[Big Thanks to our friends at Greenheart.TV for creating this truly gorgeous video from our 2nd Unifier Festival. It’s our hopes that if you were there this will help you sink back in to the expanded sense of reverence and deep appreciation we all shared together on the Land. If you weren’t with us, consider this an invitation to join us.]
Once Upon A Time, not so long ago, fae folk gathered in the deep deep woods to dance around the fire in the late late night – opening their hearts to the forest and the trees, bonding with the earth, connecting with one another and the sacred in all things…..
The gathering grew and then expanded to include stages of amazing music, flow arts, swimming in a sparkling lake….yoga and workshops and kids activities were added, but the sacred fire burned brightly both day and night, as the dancers continued to hold space for deep deep connection to the earth and her forest, her trees and one another….just a little way down the trail from the festival activities.
This is the heart and the root of Unifier Festival…..a place for summer fun, great music, play and celebration and for reverence and connection. The sacred fire will be lit on Thursday June 16th…..in Western Massachusetts, and if you have that weekend available, this gathering is one that will renew you, recharge you, uplift you….like few others.
Honoring and bringing together different sub-cultures, Unifier Festival today, is a yoga festival, a sacred world music festival and a tribal belly dance festival. It is a live art show, a dance party, a place for ceremony, for permaculture, for sculptural works and circus arts. It is a place to care for the land and to eat organic food, and to be inspired and to inspire our kids and our elders.
This gathering is one that will renew you,
recharge you, uplift you….like few others.
Stages run all day and main stage runs all night. You can dance until dawn with a stellar line-up from Niyaz to Balkan Beatbox to Desert Dwellers to Emancipator! Other stages offer regional New England folk bands and imports from Africa and around the world.
The beautiful lake offers lots of fun in the sweet New England summer sun. Canoes and kayaks await you and of course swimming, or just relaxing on the dock.
There’s an amphitheater that Nature decks out with his natural sculpture, there are nature altars everywhere. They do an ancestral lantern lighting ceremony on the lake where we offer blessings and welcome our ancestors at sunset on Friday, and the musicians and performers are chosen for heart and spirit.
In the lazy afternoons, learn more about permaculture with Starhawk or women’s wisdom from Grandother Kaarina. Go on a lucid dreaming adventure, take a belly dance workshop or a flow arts intensive.
Founder Jason Cohen says, “We like to talk about the hard stuff at our gatherings too, and do real work. There is a lot of intentionality at our gatherings. Environmental justice, social justice, cultural appropriation, Malidoma Some is coming to do grief work, there is a lot happening at the gathering and it’s yummy! ” [Read full interview here]
Experience a cacao ceremony…yes, that’s chocolate in its naked form. Cacao is a gentle energy that has been used for centuries to support connection, focus and heart-opening. Sit in a circle with other revelers, sip its dark nectar, in the shadow of Incus’ set and other musical performances of the evening.
Live painter on site, Ryan Curtis says, “I seek to align with the universal current , to create with the intention of communicating and celebrating sacred, profound and beautiful aspects of life and spirituality.” Watch him and others at work as their paintings unfold before your eyes.
The food is organic and locally sourced, radiantly healthful, to enhance your enjoyment of the weekend. Children are always welcome and lots of exciting activities will be offered for them too.
You’ll see stilt walkers and hoopers, jugglers and acrobats. Join in or learn how in the Flow Arts zone.
…..Meanwhile, what sets Unifier apart, are the dancers deep in the forest, and you are invited to join, as much or as little as you feel to. But their holding the space with intention creates a special feeling that you won’t find many other opportunities to experience.
As Polish says, “Every so often a festival comes along and really touches my heart, brings a smile to my face, tears to my eyes. Last year it was Beloved Festival in Oregon, and this year it was Unifier Festival in Western Massachusetts.
It’s a hard thing to articulate, but I think the main thing that struck me about Unifier was that their primary focus was 3 fold:
- To create a container of reverence for this planet
- To treasure the sacredness of human connection
- To acknowledge the importance of ceremony as a weaver of the gathering from start to finish
Participants can feel that, artists can feel that, the event producers can feel that and what happens is a sweet, welcoming, intimate, intentional, celebratory environment where you can’t walk by another human without smiling. Body and mind rests into ease, and clarity emerges.”
– The Polish Ambassador
The Sacred Fire Circle is the heart of the festival. Founder Jason Cohen explains, “With what’s happening with the planet, its time for all of us to step into a place of deepening our relationship with the earth and to the subtle.”
“Just a willingness to show up and share deeply of ourselves with that many people is pretty special. And that’s really what we’re looking to curate. A place that you can actually feel okay about being as grateful for your life as you can be and not feel funny about it.”
“The Sacred Fire Circle is an eclectic ceremony that goes all night Friday night during the festival. We have basically agreed that we’re all alive, we all have many different beliefs, but for this time together we’ll experiment with our life force, our faith and try to show up in a sacred vessel that we co-create, where the musicians are in a tight wedge, listening to each other intensely, and in service to the dancers and to the entire fire circle. People dance around a fire and sing and listen and speak truths and everybody is invited to learn how to drum, hold rattles. We’re trying to cultivate as much energy for ecstatic experience as we can, and for getting back in touch with parts of ourselves that we’ve ignored for so long.”
Says Jason, “We’re dancing in prayer from midnight until dawn. Surprisingly, once you are in the fire circle, it’s not that challenging to stay awake. ”
“A lot of things come up for people, certainly tears are shed by many, there’s a remembering of what we forgot that we wanted and how we could live. By the end of the evening everybody becomes everybody’s teacher, everyone is sharing incredible wisdom, and everybody is raising the energy to go to higher levels as humanity. The dawn is quite amazing, it’s ecstatic when the sun rises.”
“Also, it’s drug free, we invite everyone to stay clear for genuine connection. We’re striving for organic ecstatic experience….let me explain”:
“I think that our minds are our managers, they are the gatekeepers. Sometimes its our voice, sometimes its our grandfather’s voice or our mom’s voice or dad’s voice – you can’t do that, you have to behave this way, someone might not think I’m cool right now – I’m listening to my inner critic: my leg hurts, my knee hurts, I don’t know if I can make it till dawn, I don’t want to use too much energy…whatever it is, there’s a way that we can allow ourselves to thank the mind for holding the gate, and then allowing ourselves to sink in to a wild part of ourselves that knows what to do, that knows how alive we can be and feel and how we relate to music and to each other and the fire. There are things inside us that we KNOW, and the mind keeps us from those things, believe it or not. The ecstatic piece comes from a true sense of embodied divinity or freedom or embodied life – we all believe what we believe – for me sometimes it feels like my ancestors are dancing through me, sometimes I just feel completely connected to the forest that we are dancing in, it can be a single rattle, it can be a drum, but I am feeling to the depths of my being….through the music, through the dance, through the people speaking truths, through my service to everybody else in the fire circle. It’s a pretty ecstatic experience, yes it is.”
[Read Jason’s full interview]
The Sacred Fire Circle is a short walk from the festival in the woods, so you can play and dance and swim and take workshops and never encounter the fire circle unless you want to….but the presence is there and you’ll feel it. There will be a reverence in the air that invites you to cherish all life, cherish your life, cherish the air you breathe and the earth around you. It will deepen your festival experience and the connections you make.
Come to Unifier. Come and feel it for yourself. Be renewed. Have an experience you will cherish forever.