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CIRCLE OF FIRE BY JACK SCHIMMELMAN

Circle of Fire from performance of Ice . . . a ceremon for !"e n#clear a$e %"o!o & Ani!a Bar!'c". ('e) & permi''ion. WHEN PEOPLE, ONCE WISE, LOOKED INTO THE ICY FIRE, THEY SAW THEIR DREAMS CAUGHT IN A PIT LIKE SCATTERED BONES FROZEN, COVERED WITH A STEEL CURTAIN OF TEARS

In a moment of time, in a moment of space, there once was a village that sat on the peak of a mountain, whose gentle slopes rose gracefully out of a lush valley that reflected the majesty of each season that poured from the Earth. She was green, she was brown, she was yellow, black and white, embracing the sun’s ( pollo’s! soul in his seasonal flight. "he #illage was small, as were the people who were graceful and as colorful as the valley below. "hey lived in simple, round, red clay homes. "hey were gracious people living simple lives. nd they were wise. Each came from their mother knowing every rock, each tree, each blade of grass as well as they knew their own smile. In the morning they awoke as first light slowly climbed up the side of the mountain. fter washing, dressing and eating, renewed for the day, they would begin. Some farmed the rich black soil for mai$e. %thers wove colorful cloths with which to wrap each other throughout their darkness and light& in their dreams of days and nights. "heir pictures wove their family tales. nd when they dressed, their ancestors awoke and flew beside them in the fields.

CIRCLE OF FIRE ©

BY JACK SCHIMMELMAN

Some taught and learned to read, write and sing. ("o speak was to sing.! Indeed, if you should happen to pass one villager on the road, and said good morning to young or old, you might just hear someone respond with a good morning ode. "hen there were others who baked golden loaves of bread which filled the early evening air with a luscious bou'uet that called all souls, far and near, back to their beloved homes for an evening’s meal to share. (
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E2cept for one night. One ver !"e#$%& n$'(). Each month when the moon ((iana! was full and when she began her journey in the evening sky, mothers, fathers would gather their children and leave their red clay homes to walk down the mountainside. s they made their way down the gnarled, narrow, winding mountain path, each tree, each flower, each blade of grass would unfold in the clear blue light and breathe with the gentle bree$e, lighting the narrow trail with tiny sparks of light which flew from their roots and danced in the night. "heir journey took many hours. as their parents danced and laughed. nd though theirs was a difficult path, the children sang

Some nights shivered as the air fro$e, their breath frigid in the wind& but other evenings the warm moonlight bree$e soaked the skin of each young old pilgrim with the earth’s bou'uet. It mattered not, for whether cold or warm, sad or gay, the (iana smiled and guided their spirit, lighting their way. /inally, when the (iana had reached her peak and took her place amongst the highest glittering stars, they arrived at the foot of the mountain in their beautiful valley and came upon a circle of fire& a circle that forever burned without reason, without cause, higher and higher. "heir destiny abla$ed, the children’s song was now an echo that had melted into the mountainside, revealing in the hush a symphony of wind, ground and fire. fter some moments of standing without a word, watching and inhaling the fire’s golden tone, the mothers fathers, e2hausted from their eternal moon night journey, gathered their children into their arms, bellies and hearts and 'uietly settled onto the earth awaiting their part. fter many moments of sitting, 'uiet, inhale3e2hale, when no longer could their hearts be still, they began to tell each other their dreams. ,aking dreams. Sleeping dreams. Inbetween dreams. Everybody spoke. Everybody listened. Everybody sang. symphony of hearts glistened in the clear blue air. "heir e2citement grew and grew and grew some more until their dreams would leap from their hearts and into the flames, which soared higher and higher into the night sky painting the stars with all the colors of their lives. "hey sang dreams of dawn, they danced dreams of night, spinning and laughing in the center of light, until both they and the flames fell onto the ground their hearts e2hausted, illuminated from love so bright. (iana slowly primes her canvas with golden pastels of the coming day. s they lay without motion, their lungs rose and fell gathering in the Earth’s sweet smell& as night creatures slowly made their way home and while shadows played with the night’s soul, from out of the forest surrounding the circle, came two beams of white light. "hey were shining through the eyes of a very %ld, 4eautiful, 1ed, 4rown, ,oman who had seen the dance and songs that had graced the moonlit night. She was sitting at the foot of an ancient giant red tree& 353

CIRCLE OF FIRE ©

BY JACK SCHIMMELMAN

her legs enlaced with its roots under an old black mound that overlooked the sea. She had long black hair that cascaded to the ground. golden rod lay by her side, never lost, but found. round the sleeping fire, all the children, mothers, and fathers were roused from their slumber by the %ld ,oman’s bla$ing light. 6uickly and 'uietly they awoke and sat in a circle around the dying embers of a once raging fire. lert. +alm. "hey waited with no desire. "he 4eautiful 4rown 1ed %ld ,oman slowly rose from the ground, and shaking off the dust of her month3long sleep, she slowly made her way to the sleepy circle of fire. 4ent from the waist, her ga$e focused ahead, she carried the golden rod, which glowed with her touch and towered above her head. t the top of the rod was a gold light shaped like a horse’s head. 0i'uid gold raced down the rod and poured forth from the bottom shaped like a horse’s hoof, instead. "he %ld ,oman was elegant& as beautiful and seasoned as the Earth herself. /inally, as time stood still she took her place at the head of the circle and began to stir the soft rosy ashes while calling to the wind with her song. She sang and swayed while stirring the fire. She stirred softly. (eeply. nd higher. She stirred the ashes, which answered her touch turning scarlet to fire the earth with a sacred hush. ,ithin moments, hot sparks sprang from the ground and whirled faster and faster, swirling, climbing and twirling, until finally, with a ferocious whoosh and 7%%S-8, flames rocketed deep into the sky, sprinting past 7ars, igniting the stars. E2ploding in a glorious luminous rainbow, the heavens released every color of every dream, which poured back into hearts of mothers fathers daughters and sons. In this way, it seems, they lived their dreams. /inally, as the (iana gleefully skipped, waving goodbye, sleep weaved her grace into the hearts of all who lay by the steady warm fire. "he %ld, Smiling ,oman, her contented magic golden rod standing as eternally by her side, slowly withdrew from this peaceful scene, her worked completed, her face serene, she came upon her roots and merged with her giant, red tree. 4etween the moon and the sun, nothing left and nothing to come, a lavender mist rose from leaves and trees to reveal sleepy smiles of those who were now free. 1oused by birds singing their dawn symphony, the #illagers gathered. Summoned by their souls, they began their long journey back to their red clay homes. "o ease their way up the mountain, pollo embraced and warmed their tired old young bones. "-E* %*E (
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a whisper of fear began to breathe inside& inside their hearts, where every 4eing heard a small cry. "hey stopped farming, they stopped weaving, they stopped singing and reading. "hey even stopped baking their golden bread. /or now their lives were filled with dread. Secret people held secret meetings. Everyone shouted. *o one listened. Someone whispered. Something was missing. :,hy must S(e forever have the .olden 1od,; one cried.

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CIRCLE OF FIRE ©

BY JACK SCHIMMELMAN

:If WE had that silly little stick, another chimed, :we could fly our own dreams and we wouldn’t feel like we had to beg or rhyme8; nd so on. nd so on. nd on. nd on. (eep in shadows, hidden in corners, they gathered around. plan was made, a plot was found. "hey counted each day, their nights were slow& soon they knew it was time to go. %n the night of the ne2t full moon, a small group, weak with fear, started down the mountain to search for the %ld 1ed 4rown 4eautiful ,oman sitting under the ancient giant redwood tree. %n this eve’s journey, no singing or dancing ensued. *o children to sing= %h dear, it was true. "hat night when they walked down the ancient, narrow, mountain path, the earth, flowers and trees did not stir did not laugh. "here were no sparks to light their way. (iana’s light was foggy, and the air was thick and soggy. "hey could not see the end of their nose. It was dark, I suppose. 4ut finally they made their way down to the foot of the mountain and in their ha$e they found the radiant circle of fire. "hey also saw two beacons of white light streaming from deep within the wood. Shhh8 4e careful. 4e good. .ingerly, carefully, scarcely they walked towards the seed of white light, where they found the %ld 1ed 4rown ,oman sleeping not under a giant tree that was red, but under a willow that was weeping and dead. -er eyes were closed, but her light shone through. "he golden rod dreamed 'uietly alongside her on a naked patch of white clay covered with dew. Startled by an unfamiliar smell of fear, the rod jerked its horse’s head and sniffed the land soaked by tiny falling tears. *ever having known danger, the horse felt safe, so it nestled back into the ground to sleep and resume its peaceful shape. "rembling with fear, but remembering what they agreed, the small band of #illagers drew straws to see who would be chosen to steal what they need. "he one most desperate, the one most brave, this is the one who :won the day.; ,ith short straw in hand, he slithered and withered through the grass towards the %ld 4eautiful 4rown 1ed ,oman. -e did not feel grand. "he closer he came, the brighter her light grew and grew and grew again. /inally, when he was so close he could see each moment of his life etched in her skin, her light became so bright, it almost blinded him. 4ut still he crawled. *ow he was there. s near to her as you are from here. -is body filled with her light, but his heart was lost, for it was hollow with frost. "-E* ,I"-%>" 41E
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CIRCLE OF FIRE ©
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Suddenly, like a shot out of eternity, he ran to the others who had waited for him at the old black, burnt hole in the ground where the fire once joyfully danced. "urning to face the forest, as they watched, two beacons of light sprang from the old woman’s eyes as she cried and sighed until her face once so elegant was now a massive white flame of outrageous si$e. -E1 1 (I *+E .1E, *( .1E,. >*"I0 -E1 I*/0 7E( / +E +%*S>7E( 00 "- " "-E) 9*E,. "he small, cra$ed group was now blinded by the light and could not see that the .olden 1od no longer glowed. "hey could not see that the horse’s head had turned to wood truly dead. nd as the weeping willow moaned, the flames that the %ld ,oman had become floated from the ground above the trees, above the giant, sad mountainside, and finally into the sky, illuminating the countryside, turning midnight into noon most high. fter long moments, when shadows returned, the small group of #illagers could again finally see. "he %ld ,oman had vanished. "he villagers looked up to where the bla$e had flown and saw that it had become the brightest star in the sky. "he *orthern Star. *ot a word shared. *ot a thought was dared. ,hile ,eeping ,illows whimpered, the #illagers 'uickly and silently made their way to where once burned the circle of fire, now just a dim mirror of joyful nights gone by. "hey told each other their dreams as fast as they could respire. "hey did not dance or sing. "hey had finished not one dream, and they could not recall. "hey merely sat and waited for their terrified friend to stir the fire with the now barren 1od. "hat was all. ,ith his back curved with pain, the one with the stolen stick got up from the +ircle and slowly walked to its head and began to stir the fire with a desolate song sinking in his heart, heavy as lead. "he fog had lifted unveiling a blue (iana who watched, as she had so many nights before. 4ut now she was not gleeful, she was angered by what she saw. She inhaled all of the sky’s hurt, dismay and might. ,hen she was filled with all the broken hearts in the world, she blew her wrath again and again making darkness from light and turned everything to

ICE.
"he ground fro$e, the trees, the fire, and even the music of the wind fro$e, leaving the .olden 1od a dull crystal wedged in icy flames. cold mist rose from the Earth.

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CIRCLE OF FIRE ©

BY JACK SCHIMMELMAN

WHEN PEOPLE, ONCE WISE, LOOKED INTO THE ICY FIRE, THEY SAW THEIR DREAMS CAUGHT IN A PIT LIKE SCATTERED BONES FROZEN, COVERED WITH A STEEL CURTAIN OF TEARS. "he #illagers were devastated. In great pain, they slowly climbed their way back to their homes. "here was no sunlight to warm their path. (awning in that unlit night their lives had changed, for now their hearts were fro$en. AND THEY LIVED THIS WAY FOR TEN THOUSAND YEARS. AND THEY LIVED. THIS WAY* "hey forgot about the +ircle of /ire, they forgot the golden rod& they even forgot their beloved dreams. *o black or white, only gray they bore. *o more music or colors they wore. *o more seasons to grow, no grains or flowers with bees that glowed. 4irds no longer flew, but walked stooped, covered with dew and pain& fathers mothers, even children knew only shame. "-E* %*E (
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when pollo greeted yet another lament without song, a spark began to grow in the heart of the youngest child. She could no longer bear the wailing filling her home, so she took to sleeping under the sky alone. ,hile dreaming one night under a full moon, she saw an ember glow at the foot of the mountainside. wakened by its light, drawn by its warmth, she carefully crawled away from her gray clay home to search for the root of white light she had seen in her dream. (iana, anticipating the child’s entrCe, smiled and guided her way. She skipped, jumped, laughed and played down that old, gnarled, fro$en mountain path that had not felt the touch of humans for ten thousand years. )ou do the math. "he ember in her heart grew, melting the fro$en earth. Each tree and flower that she passed blossomed in the warm moonlit night and the song returned to the wind. ,ith every skip, every jump, her soul intensified. She laughed and cried with delight which caused the ember in her heart to grow so bright, that when she reached the foot of the mountain a powerful light was streaming from her eyes and long, luminous black hair was cascading down her back settling onto a soft, welcoming, joyous earth. Standing at the edge of the ,ood, every cell in her shimmered with love, her soul an open book. s she ga$ed upon the splendor, which opened before her, she espied the icy pit that had once been the +ircle of /ire. 9nowing her place, she walked to the top of the +ircle. "he 1od, now petrified wood, fro$en for DE,EEE years, still stood tall in a fro$en dead fire of fear. 4eing a child, being curious, she reached towards the 1od and it eagerly melted into her hands. It was furious. It was glorious. It glowed at her touch and a golden light flew from the bottom to the top to form a glorious -orse’s -ead. ,I"- -E1 S%>0 ?%>1I*. 7>SI+ "-1%>.- -E1 -E
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CIRCLE OF FIRE ©

BY JACK SCHIMMELMAN

the ancient daughter sways with the Earth as she stirs the fire. She sings with the warm wind and melts the icy flames. -er people’s dreams, which had remained fro$en for ten thousand years, emerge, reaching and stretching& they shed sorrows, misery, sleepless centuries of heartache, and rise higher and higher above the stars until they e2plode into a rainbow deep within the night sky. %n a windy mountain peak, awakened by a new song (oh so sweet!, eyes open, young and old unwrap their soul. *HE BEGINNING

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