A different kind of band circle

Chicago, Illinois, July 23, 2019 — Following a productive day of rehearsal yesterday, the band was treated to a special opportunity by our hosts at Northeastern Illinois University. Our late spring and summer weekend rehearsals have been able to be outdoors in a large grassy area at NEIU since May 2017. The specific area of campus we use is also home to a Native American fire circle and peace pole. Upon coincidentally meeting the university’s fire keeper during rehearsal a few weeks ago we were invited to light a peace fire prior to our upcoming Scotland trip. We were able to arrange it for after this weekend’s rehearsal … and what a special experience it was!

We were told about the 900-year-old tradition of the Potawatomi fire circle and some of the 20-year history of this particular fire at NEIU. We were invited to help build the fire and then one of our members lit the fire with flint. As it burned, a talking stick was passed around the circle so pipers and drummers could share some thoughts and feelings about being in the band, our upcoming trip, or anything they wanted to share. The topics ranged from light-hearted to very personal and were well received by everyone in the circle. A light rain began to fall shortly after we started and stopped just as we were finishing which tradition says was a positive sign and blessing on our experience.

Pipe bands spend a lot of time in circles but this was an entirely different kind of scenario. We learned about a completely different tradition and were opened to a new level of camaraderie through it. The relationships in our band run deep with some stretching back almost three decades – like that of our Pipe Major and Leading Drummer – and others being newly forged this year, with a wide range of connections in between. The opportunity to sit and share each others’ company in this new manner was a fantastic way to draw us closer together as we set out on the band’s first international journey and a celebration of our 15th anniversary as an organization.

Thank you to Northeastern Illinois University for being our summer weekend home where we can work as a team to improve as a band in the same type of environment as we compete. Thanks to Dan Creely who invited us to the Peace Fire and guided us through that fantastic experience. The coal bundles will be going with us to Glasgow very soon!

For any groups (near or far) wishing to participate in a peace fire at NEIU, we would definitely recommend reaching out to Dan through their website – www.neiupeacefire.org – to learn more about the experience.