Tis the season of “Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high” (well, zucchini is abundant). The fullness of summer brings so much activity in the garden and yet at the same time the ease of warm, soft days where cloud watching becomes sport. Here at Sweetwater Sanctuary we are attempting to find the balance of blessed “being” and grateful “doing”. Our classes are in full swing as we begin to get calls for next year – yiks – already? Please continue to check our website at Partner Earth Education Center for updates both for this year and next. Don’t forget to register for the upcoming Green Nations Gathering to be held at Rowe Conference Center in Rowe, Ma. this coming September where Pam will be the keynote speaker.
Feeding Fire Within and Without by Mark Carlin
Close to the day of Summer Solstice we shared a Fire ceremony here at Sweetwater Sanctuary that was as intense as summer heat. We wanted to align with and honor the spirit of Fire, to be in relationship with its force and power and to receive its gifts, while fueling our inner flame as we gave of ourselves to the element of Fire.
Fire is not some energy that we harness for our own convenience out of some misguided notion of human superiority over nature or merely the result of some simple chemical/compound result of striking match to tinder and wood, nor is it anything that people create. Fire is one of the great pillars, one of the great beings, great givers and mighty devourers within Holy Nature whose power causes all life to live, all Green Beings to be fed and all earth to jump up and live again. We in the North country witness every day the Plants abundant flowering response to Sunlight, and in the age old tradition of honoring Summer Solstice it is only natural and fitting that attempts be made to give offerings to the spirit and life of Fire.
Making a conscious shift away from strategizing what fire can do for us or how we might "use" fire to take away our burdens or burn up the pieces of our lives that no longer serve us, we felt inspired to make simple but beautiful hand made gifts of natural materials that held the very essence of our becoming. We gathered from gardens and forests, rivers and animals, and brought them, after sundown, to a gift blanket spread on the ground under a prayer tree next to a fire ring where we laid our gift that was fueled by the inner flame of our natural indigenous selves.
Pieces of cut and gathered fallen wood were earlier in the day assembled teepee style and upright over a bed of dry broken branch, shredded birch bark and twig tinder, awaiting the possibility that if enough intention in our hearts coupled with enough permissive blessings granted by the Weathers of air and wind, we might dance and drum something beautiful that could feed a summer Fire with expression of aliveness, gratitude and debt payment to the magnificent presence of Fire. Out loud we asked permission to do this and with human words praised Fire, praised Natures creative forces as we closely gathered around the stone circle offering prayers, giving a bead, a pinch of tobacco, or a breath before eventually passing a lit piece of bark from hand to hand and touched the inner chambers of the wood house with our small wicks.
Standing back with our drums, rattles and shakers we began raising our voices of song, each singing our own song and dancing our own dance, but done in a collective and Wild way in relationship to the Fire that now grew stronger and rose higher while with each beat of our drums and singings in our breast our inner flame grew brighter fueling our passions. Then one at a time a person went to the gift blanket, picked up someone’s earlier made offering with no concern of who it "belonged to", and in whatever way he or she felt able, danced, walked, knelt or stood and placed these small but big, beautiful creations of our true essential natures into the arms of the fire. As each in turn fed the outer flame with the very gift of our potent becoming-selves together we continued our exuberant expressions to encourage the merging of our own spirit fire with that of Fire allowing the transformation to take place. With the warmth of the June air and the heated breath of this sacred Fire, with the Milky Way spiraling overhead and fireflies flickering among the grasses and trees, with sweat soaked skin and the feeling of renewal that comes from having given the best we could, we finished our dance and song and stood together again as a people basking around the quieting flames, emptied from our exertions and yet filled with a newness that comes from feeding the flame of our becoming.
Thank you Summer Fire. May your spirit light our way.