The Element of Fire: Forging Ahead

There is something mesmerizing about fire. Perhaps, it is the depth of colors flickering around, the sound of wood crackling, or maybe the heat produced by this element why people have been captivated by fire since the beginning of time. Over the last few weeks, I have written about water, earth, and air. Next week, we will talk about spirit—the fifth element—the ether and the heart. Each of these elements is magical in their own way, and contains simple but important lessons for our lives. But for now, for today, we will focus on the element that holds a special place in my heart. I have learned many personal lessons from fire. Some of these lessons have been painful, but they have all held nuggets of transformative wisdom. P.S. I dive further into this on my YouTube video for this week. You can check it out here:

Photograph from Unsplash

Why are human beings intrigued by fire? Fire comes from a chemical reaction between oxygen and some sort of fuel (wood or gasoline) heated to ignition temperature. Several scientific reactions happen during this process that ultimately creates heat, light, and soot. In the unfolding of this process, we can see that fire is the element that both destroys and creates. Fire needs to consume something—wood, coals, or gas. Fire needs something material so that it can flourish. In the process, it creates energy for us to have light to see, a way to cook our foods, and heat to warm our homes. If we make the analogy that there is a fire within us—the eternal fire of our souls—we must therefore be careful about what we consume, and about what we allow to burn within us. From our consumption, we will also be creating. How are you tending to your soul at this moment? What are you creating from what you have allowed yourself to consume?

On a spiritual level, fire is transformation and the determination of our will. Fire represents passion, creativity, and purification. Without the pressures of the heat from fire, a diamond remains a lump of coal. Without the fire to create the process, the coal never reaches its full potential. Many of us have gone through our own individual trial by fire. So many times, we are encouraged to turn away from what is difficult, what is hard, and what appears to be an obstacle—but in doing so we are avoiding the process that is meant to polish us. Rabindranath Tagore said, “Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.”

When I was four years old, I went through a very painful lesson associated with fire. My family was still living in Jamaica at the time. We were in Portland parish, which is basically like being in a tropical rainfall. Everything is lush, vivid, and so green that it is almost blue. In fact, we lived at the base of the Blue Mountains, which derive their name from that glorious green/blue color that stretches out as far as the eye can see. On this particular day, my grandmother—who was a teacher—was in our living room helping students from the community prepare for the Common Entrance exam so that they could get into high school. My mother was on the other side of the island, attending Teacher’s College, and my father was away from the parish working.

My grandmother had hired a young woman by the name of Jolly to watch me and to help with things around the house. I was a curious child; sometimes I climbed our cherry tree and sat up there for hours swaying in the breeze. Other times, I was wandering around the yard playing with our cat Frisky, or the dogs. Like most houses in the country, we had an indoor kitchen and an outdoor kitchen. Most people in the country prefer to use the outdoor kitchen because the food just taste better cooked over a wood fire. Jolly had been putting clothes on the line to dry, and I found myself in the outdoor kitchen area. A pot bubbled up with the scent of something heavenly, but even more intriguing were the golden orange flames flickering back and forth. I was mesmerized to say the least. I had some paper with me, and I ripped it up and threw paper bits into the fire. Eventually, I got too close and the yellow dress lined with lace that I was wearing combusted faster than I could scream. I was stunned—too shocked to react, and also conscious that I could get in big trouble.

Maybe it was because I had been quiet for so long, that Jolly came running to find me. She screamed, and ripped the dress from my body. She also suffered a burn on her hand. I will always have gratitude for her, because she probably saved my life that day. In the process, she got hurt as well. A fitting lesson for all of us is that when we play with fire, we might not be the only one to get burned. Everything happened so quickly after that. I remember people descending to the house to help figure out what to do. I remember smelling the burning of my own skin, and feeling immense pain. I cried until I did not think it was possible to cry anymore. And then, I slept.

The clinic

In the community, we had a small clinic that had weird hours, and we were miles away from any hospital. I had to wait a few days, but my grandmother’s friend took me on a bus to Kingston. As the bus jostled, I felt everything on my wound. I spent four months in the hospital in Kingston. I had suffered second and third degree burns across my stomach, all the way up across my underarm and into my back. My parents came to visit me, and I could see their grief. I did not know what it meant at the time, but I blamed myself.

As I grew up, I was so ashamed of my scars that I always layered up so that no one could ever see them. Once in elementary school, I wore a sleeveless shirt and a boy in my class saw my scar. He made fun of me for weeks after. I got so ashamed, that I would wear a sweater even in summer time. It is amazing how one moment in our lives can impact us so deeply. Years later as I learned more about self-love, and healing from childhood wounds, I made peace with my scar and with the incident that caused it. Scars are a reminder that we survived something, that we healed, and that we are alive to see another day. Some of my favorite quotes are about scars. Rumi said, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” Khalil Gibran said, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

A few years ago, my aunt announced that she had a gift for my mom, my other aunt, and I. She was taking us to see the motivational speaker, “Tony Robbins.” I would have to use four days of personal leave, but she thought it would be worth it. My other aunt and I upon finding out the conference was in Secaucus, New Jersey, started planning how in the evenings we would go into New York City and have fun. We would soon find out that this was not that kind of conference. We were there each day from 8am to almost midnight. I was irritated, but the materials that we covered were interesting and I could feel the seeds of change being planted in my mind.

I found out that during the conference, each participant would have an opportunity to walk across hot coals. Having had the experience of being burned before, I felt anxiety take over. Hot coals? What? Were they insane? Apparently tons of people had done this before, so I knew that it was possible. We prepared our mind for this, learning a mantra that we would say during the process. We were paired with a perfect stranger so that we would not have our friends and family as a crutch. I was paired with a young man from Spain. We talked about why we were at the conference, and our dreams and hopes for the future. When it was time, we encouraged each other, and then just went for it. I wanted to cry so bad, but I could not let fear keep me prisoner. I made it across the coals, and then I just cracked open. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I felt proud of myself, and I knew in that moment—if I could walk across hot coals, there was nothing that I could not do. I felt like the phoenix rising up from my own ashes. It was a powerful experience and one that has stayed with me.

So what can we learn from fire? 

1.      Just as fire consumes what it is fed, we too must be careful about what we feed the fire of our soul. We must feed ourselves with the things that nourish our spirit, and we must not feed the fire of those things that might consume us completely. 

2.      Purification is a necessary part of life. Like a forest fire cleanses away that which does not help the forest to survive and thrive, sometimes we must also purify our own lives. 

3.      Sometimes when we play with fire, we might not be the only ones to get burned. Think carefully about how your own actions in life might impact not only you, but also the entire ecosystem around you.

4.      Sometimes you must walk through the fire—courageously, boldly, and without fear. This is your process for becoming polished, like the diamond that you are. This is where your personal testimony resides. What have you already overcome in your life?  Let your scars remind you that you have already survived and healed from other things—you can do it again. 

5. Like the great phoenix, you can rise again after everything goes up in flames. There is a great tendency placed on us by society to think that there is no future after something bad happens in our life. That is not true—you can rise again, and you should. Life is a constant cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Something is always ending for us, and with every end, there is a new beginning. No matter what phase of the cycle you are in, you will begin again.

6.      You have the will, the determination, and the personal power to take action and to achieve your dreams. When I wrote about air, I mentioned your vision and seeing it unfold in your mind. Fire is the place of action—what steps will you take to manifest the vision?

Fire is a powerful tool for teaching us important life lessons. You are a courageous soul, with a love light that shines brighter than any eternal flame. As you move forward into this next week. Think about where you can take action. Do not be afraid to fail, for even if you do, you can rise up again! I have faith in you, and I believe in you. Have a wonderful week

The Element of Air: Thinking things through….

The world is at an ingress—an ingress is an entry point. The word itself stems from the Latin word, “ingressus,” which also means “go in” or “to enter.” Most of us can feel it building, we know that the world has changed, never to go back to whatever it once was. But what will it become? I think the answer lies in each of us. We all have a responsibility to make the world what we would have it be. We can each visualize what that means for us and then take steps to make it so. For me, I hope for a world filled with more compassion, more empathy, more love, more joy, and just more kindness for one another.

The last few weeks we have done a deeper dive into the elements of water and earth. This week, we learn important lessons from the element of Air. Air is the sign of sunrise, spring, and new beginnings. Undoubtedly, the world—humanity is at an entry point in the process of beginning something major. What that is has to unfold, but it is my belief that none of us are here by accident. We are all here for this time because we are supposed to be. Either as witness or as participant to what is yet to unfold. 

Last week we entered into what is known as a Mercury Retrograde phase. This retrograde happening in the sign of Cancer will last until July 12th. Saturday, the 20th was also the beginning of the Summer Solstice, and today, Sunday the 21st the world will experience an annular eclipse at 0 degrees in the sign of Cancer. Whenever a sign is at the 0 degree—also known as the ingress, it is said that the sign is in a critical degree; when this happens, we can tell that something important and major is beginning.

These events are joined with four other planets and our northern and southern nodes all in retrograde. You do not have to know exactly what this mean to realize that they are all huge cosmic events on their own. Although the retrograde and the solstice are in a water sign, they hold particular resonance to the lessons of the element of Air.

As the sign of the intellect and of higher thinking, air teaches us about the power of our thoughts. We realize that it is through our thoughts that anything in our world first comes into being. Once we think it, we can create it, and then it manifests in real life. When you want to build a house, or write a story, it all comes together in your thoughts first—then the blueprint or the outline, and then you take action and it manifest in this physical plane. What are some things that you want to manifest in real life? Think about these things with love, see them clearly in your mind, and then write this down on paper. Your vision is yours alone—that is why you got it. Your vision is important, and as a great spiritual teacher once said, “You must believe it before you can see it.” Most people want to see something before they believe it, but air teaches us that you do not have to see something to know that it is real. Your visions, your dreams, and your goals are absolutely real. Believe in them, take steps to bring them into reality, and you will see them.

Going back now to the Mercury Retrograde. When most people hear the term Mercury retrograde, they clamp up and groan—oh no, my technology is going to break down, my travel plans are going to go haywire, and uh I better not sign off on anything major. Why is this? In Roman Mythology, the God Mercury was known as the messenger god. He ruled over communication, technology, travel, commerce, and luck. He was also a notorious trickster, hence why sometimes in retrograde times, it feels like someone is playing a trick on you! Mercury’s Greek counterpart is Hermes, and his Egyptian counterpart was the God Thoth or Djehuty—God of Wisdom.

I hear the complaints about Mercury retrograde all the time, and my response is always the same. Treasure the time. It is a divine gift; it is a time to seek inner wisdom. It is a time to reset and to slow down. 2020 feels like one huge retrograde actually. So, what does it mean when a planet is in retrograde motion? We speak about the planets from an Earth centric perspective. The other planets orbit Earth at a different speed than they do the Sun. When this happens, it creates the illusion that a particular planet is moving in reverse compared to Earth. In reality the planet has not changed directions, it just appeared to do this from Earth’s perspective. 

One of the best analogies that I heard for Mercury Retrograde was this. If you drive your car every day, what is going to happen? Before long, it will need service—new tires, an oil change. Humans are the same way. We also need times of rest, time to recharge. When Mercury retrogrades and we suffer delays, we are sometimes forced to slow down, to see things from a different perspective, and to rest. Most astrologers suggest that in retrograde periods we should do things that begin with RE. REST. RECHARGE. REJUVENATE. REVISIT. REMIND. REVITALIZE. The list goes on. I have had some really amazing things happen in my own life during retrograde periods. When something does not go as planned, I chuckle and ask the divine what is it that I need to see? Imagine running down a path and missing all the jewels hiding alongside the road. Maybe if you were walking more slowly you would see the twinkling and gain a treasure for your personal treasure chest.

Retrogrades also carry lessons for the signs that they fall in. In this case, both the Solar Eclipse and the Mercury Retrograde fall in the sign of Cancer, a water sign. The sign of Cancer is associated with emotions, feelings, and the need for nurturing and care. These topics may come up for you in the next few weeks. Because of the Eclipse energy, you are also being encouraged to think about what you want to see manifest in your own life. Eclipse energy can be intense, and it can bring sudden transformative change. Sometimes we are not ready for the unexpected changes that life can bring. To pull air back into the discussion, you have probably heard the phrase, “Anyway the wind blows.” Sometimes eclipses can blow your life in a new direction. I have found though, that sometimes when we think things are falling apart, they are really falling together. So, what are the lessons from air that you can use to make the most of this retrograde and eclipse season?

  1. Visualize your life and the world the way you would like to see it. Spend a little time each day picturing the life that you want. This also gets better and easier with practice.
  2. Thing about anything “toxic” in your life that no longer serves you. Seek out better air. Allow the wind in the sails of your life ship to change direction.
  3. Check in with your breath. How are you breathing? Shallow? Calm? Do you need maintenance? If so, do not be afraid to rest, to nurture yourself, to rejuvenate, and to recharge.
  4. Read any contracts or anything major that you need to sign very carefully before making your final decisions. You can sign things in a retrograde, you just want to be extra careful and make sure you understand all terms clearly.
  5. Revisit goals or dreams that have been sitting off to the side. Apply the sharp energy of air—the brilliant intellect, the wisdom, the vision, and the desire to create something. Communicate clearly what you want to manifest in the physical plane and believe that it can and will happen. 

I hope for you that this retrograde and this eclipse season sparks beautiful and necessary changes in your life. May your personal retrograde and eclipse season gems light up your life in meaningful and positive ways.

Happy Summer Solstice 🙂