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Alchemical Process

Our event is often called an “Alchemical Fire Circle”. Alchemy is the ancient search to create “gold” by applying heat and pressure. In alchemy, the Magnum Opus or Great Work is a term for the process of working with base material to create the philosopher's stone. It has been used to describe personal and spiritual transmutation in the Hermetic tradition. 


Our event mirrors much of this process. 


Black Night

In the first night we are pressured by sleeplessness, exhaustion, and the energy we create, to bring forth those often hidden issues currently affecting us(the blackening). We add them to the fire. 


White Night

On the second night we explore the subtleties of what has appeared through our work in the circle, and learn what must be done to release them (the whitening). We burn them away.


Red Night

On the third night we celebrate and complete the process by incorporating and integrating our experience into personal awareness and change ( the reddening ). When this process is successful we carry what we have learned into a new perception and awareness of our life journey.



Many of us reflect the colors by choosing costumes in the color of the night. Black outfits for black night, white for white night and red outfits for red night.

Alchemical Portals

Alchemical Portals of contribution, including Rhythm, Movement, Voice, and Service are created and offered by participants. Each portal is a doorway through which we access the deep magical potential of the Circle. Our practice is to mindfully engage with each other as a way to discover more about ourselves, our relationships, and our own highest vision.

Rhythm Portal - South/Fire

"Add your fire to the Prime Rhythm. And Play from there." 

The music portal involves the making of music in any manner. It is keeping a heartbeat on a drum or with your feet, playing a rhythm on the drums, shaking a rattle or playing with the other instruments from the percussion altar. It is stomping your feet or clapping your hands. It is playing a singing bowl, flute, violin, didgeridoo, or accordion. The music may be fast or slow, quiet or loud.


Our Circle is not a “drum circle” – it's a time and place of personal discovery through artistic interaction and self-expression. The musician's role is to be in balanced, harmonious relationship with people accessing the Movement, Voice and Service Portals. Sound is the one pervasive element throughout the night that directly affects everyone. We embrace musical diversity – fast and slow, soft and loud, different “feels” or styles, and most of all, the DEEP STEADY GROOVE that is foundational to trance. 

Fire circle music is predominantly percussion or drone oriented. Occasionally a melody instrument may contribute spice to the sonic swirl, accenting a chant, or offering a brief interlude before the return of chanting or dancing. In addition to djembes and dununs, we also value distinct periods showcasing frame drums, doumbeks, congas and other Sacred Sounds! We cherish immersion in the softer musical magic of didgeridoos, crystal singing bowls, gongs and chimes, temple bells, berimbau, mouth harps, conch shells, shruti boxes and rainsticks. 

When playing an instrument, remember that you are in Service to the Circle. Please allow everyone ample time to learn the chants before adding rhythm. When you start to play, enter quietly – carefully accompanying the singers. We avoid abrupt starts and stops in order to nurture trance, allowing the music to gently fade away into silence. Let complete stillness hold us for a while in rich anticipation of the next offering to emerge (Silence is fertile soil from which new chant seeds sprout!). One drum played thoughtlessly can short-circuit the birth of a delicate new song. Music making is a mindful practice requiring focus and sensitivity. 

The Rattle Altar has shakers you are welcome to play. Please ask before using anyone else's instruments. Be sure to remove rings or bracelets before drumming to prevent blistered hands or damage to the drum-head. Remember to return any instrument you use. 

The seats are set in an arc to allow all players to easily see and hear each other. When someone in the front row departs (remembering to take their instruments with them), move forward into the vacant seat. This is especially important for inexperienced players, as it brings them into closer, supportive relationships with the other musicians. Please leave your gear bag at your nest, avoiding clutter in the musician's area – just bring the instrument you want to play. 

Drummers generally join each other in playing a common simple rhythm, thus creating a strong, danceable musical foundation. Take turns soloing or playing variations of the primary groove. Tune into, and interact with dancers who enter the Gratitude Zone within the arc, sending them musical love and encouragement! Relax and settle in – our rhythmic rides may last an hour or more. Each common shared rhythm will take on many new dimensions as people stick with it, reaching deep for the groove. 

Finally, remember that music making is just one of many magical portals in our spontaneous ceremony. Be sure to also go chant, move and be in service to others in the Circle. 

Movement Portal - West/Water

"Find where your water flows. Dance from there." 

The portal of movement is walking, moving your arms, jogging or running around the fire. It is trotting like a horse, jumping, twirling, stomping, or graceful dancing. It is moving in a choreographed way as a group or expressing a song or chant by your movement. 

Feel free to express yourself through dance, moving in circles as you relax into trance. Improvise partner or group choreography; add symbolic movements to more fully express the words of a song. Mirror the steps or gestures of others dancing, or simply walk around the Circle. 

Many people understand the architecture of our fire circle through the metaphor of the planets and their orbits. The Fire in the center represents the Sun, source of energy, heat, light, and transformation. Bodies near the center often move faster in their orbits.


Spin Zone – Unique to our circle is the spin zone. This is a marked attached eight foot diameter circle for rotating in sufi style. Like a comet, you can enter this area an accelerate in rotation and then rejoin your orbit if you choose. 

Much of the energy we create, and utilize for transformation, comes from movement within, and outside the cauldron.The cauldron a safe space for free form movement, “Dance like there is no one watching !”.Movement can be in many forms: slow expressive movement, large expansive dance, simple walking the fire, fast walking, crawling and even running. Participants may join together in movement, or be doing many separate types all in the same space. Like an engine, with our fire in the center, movement helps fuel the energy for all to use our core principals to power our journey.

Holding Space - Holding space is a term we use for the energy work that takes place surrounding our cauldron. Movement, singing, chanting, and heartfelt words all join with our central fire to create spiritual energy. Holding space is the process of containing this energy so it can amplify and feed participants throughout our circle. A ring of elevated torches surround our peat lined cauldron, and participants take turns facing inward from  this “Mars line” and use their personal power to help the energy within maintain and grow. This is active work, and like the magnets surrounding a conventional electric motor keep the energy moving and growing all night long.

Voice Portal- East/Air

"Find where your breath begins. Sing from there."

The voice portal involves speaking your truth, reading poetry, singing chants or songs, telling stories, lending your voice to someone who is finding the courage to use their voice. It is moaning, sighing, laughing, or screaming. Open yourself and let your beautiful voice be heard.


One easy way to energize the Circle is by singing. Simple chants will emerge throughout the night – please join in! Part of our adventure is devoting the attention needed to learn the words “on the fly”. If it takes a while to pick up all the lyrics, so be it – we have ALL NIGHT!  We generally chant in English, allowing us to connect emotionally with the meaning of the songs. It is understood that anyone can start a chant, and that we'll all dive in and make it soar! You might cluster up with a couple of friends, making it easy for them to learn the song, and then bring it out together to share with the group. 


Some of us were conditioned to think that our singing voices aren't “good enough.” Release that limiting belief! Sing with gusto, and without fear. Spiritedness is more important than perfect pitch. Our hearts and voices bring energy that empowers everyone in the Circle. 


Some of our chants have multiple parts. If a second song layer begins, new people are encouraged to continue on the original chant line, riding the magical wave as the two melodies interweave. New chants are often invented around the Fire – feel free to contribute to the lyrics as ideas and themes blossom from the group mind. 


The Portal of the Voice has many other expressions – humming, howling, whistling, moaning or laughing with delight! You can share a poem, recite a quote, invoke spirit or ancestors, or spontaneously speak from your heart. Feel free to bring ritual theatre celebrating deities, seasonal cycles or sacred days, transition rites and more. Spoken word segments tend to be brief, allowing us to return to shared group expressions such as chanting, music making or movement. 

Service Portal - North/Earth

"Find the center of gratitude within. Serve from there." 

The service portal is nurturing the community as a whole or individually. It includes holding space energetically or with a rattle to support the work of others. It is offering water to the drummers, dancers, singers, space holders or smudgers. It is taking a turn at the smudge gate or listening to someone who may want to talk. It is offering food or lending your voice to someone who is beginning a chant. It is offering your hand to someone to invite them to walk with you around the fire. 


Some find the Service portal the easiest to access because so many opportunities to tend to each other's needs appear during our journey. Make a new friend, or deepen an existing connection by nurturing someone deep in the night. 


For example, you can deliver food or water from the Food Altar to those in the circle. When doing so, we follow a few simple conventions, such as moving in the same direction as those circling, always offering eye contact before offering water or food (non-eye contact indicates a polite decline), and mindfully keeping water off player's instruments. 


You can devote a few moments restock the food altar, light candles that have blown out, or re-chalk the Earth track. Check in with a Fire Tender and help feed the flames of our sacred Fire. Settle in at the Smudge Gate to offer purification with sage smoke to those entering the Circle. 


The Wellness Nest nearby makes a perfect place to offer healing energy. You might give a foot massage to a dancer, or a hand or shoulder rub to a drummer. Help care for the entire crucible by picking up litter, sticks or stones underfoot, or return unattended instruments left in the musician's arc to the covered area nearby. When you seek ways to serve others, remarkable opportunities will arise! 

Read Next: Core Principles

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