Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Call for Contributions

In a month, I go to New Orleans for the Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association Joint National Conference. The Festivals and Faires Area has papers on Burning Man, Renaissance Faires, State Fairs, Mardi Gras...and, this year, a paper on Fire Festivals.

I have about 15 minutes to define: the sacred fire circle, fire festivals, the fire family/tribe, etc. In my proposal I ask origins questions, so I'll trace our origins back to RoS and Starwood. I'll mention Mayfire, Fires Rising (or not...), Sacred Soul Fire, SpiritFire, PhoenixFire, Forest Dance. From my proposal: "All of the above-mentioned festivals are annual events that run for less than one week and have beugne within the last decade. How does a new community rapidly define itself, and how is one's identity as a member of the "fire tribe" negotiated?"

I have a fairly good idea about what I'm walking in with and what I want to present. That said, I'd wager a bet that every single one of ye has a thing or two to say about this. This is the place to do so. For clarification: Lyra's going to an academic conference. The area that she's presenting in is the Festivals and Faires area, which is filled with cool crazy cats. That said, she's still bringing the fire tribe into the ivory tower, and her paper may be published. Does anyone have any responses to: What are these festivals, and how are they different from older ones? Why have they grown so in the last 15 years? Who goes to them, and why? What is this all about?!


Steve Trombulak said...

Lyra: The challenge you face in making any definitive statements in response to the questions you pose for yourself is in finding the balance between anecdotal observation (e.g., "Well, *I* go to festivals because ...") and statistically meaningful polling (e.g., "86% +- 2% say they go to festivals 'cause the coffee is so great"). Do you have a sense of what your particular academic community responds best to?

Lyra said...

The meeting place between anecdotal observation and oral history. On a personal level, I favor a better balance of research methods and I like hard numbers, but I'd prefer to go old school and, I don't know, show up this summer with armloads of questionnaires. Hey, there's a thought....Anyway, for this, I'm in line with the other presenters: partipant/observer grounded in history/ culture who is primarily looking at the scholarship out there right now and enhancing it with festival attendees.
Does that help?

Amanda said...

As someone who's been going to various fire circle gatherings (ROS, Forestdance, Spiritfire, Starwood) on and off for 7 years or so, what I think is most interesting is that each community has developed their own way. And this way can vary with addition or subtraction of principals involved, change of physical location, and number of attendees. How exactly a community comes to define itself seems to be a mesh of all of these things as well as core values of those involved.

I feel there is a particular thread that runs in all of these communities. It's a fine line of tension connecting the desire to be welcoming to all, yet protective of the specific way of a specific fire community. Many gatherings struggle with this balance and, although I've not been involved with the creation of one of these newer communities, it seems that these younger gatherings are often an attempt to take the concept and energy of an older more established festival and embue it with a different focus or emphasis. Each newer gathering pulls elements from the old while also introducing new elements. The newer gatherings don't seem to be solely a younger crop of folks rising up (although this happens too), but rather a further exploration and distillation of certain values, spirituality and sacredness found appealing by the new founders.

There is also a balancing act within the fire circle of individual expression and group synergy - both inside and outside of the fire circle. Inside the circle, we welcome an individual's contribution while also asking folks to observe certain guidelines for positive group dynamics and comfort. Outside the circle, folks are often encouraged to become involved in shaping the fire circle experience while still bowing to a collective group process. And I think this ties in with an empowerment aspect of the fire circle which many find appealing. The fire circle offers a space for everyone. A space where you can bring out your freakiness, be in yourself, be both an individual and part of creating a greater group experience. For me, at least, that is something that draws me. I'm intrigued by the social politics of making a fire circle happen. I hang back more than I should because sometimes I'm intimidated by the whole thing and unsure of my voice, but I'm always finding ways to engage in the process on different levels and find myself always made richer by it.

Wow, I had no idea I would get so wordy on this. Kudos if you made it this far. :)

julie woods said...

Hello Beloved Lyra!

JulieWoodsOneWord here. Wondering what the deadline is for getting you information.

It's not that I have much to add about the circle that isn't said well already. It's more about navigating our seculospiritual paths... Wondering if you're willing to use something like Survey Monkey (SurveyMonkey.com) to come up with a short, less-than-10-question survey, with ranked answers for statistical ease, that could be sent out to the Tribe.

"Please rank the importance attending Fire Circles has to your feeling great in the rest of your life overall: 1 = unimportant; 3 = has some influence; 5 = totally makes the rest of my life possible!" Except, Oh Brilliant One, you can write much better questions than that! ;-)))

Let me know your timeframe. If I haven't missed some deadline, and WON'T miss one by participating after 04/21, I'd be happy to help.

Loving you.