Fires Rising; Transforming the Things That Hold You Back

What was I doing dancing and drumming all thru the night for three solid nights?  I’m not really a evening person.  My family jokes about “night fell kathud” because it’s like a great big weight just drops on me at some point in the evening.  So why would I do this?

The amazing reason is Fires Rising, an event designed by Magnus and Abbie Spinner McBride.  It is based on the idea of Alchemical Fire Rituals, where you psychologically pass thru the stages of transforming things that hold you back.  You focus on changing your “lead” into “gold”.  Chanting, moving and dancing help you go thru your conscious mind and into the subconscious mind to dredge up things that are holding you back.

Fires Rising is held at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary of Earth Religions near Artemas, PA.  I pushed myself to move and dance, and when I was tired I sat and drummed.  All this creates a mental space where your conscious mind gets lulled and messages and insights from the subconscious are able to be heard.  It is also a wonderful bonding experience with kindred spirits.  Nobody takes themselves too seriously (although it is serious psychological work), there is a lot of laughter and silliness, but interwoven are moments of deep sorrow.  Moments when people open up their hearts and share their burdens and the love of the group can provide support and ideas.

Sometimes I danced and listened to the words of the songs, other times I just kept trudging around in a circle, joining in the repetitive chanting and letting my mind wander in the beat of the drums.  There were rituals interspersed throughout the night, designed by the participants to share their understanding of the emotional alchemical process.  These sometimes provided additional insight.  I watched the moon set and the fire’s sparks rising up to mingle with the sparkling stars. The first night we dress in black and our inner journey is to identify our “lead”, find the things that hold us back.  The second night we dress in white, this is the fluid stage where we seek solutions.  On the joyful third night, we dress primarily in red, with bright gold and sometimes other jewel colors and we rejoice in each other’s journeys and solutions.  As I realized while I was dancing, it holds some similarity to the Native American Sun Dance ritual, but with a lot less pain and lots more laughter.

Like the poet, Jewel Mathieson said,

“WE have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings
sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into
the luminous skin of love dance”

"Fires Rising" watercolor by Patricia Robin Woodruff

“Fires Rising” watercolor by Patricia Robin Woodruff

May you be transformed!

– Robin Rumi


Walking the Winding Labyrinth of your Spiritual Path

Labyrinths go back in antiquity and across cultures; Greece, Europe, India, Egypt, early Native America, Russia etc.  People can confuse a labyrinth with a maze, but a maze has many different branches, whereas a labyrinth has but one path to the center and back out again. It is not a puzzle, but a meditative tool and ritual path.

One of the most fascinating collection of Neolithic labyrinths are located on an island around Russia:
They are thought to be around 3000 years old and seemed to have served as sacred ritual locations. They certainly are on my travel wish list.

Closer to home is the labyrinth at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary near Artemas, PA. The process of traversing a labyrinth makes it obvious that they serve a meditative role. The rhythm of walking and the spiraling patterns moving in and out naturally produce a meditative state.  The Labyrinth at 4QF sits on the crown of a hill, overlooking the serene Pennsylvanian mountains.  It is 84 feet in diameter and its weaving 7 circuit pattern is  based on an ancient Cretan layout. Its mown meadow paths are slowly being converted to more permenant stone edging.

I have walked many labyrinths in churches, fields and woods.  Each time I find myself falling into that timeless state of kairos, sacred time.  It is as if the labyrinth is a path into spiritual dimensions, a way to untangle our thoughts, or a path to find ourselves.  As novelist Kate Mosse said,

“Pas a pas, se va luenh.
Step by step, we make our way.”

This also applies to our search for a spiritual path; sometimes we seem closer to clarity, other times it is still far away.  It can be seen as traveling  inward towards our spiritual center.  After we find spiritual wholeness, we journey back again into the world.

I wish you well on walking your spiritual path.

– Robin Rumi


Labyrinth at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary

Labyrinth at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary