What Happens at the Fire Circle?
Benefits of the Fire Circle
Each person will have their own unique experience. However, there are some common effects that we’d like to highlight because these are what motivate us to keep doing this work.
Becoming More Fully Ourselves
By intentionally uncovering unresolved emotions, allowing ourselves to feel them in a safe environment, and releasing them rather than reacting to them, we can loosen their hold on us. This can be incredibly liberating; we often aren’t aware of how much of our lives are affected by small fears and past experiences until we’ve had an opportunity to be free of them.
Opening Our Hearts
The container of emotional safety we create together at the fire circle is indespensible to the process. It gives us an opportunity to practice taking emotional risks without fear of judgment. It allows us to soften our hearts, to become vulnerable, to get used to holding ourselves with care and love. By being willing to express our true selves, we receive the gift of being truly seen.
The experiences we’re describing can be deep and beautiful. The real power comes from the lasting effects we take home with us. Outside the container we create together, the effects are more subtle, but cumulatively they can be life changing.
Through insights gained at Forestdance, some have found the confidence to find a new path for their creative expression; some have entered into new leadership roles in their community, and some have been able to let go of traumatic experiences that had limited their lives.
The experience of Forestdance will not change you from the outside. Rather, it creates a container that offers an opportunity for you to transform yourself from within.
A Fire Circle Experience
I walk down the candle-lit path to the main field, trying to remind myself why I would leave the comfort of my warm sleeping bag at midnight. Even in my semi-conscious haze I’m feeling excited. I don’t know exactly what this night will bring. I know it won’t be the same as last time, because I’m not the same person I was last time. I set my intention for this night: to be present with myself, to feel whatever feelings come up, to release them to the fire. Then a second intention appears of its own accord: to take a risk, to practice being vulnerable. My heart quickens at this thought. This is the real work, this is scary. This is why I’m here.
I join others at the perimeter around the sacred circle in silence, the unlit fire at the center giving a focus for our attention. I practice reverence. The opening ceremony begins. Some words happen, some sounds, some movement, and now I am walking around the new flames, hearing the voices around me chant a sweet melody.
Drums, dancing, celebration. It comes in waves, the energy reaching an ecstatic peak then gently receding, making way for another beautiful song. Sometimes it meets me where I am, and I revel in it. Sometimes I’m not feeling it and I shake a rattle to support the others. I listen to the stories people share in the quiet moments. Vignettes really, or even just a single phrase. Some are difficult to receive; the words are raw. My heart goes out to those brave enough to share. I notice how gently they are supported in the circle, and I wonder if I am that brave.
At some point I notice the graying of the Eastern sky. The circle has thinned. I get it; there were some times I was close to calling it a night, when I didn’t feel connected to the circle, or when I just felt tired. This hint of dawn gives me fresh resolve to hang on until we close.
In the growing light I take a fresh look at the faces of the people around me. Some have shared sweet songs, some difficult memories, some anger, some gratitude. Some people I have come to know by the unique energy of their movement, some by a thoughtful expression touched by firelight. To all of them my heart opens. In a few short hours they have become my family. I love them for their humanity, for their vulnerability, for their beautiful imperfections.
After we close, I make my way back to my sleeping bag, heart wide open, filled with gratitude.