What is the Sacred Fire Community? We’re a growing group of several thousand people across the world who are finding that our priorities in life are shifting. We’re learning to live from heart and that gathering in community around the fire changes everything and brings life depth and meaning that we never before realized. We have many leaders, including our Firekeepers and our Sacred Fire Community organization.
Far from the social “communities” we find online, we’ve discovered that true, deep community is a complex, messy and beautiful dance, guided by elders and with a foundation of authentic spiritual paths. It starts at the fire ever-present in the center of our community fire circles. Then, it ignites the fiery heart in the center of our bodies, and it spreads through and around us as warmth, courage, challenge, transformation, purpose and joy.
We stand for the sacred and interconnected nature of all life. By gathering in community and reestablishing our relationship with the living world, we end the isolation of modern culture and build lives of meaning and purpose.
Our relationship with Fire is ancient. Fire helped our ancestors in many ways, bringing them warmth, protection, and connection to the heart wisdom that kept life in balance. The Sacred Fire Community seeks to reawaken this ancient relationship in our modern world to help heal the coldness and disconnection many are facing in these times. Read the Story of Fire.
Recent History: Origins
The Sacred Fire Community is relatively young in its current form. We began in the mid-1990s as a group associated with Eliot Cowan, who has since become fully initiated as a Tsaurirrikame or elder shaman, in the tradition of the Huichol people of Mexico. Many of us were clients or students of Eliot and his Plant Spirit Medicine work.
In 1996, while speaking about Plant Spirit Medicine in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Eliot met an expatriate American businessman named David Wiley. David had been experiencing a series of strange visitations from an “apparition” that took the form of a native elder. With the help of Eliot and confirmation from native Mexican shamans, David discovered that this apparition was in fact the elemental God of Fire—or Tatewarí (Grandfather Fire) to the Huichol people. Grandfather began using David’s body to communicate with Eliot and the group of people affiliated with him. Read more about this phenomenon and about Grandfather Fire.
Grandfather began encouraging Eliot to find a home for Plant Spirit Medicine. Students of Eliot’s decided to have a gathering for Plant Spirit Medicine practitioners, their clients, and friends—the beginnings of a loose organization dedicated to finding a home for the medicine. This gathering was billed as a Plant Spirit Medicine Family Reunion, and the first one took place in Nayarit, Mexico, in the winter of 2001. At this first REunion, Grandfather Fire, using David’s body to speak through, addressed the group and spoke of something called the Sacred Fire Foundation—which would eventually have an even broader mission to support indigenous wisdom and bring more Fire energy to our world.
Community Fires Are Born
On September 11, 2001, the whole country suffered through the trauma of the destruction of the World Trade Towers. Quite spontaneously, those of us who were associated with the Plant Spirit Medicine community began to organize gatherings around the Fire. This was an opportunity for people to connect and to express their grief, their fears, and their hopes around the tragedy. Suddenly, there was a great surge of interest in holding regular Fire gatherings around the country.
Blue Deer, Sacred Fire
The second Reunion was held in Santa Barbara, California, in 2002. At this time, Grandfather disclosed that the home for Plant Spirit Medicine would be named the Blue Deer Center—in honor of the Blue Deer at the center of the Huichol creation story.
At the 2003 Reunion in North Carolina, Grandfather finally spoke of the Sacred Fire Community and charged those gathered with the work of making it visible in the world. The various pieces of an identity for this organization were created and we were officially underway.
Firekeepers and Lifeways
Within a year, a formal process for initiating Firekeepers was instituted and our “Fire Chief” Annie King was tasked with overseeing the process of recruitment and support for this work. Grandfather also set forth the vision for the Lifeways programs and guided some of our elders in developing a process of initiation for young people.
These initiation programs were quickly followed by retreats for men and women. We came to see these initial Lifeways offerings as part of a broader initiative that would provide the support of ancestral wisdom for all of life’s major transitions—from birth through death.
Bringing Fire to the World
In a relatively short span of time, the Sacred Fire Community has begun to spark interest around the world. In addition to our many programs, in 2005 we gave birth to Sacred Fire magazine, which has since been spun off to an entirely separate organization—the very same Sacred Fire Foundation that Grandfather alluded to at our first Reunion.
In 2007 and 2009, we hosted our first two Interspiritual Conferences, highlighting elders from various authentic traditions. The Interspiritual Conference was put into the hands of the Sacred Fire Foundation in 2010 and is now a larger event known as Ancient Wisdom Rising. We’ve celebrated deep community at 11 REunions. Dozens of young men and women have successfully completed our Initiation programs, and our many Lifeways programs continue to grow.
As for the Community Fires, at the center of it all: By the end of 2001 there were a small handful of Community Fires across the United States. Today, the Sacred Fire Community sponsors more than 60 regular Community Fires (and growing!) in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Mexico and across the world.