Welcomes you to the spring ceremony

The Magic of Joy

Focus your attention on the magic of new life emerging from the winter stillness… on joy in all it’s expressions!

Saturday April 16th
for 24-hours starting at dawn your local time

As spring advances and life quickens the faded forms of winter into new growth, as the migrating birds return and the overwintering birds breathe a sigh of relief, and every creature moves out of winter-survival mode into birthing the next generation, the joyful songs of living spread throughout the land. On this day we will join this celebration of spring, dance the rhythms of life awakening, explore the movement of the new within and around us, and feel the resurgent joy of life, dream of the new possibilities we seek this year, and merge with the lively magic of it all!

It is truly a day of celebration.

But don’t be intimidated by the “all-day” duration. While there will be a few central activities to focus your attention on the magic of new life, by and large, you will enjoy a normal day, just with the intent to notice and dance with the qualities and expressions of joy, to bring that joyful perspective to all beings you see that day. We want to be saturated with it and to infuse everything and everyone we touch with it. This is one day for joyful living!

As you touch joy and the magic of it you begin to feel it in more and more places and situations; it grows! (This is also true of the perspectives of sadness, anxiety, depression, etc.) Today we will learn the power of the choice of joy and begin to see the parts of self/ego that resist that choice and how to overcome that inertia and return to joyful living. So, for this day, “gird up your loins” and become a joyful warrior!

So, this perspective is the overarching intent for the day:

To seek the presence of joy throughout the day, to tune to it, and to express it in action, feeling, and thought.

Whether in nature, at the office, shopping, or sharing time with loved ones, tune your inner senses to any, even slight presences of joy. And then, subtly or flamboyantly, move into harmony with that presence and enhance and expand it through your action! It is a dance; when you sense it moving in, you respond; when you sense it outside you, turn to it; move forward, move back, turn to the left, turn to the right, always in response to the presence of joy. And when you lose it, pause and feel for its presence again, or seek a new partner.

This ceremony is more loosely constructed than previous ones mostly because joy cannot be contained! It is an upwelling, an explosion, fireworks; it is engaged with, danced with, merged with, surrendered to, be overwhelmed by! Below you will find the few “structural” aspects of the ceremony, the “to do” elements, and following that some suggestions for when you get distracted and need help returning to the core perspective of the day. Hopefully, these will remind you of the strategies you already use to focus on any perspective so you can use those strategies as well. Remember, most of the day is not technique but living joy.

The Ceremony Flow


When you are ready to start the day-long ceremony, begin by going outside if possible (indoors is fine too) and take a moment to feel the presence of the life within you. Since your intent is already keyed to “joy” you might find some joy and excitement already present. In either case, tune to your own life force for a few minutes whether it is subtle or fierce just be with it for a moment. Then feel the joy of being alive, present to all your experiences, all your learnings, all your successes and even the failures. You are alive, learning and growing, loving and creating. This is our focus for a few more moments.

Then, turn your attention outward, to nature around you, or to your environment in general if you are not in nature, and focus on the life force present in everything around you, including other people. We are not focused on the surface physical of our surroundings but on the life that animates it. Relax into that awareness and realize that

The Fire

Next, we will move into the opening fire. You can prepare the fire pit beforehand, but don’t build the fire structure in advance, or even gather the wood; that process is part of the ceremony. If not already done, prepare the place for the fire and put a small tinder bundle in the center. If inside, I suggest using one or many candles (see below). Then begin to select the sticks for the fire. They should be fairly small and thin, 2 to 6”. We are not going for a big fire or for a long one, the point is in what you put into each stick you gather.

After you place the tinder bundle, wander out to gather each stick, one at a time. As you wander, think on one aspect of joy you want empowered and expanded in your life. When you select the stick, pour your heart’s desire into it, including whatever feeling of joy this process brings up for you and place it on the fire structure. With each element of your heart’s desire, gather another stick in this way. The elements you include are personal and unique and they might include improved relationships, deeper connections with God, the seeds you have been working with in the previous couple of ceremonies, health and healing, and any other area that you seek that you believe will bring you more joy. The key is to connect to whatever thread of joy already exists in each point of focus. Be inclusive, there are no limits here, let your imagination and heart soar into the possible and the “impossible”; no limits!

These two constitute a powerful prayer, in this case both for the specific elements held in the sticks and also for the expanded presence of joy in your life. So, when you are complete with the gathering, look at the structure you have created and sense the potential of joy within it. Then light the fire and allow yourself to feel the joy as this prayer is released. When the fire has burned out, wander off in a meditative state, now tuned to joy, and move in harmony with the presence of joy throughout the rest of the day.

Be fluid in yourself and receptive to any sign or indication of joy around or within you. Remember, every layer of life has its own expression of joy so don’t get stuck on only one. There is a physical aspect to it when the body is at peace and is filled with energy; there is an emotional aspect that is felt as happiness and enthusiasm; there is a mental quality that is known as clarity of mind and thought, and a sense of the closeness of truth; and there is a spiritual quality that experiences joy as both rooted in eternity and “blissful”.

Notice as you go through the day how your experiences naturally flow from one to another.

For those who must be indoors

If you must be indoors, or cannot have a fire, I have two suggestions.

  1. Use a small pad of paper and write each element above, light a candle, and then burn the papers following the same process above.

  2. Purchase a box of candles. On separate small pieces of paper write each element from above and place it at the base of one candle. Light a central candle and then take each scrap of paper, light it from the central fire (candle) and use it to light the candle representing that element, using the same inner process above. You can arrange the candles in any pattern that feels right for you. And, as above, then wander through your day, tuned to joy in all of its expressions.

Helpful Suggestions

For the entire day we want to hold the focus on joy to the best of our ability. Of course, there will be times that you fall out of any awareness of joy so below I am going to suggest some simple practices to help bring you back. Also, use whatever practices you already use when you get distracted from a task to refocus your attention, though I don’t recommend any practice that merely represses the distraction; we prefer to uplift attention and thought to that which is joyful!

  1. One practice is to simply ask a question Tom Brown Jr. is famous for. “How bad do you want it”? The beauty of this question is that it focuses the attention on the power of our motivation and it is that power that will carry us through the day. You might ask the question at the start of the ceremony to be ready for whatever comes through the day. And you can ask it whenever you need to.

  2. Another practice from Tom’s teaching is the “Breath to Surrender” trigger. Here, you take a gentle breath, hold it for a moment and build into it the distraction, and then release it entirely. With the release of the breath the distraction will be released as well. Once or twice should do.

  3. Another breathing practice to use if the distraction is a bit more stubborn is to pay attention to your breathing, without any control, just notice it. Then as you settle with it, begin to pay attention to the gap between the inhale and the exhale and between the exhale and the inhale. There is a moment of stillness in that gap and you just notice that gap as you continue to breathe normally. In a few moments, you will notice that the stillness from the gaps begins to expand and is sustained in awareness even through the activities of the in- and out- breaths. By now, the distraction has faded, if not disappeared altogether, and you can simply return your attention to joy!

  4. Sometimes it is useful to simply go into a brief meditation where the center of focus is stillness and continue it until the distraction/resistance has disappeared. Then focus on joy as you come out of the meditation.

  5. For some people it might be helpful to extend the fire a bit longer. Often sitting by a fire brings as sense of peace and then notice that the flames seem to dance a lively joy! Join it!

  6. Another awareness technique is to focus on the space where you are; here we do not focus on the objects of that space but the actual space between the objects. This works inside or outside. The space is empty so as we focus on it our mind becomes still and releases the distraction.

  7. The dance is one of my favorites! If the distraction is very strong it is helpful to dance the distraction for a few moments. I sometimes exaggerate the dance moves here, acting as if it is worse than it really is. That usually makes me smile, or even laugh, and then I return my focus to joy and dance that until I am deeply rooted in it and can sustain it after the dance.

  8. Another one is simply switch your awareness back to joy. Once you have felt joy, use it as the focal point of the switch, or shift, back to joy. The more familiar you are with the destination, the easier this one becomes and ultimately will be your primary tool.

  9. Finally, there is an expression coined by Thomas Hora, “omniaction”. It goes along with omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. His idea is that there is only one intelligence in life that is behind and within everything in creation. Sometimes, when we call that idea to mind, and intend to use it as a perspective, we can catch a glimpse of the vast, Oneness of life and creation. It is the experience of living in the perfect NOW. (This is a bit more difficult for a beginner but it might be worth a try.)

These are just a few ideas. As I said above, explore some of these if you feel they are helpful, but you can always use what has worked for you in the past.

Essentially, the entire day is a surrender to and merging into joy and the dance of joy throughout the day. Whether you are indoors or out, live joy whole-heartedly; you are changing your perspective in life, strengthening this most positive quality and uplifting your heart and mind! The tools above are just to help refocus if you get distracted or find yourself triggered into some old, dark place inside. Use them and discard them.


At the end of the 24-hour day, you will need to set a boundary to the ceremony. In the sacred sweat lodge, you enter in a clockwise direction but you have a choice in exiting. Return the way you came in (counter clockwise) or continue clockwise. The first symbolizes a “never ending ceremony”, the second terminates the ceremony. At the close of this ceremony you have to choose which you would prefer; to continue to be a joyful warrior or to pause the ceremony and integrate what you have achieved.

In either choice, return to the firepit or the candles, and reflect on what you have learned both about joy and about your inhibitions feeling and expressing joy. Take time to bring it all forward in heart and mind. Then simply end with a heartfelt prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving for what you have given and received from this ceremony. If you are continuing to live from this place, commit to that. If you are ending, declare that along with any intent that has grown from the ceremony.

And that is it! A day of celebration and joy—what could be better?

Over the next couple of weeks, watch to see how this ceremony has altered you, the new insights and possibilities that sometimes fill you, new doors opening. You have sent out a powerful prayer: expect a response.

After the ceremony, please join us for a community zoom call on Thursday April 21st at 8:30pm EST. Connection details are given below.

This is a great time to deepen your own understanding through the stories of others in our community. It’s also lovely for others to hear your experiences, you never know how what you share might impact others or provide teaching moments.

We hope to see you there.

Many Blessings,
The Ceremony Committee

Post-Ceremony Call

Thursday April 21st at 8:30pm

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Hearts of Fire Council · PO Box 926 · Fairfield, IA 52556 · USA