The Culture of Circles

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Coming together to sing. It is medicine. It is ancient, practiced by indigenous peoples around the world. It is magic. It is necessary. And, like the circle, it continues through generations. The circle never ends. 

A friend once shared with me that the idea of the sacred fire, and the practice of coming together as a community to pray around it, is still alive within us. He explained how modern culture replaced the sacred fire with the television, but still we intuitively gathered as families to sit and stare into the flickering light. My mind was blown. To imagine that somehow, we as a society replaced this elemental power, Abuelo Fuego, Grandfather Fire, with a screen, and the consequences of this, floored me. When we stare into the fire, we see truth. The fire is the only element that can not be polluted. It is the purity of our spirit. To swap this out and stare at a screen offering us endless thought pollution, inflaming our desires to consume, feeding us inauthentic lives that cause us to become distracted from our own very real existence…it frightened me. And it made me even more grateful to be here at the farm sitting in circle around the fire, few screens in sight. 

Good news is, despite the attention demanding screens, the ancient practice of singing in circle never died. In the 5 years I have been traveling, it has been an absolute pleasure to discover how common it is across Latin America with people from all cultures. Drum circles, fire prayers, song circles and Kirtans seem to be everywhere. It’s as if a new generation has reconnected with the fire, ancient memories of his wisdom alive in young hearts and asking to be remembered and embodied. And luckily for us at the farm, many of these souls seem to find their way here to pray in circle with us as the sacred fire dances in the center like a flaming heart. 

Why have so many of us strayed from the circle over the last generations? And why now are so many of us finding our way home again? Singing together, sharing songs we have learned on our travels and learning from one another provides an intimate space for deep connection. Here, we remember that we are all one family. We relax into the understanding that, no matter where we go, there will be a fire burning and ready to welcome us into our the arms of our relatives. We open our hearts in song and express our very souls to the joy of each of our brothers and sisters. We play and laugh and drink from the well of Ixcacao, sacred Goddess of the heart medicine. It is so deeply healing that I have seen myself die and be reborn many times by the fire, in the circle with my kin. I have risen in the morning buried in blankets next to the still burning flames like a sleepy Phoenix rising from pillows of ash. No workshop has done what staring and singing into the sacred fire has done. There, the healing is the sole, soul intention, and it happens for each of us in its own special way. 

It is not a practice or a school. It’s simply a way of living. It recharges us and cleanses us, and incorporating sacred fire circles into our lives helps us to cultivate community in the deepest way I have ever experienced. It asks that we meet again and again, that we be ready to sing and dance and connect with one another without distractions. It is deeply primal, rooted in the soil which grows our bones. Practicing this ancient and gentle way of strengthening community feels so pure and precious that I now can’t seem to imagine my life without it. When I consider going back to the city, I immediately wonder where on earth we will have our drum circle. I can’t bring myself to leave this ring of stones, and seem to jump from one to the next in my travels. 

So, have you practiced this ancient art? Have you celebrated life in this simple way? Have you seen the flickering faces of your family circled around the light and felt the walls of your heart give way in a rush of gratitude? 

If not, I highly recommend it.