I was introducing a friend to the idea of starting a Fire Practice.
I suggested she spend time with a candle on a regular basis, using Sacred Fire’s The Fire Practice Primer as a guide.
“What is it about Fire that makes such a difference?” she asked.
I felt into my 20 years of sitting with candles and open flames. I felt magnetically drawn into my chest, deep into something solid and grounded and silent. When I studied that feeling, the space expanded into something open without limit, filled with what felt like a universe of stars. That space, that Heart space, is my center now–my home and teacher and guide.
Three things “about Fire” popped out to answer her question.
1) Fire quiets my mind
The living light of fire is a powerful attractor. Put me in front of a fire, and my mind has something to contemplate beyond its own non-stop concerns.
Back in the day, my mind-monologue could amplify anxiety to breakdown levels. My body responses wheeled between fight, flight and freeze. Fire—and a good Firekeeper—helped me see that my mind is an excellent early warning system for things that might cause me harm or pain. But my mind did its job too well and cranked out endless fearful stories of my future’s shortcomings, failures and threats.
Sitting with Fire’s warmth calms my nervous nature. Its light illuminates the truth about what’s really happening, rather than the story I’m telling myself about things. In Fire’s presence I can drop the story. Instead, I sit with how I’m feeling to get to the expansive, courageous Heart of what’s underneath my fears.
2) Fire connects me to the natural world
Isn’t Fire amazing? Like Earth, Wind and Air, Fire is an elemental force of Nature. Spending time establishing relationship with this powerful energetic expression opens a deep connection with the natural world.
As I deepened my relationship I could sense how Fire is “alive.” Fire is born from a spark, it breathes air, eats wood, and grows. And the fire dies when conditions aren’t right. Once I connected with this awareness, I began to sense the energetic cycles, the “livingness” of the sun, the ocean, winds and clouds. All of creation—including rocks and things we call “inanimate”–took on a new quality and “presence.”
I cultivated this awareness through practice and time spent with elders, teachings, and other practitioners. I began experiencing that “presence” as a living, spiritual vitality. Now, with this awareness, no matter what happens, no matter how isolated I might feel–I no longer feel alone.
3) Fire is a source of ageless wisdom
Everything in nature constantly communicates with everything else. And “nature” includes us human people. (It’s funny how quickly humans forget that we are part of nature—formed of earth and water, sustained by air, and energized by fiery combustion in every cell.) As a natural, spirited being, I can connect with nature’s other-than-human beings.
The element of Fire was present at the dawn of creation. Fire has been a friend of humans for hundreds of thousands of years. There’s an infinite wisdom in those flames. (If you don’t think light can communicate, consider that the screen you’re reading now is decoding light pulses stored on optic drives sent via glass strands in fiber optic cables.)
When something is missing in my life, when there’s a situation or question that feels cloudy, or jumbled, or empty, I go to a sacred fire and check in with my heart. Because the fire that burns in my heart is the same Fire that burns in my hearth.
I quiet my mind as I’ve practiced. I let my awareness drop my judgements and stories and connect with my heart’s curiosity and courage. I open to the living presence of the sacred fire. And I lean into that deep, divine connection.
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