Well, what can I say, it’s once again been a little bit longer than I intended in posting, I have a few partially written in draft mode, but not yet completed. But feeling the need to write and share this as a recent experiences, so it’s jumping the queue.
Fire has always held a deep fascination for me, (not in a pyromaniacal sense I hasten to add!) – one of my childhood memories was having many, many bonfires while my father burnt all the garden waste & as a family we’d connect around a huge fire & just be together. It was never a solemn occasion, there would be laughing, fun, joy, eating & above all love. This family tradition was extended & I have many memories of my first two children enjoying a huge bonfire with myself and my parents much the same. Even now (& I imagine I’m not alone or remotely unique in this), I still find just watching a naked flame, be that a simple candle or an open fire in a grate completely mesmerising & hypnotic often bringing back those childhood emotions of family & connectedness, but for eons now, groups of people have bonded together around fire.
As a teen I remember being in Chemistry classes – the best lessons were always the ones when we got the Bunsen burners out & heating various chemicals & elements to study & observe the transformations & different colours different elements changed the colour of the flames – again, mesmerising, but this time from an intellectual perspective. (I cringe now & it was certainly teen bravado/stupidity, & kids, DON’T try this, it was bloody stupid, but when our teacher wasn’t watching, a couple of my friends & I would play ‘Bunsen Roulette’ where we’d see who could pass their hand through the flame the slowest, gradually upping the ante by turning the collar on the burner so the flame became gradually bluer & hotter – yes, it hurt, yes, at least one of my friends had to go to the school nurse for minor burns, yes, we got in trouble, & yes, for the rest of that school year we had to sit at the front in chemistry classes under the hawk-eyed supervision of Dr Swingler).
More recently as an adult, for more moons than I care to recall, I’ve harboured a desire to participate in a fire walk, I can’t precisely put an exact reason behind it, perhaps it’s a desire to connect more deeply with those childhood emotions, perhaps I wanted to connect more fully with the transformational energy of fire itself & maybe a little bit is also about testing myself. Or perhaps having connected with fire emotionally as a child & mentally as a teen, I was subconsciously as an adult simply wanting to complete the trinity & connect to the spirit of fire too. It’s not something that has been at the forefront of my mind 24/7, but there’s been a feeling deep down in my core (transpires that was probably my ‘num’ calling out – haha!).
Fast-forward to early 2016. I’d been scrolling down my facebook feed just checking out what family, friends & acquaintances had been up to (& procrastinating from what I should have been doing) & a post jumped out me – a fire walking event at Treyhill Farm in Devon, my heart momentarily jumped, & I clicked on ‘interested’ more to act as a book mark than anything. I eventually got back to what I was supposed to be doing, life took over & I all but forgot the fire walk was happening. A week before the cut off date, however, the organiser posted that they were still a few people short – a moment of panic & I sent her a message saying I was definitely interested, at the time there was some doubt as to whether the numbers would be reached & whether it was going ahead. I figured from my friends circle there would be a few folks that would also be interested so busied myself lobbying people who might want to join. Fortunately two of my friends stepped forward, the numbers were there & it was going ahead.
All through August into early September while it wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of my thoughts, doing a fire walk was most definitely within my consciousness, gradually becoming more prominent until perhaps for a week before the thought of it was there in my mind no matter what I was doing. Finally, the day arrived – 8th September 2016 – I was going to do a fire walk! My friends & I had planned to meet at Avebury, I arrived a little earlier, as I felt I wanted to connect with the magic of that place & take a little of its potency on our little pilgrimage with me too, so spent some time walking the stones & visiting the graveyard in Avebury church. I won’t pretend I was feeling anything akin to peacefulness or tranquility, the emotion I was experiencing was a quiet excitement – that excitement you get but still remain centred. Curiously, I was aware of not feeling scared, nervous or anxious though, which surprised me.
My friends arrived, we all piled into the car & were on our way, the power of three combined with a single purpose. It occurred to me that, not by design & yet neither by chance, (& for those of you that subscribe to the wisdom of numerology), we were gathering on the Eve of the 9th day of the 9th month – 9 the power of completion. Not only that, but 9 also is 3 cubed – 3 representing the power of creation – so not only completing a cycle but also the beginning of creating a new one for each of us – it was almost as if we were passing through our own gateways in preparation of completion/creation energies of the following day.
We arrived, having been delayed a little by traffic with maybe ten minutes to spare & met everyone else who’d been compelled to participate in the event. All beautiful, disparate souls, each on their own journey with their own reasons for wanting to come together in this group & connect together through ceremony, not least of these was the wonderful, beautiful, wise & light soul that is Weeza, our facilitator & guide for this magical experience for us all.
Lighting the log pile – in this case, a ‘Smokey Dragon Pyre’
Greetings & introductions over, we gathered in the barn & were each given tw0 candles, one black, one white. We each symbolically placed that which no longer had a place in our lives into the black one to be left behind, whilst things we wanted to draw into our lives & selves was placed into the white one. Then, while chanting & drumming our intentions, we made our way to the log pile to begin the lighting – still chanting & drumming, we each lit our candles & the fire was kindled with our intentions & also positive intentions for the world. The setting was perfect – on top of a hill, with the sea in sight, the wind was blowing onshore with a light rain, the elements of earth, water, wind, spirit (ourselves) now being joined by fire as the flames took hold.
We returned to the barn to begin raising our ‘num’ – an aboriginal concept, the idea being that so as not to be harmed by the fire, we must raise our inner fire (num) to the same level as the fire we were going to walk through – we drew our intentions, we sang, we danced – all with the intent of raising our and the groups energy to that of the fire – the groups energy was so palpable, you could almost touch it (I admit to also having the chorus to ‘Fire Woman‘ by The Cult going on in my head as part of my inner dialogue too – perhaps that was also in honour of Weeza, but whatever, it did the trick).
My broken arrow
We also all performed an arrow brake – symbolically placing all those things we do to self sabotage into an arrow, then placing the pointy end of the arrow on the soft part of our throat, just above our sternum, the flight end was placed against a wooden elder board, held by Weeza, & we each placed our faith in her, raised our ‘num’ (I remember my inner dialogue saying, “Ahhh I get this now – you mean Chi! – I can doo that!” – a real penny dropping moment for me) & purposefully lent into the board, snapping the arrow, representing breaking our self limiting behaviours. I admit, the arrow brake for me, was a bit of a curve ball, & hadn’t been anticipating it, I also have a thing about not liking having my neck or throat touched (or even kissed – even that takes a lot of trust for me) so to have a stiff pointy arrow to my throat really made me feel anxious, exposed & vulnerable, let alone snapping it with it.
The hot coals…
After maybe two or so hours of preparation, we were informed – the moment arrived, the fire had burnt down into a beautifully glowing pile of hot charcoal, & so we gathered ourselves to return to the fire which had been lovingly tended by our fire priestess for the evening, again, chanting & singing.
I have heard it said in the past that really the coals aren’t that hot when you do a fire walk, but trust me you really could feel the heat radiating from the embers and they didn’t drop significantly when Weeza raked them out into a path about 2m long, East to West for us to walk through – the elements were still very much there, the wind, the rain, the earth, our fire & our spirits – finally Weeza declared the fire open and we all took turns when each of us were ready… And WHAT an experience – when my turn came, I didn’t feel in the least bit fearful, I breathed in to raise my num/chi & stepped out purposefully onto the coals. Yes, you absolutely could feel the heat, however it didn’t burn or hurt. When you’re in the moment in that ‘zone’ it’s the most natural thing imaginable.
The fire walking path
Yes, it absolutely was exhilarating, but not in the same way as an endorphin or adrenaline rush might feel on a roller coaster – all that energy was internal and coursing through my core – awesomely gorgeous & beautiful.
For the rest of the evening, time passed without being noticed, periodically Weeza would close the fire to re-rake it and raise it more (I again remember my inner dialogue mischievously saying, the fires num was needing to be raised to match our num, not the other way round 😉 ). We chanted more, we drummed more, we shared more, above all we walked across the coals more, & I suspect we all bonded & all fell a little bit in love with one another. In the end, I walked the fire nine times – some folks did it more, some less, but for me, nine, representing the power of completion and creation felt symbolically appropriate. For a couple of steps I did momentarily loose concentration, & did feel an very definite ‘ouch’ moment through the sole of a foot, but that just served to remind me to focus & that I was walking across real heat.
All too soon, the evening came to an end, the fire now too burnt for us to walk on. I silently in my head & heart thanked the spirit of the fire for sharing it’s power with us & for keeping us all safe & we returned to the barn. The last two people to arrow brake also did theirs. It was now gone midnight, and we all parted. I felt very fortunate to have been part of that evenings adventure. I met some beautiful souls & would like to take the opportunity to thank them for being there to witness & support my experience & for the privilege of witnessing & supporting theirs too. I also want to express my deepest soul-felt gratitude to Weeza, for enabling such a precious & special moment for us all. Thank you all & may your personal deities keep you forever blessed.
Footnote (pun intended!)
Driving home, while my friends slept soundly, was forced to take a slight detour due to road works & decided to go via Glastonbury – I had a few personal revelations, among other things, Lions, Orion, but that’s a whole other blog post for another time.
The following morning, I checked my feet – they were still a bit grubby with ash and charcoal, but not a single burn in sight… 🙂