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Forestdance Sacred Ceremony



at Art of Union HOME Community


Dates: February 19-23, 2008


Forestdance Introduction:

Forestdance is a sacred healing and expressive arts gathering that lasts three to five days. Forestdance is facilitated by Jason Cohen and other trained healers, artists and teachers who teach the group to calibrate sensitivity and cultivate energy in the all night 'vessel' of the sacred circle. The sacred dynamic fire circle ceremony revolves around a series of inspired all-night fire circles, where together we allow the thick skins that we necessarily have developed to protect ourselves, to soften and come down, creating a safe space to reclaim our inspiration, and refuel our hope in ourselves, each other and humanity. Through allowing our minds to quiet and making space for inspiration to come through us, the circle varies and combines modalities between drumming, chanting, dancing, speaking truths, and serving each other. Volumes shift, silence is honored, and a balance between giving and receiving, listening and expressing, and ultimately the divine feminine and masculine energies are attained. Along the way the beauty that is created and shared comes as a form of medicine and often can catalyze profound cathartic/healing experiences for the participants. The group holds the intention of supporting the ritual as sacred. The rituals go from midnight until dawn. Between ceremonies the facilitators offer workshops and focus sessions in their particular areas of expertise to deepen the experience for the participants. The event is eclectic and welcomes people of all faiths that are willing to honor life, the forest and the fire. Also facilitating will be Una Gallagher, who will hold the "root fire" where we will brew teas given to us by the forest. To read about Una and the rest of the teachers and staff that will be joining us, please go to the home site at


Forestdance History

As a trained musician with a strong interest in the relationships between music, healing practices, fire and magic, Jason Cohen has spent years traveling from fire to fire visiting communities and participating in their ceremonies. He spent years as a water pourer for his community in Jamaica Plain, MA. His experiences with the sweat lodge led him to the fire, which in turn brought him to shamanic and intuitive healing. The sacred dynamic fire circle ritual and Forestdance itself has come from the balancing of many existing fire circle ritual cultures honed into a form that honors the forest, life, holding space for the softest voices, and not being afraid to welcome in our own darkness so that it may be transmuted in the fire. Sustainability, healthy food, and being in sync with our hosting land and communities also plays an important role with Forestdance's holistic approach. The first Forestdance happened in a rain forest in Georgia on the harmonic concordance in 2003. Since then, the gathering has happened 9 times in five states in the US. Jason has traveled across the seas and to Mexico sharing and gaining knowledge of the subtleties of the fire circle. In 2006 he was a founding member of the non profit Fire Family Gatherings. He recently has co-founded the heARTbeat Collective: Healing and Expressive ARTists for Balance, Ecology, Awareness, and Transformation in Jamaica Plain, MA, and has currently been asked to sit on the board of the Institute of Environmental Awareness based in Petersham, MA.


Personal Experience:

During the harmonic concordance, November 8, 2003 both Cannon and Tenasi participated in a three-day Forestdance Festival at the Hostel in the Forest, in southern Georgia. The experience was profound for both of us and we maintained kin-nection with Jason throughout the years with the intention of one day bringing Forestdance down to the Art of Union HOME community in Costa Rica. For me, Tenasi, "the Forestdance Festival was and still is the single most effective (non-medicinal) group healing experience I have ever participated in. After participating for years in fire circles with semi-focused healing intension, the Forestdance festival was a climax experience that exceeded my highest vision of multidisciplinary prayerformance art." A brief description of the Forestdance festival that we participated in: Although I had never participated in a Forestdance festival before, I was invited as a co-facilitator to help maintain a high vibration throughout the ceremony and to offer classes in higher limbs yoga and sonic yoga during the afternoon sessions. The ratio of facilitators to participants is crucial to maintain a healing container throughout the ceremony. We were a group of 12 facilitators for 72 participants. We arrived the first evening at the Hostel in the Forest, located in a deep oak tree forest in southern Georgia, and were brought into a relaxed circle around a campfire, where one of the Forestdance facilitators shared with us the intention and flow of the three day ceremony. Specifically we were prepared for the first all-night sacred/dynamic fire circle. As part of the introduction, we were each given a piece of paper and asked to write down (habits, addictions, fears, relations, memories, traumas, pains, etc) that we were ready to release. We were then led down a winding trail through the forest to a series of three illuminated archways or portals attended by one or two facilitators. At each portal we were cleansed with a incense (i.e. sage,copal, or pala santo, etc) and guided through purifying and uplifting meditations. At the third portal was a small fire in which we were asked to deposit our list of items that no longer served us. We then came to a sacred fire circle along the side of a pristine lake, and were guided to stand around the perimeter. The pure beauty and divinity visible in the ceremonial site allowed all present to relax into a sense of security and trust. Surrounding the central fire was a cleared circle with a radius of about 8 meters. Along the perimeter of this greater circle at each of the four cardinal directions were specific alters, each illuminated with their own color, style and source of fire (candles, etc). Between the northern and eastern alters the circle opened up to embrace a smaller diameter semi-circle with benches aligned in the shape of a horse-shoe for the drummers and musicians to sit on. Behind the drummers semi-circle was a second smaller fire circle, which was used for the preparation of medicinal and healing teas that were prepared and offered throughout the night to keep the group energy high and clear. A short distance away from the circle was the "Calm Tent", decorated with tapestries, soft sleeping areas, massage tables and comfort foods.

As the ceremony started Jason walked in a clockwise circle around the fire, speaking lyrically and stirring the energy of the fire circle slowly drawing the energy in. We were instructed that inside the circle we should try to stay in motion most of the time. The drummers began a heartbeat and Jason's speech soon transitioned into song and his steps into a dance that began lifting the energy of the fire, which was amplified as facilitators and eventually participants joined. Soon every participant was in the circle, dancing, skipping and spinning in a clockwise direction around the fire to ecstatic drumming. And thus the ceremony began. Throughout the night, the tempo shifted through waves of intensity, pulsing the healing energy and raising the vibration of the circle. Soon people began experiencing profound healing, some smoothly, some through dramatic outbursts of emotion, and some collapsing. Always present to assist was a collection of facilitators, each offering unique avenues of healing and consolation. Usually people experiencing healing crises were nurtured back into the flow and were soon seen smiling and dancing with more vitality than before. In severe cases, people were escorted or carried out of the circle and brought to the Calm area where they were attended to by healers who felt resonance to assist. Thus the night progressed with dozens of inspiring songs woven into the fabric of the music. Participants were encouraged to remain in the circle until dawn, when we celebrated the rising sun with a sacred prayer and offerings of incense and food. After resting for the morning hours, participants were offered a mosaic of focus sessions, wisdom sharing shops, and healing modalities to choose from. In the evening we celebrated with a feast, and free time to explore, reflect, swim, sleep and prepare for the next ceremony the following day.


The waves of increasing energy and healing reminded me of other modalities of group healing, specifically the energy in a teepee during a peyote ceremony; and the white tantric solstice gatherings with the 3HO Kundalini Yogis, who sit facing a partner in long lines while chanting or practicing intense breathing exercises. I feel that due to the dynamic creative energy cultivated through the multidisciplinary atmosphere of the forestdance festival, it has an even more flowering/empowering and healing effect on the participants than other ceremonial modalities.



Registration Details:

We are setting a limit the number of participants in the HOME Community Forestdance Festival 2008 to 52 for the first year of the production. To maintain the container for the festival will be a minimum of eight facilitators, two Art of Union organizers and three HOME village stewards.

The festival officially begins Tuesday February 19th and ends Saturday February 23rd. All participants will receive three meals a day from dinner Tuesday evening to Breakfast Saturday morning.

Participants will be given three options of participation:

Basic Fee – $333

for participants who will be camping in their own tent. Camping participants may show up as early as Sunday February 17, for an additional $11 per day, meals included.

Casita Fee - additional $111

For participants who prefer to share accommodations in one of the casitas at the HOME Village. Casita spaces are limited to 20 participants, early registration/casita reservation required!! Casita participants may show up as early as Sunday February 17, 2008 for an additional $33 per day, meals included.


Work-trade Discount Fee - $222

A maximum number of 7 work trader will be given a $111 price reduction in exchange for offering twodays of service prior to the event, four hours of seva work- trade during each day of the event and one day of service after the event.


Costa Rica Nationals and Residents Fee - $222

Costa Rican nationals who chose to offer work trade will be able to participate for $169. All work-straders are required to arrive two days prior to the evetn and to remain on site one day after the event.


Facilitator Fee - $108 camping ($208 for casita)

All facilitators in addition to the four receiving full festival scholarships (described above) will be asked to contribute financially to support the event. Facilitators are encouraged to show up several days before the event at no extra charge to help create the container for the festival.


To Register for Forestdance Costa Rica, please see