The Mastery of Practice

You might think arranging to have the foremost banjo player in the world give an intimate concert at Hearthfire would be a challenge, but all it took was making the invitation. The transporting, solo banjo music we experienced on Friday was the result of some delightful synchronicity, and moreover, the artist’s desire to engage ever more fully with his own creative practice. Béla Fleck wanted to come try something new. His model of devotion, as much as the music itself, inspired and moved me. He reminded me that mastery is not a destination or result. His virtuosic playing and the compositions which themselves seemed to bend time and space were born from an ongoing process of exploration and discovery–not to mention fun! Much gratitude to Béla for his willingness to share it all with us.


Music of the Heart

Over the weekend, Hearthfire continued exploring the power of sacred music by hosting an intimate concert and ceremony offered by  new friends from Ojai, California, Rafael Bejarano and Beth Leone. The private audience was a circle of thirty people, ranging in age from four to seventy years, some of whom traveled from as far as California and Ohio.


Colorfully dressed in traditional, hand-embroidered Huitchol garments, Rafael wove together stories and lessons from his life and travels with traditional song, and original music and poetry. His enthusiasm and sense of humor were palpable and invited us into his journey of spiritual exploration — which began, he explained, on a revelatory and blissful twenty-hour bus ride through Mexico! Beth accompanied Rafael’s storytelling and music by gracing the space with her voice and Qigong Temple Dancing. (We should also note that Hearthfire steward, Jack Algiere, made an impressive guest appearance playing the melodious Hang Drum — an instrument he had picked up only once before!).


Rafael’s large repertoire includes mostly indigenous instruments, many of which he has crafted and decorated  himself, to generate a unique environment of openness and sharing. He played his Didgeridoo and Huaca — a three-chambered, ceramic flute, the name of which translates to “sacred relic” — directly to the heart of each audience member.


Of his work, Rafael says: “Through music and sacred movement, a bridge is formed between ancient cultures and the modern world, bringing us into a state of awareness of oneness.” For more information about Beth or Rafael, click on the photos above, which link to their websites.

Hearthfire presents . . . Size2shoes


Inspirational Pop from Ireland

Exciting news! The musical duo, Size2shoes, who we first met in Ireland with poet David Whyte, is coming to Hearthfire on Friday, March 23rd, to play and sing with us!


The talented brothers O Suilleabhain bring energetic humor and harmony to their unique brand of inspirational pop, which includes original songs and some virtuosic beatboxing. They also perform sacred music from the Gregorian chant and Irish sean nos traditions (most recently at St. Patrick’s Cathedral). What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a night of joyful music?



Hearthfire presents Size2shoes on Friday, March 23, 2012. We will gather at 7 PM for a concert at 8. Snacks, drinks and guests are welcome! We will pass the hat for the lads (suggested minimum donation: $20). RSVP by Friday, March 16th, for directions, and to ensure your place. We hope you will join us for this intimate evening of music, story and song!


UPDATE: As of 3/16/12, the show is now SOLD OUT. To add your name to our waiting list, please contact us.


About Size2shoes

Owen & Moley O Suilleabhain

Owen (31) and Moley (27) O Suilleabhain, two brothers from Ireland, are singers with a rich musical heritage. From their mother, renowned Irish singer and theologian Dr. Noirin Ní Riain, they learned Irish traditional song and Gregorian chant. They perform internationally with their mother in the vocal trio A.M.E.N. They also inherited music from their father, Dr. Mícheal Ó Súilleabháin, a leading Irish musician and composer. As Size2shoes, Owen & Moley combine upbeat lyrics and acoustic guitar with Irish hip hop and tight vocal harmonies. Their fans include Russell Crowe, executive producer of their forthcoming album, and Steven Spielberg, who invited the brothers to sing in a feature film after seeing them perform in Ireland. They recently moved to New York to bring their unique Irish blend to America. Find them online at:

The Design of Your Beginnings

With the transition of the winter Solstice gradually expanding the length of daylight and with the timely reset of the New Year, we have recently experienced a sense of completion, and have greeted a beginning.


During the cold winter months, we’ve taken part in celebration and gathering. The essence of these celebrations is to mark a movement through a natural cycle that began as an autumnal climatic contraction into our homes and into intimate relation with our selves. In observing the parallel of nature, this contraction is witnessed here in the northeast as plant life dies off and the life energy is conserved within. Most intriguing is that during this time when the cold landscape seems barren, the soil is most alive with the fullness of vitality. You may put your hand on a tree to acknowledge the pulsing energy that now resides within deep reserves. We have witnessed these deeper reserves within our hearts and have perhaps experienced our own homes vibrant with life as we gather inside for warmth and light.


How we meet ourselves and what we have become aware of during the rhythmic passage from the autumn equinox to the winter solstice now begins to expand and take form as we enter a new year. A mindful exhale commences, containing all of the particles implicated by our personal experience. From this action some of us offer an intention, perhaps an aspiration, or merely a presence of being.


On New Year’s Eve, Hearthfire hosted a gathering to honor the essence of this juncture and all those in attendance experienced their individual piece of an intention acknowledged worldwide. At the Hearthfire, the evening was celebrated in song, story, feasting and play in support of each other in the nature of wholeness.

The growth of the Hearthfire inspires us to consider our essential nature and contemplate the practice of self-care during the shifting light and dark of metamorphosis. We may bring awareness to the ways we translate currents of innovation and waves of nurturing that facilitate our well being internally and externally. By initiating the act of gathering with community in creative expression, we are amplifying the personal expression of this essential nature in all of its beauty and multiplicity.


Please remember our upcoming Mandala dates, as we welcome you to participate in and share the design of your beginnings.


~ Shannon Algiere

Giving Thanks


For all things as wild and majestic as this local dinner guest; for family and community; for the act of gathering in gratitude to celebrate a bounty of heart, even in times of fear and scarcity. Especially in those times, we give thanks for what nature provides, and the boundless capacity of love to fill in the rest.

Full Moon, Fall Mandala

Come, come, whoever you are,
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving—it doesn’t matter,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times!
Come, come again, come.



Thanks to Joseph Jastrab for introducing us to this poem and his musical arrangement of it. It served as a warm invocation for our first Mandala gathering on Thursday, November 10, 2011. Together we lit a fire beneath the full moon and enjoyed a bounty of goodies provided by the community. In council we spoke our intentions for the coming season of colder, shorter days, and shared stories, poems and songs.



As the Winter Solstice approaches, we can hold faith that our intentions, woven together in prayerful expression, will guide us. The words of each of us were spoken for all–the longing for a home, for a beloved, for alignment with the universe, for healing our purely wounded selves, for unity, for the beauty and comfort of our little blue boat, for the nourishment that grows there, for the joy of a spirit in our lives, for saying yes, for the poetry of the moment, the voice to sing of it, and the grateful acknowledgement of what we can create together.



Please mark your calendars for 2012:


 Winter Mandala—Friday, February 17

 Spring Mandala—Friday, May 25

(Memorial Day weekend)

 Summer Blue Moon Mandala—Friday, August 31

(Labor Day weekend)

 Fall Mandala—Friday, November 9

Like Snow

Hearthfire’s retreat on Sunday, October 30, 2011 was envisioned as a day of slowing down to explore Presence. The unprecedented October blizzard helped facilitate just that: we received about a foot of snow the day before our intrepid retreaters traveled to us (from as far as Capetown). We needed only look outside for encouragement to slow down and the best possible model of radical presence. It called to mind this poem:




Suppose we did our work

like the snow, quietly, quietly,

leaving nothing out.


~Wendell Berry


In ancient times, the hearth fire was a place of warmth and safety to gather around; a place to come home to for stories, song and sustenance. It was a source of light by which to see and be seen, and its heat was a tool for transformation. The glowing embers held mystery and dreams, the flame spoke in its original tongue, and sparks lifted themselves into the night sky as beacons of possibility, wanting to become stars.


Many of us no longer live in such close connection to an open flame or a circle of stones, but we are beings who long for a place to gather in celebration and community, for ways to nurture and provide for ourselves, and for the opportunity to imagine ourselves as wholehearted, purposeful expressions of life on the planet.


Hearthfire invites you to return to a more ancient place, a home within yourself, to remember all of who you are, and to bring back the stories and songs that are gathered around your glowing heart, waiting to be shared with—and to shape—the world.