The Teachings of Fire
On New Year's Eve I sat on the couch, covered in dogs, (my happy place), and wrote down a list of all the fear-based, low vibe, crappy thoughts and tendencies I am not willing to carry with me into 2022.
When the list felt complete, I made a fire in the fireplace, tossed my list into the flames, and watched it burn.
Such a satisfying feeling.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Sagittarius - I passionately love fire. There are candles in every room of my house. When I was young, I used to help my dad load up the wood burning stove all throughout the winters. He'd let me add kindling or crumple up old newspapers to feed the beast. I would test the limits, sticking my hand between the flames as they rose.
I believed I was made of magic and impossible to burn.
I used to check out books from the school library on telepathy and the paranormal. I loved the idea that reality was bendable or that I might be able to turn myself invisible, if I concentrated hard enough, and move through walls, unseen.
It makes sense that I was seeking alternate versions of life. Our daily existence in that house was utterly devoid of inspiration or the unexpected. It was pent up and unexpressed. Rife with disappointment and suburban suffocation.
Of course I was looking for the secret portal. A way out. A sudden realization that all is not actually what it seems. Not limited and bland. Not laid out inevitably, like tomorrow’s clothes.
I could stick my arm into the fire, shift a log, watch it spark, but not get burned. I spoke to the flames. They recognized me, I thought, as a sister.
Do we choose our families before we incarnate into them? Did I need the hard edges of my parents’ collective pragmatism and unhappiness to scrape myself against, like a match? The friction that gives birth to the flame? Would any of us be the seekers we are if the answers were readily supplied?
When someone is hurting, when I’m hurting, when nothing makes sense, my first instinct is to light a candle and say a prayer. It feels like doing something. It feels like licking the envelope and sending the letter down the mail chute, off to the Heavens, who know so much better than I how to handle the hard stuff.
There’s an aliveness to fire I find comforting and mesmerizing. It’s like the sea, its counterpart: never still. The singer Kristin Hersh wrote: “Like a river/you fight your own bed.” I appreciate the restlessness of fire in this same way. There’s a hunger there I identify with. A need to be fed.
I heard this quote, from the Gospel of Thomas: If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. But if you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.
These words feel like a masterclass, in two sentences, on what it means to love and honor ourselves.
All of us are fire. And water. And earth. And the space that holds it all together and in place. All of us are magic and more than we seem. All of us are here together now, at the bottom of another mountain. Another new year full of unknown potentialities and possibilities.
Let your restlessness become your momentum. Let it propel you forward, in the direction of your Soul’s purpose. Feed your flames and bring what is within you forth. It knows how to save you.