What Do You Do At an Animist Bonfire?

what do you do at a bonfire

We have all kinds of people peeping in with wonder and want to stick their toes in the Pan Society vibe, but have lots of questions like “What do you do at a bonfire?” We love questions! Please keep them coming. We want you to feel comfortable, and we don’t know what you don’t know unless you ask.

Our bonfires are generally held on the holy days, but sometimes we will have them just to stargaze or be with other people who love a fire and being out in nature. It’s a great way to get your Nature on and rewild yourself- if only for a night.

If there is a ritual planned, there will be a theme and an intention. They are always something general that applies to everyone. The intentions are sometimes seasonally appropriate as well. Examples are things like fertility, gratitude, the harvest, grief, releasing and making space, manifesting something new, or getting in touch with Spirit.

We will use the energy of the Moon, the season, and the group to intensify the connection and support each other. As with anything, you get out of it what you put into it, so it’s usually pretty illuminating.

Sometimes bonfires are socials. Even when we have a ritual, it usually ends with a social. This means we don’t have an agenda. We just go with the flow and let the spirit move us. This can end up looking like drumming, dancing, singing, roasting marshmallows, telling stories or jokes, or just talking into the wee hours. It’s not usual for a spontaneous healing session to break out.

If we’re singing, dancing, or drumming, it can get really trance-y. You can have meditative experiences, get messages from spirit, get on a creative groove with someone else in the circle, or just find your heart expanding and opening up.

It’s funny how time slips away when you’re by a bonfire. The fire hypnotizes and relaxes you so what wants to come out finds it’s way out – especially if you’re near all four elements and have the sky above, the earth beneath, the fire in front, and the water within sight somewhere. Everything is just amplified when that happens and seems to come into balance. That’s my all time favorite.

So, bonfires often aren’t about an agenda. They are more of a space to just be with yourself, the earth, the sky, and with other people. It’s definitely a connecting experience, a grounding one, as well as one that opens you up to whatever you need to see. Covid-19 has us pretty shut down (rightly so) right now, but everything will right itself eventually. So keep your eye out for the next one. We hope to see you there.

Your Summer Solstice Celebration

summer solstice

Summer solstice is upon us! What are you doing for your summer solstice celebration? No clue? Don’t want a public drunken, rowdy bonfire? Here is a suggestion that will keep is sacred and simple.

Plan Your Altar

Prepare by gathering what you want for your altar. Think about what this time means for you. Summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the peak of masculine energy. Do certain colors bring this idea out for you? What about things that represent the sun and the fiery element of summer, like candles? How much light is too much? What about solar symbols? What’s growing right now? Would you like to add any food elements, either for decoration or as an offering?

Do you want to bring in the idea of duality? Yin and yang; earth and sky; fire and ice; the god and goddess; oak and holly? What other things represent this time for you?

To Dress or Not to Dress?

How do you want to dress? Is this a formal, sacred celebration where you ritually bathe and don special clothing or is this a “come as you are” event? Either is fine. If you choose to wear ritual clothing, you just may want to decide that in advance so that you are prepared.

Flame or Blaze?

For this observance we are going to need fire. It can be a long lasting candle, many candles, a small camping fire, or a bonfire. Again, it’s your choice. You may need to plan ahead just to make sure you have what you need. Bigger isn’t better. It’s just a personal choice.

Solstice Eve

On the eve of the solstice, set up your altar. Purify your body. Don your apparel. Bring out some water and/or other libation. Create your sacred space – hopefully in a place outside where you can see the sunrise.

Now you are either going to take a nap and get up by 11:45 p.m. or not go to sleep. You want to start before midnight.

For this observation, sit up through the night, contemplate the energy of the sun, the seasons, the land, and Nature herself. Let your mind stay open and empty to whatever the elements want to say to you. As you do this, you can stare into the flames, sing, dance, or do whatever you feel called to do that doesn’t put you in your thinking mind. You want to stay in a place of open wonder and contemplation. This doesn’t have to mean that it’s solemn. It can be joyous, pure, and vulnerable. You just don’t want it to be about entertainment, a spectacle, or a performance.

Watch the northeast sky for a break in the horizon. As the sun lightens the night sky, give gratitude for the warmth, food, and life that it brings. If you can’t see the actual sun disc, just face in the direction that it would be if you could see it. Once it’s fully over the horizon, drink a toast to the sun. Speak your gratitude and make an offering of your libation on the ground.

Close your ceremony by saying something like, “This sacred ceremony of the summer solstice is now closed. Thank you, Sun. Hail and farewell.”

For more tips, check out our Summer Solstice Recipes and our article about Magical Summer Solstice Herbs.