GENERAL FACTS ABOUT FIRE
Fire is the force that produces heat and radiates light. Fire connects us to the ancestors, the stars, and the Creator of All That Is.
Fire is a powerful transformer. That is one reason that it is often used in ceremony. Transformation by Fire is sudden and total. Fire is both a creator and a destroyer. It must be controlled in order for us to benefit from it. Fire consumes oxygen and material and transforms them into light, heat, smoke, and ash. Transformation burns away the old to provide space for the new to appear.
Fire is most yang of the four elements. It represents the South, Summer, High Noon, the Masculine, and Youth. Fire is found in triangular or pointy-shaped objects and the colors red, orange, and yellow. In Asia, Fire is represented by the Vermilion Bird.
The elemental of Fire is the salamander. Commonly known as St. Elmo's Fire, salamanders were thought of as glowing orbs of fire bursting with immense energy. They are said to control emotions such as passion, anger, and love.
The archangel of Fire is Michael; the angel is Aral; the ruler is Seraph; the king is Djin; and the astrological signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
Fire is represented by wands or swords in the Tarot; flint by the Aztecs; a mouse by Native Americans; the lightning bolt by Hindu and Islamic faiths; an axe by the Scythians; an apple bough by the Greeks; and lions and ravens by the Christians.
The gods and goddesses of Fire include: Pele from Hawaiian tradition; Brigid, Bel, and Lugh from Celtic tradition; and Kali, Sita, and Agni from Hinduism. Agni is Sanskrit for “fire”.
Just like us, Fire has a light side and a shadow side. The characteristics associated with Fire on the light side are: action, assertiveness, authority, boldness, cleansing, consumption, creativity, energetic, enlightening, fertility, forceful, illuminating, lively, masculinity, passionate, power, purification, reflection, renewal, sexuality, untamed wildness, warmth, and will.
The characteristics associated with Fire on the shadow side are: anger, commanding, destruction, feisty, eruption, explosion, impetuousness, lust, temper, and war.
FIRE CELEBRATIONS & HOLIDAYS
Below are the recurring Fire ceremonies conducted within different cultures:
Chanukah The Jewish Festival of Lights, is observed for 8 nights. Candles are burned in a menorah. On the first night one is lit. Each night an additional candle is lit until on the last night all 8 are lit. The 9th candle is called a shamas and is used to light all the other candles. Late Nov to Late Dec
Homa (Homam, Havan, Yajna, Yagya, Havan, Agnihotra) In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, this Fire ceremony includes kindling and consecrating a sacrificial Fire, invoking of one or more divinities, and making offerings while saying prayers and mantras. These Fire ceremonies are performed to let go of patterns and obstacles, express gratitude, petition for success, and for healing or purification.
Kwanzaa Kwanzaa, the celebration of African heritage, is observed for 7 nights. Candles are burned in a kinara. There are 3 red, 3 green and 1 black candle. Each of the 7 candles are dedicated to one of the following principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Dec 26 to Jan 1
New Fire Ceremony The Aztecs celebrated every 52 years when their 260-day ritual and 365-day civil calendars returned to the same positions relative to each other. All Fires were allowed to burn out. A new Fire was lit during a ceremony from which the people rekindled their personal Fires.
Pagan The wheel of the pagan year is celebrated with 8 festivals. Traditionally there was always a Fire at these celebrations. (Dates shown below are for the Northern Hemisphere and would be reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.)
The Fire Festivals are:
Imbolc, Brigid’s Day Many candles are lit to celebrate the return of the sun. Brigid is the Triple Goddess of Fire. Feb 2
Beltane, May Day From the Irish Gaelic Bealtaine, which meanings Bel-fire (the Fire of Bel, Celtic God of light). Beltane is celebrated with bonfires, feasting, dancing around the Maypole and lots of sexual energy. Renewal and purification rites are performed by jumping the bonfire. The Celtic herds were driven between two bonfires to purify and protect. May 1
Lughnasadh, Lammas Honoring the Celtic Sun God Lugh. Aug 1
Samhain, Celtic New Year Since the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest at this time, scrying by viewing the flames of the candle or Fire is an excellent way to connect with the Spirit World. Oct 31
The Seasonal Festivals based on the solar calendar are:
Spring Equinox, Ostara, Eostre Fires are lit at sunrise to welcome the new spring. Mar 21
Summer Solstice, Litha, Midsummers Night A celebration of the Sun God, traditional herbs are cast into the bonfire and people dance around the flaming pit and jump the Fire for fertility, luck and a prosperous harvest. Jun 21
Autumn Equinox, Mabon Fires celebrate the harvest. Sep 22
Winter Solstice, Yule, Saturnalia Welcoming the return of the Sun God, the yule log is lit. Dec 21
Fire is alive and has a spirit. So when we conduct Fire ceremony, it is important to recognize Fire as a living organism. Call on ceremonial Fire for the following reasons: banishing negativity, courage, energy, protection, purification, renewal, sexual matters, strength, and transformation.
Fire ceremony is one of the most powerful ceremonies there are because Fire is a powerful transformer. Fire ceremonies are common in almost all spiritual practices and across all ancient and native cultures. Smoke from Fire takes the intentions from the offerings to the universe so that they can be manifested. Fire ceremonies are traditionally held around a holiday, full, or new moons. However, any time you have an intention or a need for a ritual, Fire ceremony can be performed. In the past, Fire ceremony was conducted by an experienced medicine person after extensive training. This tradition no longer holds true. Anyone with pure intention and open heart can lead a Fire ceremony, whether for individual use or for a group.
Fire ceremony can also use the following representations of fire: candles, a storm, and stars.
Here are the natural steps to creating a sacred fire:
- Place kindling in a square and then build a short teepee of wood over it. Fill in with paper and kindling as needed. Use natural Fire starters and avoid commercial lighter fluids.
- Designate one or more Fire keepers, who will tend the Fire throughout the ceremony until the embers die out. Each Fire keeper writes their name on a piece of paper and places it in the unlit wood.
- Place tobacco on the unlit wood.
- Add a pinch of sacred ashes from a pre-existing collection. In the shamanic tradition, cold ashes are collected after a sacred Fire has burned out. These ashes are added into a collection of ashes from many sacred Fires. The bits of charcoal in the ash may be affectionately referred to as “the bones”. Ashes can also be handed from shaman to shaman as the collection grows. When lighting a sacred fire, a pinch of the ashes are added.
- Open sacred space or call in the spirits from the directions, whatever is appropriate for your personal tradition.
- Light the Fire.
- Feed the Fire. The Fire is made friendly with olive oil or other offerings (see list below).
- Sing Fire songs or chant while waiting for the Fire to become friendly.
- Approach the Fire to put your personal offerings into it. The Fire will transform your intentions into light and smoke allowing them to go to Spirit. Come to the Fire without fear and with an open heart so that the heat and flames will not harm you.
- Another stick can be used for global prayers, a prayer for Mother Earth. The stick can be passed so that each participant adds their prayers. Then the stick is offered to the Fire.
- At the close of ceremony sacred space is closed and spirits from the directions are released.
- The Fire keeper stays with the Fire until it is embers.
Here are a few common rules of Fire etiquette:
- Always walk clockwise around a Fire.
- Never throw trash into a sacred Fire.
- Never put anything in the sacred Fire without getting permission from the Fire keeper or Fire leader.
- Always insure that the Fire area is safe. Make sure that sparks will not ignite surrounding brush, grass, bushes, and trees
- Never douse a sacred Fire with water. Dirt to smother the Fire can be kept nearby in case of an emergency
Making offerings to Fire helps affirm our intentions. One way to create an offering is to use sticks about pencil size. Create a desire for each of the sticks you have gathered, whether it be manifesting something, banishing something, or gratitude for something. Call up the feeling around each of your desires and blow one into each of the sticks. Place the sticks into the Fire and watch them burn.
Below is a list of additional offerings and what they are usually associated with. To make an offering, simply blow your intention into a pinch or handful of the offering. Then throw it directly on the fire.
3 SISTERS: Corn, Beans, & Squash seeds. Corn is for sustenance and gifting back to the earth what we have been given. Beans are for protection and represent sacred places or places of emergence. Squash is for honoring the Plant People.
BEE POLLEN: For transformation, fertilization, sweetness, and nourishment.
CEDAR: Purify, cleanse, or decrease negativity. Induces psychic powers. Attracts money.
COPAL: For purification, uplifting spirits, protection, spirituality, and attracting love.
CORNMEAL: For protection and abundance.
JUNIPER: Purify, protect, create sacred space. Aids clairvoyance. Attracts good energy & love.
LAVENDER: For peace of mind and inner calm.
LEMON VERBENA: Increases power in spell workings, purifies, increases sexual attraction.
PETITION PAPER Write your desire, affirmation, prayer on a piece of paper.
PRAYER TIES Tobacco-filled cotton squares tied on a string that hold prayers, intentions, and affirmations.
PINE CONES: Symbol of growth.
POPCORN: Jumping between the worlds. Kernels of truth popping into awareness.
ROSEMARY: Protects against evil and cleanses.
ROSE PETALS: For good luck in love, psychic powers, healing, and protection.
SWEETGRASS: Brings in positive energy, calls spirits, ancestors.
TOBACCO: Amplifies prayers, provides healing & purification, allows communication with spirits.
WHITE SAGE: Purifies, drives out negative spirits, thoughts, and feelings.
During Fire ceremony, you might see messages as you observe the fire. There may be images that you see in the flames. Look for indications that have a particular meaning for you and the circumstances you are in at the present time. Below is a list of some characteristics and what they might indicate. However, like in dreams and other divination techniques, it is always best to interpret the events with your own meanings.
Is the Fire hard to start? This may indicate more effort is needed to manifest your petition or it may not be the most auspicious time to have a Fire ceremony.
How quickly does the wood catch fire? This may indicate Fire’s receptivity to your petition or reason for ceremony.
Does the Fire burn very slowly or does it go out? This may indicate your petition will be very slow in coming to fruition.
Does the Fire burn more to one side? This may indicate love may be in the air or that your situation may be one-sided.
Is there a lot of crackling, hissing, popping? This may indicate Spirits are trying to communicate.
Is there sparking? This may indicate that your petition will be fulfilled.
Is there a distinct hollow in the flames? This may indicate an ending of a problem bothering you.
Does the Fire suddenly roar up into the air for no apparent reason? This may indicate an argument or explosive drama may soon occur.
Do sparks fly up aggressively into the air? This may indicate important news is on the way.
Do 3 bolts of flame rise up and burn separately? This may indicate a momentous event will occur soon.
Do the flames burn high? This may indicate that power and energy are going into your petition.
Do the flames burn low? This may indicate that obstacles are being removed before your petition is manifested.
Is the Fire strong? This may indicate your desires are moving toward manifesting.
Is the Fire weak? This may indicate you are facing strong opposition.
Are the flames flickering a lot? This may indicate the presence of spirits.
Are the flames jumping? This may indicate bursts of energy are being transmitted.
Do the flames look like a rainbow? This may indicate that the energies being produced are very strong.
Is the smoke moving toward you? This may indicate your petition has been acknowledged.
Is the smoke moving away from you? This may indicate perseverance will be needed for your petition.
Is the smoke moving to your right? This may indicate you will need to be patient and success comes from using your head.
Is the smoke moving to your left? This may indicate you are too emotionally involved with the petition and in danger of subconsciously sabotaging your petition.
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