised and operates organically, and at times participants allow space for the faintest voice and most subtle movement to come through during the course of the night.

Which spiritual traditions are honored at Forestdance?

People from many different spiritual and philosophical backgrounds attend Forestdance and are encouraged to bring their creative expression to the fire circle. The fire circle is a highly intentional ritual space that we agree to hold as a sacred experiment, where we honor and celebrate our diversity, our similarities, and the threads that run through many traditions. The model that we’ve been developing is one that is difficult to share with words, as is often the case with metaphysical or transformational experience. It’s a process that has a profound effect. Forestdance is considered an inter-faith gathering. We welcome dialogue around sensitive cultural issues in relation to where our traditions come from and why we do what we do.

Can I come for part of the event?

Forestdance practices a “closed vessel” policy during our ceremony. There are specific times that you can arrive. Everyone needs to be on site for the orientation, and no one who misses the 1st circle will be admitted to the gathering; only an “act of God/Goddess” would permit admittance. Furthermore, if you leave the site during the gathering, you won’t be allowed to return to the site. Everyone is of course free to leave at any time as long as they understand there is no re-admittance. We have chosen these ways to ensure a safe container for deep work, where our community can develop our intimacy around the fire circle together, as we step deeper and deeper into the work and play each night.

Work Shifts/Service Teams

We ask everyone to contribute to community work to help us
keep this gathering running during the weekend. There will be kitchen prep
and cook shifts, kitchen clean up shifts, water changing teams, fire circle prep/ wood cutting teams, Luminary teams, etc. It is a fun and enjoyable way to co-create our magic together. Buy-out options are available and the money raised goes towards supporting our continuing community service.

Drugs and Alcohol

Forestdance does not support the use of illegal substances on the properties we lease from for our gatherings. Illegal usage is strictly prohibited. Very often, you will read a sentence like the two above in any festival’s or gathering’s guidelines that are written to protect the organizers. That said, many on the staff may enjoy partying at different times, and some may even be willing to get together with you and do so at some point in the future. However, we ask and highly suggest that everyone take this opportunity to explore magical space without the use of any drugs or alcohol. There are many reasons for this. We will be engaging in the process of fine-tuning ourselves, rather than doing anything that will remove us from one another or tune us out from our own greatest subtleties. In our experience, we have everything we need to attain incredible heightened states of consciousness without the aid of any altering substances.

Furthermore, the ability to retain the experience and integrate it into our daily lives is far more sustainable without altering ourselves. Our sacred circle model offers an opportunity to step into an environment that truly holds us in the highest vision of ourselves. For us the vision holds a space in which we are authentic about addiction in relation to habitual mind-altering substances. Also, others that walk with addiction or engage in habitual drug use are far more likely to partake if folks around them are offering or are carrying a vibration in which they are partying.

During the all-night Fire Circle process it is often difficult to achieve a place of true openness. The sense of a barrier or a wall is a common result. However, with continued participation and service within the circle, breaking through to a place of empowered embodiment will happen. Thank you for respecting these boundaries.

Animals

There are lots of people, children, edible plants and gardens at this event.
Pets can be a problem. Our hosts ask you to not bring your dogs. There could be a couple of service dogs on site as our hosts allow
staff to have them.

Leave no Trace

Everything you bring in with you should leave with you. This
means your trash and all the little bits that are attached to things you are
bringing.

Is there any lodging?

Everyone gets a cot in one of the cabins at Camp Timber Trails. There are multiple cots in each cabin. If you want a private spot, you will need to bring your own tent. There is no additional cost for using the provided cabins. You will need to bring your own bedding.

What should I bring?

General Notes: Bring a flashlight; the moon may not be visible. Consider bringing a battery operated alarm clock (best if covered and we suggest not bringing watches into the sacred circle), earplugs, and all natural bug repellent. Please bring a tent and light bedding if you are camping, it will be warm. Any extra throws are welcome if you can, for the “nesting areas.” These are places outside the fire circle to take short rests if necessary during the night. Bring your own cup, bowl, plate, utensils and water bottle clearly labeled!

Bring a towel. Bring poems and any musical instrument and a song or three for the Bardic Circle. Consider contributing anything you would like to offer to the community or lending anything to an altar, such as sage, candles, something to burn sage in, seashells, feathers, crystals, etc. Something that represents your ancestors like a photo or one of their belongings. If possible, please bring food and snacks for the food/community altar. These we are offering to each other as sustenance for the all-night circles. Aim for healthy and nourishing items, though chocolate-covered espresso beans do tend to disappear quickly. Please bring eco-friendly toiletries and your own towel. Sometimes there will be a Gifting Circle at the end of the gathering so please bring something to give away to the community if you feel so called. This can be as simple as a shell or a story. The Gifting Circle can be quite an amazing experience.

For inside the Fire Circle: Drums, rattles (so important), and other percussion such as cowbells. Instruments other than drums and percussion are welcome in the sacred circle, but their use must be discussed beforehand with a facilitator after Forestdance Orientation. Chants, songs, masks, costumes and elaborate clothing are welcome, as are body and face paint and your intentions. (What would you choose to manifest in your life and for your life?)

Here is a checklist:

Costuming, masks, towel, Walking shoes, Tent, sleeping bag, bedding, Battery-operated alarm clock, Flashlight, Earplugs, Natural bug repellent, Sunscreen, Rain cover, Bathing suit, Towel, Eco-conscious toiletries, your medications if you need any, Water bottle, Your own cups and bowls labeled with your name, utensils, Nesting blanket/Ground cover to sit on, Snacks for the food altar, Ziplock bags, Instruments, Drums, Shakers, rattles, extra ones too for the percussion altar, Decorations for the altars, Massage oils and tables, Clear intentions for shaping our reality, something that represents your ancestors

Bring a Bicycle and a good Headlamp; it’s a large site.

 

Can I teach or do work exchange?

Staff and teachers are chosen long before the event, so it is highly unlikely you will be able to do work exchange at the last minute. But there is often space in the Seed Groups to make offerings. We also prefer that people experience the Forestdance fire circle once as an attendee before being in service as a teacher, though we have made exceptions to this ideal. If there are certain work exchange positions still available, we will ask you about your specific skill sets and see if we can match things up together.

Thanks again, we look forward to honoring our lives to the fullest.

 

Testimonials

“Forestdance is a gift of love, earned through sincerely bringing one’s self, peeling back layers and opening to what is present. Although I often arrive with my defenses up, I always leave blown wide-open by my capacity to love and be loved, by the community and what we can hold together. It is powerful medicine to learn that our intentions and safe-space are all that is needed to touch the divine and be returned to self.”

– Orion Kriegman – Tellus Institute

“Thanks again for all the work you do to create this amazing container where we can safely go deep within if we choose. For me; well, it’s my favorite thing to do–movement and sound coming from now with all the power of creation, for its own sake! A chance to be fully present, listening for the next step, letting go and just feeling/expressing where it takes me next. Listening for the space to respond “I hear you!” sometimes in beauty, sometimes in pain, its bliss! And to do this with beautiful mindlike brothers and sisters with sacred intention and humor in our heart … well, pure yummminess!!”

– Eva Arriaga

Click to see more testimonials from past Forestdances

“I must express this deep gratitude. My experience in community and ritual at Forestdance has truly been life changing. Some old stories were able to be unearthed, seen, experienced burned and healed….in full support of loving guides. It was so profound…as I’ve been processing and settling in, I’ve been feeling the space created by the death of the old. What is taking it’s place is grace, strength, a knowing and seeing of my own worth….I have never felt like this. I’m communicating clearly, truth. There’s so much, my friend~
It’s like women who want to share there birth stories… I feel like Forestdance is my birth story~
Ah! So much Love and Many Blessings!”

-Melinda ManyNames Wilkins

“I’ve been feeling downright crappy for a while: unsure, afraid, lost, alone. Very very tired of the repeated rhythms of my lonely stress, hating myself for the ways I procrastinate on my dreams, feeling alienated from myself and the people I love.

Enter Forestdance. I didn’t go in with expectations of finding a breakthrough, or feeling healed. My intention was presence, striving to remain open to what comes and letting it be what it is. And around the fire I never felt bored, or disengaged. I felt at times alienated, frustrated, self-conscious, but I never felt sick of the work. I’m surprised about that, looking back. I was really really in it, and focused on accepting it as is.

And I arrived at some beautiful and cathartic feelings, including deep sadness about how I feel I am failing in my life, profound appreciation for my big brother, excruciating fear of sharing parts of myself and, ultimately, the satisfying thrill of reveling in the power of my voice, and in the creative strength of my movement and my rhythm.

So this was an adventure, and I wasn’t expecting to feel refueled. But in the end, after the embers have cooled and my brain has been restored by rest, I look back, and I look forward, and I feel… DAMN GOOD. I am grateful I honored my urge to invite more fire, more dancing, more singing, more nature, and more love, into my life. I feel a bit tipsy on the juice that flows from the fruits of these things I know I love, and too often lack.

And so I head home unsure of exactly what’s next, but encouraged by renewed energy, and a lighter spirit. I feel in touch with deeper parts of myself, empowered to find what brings me joy, and eager to sing my song.

Yawp!”

– Joshua Warrior

“…I want to express my deepest gratitude for you and the Forestdance community. I cannot begin to tell you how much my world has opened up since joining you around the fire in September. And the effects have been obvious not only in my life but in the lives of the people around me as well. It has been such a beautiful transformation and I cannot wait to bring it with me to my music therapy endeavors in San Francisco and whatever other adventures I end up on after that…

-Kim Zunner

“I usually steer clear of spiritual gatherings these days for personal reasons, and had to be dragged the first day, but within minutes all my resistance melted away, so welcomed was I by the open minds and hearts of everyone at Forestdance. As a teacher I was honored by Una, my Seed Group Coordinator. And having been at many multi-day spiritual gatherings, I was thoroughly impressed by the collabaorative nature of everyone involved, by the inspirationaI leadership of Jason and the rest of the staff, and the sincere, high integrity and powerful nature of the rituals. I believe I will be back, as I now feel that I am part of a community I can feel safe in and call my own. Thanks for everything.”

– Chris Marano

“Between the Tribes’ harmonic music, the laughter of children and dawn tea made from roots of earth and wood, I reconnect to my family, myself, my power, our power, and the song that life always wants to sing through me but I don’t always hear. At Forestdance, I can hear.”

-Robin Sol

“I have experienced some of the most beautiful moments of my life through this fire circle ceremony. Forestdance has brought so many blessings and gifts into my life, the core of which is a feeling of deep love and family through sharing this sacred work together.”
 

– Patrick Draper, Director of the University of the Wild

“Forestdance awakens and fulfills our intrinsic capacity to experience a depth of soul and a vibrance of spirit that is often muted by the dead skin of our egos. There is a tangible density to the energy within the circle that pulses and radiates from the fire of our collective heartbeat, suspending us in the space between thoughts, creating a perfect harmony between our humanity and animations of the Spirit. It is a cure for mundanity, an elixir of truth and beauty, and an opportunity to transcend and awaken your limitless bliss.”

– Luke Destefano

“Forestdance was a beautiful demonstration of human community and will power, I feel blessed to have been there.”

– Eli Carlton-Pearson

“Fire in my belly, fire in my soul, earth in my body, sun in my heart, stars in my eyes, as the medicine wheel spins. Deep love, beyond words, beyond tribe, beyond community; to the very essence which makes us human and makes us children of God. Of earth and sky, we tapped into our role as the great connectors. With our feet pounding into the sacred Earth, and our souls soaring in and around the universe, with the angles, with the spirits, stars and supernovas, we were everywhere and nowhere. As little brother sprite I felt the role of star gazer, eyes wide open in awe of all of your love and fire and passion and compassion. Ohh the teachers oh the teachers. We all came with gifts to share and share ohh we did, and receive ohhhh we did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I grew in so many ways this past week. Preparing me for a new step in my life, filling up with so many different kinds of love and …. maraca patterns. Forest Dance in Costa Rica to this past Forest Dance at Earthlands has marked the most dramatic time of growth, aside from the womb, in my life. In my 20th year, much has happened, I have awakened to my true self, I have come of age, I have become a man. And Forest Dance has been the catalyst. Thank you all for being apart of this for me. My family, I love you WITH EVERY INCH OF MY BEING …inch….. not an accurate portrayal of soul dynamics …. you get the picture.”

– Oliver Jacobson

“Forestdance was an amazing experience for me last summer. I felt so open to absorbing everything when I was there and I love the community of people and recognizing more faces from previous gatherings. The size of Forestdance makes it easier to connect with people. I was on this natural high that lasted for a few weeks after I got home. I started a new job which I loved and my phone kept ringing with more job opportunities. Things just seemed to turn around when I got back from the festival.”

– Melissa Morrissey

“The Forest Dance in Petersham, MA. was the best. I felt safe enough to dance for the first time in a long time as if no one was watching. I truly felt moved. I had experiences, I thought lived in the world of the improbable, which now are reality.”

– Billy Woods

“Going into Forestdance, I was wise to leave my expectations at home. They only would have gotten in the way. The beauty of the Sacred Land, the integrity of the participants, and the intimate atmosphere made this a supporting and safe place for me to work the deep majics and transformation. Not just drums and dance, but a Family of Spirits. I knew I was in the right place when the storm came and everyone kept going. The fire was hot, the drummers were hotter, and the dancing was truly in between the worlds. Fire performers, shooting stars, and spoken words weaving the wisdom of our Gods and Goddess, everyone had a chance to serve, to hold, to be held and to trance. To see so much love in action was humbling and inspirational. I am grateful to be included in such a vibrant Community, and Gods willing, I will dance and drum there again.”

– Raven Marquez

Thanks, Jason and crew for bring Forestdance and the magick of the Sacred Fire Circle into my life. From the moment I stepped into the Sacred Fire Circle I knew I was hooked. The warmth, the love, the caring and sharing of everyone in the Circle was so powerful and you couldn’t help but be comfortable and feel so accepted. I’ve never felt in a safer place to do my work and turn my lead into gold. This is definitely an experience that will never be forgotten and I look forward to sharing many more Fire Circles with you.”

– MoonFeather

“… Forestdance, which I find to be the perfect combination of everything worthwhile in life: communion with our selves, each other, and all nature, self-expression through the body, in dance, song, music, poetry and art, and healing of mind and spirit in cycles, again and again.”

-Nina Smolyar

“The first forestdance was probably the most amazing small festival I’ve ever attended. There were enough people with the intention of love and celebration that the mojo was strong, but not so many people that I couldn’t find time to connect with most of them. Each Forestdance I’ve been to since has built on that first one, with clear intention around the fire, coherent ritual that shapes the energy but does not restrict personal spirituality, a strong focus on community, and intense mojo.”

– Papillon

“It’s better than drugs”

– Noemi Bowman, Normandy, France

“For me, Forest Dance is a magical container for personal transformation. It is a place to honor the land, the community and the spirit. The festival is held in a beautiful place. You can feel the sacred intention that is being held by all involved. When I am there I am surrounded by many shining beautiful faces, most who I know, some who are new to me. The energy of the fire circle is very dynamic. It is a place where I can feel myself open up and unfold completely…I am safe and held here. It is truly amazing to witness this opening in myself and others! One thing I most love about Forestdance is that is very intimate. It was easy to connect with everyone.”

– Leah Shapiro

“I have been to a Forestdance and would like to be included in info on upcoming gatherings and tours. A memory of Forestdance was seeing the fire area get prepared with a huge amount of focus and intention, the same firepit I found myself dancing around reluctantly a few times, slowly building into a rythym and through the dance interacting with a dear friend, and building, and letting go and letting flow, and next thing I noticed that my friend was dancing behind me and before long I let go again and soon I was off on a tidal wave riding the rhythm in all its power and drive. I remember flying around the fire on my toes, moving with lots of creativity and energy, totally sober, yet in a non-normal state of conciousness driven by the rhythm. I also remember loving some awesome yoga in the mornings, and the feeling of community that built in the handful of days.”

– Jacob Zammito

“This has been one of the best fire circles that I have been touched by!”

– Nick Cannizzaro

“The participants of my sound workshop at ForestDance arrived amazingly open and willing to try anything; it was my best group so far! Jason has done a wonderful job in creating a festival in which everyone is presented with opportunity to experience true heart connections, like a coming home, like family. I will most certainly be back and will recommend any other events that Jason puts together.”

– Kerem, ReSounding Peace, Sound Healing practitioner and workshop facilitator

“I’m just getting in from Summerset. I have to tell you it was the best one I can remember thus far. In large part… this is due to the group Incus and the wonderful mastery of fire circle magick that was demonstrated last night by Jason Cohen, it’s leader.

“Anyone who has studied or led ecstatic dance circles would readily admit to being skeptical about whether a serious one can actually take place in an open setting like the main firepit at a pagan festival. Jason puts that skepticism to rest. His unique approach is like no other I have experienced. And WOW!”

– From Susan Herger of Snakes’ Rising

“Forestdance was a wonderful experience for me last year. The energy was intimate and warm, which matched the sounds and movements around the fire. To see so many wonderful people together in harmony always reminds me of how blessed I am to be surrounded by such an incredible community. I look forward to returning this year, and to creating more magic together.”

– Shawn Starkweather