We live in an age when the outlook of materialism has gripped our culture, robbing us of right relationship with the living world. So few people remain who can remember and speak to the vital wisdom our ancestors held. In times when humanity stumbles, the Spirit of Fire, sometimes lovingly referred to as Grandfather Fire, will seek a human form as a conduit to transmit the guidance that is needed to restore balance. When the call to serve this purpose is accepted, it is a blessing for all. Here is a glimpse into one such story.
The moment when Fire comes to speak can be dramatic.
A sudden hush has fallen on those gathered around the hearth. Whereas just seconds before the circle was filled with a crescendo of drumming, percussion instruments and voices raised in song, now there is respectful stillness. It is a stillness fueled by an air of expectancy. The activities of the afternoon and evening have led up to this moment, warming hearts and minds. Conversations with other attendees, both well known and newly welcomed, were enjoyed over a shared meal. Participation in the consecration of the hearth fire created a ritual container set apart from everyday life. Personal stories, jokes, poetry, laughter and song all helped build the flames of relationship, human to human, even among those who had been strangers at the beginning of the day.
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Archaeological evidence shows that the first human use of fire goes back 800,000 years. Some would say that it is our relationship with fire that makes us human. Fire cooked our food, lit up the night to provide safety, and provided warmth from the cold. In a deeper sense, Fire as the energy of heart has always been there to provide wisdom when our minds and fears begin to lead us astray. Sitting around the fire, our ancestors told the great stories that gave their lives meaning and helped them to live in a good way. The opportunity to do so remains present for us today.
Now, all eyes are on the elder, his face hidden behind a traditional hat adorned with feathers, his body trembling as it seeks to accommodate an energy far greater than normal. At this point, the elder’s body temperature may reach as much as 105 degrees Fahrenheit. He may remain in this state until just before sunrise. For the frail human body, this is a life-threatening situation. All so that we may receive help and guidance at a time of great turmoil. The elder will later say it is as though he has gone to sleep, with no recollection of what transpired during the night, and yet the physical toll and potential life-threatening danger of his service are real.
It is a sacrifice for which much gratitude is deserved: those present will have the opportunity to receive huge gifts. Some gifts come in the form of wisdom teachings, often in response to questions asked by one of us in the audience. Others are far more personal and less tangible. One participant, who had her first experience with Grandfather Fire in April 2017, remembers asking a follow-up question to a wisdom story that had just been shared: “That was an amazing experience! As someone’s question was being answered, I had the most uncanny feeling that while Grandfather was talking to everybody, my personal stuff was also being addressed. It was like Grandfather could look right through me. It was not frightening or invasive. It felt like a deep connection with something I had never experienced before, and it was magical. It was so obvious that this Being had this vast amount of knowledge, about anything it seemed. That was stunning to me.”
Stories abound of how being in the presence of Fire in this way has touched individual lives. Sometimes the words, the lessons and the counsel are challenging to hear; at other times, the messages are not immediately clear and have to be lived into. Ultimately, however, the loving connection shines through: Grandfather Fire wants to help us each become our best selves.
Fire has also had great impact on a larger, community scale. Almost as soon as Grandfather first appeared to us in this way in the late 1990s, those present felt guided in the development of three sister organizations – Sacred Fire Community, Sacred Fire Foundation and Blue Deer Center. The spirit of Fire began reviving and supporting several thriving lineages of traditional healers as well as important projects related to restoring right relationship with the natural world. Like an old friend we had taken for granted, Grandfather Fire took us by surprise. Fire—humanity’s millennia-old ally and guide—selected a Westerner to remind us of what we have forgotten, lying hidden right under our noses.
Just a few hundred years ago, in the Middle Ages, people still viewed all aspects of the living world around them as related like family. Only a hundred years ago, many of our grandparents still held a practical wisdom which is now being lost as speed and technology grip our souls. As today’s wisdom teachers tell us, the more we have used the unique human ego mind—with its capacity to conceptualize, measure, invent, and control—the more we have lost connection to the most precious of our gifts—the gift of simple connection and enjoyment of ourselves, of others, and of Life itself. Fire has, once again, come to remind us of the primacy of Heart, of the importance of community, and of the realm of the sacred.
Of all the things we could find ourselves doing on a Saturday night, the opportunity to hear the timeless (and always timely) voice of Fire in this form is as rare in this human existence as finding water in the desert. And in the spiritual desert of our age, deep inside, we all long for this wellspring of connection and warmth. So accept a heartfelt invitation: come join us as Fire Speaks. Listen and feel, be both challenged and inspired. May the Fire be with you!
Gradually, the elder’s body settles. His hand on the cup of hot chocolate is steady as he brings it to his mouth. He takes some long, slow puffs on a very big cigar. And then, he begins: “What a beautiful night for a fire….”
Read more about the story of how Grandfather Fire first arrived in Transformation by Fire on David Wiley’s web site.