Fire Circle Alchemy: Interview with Abigail & Jeff McBride from Vegas Vortex, Las Vegas. Co-Presented by PlanetShifter.com Magazine & planetshifter.com
Behold there is magic all around us (x3)
Awaken, rejoice and sing!
(chorus repeated after each verse)
I am the Air around you
I am the breath of life within you
I am the wind blowing through you
I am all that I am
I am the Fire around you
I am the spark of life within you
I am the flame burning through you
I am all that I am
I am the Water around you
I am the pulse of life within you
I am the ocean flowing through you
I am all that I am
I am the Earth around you
I am the heartbeat within you
I am the ground below you
I am all that I am
I am Spirit around you
I am divinity within you
I am the light shining through you
I am all that I am
Circle Casting by Abbi Spinner McBride
* * * * * * *
Interview with Abigail and Jeff by Willi Paul
Is Las Vegas a positive place for alternative healers and practices? Why and why not?
There is more light per square inch in Las Vegas than anywhere else in the world. It seems that both those who shine brightly and those who need the light find their way here. As a licensed massage therapist, I interact with other healers on a daily basis. People come to Las Vegas because they are seeking something- whether it is a good time, a chance of winning big, or getting a good job. There are many healers here, and many who need healing. The Vegas Vortex is an intentional community of friends, artists, musicians, performers and wisdom-keepers. We host an exciting fun series of magickal events, concerts, playshops, drum circles, dances, and empowering retreats. Our mission is to bring people together in community, to explore and share, to inspire positive transformation, to support and celebrate each other through various life-enriching experiences. We welcome all seekers of truth and beauty.
Terminology is always a door to deeper spaces. Why call the Feb. event “Mysterium 2011” What is mysterious about it?
Mysterium is a modern derivation of an archaic Latin term that points towards the ultimate mysteries of life. Psychology and spiritual alchemy are processes of self discovery and transformation. As we evolve, we move toward attaining a higher state of consciousness, thus enabling ourselves and each other to live fully empowered lives. Mysterious? We co create rituals of celebration, transformation and illumination by combining ancient practices with modern life enriching techniques. Our special guest for our upcoming Mysterium conference is noted author and alchemist, Dennis William Hauck.
Dennis William Hauck is an author, consultant, and lecturer working to facilitate personal and global transformation through the application of the ancient principles of alchemy. He writes and lectures on physical, psychological, and organizational perfection to a wide variety of audiences that range from scientists and business leaders to religious and esoteric organizations. Hauck was initiated into alchemy while in graduate school in Europe and has since translated a number of important manuscripts and published seven books on the subject. His bestselling The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy (Penguin Alpha 2008) is considered the best introduction to alchemy available today, and his The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Trans-formation (Penguin 1999) presents his original research about the mysterious artifact that inspired alchemists for thousands of years. Hauck’s books have been featured in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and hundreds of other periodicals. He has been interviewed on over 300 radio and TV programs, and we are thrilled to have him joining us for what will prove to be a fascinating few days of mystery, magic and wonder.
Who is your “average VV member?”
Vegas Vortex members are above average. Their participation in our events leads them towards healthier, wealthier, happier lives, regardless of their occupations, beliefs or interests. There are doctors, artists, lawyers, singers, policemen, professors, dancers, baristas and professional people from all walks of life. Most of our members are in their 30s, 40s and 50s... and we include families, children and honored elders from all creeds and cultures that participate in our events. A Vegas Vortex participant is one who enjoys being part of an inspiring magickal community, is interested in learning, is open to exploring new horizons and to growing into their highest self. Many have some kind of active expression of creativity, be it through music, dance, rhythm, cooking, visual arts, performance magic, soap-making, or costume design. There is room for everyone at our table. The key that unlocks the door is made of curiosity, open-mindedness and mutual respect.
Do you find yourself living multiple lives? One in the mainstream and others behind closed doors?
No. Our lives are in alignment. Who we are in the "waking world" is very much the same as who we around the fire, on-stage, in the classroom, in the office, or at the dinner table. What you see is what you get.
One interviewee stresses the process rather than the end result in alchemy? Agree?
One of the oldest alchemical recipes is "ora et labora," which refers to the process of working and praying. The path *is* the destination. The end-point *is* the journey. The process that we engage in is our practice of Fire Circle Alchemy, provides a practical approach to spiritual evolution.
How does alchemy relate to mythology?
Alchemy is a metaphorical language, filled with symbols that point beyond literal interpretations. In the same way that myths take mundane life and magnify it to epic proportions, so too does alchemy create a lens to see more deeply into the richness of life, and in doing so, enables us to "extract the gold" from every day experiences, so we can lead richer lives.
Give the history and key points surrounding your practice of the Royal Art of Alchemy?
Alchemy is an open secret. The tools, practices, symbols and metaphors are available for all that will take the time to explore the rich history and mysteries of this ancient tradition. It is called the Royal Art or the Art of the Wise because for many hundreds of years, only the most knowledgeable or wealthy could cultivate a lifestyle of patience in order to practice this profound and time consuming art. Our specific practice has evolved over the last thirty years, and has its roots in the neo-pagan sacred fire circle movement. Over the years, we have consciously evolved through community collaboration towards universal fire circle alchemy. This practice is based on archetypal patterns and processes that are reflected quite significantly throughout alchemical literature, art, and ritual theater.
The key points of our practice are explained in depth and in detail on the Vegas Vortex website for those that would like to take the time to unlock the portals within themselves to begin the journey toward self discovery. It is said that you can hand somebody the seven keys to unlock the seven powers of the universe, but unless the initiate goes through the actual process and does the work, handing keys to someone is pointless. Here's a good place to start:
My research has been a mixed bag on contemporary shamanism. What is a shaman?
A shaman is an agent of change, one that journeys to the outer reaches of inner space to explore worlds that are usually invisible or beyond the consciousness of the mundane earthwalker. There is no one type of shaman, in fact, the word "shaman" has indo-European roots, and global shamanic practices vary widely from region to region, culture to culture, continent to continent. The word shaman is overused these days as a catchall phrase for anyone that seeks to explore altered states of consciousness or alternative realities or even deeper contemplative states. This can lead to confusion as to what a shaman is or is not. Personally, we avoid this term in our work, rituals and writing.
Do your events run like Burning Man?
Yes, in that we are supporters of the gift economy, and many of the virtues of gift culture run through the spiritual infrastructure in organizing our events. We are not a money making organization; all profits and proceeds go into scholarships, creating opportunities and artist grants for participants, and the remainder is donated to charities selected by members of the community.
...And No. Our Alchemical Fire circles are purification ceremonies that are drug and alcohol free. Burning Man, which we have participated in over the years, tends to run on a more celebratory, Dionysian, and Bacchanalian revelry energy. The difference between an Alchemical Fire Circle and Burning Man is the difference between a sweat lodge and a disco party. In truth, Burning Man offers many safe, sacred and sober ritual encounters. It is also one of the most decadent places on earth, and we are very thankful that it is! Burning Man is a phenomenon and an exploration of consciousness like no other, and if you've never been, is well worth checking out. We have brought our fire circle to Burning Man, and it was a huge success for the years that we held space for our all night sacred fire circle, but if people come to an Alchemical Fire Circle expecting a Burning Man party, they might be disappointed.
Please give us several examples of “co-creating heartfelt offerings of magic, art, and music.”
Here's a little taste:
Tom Robbins said trying to define magic is like trying to carve roast beef with a screw diver. The printed word or any form of media simply cannot fully express the interactive, ecstatic celebration and spiritual connection that can be found by participating in co-created ritual theater. The printed word can hint, point and whisper "come join us..." The best we can do is to share a short video clip; if it resonates with readers, we welcome new participants, and if it doesn't, we hope you continue to enjoy reading on the internet about the experiences others are having in real life.
What, if anything, surprised you by our interview with colleague Katlyn Breene? See:
We were thrilled to see your interview with Katlyn. She has been a tremendous positive influence on our lives and brings such a sweetness to every moment we share with her. She is a gift from the universe, and we are grateful for her presence, her artistry, her incense and her love.
Abigail McBride is a musician and artist, based in Las Vegas. She is a highly skilled facilitator of fire-circle technology, and the co-author of Universal Fire Circle Alchemy. Her latest album, Fire of Creation is a collection of her original music that has been inspired by the fire circles. Abbi is also the lead singer and percussionist for Zingaia. Her recent release, Dancers of Twilight, has won critical acclaim. She travels worldwide, performing magic, belly dancing, and teaching drumming, chanting and movement workshops. She spends her free time gardening, cooking and practicing the art of levitation as lead assistant to her husband, magician Jeff McBride.
Find her music here:
...and if you're ready to enter the center, you'll want this, too:
Jeff McBride, named Magician of the Year by The Magic Castle in Los Angeles, is recognized as a foremost innovator in contemporary magic. His magic performance art combines mime, masks, Kabuki Theatre, world-class sleight of hand and grand illusion to create a completely unique performance experience. New York Times columnist Glenn Collins writes, "What Mr. McBride gives his audiences is a mesmerizing performance...a magic show that is at once a celebration of mystery and a struggle to understand powerful forces."
McBride is a regular headliner at casino showrooms in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and has been seen on every major US television network. Jeff plays the role of Joran on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Most recently he has been a special guest on A&E’s Mindfreak, and the subject of the Canadian TV documentary Jeff McBride – A Magickal Life on the “Enigma” series. He runs the McBride Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas, and has created some of the best selling teaching videos in the world of magic. In addition he is a popular lecturer and workshop leader for both magicians and corporate audiences across the globe. With his wife, Abigail, he hosts transformational fire circle events around the world. Sites:
Spinner at mcbridemagic.com
credit: MayFire photo by Darren Miller