Resourcery

  • Fire Circle Tech
  • How to Prepare
  • Philosophy
  • Links
  • Music & Song
firecircle thmb

Sacred Fire Circles are conscious celebrations intended to inspire all who participate to live more meaningful, rewarding, joyous, creative and empowered lives. 

alchemical

Yes, you, and yes… you do. You deserve an ordeal, not a drama mind you, but a real old fashioned ordeal.

Read More
firebuilt thmb

Your actual packing list may vary, depending on your accommodations, participation in the venue's meal plan, and other factors. Read More...

waterfalls thmb

Our extensive Frequently Asked Questions should give you the information you need, but if not, feel free to Contact Us.

Read More
ecoethics thmb

One of our primary aims for Illumination is to champion new ways to honor and respect our planet in crisis while we celebrate our ever-present connection with her. Read More...

service thmb

As the old saying goes, "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." With this in mind, Sacred Fire Circle Gatherings are founded on a philosophy of sacred service.  Here are a few articles that provide greater insight into this wonderful way of being.

 
Read More

Peak Experience Productions is a legendary West Coast producer of conscious celebrations.

The Beloved Festival presents world music and new paradigm cultural events.

The Vegas Vortex produces alchemical events and fire circle gatherings in Las Vegas. 

SpiritFire Festival is a five day retreat-style fire circle gathering held in New England.

Fire Tribe Hawaii on Oahu. Sacred Fire Circles at each Solstice and Equinox. Dance, Music, Song & Art.

McBride Magic & Mystery School and world-renowned magician Jeff McBride.

Forestdance Sacred Fire Circles are co-creative, all night, eclectic spiritual experiences.

Shimmering Wolf Studios - Illumination website developer & Facilitator of Redwood Nights.

Kyer Photography/Artistic Wedding Photos - Photographer for some of this site's images

Read More
alchemical

You learn it by doing it, and once you get the basic idea, it can be applied in many different ways. Read More...

service thmb

While most of the music at fire circles is improvised we do draw upon the vast library of traditional circle songs... Read More....

 
Read More

Quick Reference for Alchemical Rhythmatism

By Joshua Levin and Michael Wall

The Alchemical Fire Circle model is one of several organizational templates we use for guiding our all-night-long journeys.  In this model we sometimes enlist the support of a communication system known as Alchemical Rhythmatism (“AR”) in order to bring greater focus and coherency to our musical conversations.  This system is especially exciting in that it allows participants with limited musical experience to participate in complex musical conversations with ease. 

When we go to the Native sweat lodge, the Santerian Bembe, or the Catholic Church, we observe the customs of the lodge or the ceremony. When participating in the Alchemical Fire Circle Ritual, please extend the same measure of honor and respect to this, our own sacred way of illumination.

 

In order to participate and provide musical support for the Alchemical Fire Circle Ritual, celebrants benefit from a shared understanding of the intentions and methods that we use to play together. It's fun, easy, and illuminating to join in the alchemy of rhythm for this unique experience. Regardless of skill level, anyone who wishes to be a part of the music is welcome.


 

Please be aware that all who might drum during the Alchemical Fire Circle Ritual must: 

Attend one of the Alchemical Rhythmatism Initiations offered during the event, and;

Agree to play within this format format during those times in which this format is being explored. 

firespotphoto

ALCHEMICAL RHYTHMATISM (A.R.) IS EASY

You learn it by doing it, and once you get the basic idea, it can be applied in many different ways.

This unique method of collaborative improvisation guides musicians towards deep engagement with each other, service to the circle as a whole, and conscious identification with the psychological and emotional implications of their own artistic process. A.R. is a middle-road between free form jamming and regimented ensemble play. It is fun, easy, and includes valuable ways for everyone to participate. Dancers, chanters, spoken word artists and ritualists are also empowered to use A.R. cues (see below) to shape sonic environments that serve their own magical offerings.

KEY FEATURES OF ALCHEMICAL RHYTHMATISM

alchemicalFURNACE - a semi-circle of musicians. (Where music gets cooked). The number of seats is optimized for the size of the gathering, and music makers take turns in the available spots. There will be clearly marked reserved seats for bell, clave and dundun players.

GROOVE - the single rhythmic phrase referenced by all musicians. It serves as the foundation for all the music in the circle.

LINES - The groove contains high and low "Lines." The High Line is defined by the key high-pitched tones of the groove, and the Low Line is defined by the bass tones in the groove. When these separate lines are played by differently tuned instruments the result is surprisingly complex and tasty.

ROLES - A.R. has clearly defined musical roles with different ways of serving the overall musical composition:

Groove Guide (Celestial Child) - sets and sustains the Groove (Hand Drum)

Mirrors (Mercury/Soul) - match the groove, preserving its distinct rhythmic shape (Hand Drum)

Pulse (Sulfur/Spirit) - keeps the beat like a metronome, by playing on the whole, half, or quarter note. (Shekere)

High Line (Sulfur/Spirit) - matches only the groove's high tones. (Bell, High Bass Drum)

Low Line (Sulfur/Spirit) - matches only the groove's low tones. (Wood Block, Low Bass Drum)

Soloists (Peacock's Tail) - play complementary rhythms and improvisations. (Any instrument, even voice)

Anyone can play any of these roles, but please remember to balance your participation. If you have been soloing, make space to support others and hold the groove. If you have been in a supportive position, maybe it's time for you to lead a groove. We're almost always focused and aware of what we're doing, but let's make sure that we take the time to care about what others are doing. Look, listen, and feel for what the furnace "needs" to achieve maximum illumination. 

VARIATIONS - Some roles play variations on the groove. (High Line, Low Line and Soloist). Variations on the individual lines are produced by adding or dropping the sixteenth note immediately before or after the key beats. (Sometimes by dropping one key beat entirely.) This approach sustains the structure of the rhythm. More complex ways of varying the lines for these and other roles can be learned in advanced A.R. workshops.

CHANGING ROLES - Everyone has a chance to rotate through the various roles. People can switch roles at anytime, including the middle of a piece. If you want to play a certain role, make eye contact, and gesture to the person currently in that seat. They can either give up the spot or shake their head (meaning "please wait, I'm in the middle of something"). You can also gesture to invite someone else to take your place, so you can sit out for a while.

THE GRATITUDE ZONE is the open area in the center of the Furnace where dancers can interact very directly with the music makers.

THE SACRED SOUNDS TABLE behind the chairs is for delicate instruments used during non-rhythmic, ambient passages. These fragile instruments are generally not used during percussion grooves. Please bring your singing bowls!

CHAOS AND COSMOS - Alchemical Rhythmatism fluctuates between free-form explorations ("Uncontrolled Burn") and the structured play described above. Anyone can make the switch with the call, "Match Me" ("Controlled Burn"). 

VERBAL CUES - A.R. is all about the power of connecting, and connecting is all about communication. Verbal cues can be used to invite the entire music-dance-chant collective to move in a given musical direction. Anyone in the ensemble can make these verbal cues. This includes singers and dancers. To make a cue, get people's attention by stepping into the Gratitude Zone or just calling "HEP", which means, "Listen up! Something is happening."

Some common verbal cues:

'match me' - copy the core rhythmic structure I am playing. Focus first on getting the bass notes in the right place in time.

'hep' or 'listen up' - something is about to happen.

'level up' or 'level down' - bring the volume up or down.

'sup' or 'slowit' - speed up or slow down.

'steady' - keep the volume or the tempo at its current level.

'tighten up' - simplify and reconnect with the core groove.

'sail in' or 'sail out' - slowly fade in or out.

'shine on ___' - invites someone to solo, everyone else lowers volume.

'show me One' - show me the beginning of the groove. 

INTERACTION and SUPPORT - people are encouraged to guide each other. If you hear someone having trouble finding their part or place in the music, please offer help. If you are having trouble, look to your playmates for support. Please be gracious in offering and receiving help. Approach the challenges of getting "it" and sharing "it," by having fun with "it."

SILENCE - the music is always in service to the Circle. The majority of people at the Circle are engaging in other portals or paths besides drumming. This means that one of the most important things the musicians can do is provide sufficient space for other offerings and kinds of engagement. Sometimes that means actively creating a silence, even total silence. Be aware of the dancers, singers, spoken word offerings and general energy around the fire. Active listening is a vital skill here.

A much more elaborate and detailed discussion of these principles is available here:  The Practice: Alchemical Rhythmatism

Alchemical Rhythmatism offers a unique opportunity for you to share your rhythmic ideas as an offering in the circle. Please bring your favorite grooves and take us all on an adventure. You can be sure that you will have lots of support from a loving fellowship of musicians who want nothing more than to see you succeed brilliantly!

...we are in part, what we sound like when we're together...

  

Copyright © Joshua Levin and Michael Wall. Re-posting of these materials with permission only.