Fire Speaks: An audience with Grandfather Fire
Sacred Fire Santa Monica
March 17, 2018
In difficult times, an ageless ally is still here to help.
In indigenous cultures, when the need for community guidance is urgent, such as when a situation of great imbalance exists, there exist traditions of an individual being selected for Divine to speak through—so the guidance can be heard clearly.
Now is such a time.
In many original traditions in the Americas, the spirit of Fire is known as “Grandfather Fire.” Since 1999, Grandfather Fire has been making appearances at Sacred Fire gatherings around the world. He has chosen a Huichol shaman, don David Wiley, to be his spokesperson.
In a ceremonial setting, we invite Grandfather to share his guidance.
Grandfather is wise, funny, provoking, and astonishingly insightful. An evening with the elemental spirit of Fire is an opportunity to ask our most pressing questions about the mysteries of life and to deepen our connection with the sacred. Being in Grandfather’s presence can inspire us to manifest deeper courage in meeting the challenges of our lives.
Registration is now open. There is limited space at the event, and we ask that you register soon.
The event will begin in the afternoon with an orientation and time to spend among community. After dinner, we will create a ceremonial space to ignite and invite Grandfather Fire to speak with us. To learn more about how Grandfather Fire speaks in this form, please visit don David’s web site www.keepsthefire.org/story.html.
More details will be sent to you when you register.
In this video, participants of Las Tine An Chroí (Light Up Your Heart — an extended Fire Speaks event held in Ireland in 2017) discuss the importance of community, Fire, and the connection Fire brings.
What you experience with Grandfather Fire in an event like this feels like a deeper level of education. Not so much for your mind, your intellect, your smarts, so to speak, but kind of like an education for your soul.
There’s a lot of feeling that goes into listening and being in a presence like that. No matter what your life experiences are, or what your background is, and even if you come from a specific religious or spiritual tradition, there’s a truth that you can appreciate at just a human level.
It just feels right, and it feels true.
Fire Speaks offers an opportunity to experience the wise, funny, provoking, and profoundly insightful counsel of the Spirit of Fire, commonly known as Grandfather Fire in the Americas. Read on to learn what Fire Speaks attendee Heather Poole experienced in Grandfather Fire’s presence.
I’m generally an introvert and not very sociable by nature, but I feel like every time I come to one of these events, everyone is so nice and welcoming.
Fire Speaks is hard to put into words: it’s an emotional journey. Yesterday was full of engagement and connection for me. I think I was so engaged for the entire evening, I didn’t get out of my chair once. I somehow managed to write four pages, in the dark, of beautiful messages from Grandfather Fire.
The connection that Grandfather has talked about a lot—the present-mindedness—I try to incorporate into my life every day. The connectedness, not only with people around me, but everything around me: the weather, the plants, all of the creatures. It brings me considerably more joy to live my life with these things in mind! I feel so humbled and almost so small, in a sense, to be in Grandfather Fire’s presence.
For many years I have attended the Fire Speaks event at Mt. Tamalpais in Northern California. The setting is extraordinary and deeply sacred. This year, in the shadow of the great mountain, we were warmly welcomed into the camp where the evening’s event was to be held. The tent was festooned with colorful decorations. There were familiar faces and new ones, a feeling of warmth and calm excitement. There was delightful laughter and beautiful songs and poems as we waited for Grandfather Fire.
When the Spirit of Fire began speaking, the feeling of deep heart and wisdom was palpable, a source of nourishment and sanity in a fragmented world. He spoke of how much we need our connection with community and with nature, how we have over-complicated our lives and become disconnected. And this leaves us with a gnawing sense of something missing. He generously answered our questions about how we deal with the challenges of our contemporary lives.
I was most moved when Grandfather Fire spoke of finding our sense of purpose and meaning by willingly “picking up the heaviest thing” we see set before us and learning to share those burdens with others, so that we find that it is not so hard.
I recently attended a Sacred Fire Community event in New Freedom, Pennsylvania (USA) where Grandfather Fire shared an ancient sacred story of Corn that applies directly to our times and our lives today.
I learned many things from that story. Because the story has just been planted in me, it’s like a kernel in the soil, germinating and growing. Most of my learning is not quite ready to emerge, but one thing that affected me strongly then and still brings emotions of grief and awe rising up in me right now is this:
What does it mean to sacrifice my short-term motivations so that I can build a good life for the people?
To plant something now that will only come to fruition in the future takes not only vision, but also patience and self-sacrifice. I can catch a fish or collect some cress that appeared this week by the creekside and have food for today, but if I join with my now-settled community, work out our differences as people who live together must do, and cultivate the fields, not only I, but also my family and my community will be nourished for this season and future seasons. The renewing nature of Corn, and its dependency on human communities in order to grow, is striking.
It is a fact that Corn needs human beings to grow. There is no way for it to come to fruition without our concern and care. Could it also be true that, without Corn and its teachings of self-sacrifice for the good of all, human beings will cease our own ability to grow?
As I continue to engage with the Sacred Fire Community as a fire-goer and volunteer, I feel myself, sometimes kicking and screaming, becoming humbler. I can feel the medicine of Corn and settled community working my soil. I stand out less. I work more, doing things that aren’t all about me…in fact, often they don’t seem to be about me at all.
Somehow I’m changing, becoming the opposite of a super-star in my own life. Somehow I’m being cultivated by something larger than I am. And I’m grateful, nourished and in love with this way of living. Now that I’ve been introduced to Her in a new way through the sacred story, I thank the Corn Mother for Her help and lessons, which are changing my life. I start each day in hope that She will render me and my efforts beneficial, perhaps even nourishing, to those around me, giving me the satisfaction of a life lived very well.
I think the thing that impresses me most is people being themselves. To me the root of the breakups of community and the breakups of society is mainly due to people trying to be something that they are not and forgetting to behave in simple, honest, open relationships with each other. In so many respects we need community everywhere and all attempts to creating it are valid.
This is one of those places where it is good to be you.
This community, it’s vibrant… it’s magical. There’s a lot of people here that are really deeply interested in connecting and that’s my sort of hunger and my delight…to connect with other people, with the land, with trees, with nature, with the Fire. That’s what it is all about for me. It’s connection, and I find it here. And it’s fun, it’s a lot of fun.
Community is lacking in the world and there is an illness too (about) that in society…Today was quite amazing, It started off with the Fire ritual. When I gave to the Fire, the Fire returned what I would call a change of consciousness, an opening of heart, and it was felt in the group. And it’s been around all day ever since. Beautiful.
Spending time around the fire for the first time with Grandfather Fire at a Sacred Fire Community Fire Speaks event was a reminder of the timeless wisdom that lies beneath any fear I may be experiencing in my life. Sharing wholesome, alive food in the company of ensouled friends who gathered to support Grandfather’s presence was an added blessing to a heart-felt day. I am constantly reminded when I gather around the fire: there is beauty, kindness and abundance in the world, and we all need a safe, sacred space to offer our laughter and tears to Grandfather. His grounded, wise presence helps us remember that peace, joy and balance are cultivated from within.
Gratitude abounds to everyone who contributed in their own unique way to create a loving presence for Grandfather Fire’s wisdom to emerge and be heard. I walked away with a deepened sense of connection and love with ALL of my relations!
The sense of community, of respect, of compassion for what people go through in their daily lives was so entirely comforting that it stayed with me for a whole week. I’m ready for another fix!
We began the three-day ritual by making offerings to the fire. For us, fire is not merely a physical presence consisting of light, heat, and chemical reactions. For us as for many traditional peoples, fire is an important spiritual presence. It is the energy of heart. Fire is what connects us to each other and the world. It is the first teacher and the first medicine. Our ancestors sat around the fire for thousands of years. There they shared the big stories that gave them meaning and helped them live in a good way. There they found wisdom.
Fire has been around since the beginning of time. Fire is the great connective energy, connecting us to others, to the living world, to spirit and to our path. I started my path toward becoming a Firekeeper in 2012, but only recently realized that this vocation has been in my blood for a long time and that I had finally listened and followed my heart’s longing.
For the first nine years of my life, my grandparents in Vietnam raised me. My uncle and his wife also lived with us. In Vietnam, most homes had two or three generations under one roof. We always had various people living with us, some for a week and others for years. My father’s first cousin moved in for a while. He tutored me, picked me up from school and was my mentor. My grandparents were retailers and were very entrepreneurial. They raised quails and sold their eggs. Grandpa also made and sold fireworks.
In 1971, I came to Canada to join my parents and siblings and extended family (my mother’s two first cousins and a teenaged second cousin were also living with us). My parents owned a fish-and-chips restaurant and the cousins also worked there. My father was a professor of nuclear physics by day and entrepreneur by night. My parents made Vietnamese shish kabob and sold them in the summer at Exhibition Park. They had an arcade and video stores, just to mention a few of their many enterprises. Dad would have the vision and creativity for new businesses and Mom would be the doer: organizing, setting up and executing his ideas. I’m thankful I inherited all of these traits from my parents.
My father passed in 2014, and my mom passed July 2017. They were married for 55 years. They definitely had their differences. However, there are a few important values that they instilled in their children. Both were extremely generous and giving. We always had many people living in our house, including grandparents and cousins. Our home was like “Welcome House” for many Vietnamese newcomers and immigrants to Toronto. My parents would house them, help them find jobs and homes and get them settled. This taught me a lot about creating community, being inclusive, and helping and serving others. I feel blessed to carry on their teachings.
When Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, we decided to move in together and purchased a home suitable for both of our families. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to be closer to my parents in the last ten years, caring for them and paying it forward. What was most precious was that it gave me the chance to heal my relationship with my mother, making amends for what I felt I didn’t have the first nine years of my childhood. I had the opportunity to work things out for myself, to show my appreciation and love to my mother, to learn to accept her unconditionally, to surrender, to forgive and let go of my childhood stories. I realized that she did the best she could. It is a blessing that our children got to live with their grandparents who shared their dreams, stories and wisdom with them.
My parents were ordinary people with extraordinary hearts. They taught me the value of community, how to extend a helping hand to others and to listen to my heart’s wisdom. They are now like ancestors who have been guiding me on my path, leading me to my heart’s longing.
I don’t usually stray from my beloved Borikén, Puerto Rico’s main island. But just after Hurricane María, in September 2017, while contemplating my school with no roof and my medicinal herbs buried under fallen trees, my cell phone rang for the first time since the storm. It was my good friend Erin and her husband Adam calling from the United States, checking on me. They also invited me to join them in Tepoztlán, Mexico to participate in their Nahua Weather Work spring ceremonies to pray for and welcome beneficial rains. Thanks to the hurricane, 2018 looked entirely unpredictable; my plans for the next few months had already gone up in smoke. So I closed my eyes, asked my heart, and . . . said yes!
Once gathered in Mexico, our group was gifted an evening of wisdom teachings by Grandfather Fire. I dared to ask for advice: “I need perspective about a crisis we are living in Puerto Rico. Since the hurricane, we are seeing an exodus of thousands of families, as well as an economic siege. Our political leaders are taking advantage of the crisis to cut pensions, close schools and dismantle our unions, cultural organizations and even our public university. They are using repression, violence and other methods of extreme capitalism.” I started to cry. OMG. Had I gone too far with my words? Was this an appropriate place to ask a sociological question?
Grandfather Fire didn’t wait long to respond. He described how hurricanes clean the environment . . . eliminating the weak trees, leaving only the strongest, while creating conditions ripe for new life. He compared the people who have decided to stay on our island to the “strong trees.” He compassionately reminded us that the role of our governors is to implant order and stability, and that they are desperate because the system they represent is disintegrating. He closed by suggesting that for us strong trees, this could be the best moment for creating – from our deep, underground roots – the new Puerto Rico that we visualize for all, and then those who have left will come home.
I was thankful to receive that answer because the future of my adopted country looks painfully hopeless. Grandfather’s words helped me to see I must nourish my vision that another Puerto Rico is possible, and that now, as an educator and as a leader, it’s clearly my job to keep on co-creating – without being distracted by the bad news – the transformed Borikén we will thrive in.
María Benedetti is an ethnobotanical author and educator living since 1989 in her mother’s family’s homeland, Puerto Rico. She can be contacted through her website, www.botanicultura.com.
“Corn is a teacher because the plant itself teaches us how to move beyond obstacles. Corn can fall down because of wind and animals, but it can recover its vertical ascent towards the sky. One night, the whole stand of corn may be on the floor, and the next day it can be up again. Moreover, corn has amazing adaptability to different types of terrain and can grow in very harsh landscapes and climates.”
I am Corn. What I mean is, I feel very deeply that Corn is my connection with the Earth. I relate corn’s sweet smell to mother’s milk, to home, to nutrition, to an unconditional generosity that feeds everybody—the rich, the poor, anybody. For me, corn tastes like wind and rain, and it has a special connection to fire also. When you put corn on the fire, it softens and awakens, bringing forth a particular aroma, like perfume.