We couldn’t light the fire. We had created the sacred circle for SpiritQuest, but the land was parched and there was fire ban in place. For eleven years we have maintained a sacred fire for 24 hours a day at Quest and this was the first year we weren’t able to strike the match.

I stood looking at the spot—the same exact location where the fire had burned last year. I was in shock. Even during the driest of years, just prior to Quest the land was usually doused with a good rain, as if to get the land ready for our six day fire. Not this year. For some reason, we were going to be holding our Quest without a fire.

So, I prayed about it and was shown a vision of an altar to create. With the help of my ceremonial right hand person, we created this altar, complete with the elements usually offered to the sacred fire. We began our week of ceremony and to my surprise everyone in attendance suggested we tend this sacred space 24 hours per day, the same way we did when tending the sacred fire. Our head fire tender got out the schedule and the community signed up, tending our virtual fire from the wee hours of the morning into the chilly nights.

At one point, my husband was on fire duty between 12:00 midnight and 3:00 in the morning. He crawled into bed with me after his shift smelling like smoke. The next day, I asked people in camp if they had noticed themselves smelling like smoke after tending our virtual sacred fire, and many nodded their heads, amused as I was at the power of our mystical fire.

We tended our virtual fire with great love, learning through the process how to more deeply connect with the sacred fire burning within ourselves. We became intensely aware that we were the heartbeat of the sacred fire we were creating within our community. And we willingly held space day and night at the sacred fire, as our elderhood quester journeyed to other realms and back again to discover her three lifetime commitments.

With that much awareness on the sacred fire burning within ourselves, the camp was humming and crackling like a fire. We healed each other, rested, laughed and played together, meditated, sang, and prayed with all of the softness, warmth, passion, and vigor of a fire. Our virtual fire was teaching us how the mystical power of the sacred fire lives and breathes within each one of us.