Questions and Answers
Overview and General Questions
What is a Vegas Vortex Gathering?
- We converge around the sacred fire with the intent to manifest our prayers and dreams through artful play. Our fire circle is a unique world within which we engage each other in the myriad passionate ways humans express life. We share in song and chant, trance and ecstatic dance, drumming and other sacred sounds, adorning our bodies and creating community artwork. Your personal offerings of prayer, song, poetry and ritual theatre are invited and encouraged. Together we create a mindful space for transformation, within which we commune with each other, nature, and all that is holy in life.Each year we set our compass on greater levels of refinement within the laboratory of the fire circle, both musically and magically. We intend to further deepen our understanding of Alchemy, and consciously bring the group through the seven stages of the process. These alchemical operations shape the overall event, and are outlined in The Re-Sourcery. Reviewing these materials allows everyone to conspire towards inspired offerings to appear ’round the Fire, in alignment with the related alchemical phases.
Isn’t this just a big drum circle?
- Although drumming certainly plays an important role, it is only one of many elements that come together in a balanced way to create the energetic environment. Our circles also have very strong and often unaccompanied, chant, song and spoken-word expressions, which also serve to “fuel the fire” throughout the night. The musicians at our gatherings will be working with an alchemical process of structured music making and unstructured release. All musicians at our gathering are tuned in, and endeavor to respond with appropriate accompaniment for whatever might be happening in the Circle.
Fire Circles… is it all about fire spinning?
- Fire spinners are welcome at our gatherings, another beautiful example of spirit in action! We will have a special area set aside for poi, staff, finger and other fire work. Evening fire spinning performances may be offered in a designated safe space. All fire spinners are expected to check in with our Fire Spinning Coordinator for a safety review, and to stick to scheduled times and places for spinning before lighting up on site
I have to work, can I just come to part of the Gathering?
- The energetic container that we create as a community is strongest when we build and maintain it together. In addition the alchemical process is one integrated unfolding experience from beginning to end. For these reasons, and to avoid extra work for our volunteers; our MayFire gathering does not offer single day registration. Information on arrival and departure days and times can be found on the Registration page.
What is all this stuff about “Alchemy” anyway?
- Alchemy is the art and science of transmuting lead into gold. In many alchemical traditions, the element of fire is used to accelerate transformation. In our community, we use Alchemy as a metaphor to help describe the processes many people experience as they engage with themselves, each other and spirit throughout the night, as well as over the course of the weekend. Because Alchemy describes psychological processes in symbolic terms, we have found it a useful bridge for people with diverse backgrounds and beliefs.
More detailed information on alchemy as it relates to the Gathering is available in the article “The Seven Stages of Bringing It On.” and “Universal Fire Circle Alchemy.”
Are the Vegas Vortex Gatherings some of those Pagan gatherings?
- Our gatherings are multi-denominational celebrations of spirit and spiritedness. People of all spiritual and religious paths are encouraged to attend; and atheists too! Our gatherings are a place where we explore the magic which many paths share on the deepest levels, and we are evolving a new mythology that encompasses us all!
What’s the difference between a Vegas Vortex Gathering and Burning Man?
- Although both festivals encourage creative expression and happen in the great outdoors, the similarities really end there. Burning Man is a huge festival, with more then forty thousand people in attendance. The Vegas Vortex Gatherings are smaller, with a maximum of 150 people are on-site, including children. At Burning Man, there are hundreds of different kinds of art installations, which aren’t really connected to each other, and there is no time when the entire group gets together. At the Vegas Vortex Gatherings, we share a common experience of drumming, dancing, singing and making magic during the all-night fire circles, and we have the opportunity to re-connect as individuals within the group, each morning at sunrise. The activities during the day support the work and play that happens during the night. This sense of everyone being “on the same page” is one of the biggest differences between the festivals. Also, at Burning Man, there is a strong “party” atmosphere, with alcohol and drugs being very prevalent.The Vegas Vortex Gatherings are alcohol and drug-free events, which lead to a higher, cleaner vibration in the energy signature, and dramatically reduces the chaos and violence factors. Part of our highest intention is to co-create clean, healthy technologies for personal and collective transformation. We work to sharpen our perceptions and skills at the same time that we break down personal limitations and expand our consciousness.
Burning Man’s main focus is on “radical self-expression” and “radical survival skills” and happens in the middle of the Nevada desert. The Vegas Vortex Gatherings focus is on celebration, creativity, and spirituality, and it happens in and around Las Vegas, NV.
Can I bring my children?
- Yes, our gatherings are family friendly events. Remember though, that you must plan to be 100% responsible for your children throughout the Gathering, especially during the all night fire circles!
Are there books I can read to find out more about this kind of event?
- There are few events of this kind, fewer books on gatherings and festivals; and no books (so far!) about Vegas Vortex Gatherings. There are web sites which include a variety of reference articles and reviews, a reading list, and links to other similar festivals and gatherings.
Visit VegasVortex.com or Fire Tribe Hawaii for more information.
How many people usually attend a Vegas Vortex Gathering?
- The number of attendees is “capped” for the Gatherings at 150 people. Our events usually sell out well in advance.
What age do you have to be to attend by yourself or with friends?
- Vegas Vortex Gathering attendees must be 18 years old, or accompanied by a parent or guardian.
How is it that The Vegas Vortex Gatherings are so inexpensive?
- No one is drawing a salary from the Vegas Vortex events. All of our financial statements are posted online for anyone to see. Many community members contribute an incredible amount of time, energy, and talent to making these Gathering happen. An amazing core group of Artists, Organizers and Village Builders make the Gatherings a priority in their yearly schedules. We share a personal passion to create community-building opportunities for people interested in drum, dance, song, personal transformation and magic.In addition, none of the facilitators of the Gatherings take any financial profit for their work during or leading up to this event. All additional profits will be divided between charity donation and a fund to support the costs of spreading this work (scholarships for other facilitator expenses, equipment expenses, etc.).
During the Gathering
What do you mean by “the Fire Circle?”
- A large area defined by a ring of torches and prayer flags, within which we co-create a night to dawn spontaneous ceremony of music, dance, song and ritual theatre; ever moving around a sacred fire.
View an example Fire Circle and Orbits Map in the article “Ceremonial Orientation.”
Do I have to stay up all night? Every night?
- Although we certainly encourage you to taste the unique experiences that result from immersing yourself in the all-night energy, no one is required to participate in anything. Some people join us for the first few hours of the circle, and then sleep. Others sleep in the early evening, and join the dance in the early hours of morning. Sleep whenever you like (remember your alarm clock!). Be sure to bring earplugs and an eye cover to make it as easy as possible to sleep when you want to. It’s totally up to you, and we encourage you to join us in stretching your beliefs about what is possible!
Do I have to attend the Orientation?
- Please do! The Alchemical focus of this gathering means you will want to attend the orientation sessions in order to have an understanding of the collective intentions and workings planned for each night. We want to make your transition into the community, and into the fire circle, as easy and delightful as possible. The Orientations are fun, energetic and interactive; come prepared to have a great time, meet new people and discover many ways to access the possibilities our circle offers you.
What are “Playshops”?
- Think “workshop”, just a whole lot more playful (and a lot less “work-full”). Anyone can present playshops at a Vegas Vortex Gathering to offer learning and exploration opportunities relevant to the musical, magical, and visual arts embraced by the community. Sign up to offer a “community workshop” in one of the available time-slots on the schedule board near the dining area.
Music, Chants and Instruments
Is this a structured process, guided by facilitators; or can I share my favorite songs, rhythms or dances?
The magic of our fires is deeply rooted in the spontaneous nature of how each circle unfolds. Your songs, rhythms and dances are certainly welcome! Our entire Gathering is a safe container full of people willing to witness, embrace and participate with your offerings. There will be some pre-planned elements, like the nightly fire lighting rituals, the procession through the alchemical stages, and the solar salutation ceremony at dawn, which will be organized and guided by long time members of the community. There will also be times of total spontaneity, where anything could happen. As has been said, there’s time and space for everything before this night is through.
A unique method for collaborative drumming is shared in daily sessions required for all who wish to drum during the controlled burns at the fire. The method is designed to be self-facilitating, guiding players into deep engagement with each other, and enhancing the role of music making in service to the circle as a whole. The cyclic nature of the Alchemical process requires a balance between meticulously structured music making and totally open free form jamming. This new approach is both welcoming to the absolute beginner, and challenging for more experienced players. It will result in conscious identification with the alchemical implications of your own artistic process.
A brief introduction is available as “Quick Reference to Alchemical Rhythmatism.”
More detailed information is available in the article “The Practice: Alchemical Rhythmatism.”
I play a frame drum and I’m often drowned out by djembes and dunduns; will there be opportunities to play and be heard?
- There is an incredible variety of drumming styles at the Vegas Vortex Gatherings, and we work hard to create a community wide mindset of sensitivity that values and encourages softer instruments and voices. Small groups often gather to conspire and bring unique musical offerings to the fire circle; we look forward to many moments of frame drumming!
Should I bring my guitar (flute, accordion, saxophone, etc.)?
- Instruments of all kinds are welcome! Musicians who play melody-based instruments are encouraged to jam and share songs throughout the day, and in the evenings before the fire circle begins. Instrumentation at the fire circle is predominantly focused on percussive and ambient sound offerings. This is in deference to the unifying nature of rhythmic music and the close relationship between rhythmic entrainment and heightened states of consciousness.A careful, patient, and crafty melody player will sometimes find a few delicious moments of exploration at the fire circle. The key to this kind of participation is brevity and sensitivity to the flow of energy and rhythm that is already present. Melodic instruments can easily constrain and confine the spontaneous unfolding of the circle. Melody players who are having difficulty finding or remaining in tune with this subtle balance may be gently asked to participate in another way.
Is there a CD or songbook available, so I can learn some of the chants before the Gathering?
- Sound samples (in MP3 format) and the lyrics for many chants may be accessed online at “Chants We Sing.”
Complete versions of a number of the chants are available on Abbi Spinner’s CD “Enter The Center,” and “Fire of Creation.”
Why are there such firmly defined arrival times?
- We have learned that part of building a safe and sacred container for community and creativity is getting everyone on site, and on the same page as early as possible. The arrival cut-off times also allow the volunteers who staff check-in to step away from mundane responsibilities, and to enter undistracted into the magical realms of deep relationship and inventiveness we come for in the first place!
How can I arrange a ride to the Gathering site?
- The Vegas Vortex maintains a Yahoo Group for coordinating rides and connecting to the local community.
How can I best prepare for the Gathering?
- Many seasoned celebrants begin shifting their sleeping/waking schedule in the days leading up to the Gathering. You are encouraged to arrive rested! In addition to making it easy on yourself by getting on the optional meal plan, you might consider bringing energy foods and drinks to supplement your diet. Drink LOTS of water. If possible, arrange your schedule to have a day off between the Gathering and returning to work. Be sure to carefully read our Web site, there is lots of useful information here!
Are alcoholic beverages allowed at the Gathering?
- Our gatherings are drug and alcohol-free zones. Please leave all alcohol at home. We urge you to actively help us to build the fire circle as a sacred technology for clean healthy drug and alcohol free transformation. We have found that the sustained ordeal of all night engagement in this practice is a powerful method for naturally altering consciousness.
I would like to have a special ritual (hand-fasting, wedding, rite of passage) at the next Gathering. Is that okay? Who should I contact?
- The occasional special ritual you may have heard about or attended at a previous Gathering most likely would have been organized by long-term members of our community. There are some constraints about when and where such special occasions may be held (for example, there are none held during the Wednesday and Thursday Early Village Builder days, when all of our attention needs to be focused on setting up). For more information, please contact Abbi Spinner McBride with details about your request.
How can I find out the answer to a question not covered in the FAQ page?
- For more info, call Spinner at 702-450-0021