As SpiritQuest draws near, I thought some of you might appreciate knowing more about the sacred fire and how it has come to be such an important part of the lives of those who attend SpiritQuest. Whether you will be joining us for Quest or not, the sacred fire calls to many of us and enlightens our spirits, whether standing at the fire in person, meditating with a candle as we do for New Moon Fire Ceremony, or honoring the sacred fire within our own hearts.
This blog, came to be as a result of heart-felt experiences people at SpiritQuest wanted to share. And the heart beat of SpiritQuest is the sacred fire. So it seems appropriate to share with all of you the history of sacred fire at the center of this ceremony.
SpiritQuest actually began with a Cherokee ceremony that was brought to me to revive, called Song Quest. (Later we expanded it to add even more quests and rites of passage ceremonies—becoming SpiritQuest.) In the vision about Song Quest, I was shown that a sacred fire would be kept burning 24 hours per day for the questers who were out alone on the Mother, seeking their sacred songs. Those of us in camp, lovingly tended the sacred fire with our prayers for their well-being and revelations. I can assure you, with only four of us to tend fire that first year, we spent a lot of time in prayerful meditation at the fire. Now, so many of us attend Quest that sometimes we have more fire tenders than we need, spreading out our precious time at the fire.
In addition to tending the fire, while we are in camp we also eat and drink for our questers who are fasting. This ends up being great fun, since you can eat all you want and not gain weight. We eat and drink as prayer, keeping our quester in mind. When the quester comes down from their quest, we get to hear all the stories about how they were thirsty, said a prayer asking us to drink, and felt their thirst go away. We also get to hear them describe the food we ate, or the reverse. We describe what we ate and they affirm which of those foods they tasted. It is a simple and meaningful way to discover how truly connected we are to each other.
Ah yes, back to the fire. On the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma, the tribe has constructed a village for tourists that replicates life for the Cherokee when only the Native Americans lived on this continent. At the center of a Cherokee village, there was a 7 sided council house and in the center of the council house a sacred fire was kept burning 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, throughout the year. At the beginning of each year, the old fire was extinguished. At that time, all debts and individuals being punished for an offense were forgiven. The entire village (and tribe) started anew.
Then a new sacred fire was lit. Every home in the village received an ember from the sacred fire with which to start their home fire. In this way, the entire community was connected through the heart beat of the central sacred fire. The sacred fire was tended by specially trained fire tenders. I’m sure you can imagine what a responsibility and privilege that would have been. Can you also imagine the unity of heart they created in community as the central sacred fire was tended with love and honor? They were all connected through that single sacred and on-going act of service.
At SpiritQuest, we recreate this custom for one week. Many of us are called to tend the fire, something requiring years of training in the traditional way, and yet we are privileged to get to tend this fire with only cursory training. It is an incredible responsibility, and yet each year, we watch people step up to it with full and sincere hearts. What they learn about themselves, their connection to the community, and even greater connections to Mother Earth become insights that linger with us for life.
If you are joining us at SpiritQuest in person, welcome to a wonderful opportunity to discover more about the sacred fire within your own heart as you are welcomed to the sacred fire at Quest. If you cannot join us in person, please light a candle or get up to watch the sun rise during the week of June 15th-21st, and be there with us in spirit. We simply hold ourselves in loving presence at the fire. We do not put or send energy into the fire. We simply witness it in love and learn from it, knowing that our love co-mingled with the spirit of the sacred fire is all that we or our questers need to find spiritual nourishment. Then observe how the fire responds to your love, and the insights that come to you in its presence.
Through the sacred fire, you join with us in a community based in honor, love and gratitude for all that Spirit has given us.
In my heart and songs,