SpiritFire offers a diverse range of workshops that emphasize the pathways of music, motion, voice, seva, and the mysteries. Below are descriptions of just a few of the workshops from previous years.
New Songs for the Fire Circle
with Donovan Arthen
The fire circle has a rich repertoire of songs and chants that we all know and love. However, there are many other kinds of wonderful expressions through voice that can access for diversity and variety. In this workshop we will bring a handful of new songs/chants to the circle and perhaps broaden our idea of what kinds of voice offerings might contribute to our circles, much like the different forms of rhythmic traditions we play. We will take time to learn pieces that remind us of the sacredness of the world around us in simple but beautiful melodies; some may be familiar and some totally new and exciting – all will be new to SpiritFire.
Fire of Transformation
with Rachel Fields
Chances are you’ve heard people talk about “doing their work” around the fire. Have you ever wondered what this means? Have you ever wondered what work you could be doing around the fire? If the fire circle can be a container for personal transformation, what are some ways one can actively engage this process? At this workshop, we’ll explore possibilities for our own work by starting with these questions –
- What is your vision for your life?
- Who are you becoming?
- What’s getting in your way?
From there, we will have a discussion about ways we can bring these heart visions and longings to the fire in order to make intentional use of the fire circle as a tool for growth and transformation.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei — Finding the Divine Voice
with Andrew Watermountain and Steve Trombulak
Air, Speech, Song, Story, Communication: Voice. How do we speak or sing the awareness of our connection to the divine in the fire circle? How do we express the inexpressible? How do we tell stories to our community without stealing their dance time or their trance time? How do we make our words an act of service and not an act of showmanship? How do we sing together? How do we make myths out of walking and talking? Most of all, how do we come prepared to use our voices, without breaking the circle’s spontaneity? In this workshop, longtime SpiritFire wordslingers Steve Trombulak and Andrew Watermountain offer four tools for the singer and speaker to connect with the Path of Voice: learning to warm up one’s Voice before singing, and to cool it down afterward; to move with the Music and to add gesture to the song so that it can flow easily into Movement; and a repertoire of small acts of Service that help ensure that Voice sings in tune with the Mysteries.
Grounding, Centering and Shielding: Shamanic Techniques for Keeping yourself and Others Safe and Sacred
with Bekki Shining Bearheart
This workshop will cover both basic and more advanced techniques for working with the energies of the fire safely; of understanding the principles of Grounding, Centering and Shielding (and potentially other techniques); of understanding trance states that may be induced by the ambiance of drum and fire: what trances states are, how they feel and how to work with them. What the safety issues may be and how to engage with the spirit energies that may be called by the fire. When to ask for help and who to ask, if you feel “something is happening”.
Body Beautiful: A Sacred Dance Journey
with Janet Farnsworth
“When we allow ourselves the freedom to move, we allow God. When we dance without demands or expectations, we dance love. And when we dance this sacred dance with each other, we spiral into the Infinite”.
Join this journey as we quiet our inner critic and root into the beauty and wisdom of our bodies. Beliefs of inadequacy – our stomachs are too big, our feet are awkward — create subtle – and not so subtle – ways of holding in and holding us back. But what happens when – even for just a few moments – we ask the mind to rest and allow the Body to Be.
During this dance journey, we will invite the voices of our bones to re-emerge. Using dance as our medium, we will ‘re-member’ our selves and re-connect to the deep inner wisdom that flows through each of us. Whether it is the impulse to move a finger, or the drive to shake our core, each person’s movement is honored as his or her own best guide for connecting to the most authentic and sacred Self. During this workshop we will banish shame, self-doubt, guilt, and invite in love; we will come home to Body Love.
The session begins with a group circle, creation of safe space and some guided exercises, and then moves into the space to dance individually and together. We close with a seated sharing.
Mercurial Secrets of the Fire Circle Circus
with Billy Bardo
Accept your calling as an Authorized representative of the Universe! Learn useful tips and vital principles of channeling Mercurial messages and arcane weirdness at the Fire. Billy Bardo shares some of the fundamentals of catelytic and collective magic-making in an eyes, voice, and hands-on playshop of possibilities. Join in.
Middle Eastern Percussion
with Amanda Turk
This workshop is an exploration of the vibrant and exotic sounds of the dumbek and frame drum. These instruments are part of a rich history of Middle Eastern percussion, often characterized by intricate filled patterns, odd meters, and an amazing variety of tones. We will start out with basic hand technique and then move on to a few traditional Middle Eastern rhythms and how to seamlessly switch between them. We will then weave in some basic solo phrases and tips on how to interact with dancers to help deepen our awareness, enhance our listening skills, and facilitate fluid communication around the fire cirlce. All levels are welcome. Bellydancers are encouraged to join. There will be extra dumbeks and frames for those who don’t have one.
Middle Eastern Rhythm and Moves
with Alicia Altair
In this workshop we will explore musical signature and dance phrasing for several Middle Eastern rhythms you may hear at the fire circle. We’ll then combine individual movements to create an offering we can bring to the fire circle in collaboration with the Middle Eastern drumming workshop.
Space will be made to coordinate zills with drumming for those who are interested, so if you have zills and enjoy playing, bring them! Wear comfortable clothing; bring water and playfulness.
Herbs for the Fire Circle- Seva from the Green Ones
The long nights, disruptions to normal sleep schedules, coupled with the energetic demands involved with the work of the fire circle may be supported through herbs. More than that though, herbal preparations such as teas can be highly receptive to external energies, such as ritual, or solar and lunar influences. Herbs serve with us as our Green Companions in integrating and translating the wisdoms and disciplines of the sacred flame guiding us in health and ceremony.
In this interactive workshop we will learn and explore herbs that can support the drummers, dancers, guardians, singers, dreamers, and shamans as we move through the pathways of Spirit Fire.
We’ll start with a couple of simple exercises to align ourselves and connect with the geni loci and the herbs. We will learn about the herbs using lecture and our senses, some techniques on concocting teas, and then collectively create a tea blend for the community. This intentional tea will be charged with the fire’s intention of the evening, and will brew inside the container of the fire circle as a lunar and fire infusion to be consumed the next morning. There will likely be enough herbs for participants of the workshop (and others) to take some of the formula with them to support their own landing once they return home.
Bring your drinking cup to sample the herbs.
Dahomean Ensemble music of Cuba and Haiti
with Josselyne Price
In Cuba, many African religious and musical traditions were brought over and maintained within Regla de Ocha and other Diasporic spiritual traditions. Music from the Kingdom of Dahomey (modern day Benin and nearby areas) was performed in ceremony with larger ensembles of drums, bells, and rattles. Bring a drum, bell, and/or rattle, and learn some of the wonderful polyrhythmic forms that can be easily played at the fire circle, much like the Mandinka and Ghanaian forms we often honor.
Hand Drumming for the Fire Circle
with Aidan Talbot
Music is a primary path of the fire circle; we play not only hand and stick drums, but also bells, rattles, and drone instruments. This workshop is for all levels, to explore not simply technique and specific rhythms, but to delve into the mystery of ensemble mentality and how each of us can find a way to contribute fully and consciously. Bring any instruments you like and come ready to engage in delightful musical and rhythmic dialogue.
with Bucky Sparkle
Gentle and restorative, Bucky’s class focuses on opening the spine and encouraging energetic flow. “Typical” yoga poses, like downward facing dog, will NOT be taught. Instead, poses that provide guaranteed release to the spine are offered in ways that make their benefits accessible to nearly everyone, regardless of experience level. Bring a mat or towel. Bucky has been teaching yoga since 2005 and is a Certified Svaroopa© Yoga Teacher. Svaroopa, a unique yoga form, means “the bliss of your own being”.
Listening…Serving…Celebrating the Collective
At SpiritFire we are blessed with the presence of you (!)—an amazing collection of gifted people—musicians, artisans, dancers, drummers, singers, chanters, poets, storytellers—the talent is vast. So a question arises: how does the path of Music sonically support each form, giving space to the variety of offerings that may come forward in the evening? How do we pay attention to all of what is going on in the circle and not just what may be happening on the “benches”? There are so many ways to plug in; if you find the “benches full,” can you find another way to participate? How can we: listen well; serve in balance; and celebrate the collective even more?
Let’s find out together as we discuss what rarely if ever gets talked about—the energetic dynamics of the circle and musical, sonic support of the collective… and play and experiment with some drumming and ways to stretch yourself with different expressions and offerings. Bring all kinds of instruments (seriously, this is about diversity) and water.
The Warrior Archetype in African and Haitian Dance
with Johnny Scovel and Josselyne Price
This workshop will offer an exploration of dance from Haiti and Ghana, focusing on movements that are historically rooted in battle/military/warrior histories, and stories. These dances are beautiful and powerful, and can offer a different way to embody our individual, internal work around the fire. Ogou, the Haitian Lwa of iron and warfare, is honored in ceremonies through specific dance movements that recall his attributes; in Ghana, Agbekor was historically a war dance that is now used for ceremonies of import, such as chieftaincy processions and other displays of might. We’ll learn steps from both of these traditions, and explore how they could potentially be adapted/incorporated in the circular pattern of dance we do at SpiritFire. Dancers of any level are welcome! Plan on wearing comfortable clothing you can move in, and bring water.
Hand Drumming for the Fire Circle
with Aidan Talbot
At the fire circle, hand drums can be a driving force in the creation of our most sacred ritual space and for our wildest celebrations. Learning how to speak through the drum, and how to communicate with each other are two vital skills to develop in holding the container at the fire circle. We will learn basic hand technique on the drums and also some traditional Malinke rhythms to promote more confident playing. In this workshop, we will also have simple, improvisational drum “conversations” with each other, practicing how to listen in a more connected way and allowing space for open and joyful communication. All ages and skill levels welcome!
Voice at the Fire Circle
with Lyra Hilliard
When we use human language in ritual, our words directly shape the collective experience. How do we choose whether or not to bring in a chant or a spoken word piece? Are the words bubbling up inside of us born of this moment, or are we lunging for words to fill silence? Is this the moment we’ve been waiting for? Or is it this one? Or did we miss it? This workshop will address chants, spoken words, and vocal layering as powerful tools that can focus and harness the energy of the fire circle. With a few basic principles, we will learn how to build on the magic of the moment to take the circle to new heights. We will address how Voice and Music complement each other, paying particular attention to the rhythm and tempo of chants when we bring them into the circle. We will discuss how to take the pulse of the fire circle, which chants work well when, and how we might update the Fire Circle Top 40. Be prepared to write, sing, and play.
Chi-Gong for Grounding
with John Giles
Chi-Gong (Qigong , ch’i kung , or chi gung) is a general term for exercises from the Chinese martial arts and healing traditions, designed to cultivate our intrinsic energy and to gain control over our interaction with the energies that surround us. The exercises in this series are designed to help us to develop a centered and grounded presence, so that we might be less affected by the daily chaos around us and be more able to offer support to others from a place of strength and balance. Loose comfortable pants are recommended for this workshop.
Accessing the Portal to the Archetypes
with ALisa Starkweather
Magic is afoot at the fire and we open the way to show up in our fullness. What if you are so identified with your own personality that you do not feel comfortable expressing or exploring more of what the circle makes available to us? Archetypes are symbolic blueprints that we can tap for deeper exploration in what we own and what we disown. We often see these archetypes in one another and at times they are even habitual for us. What if we could switch up and see what other archetypes are available? What delight awaits in that which we have never visited in ourselves? In our drumming, dancing, singing and holding, prepare to look from another eye and have your world open to new possibilities both internally and together.
Dunduns for the Fire Circle
with Carl Bridge
Back by popular demand! The family of Dunun drums (Dununba, Sangban, and Kenkeni) are the baseline of Malinke Percussion; in a traditional setting they create a melodic foundation for ensemble rhythms and dance. During this workshop you will receive some helpful tools to improve techniques for playing these drums: ergonomics, how bell patterns can aid in more precise playing, and how knowledge of basic patterns can be used as a tool creating your own rhythms. We will also discuss how to adapt and integrate these instruments in a non-traditional arrangement, such as our larger ensemble at SpiritFire.
Vocal Toning – Discovering Your Inner Voice: Vocal Toning
with Somna Bulist
In this workshop we will explore the voice we all share. We will interact with each other, our environment and ourselves through a series of vocal toning and listening activities. As we act and react with both sound and silence, we realize our interconnectedness, and our sonic connections become finely tuned yet playful.
During the workshop I will introduce The Tuning Meditation with the kind permission of Pauline Oliveros. This practice involves singing vowel tones spontaneously from the imagination and in response to those around you. It is fun to do and something everyone can do. It sounds different every time, and is an enjoyable group experience that we can hopefully take into the fire circle.
If you are new to singing or vocalizing or are unsure of your vocal ability these exercises will help. Bring instruments if you have them. All sounds are welcome!
Dancing the Sacred
with Chaya Leia Aronson
We will open our experience with belly dance drills to warm up and connect with our centers. We will spend the rest of the class exploring techniques to express ourselves, our dreams, visions, emotions, divine inspiration through belly dance; We will engage these movements to create a ritual offering through dance. Dress comfortably. If you have a veil, please bring it.
Vinyasa Flow Yoga
with AnnaSara Fire
Vinyasa Flow is a beautiful yoga technology were the poses are flowing from one to the other linked with the breath. Regardless of previous yoga experience or your body type, or if you think you can do yoga or not, you are invited to connect with the ancient yoga wisdom that we all carry inside of us and that has healed our mind, bodies and spirits for many thousands of years. Bring a mat if you have one, and wear comfortable clothing.