Gathering Around the Fire

Photo taken at Skansen Museum in Stockholm

During my trip to Sweden and Germany with the International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, I found myself drawn to the energy of the ceremonial fire which burned for four days in Sweden, and three days in Germany.  The fire was the place where we gathered at the beginning of each day and at the end.  There were ceremonies, prayers, celebrations, healings and above all it was a place for everyone to be together in sacred space.  In both countries, the fire was held in a public space, so people on the street, who had no idea what was going on, would join us out of curiosity, or perhaps because they were drawn to the fire for reasons unknown to them.
One such person was an elderly woman in Stockholm, who had been begging for money in the park where the fire was held.  She appeared to be homeless, wore a scarf, and many clothes even in the summer warmth. Most of us had tried to ignore her, being told not to give money to beggars on the streets. However, the Grandmothers modeled for all of us bystanders, how to treat an elder:  they invited her into the circle around the fire and then they gathered around her.  One by one, each of the Grandmothers blessed her and honored her as an elder.  This woman seemed stunned at first, tears glistened in her eyes as she stared in disbelief at these women praying for her.  She was there at the fire each day, waiting for the Grandmothers, and each day the tears filled her eyes as they acknowledged her presence.  She was not begging for anything while in that circle.  She was feeling welcomed, accepted, honored and respected, which seemed to be most fulfilling to her.
As I witnessed this beautiful demonstration of unconditional love and acceptance, I thought of my inner hearth…my fire where I wish to gather the many parts of myself and help them feel at home.  I wonder if the homeless ones within me, the parts of me that I would rather not see or deal with, the parts that I may be ashamed of, I wonder if I have the strength and the compassion to welcome these needy ones….can I honor them, bless them, pray for them, and accept them into the inner circle?

8 replies
  1. Kylea Taylor
    Kylea Taylor says:

    This is so beautiful, Audrey. It brings tears to my eyes too. Welcoming the homeless outside and inside (no matter how many layers one is hidden under.)

  2. Kathy Wicevic
    Kathy Wicevic says:

    Thanks For Sharing your experience!
    At Venus Rising with Linda Starwolf will share this with the group.

  3. SHaron O'Day
    SHaron O'Day says:

    The need for dignity is universal and … as you so brightly point out … applies to the internal as well as the external. Thank you for sharing the powerful example …

  4. Renate Reimann
    Renate Reimann says:

    I witnessed the situation with the homeless woman at the fire in Stockholm. It was heartbreaking… Not many eyes where dry…

  5. Elisabeth Mees ten Oever
    Elisabeth Mees ten Oever says:

    Well, can you and will you and, perhaps most important, do you want to, or even dare to? I invite you to commit yourself to do that, to allow the unwanted to come home. But beware, it will change you profoundly!

  6. ulrika
    ulrika says:

    I was at the fire cermony with you in Stockholm one day, thank you for your prayers. I did not see this woman but I do try to give the beggars some money when I meet them in the street. A lot of them come from Romania and they are very poor.

  7. Nadia
    Nadia says:

    Hey Audrey ChaChi,
    Kind of late on posting, but this piece really made me think of the fires over the summer. Thats how I feel when I gather around with yall and the sparks dance in the wind. the serenity, the beauty, the elegance of the dance that brings us all close to enjoy the company. Miss you!!! hope all is well. Keep blogging I love reading them!

  8. cheryl
    cheryl says:

    Dear Audrey,
    What a story of love and compassion in action. While reading your story I could feel the glow of love in my heart and through my body…and nearly-tearful eyes as I read about the homeless woman whom the Grandmothers blessed, prayed and honored. ..her inner spark and light. Experiencing that kind of love IS healing. I know that woman, the Grandmothers, all the holy witnesses…and that woman, will never be the same…nor will I. Thank you very much for sharing all of these stories, insight and wisdom and more…all that you learn and encounter as you are with, learn from and engage these benevolent women. Thank you, thank you, thank you..

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