I’m halfway through my Fire month, and this is the first post I’ve made about it since it began. It’s not surprising; of the four elements, Fire is the one I’m least attuned to and comfortable with. It’s not so much that I’ve been avoiding it; it’s just been harder for me to connect with. Some people would take that as a sign that Fire isn’t “my” element, and I should work with one that I’m more attuned to–which is silly. Elemental work isn’t about picking your favorite element and working with it to the exclusion of all others. It’s about balancing all the elements within and around you. We are not one-trick ponies.
Still, I did feel a bit guilty today when I realized that I’ve done less overt Fire work so far than I had halfway through the Earth and Air months. Maybe part of it is because it’s the least tangible of the four elements. It’s transient, and unless you want to get injured, untouchable, at least in its pure form. It hasn’t helped, either, that all but a couple of days in the past two weeks have been cold, overcast, and rainy, with barely ever a glimpse of the Sun. And, of course, because of my work schedule, I’m stuck in a cube farm for almost the entire time there is any appreciable daylight. Since I’ve come to accept that I’m pretty much a classic case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, my mood hasn’t exactly been sparkly, either.
Still, there’s the fire of metabolism in my cells. And although the overt presence of Fire is lessened right now, there are more subtle ones to work with. For example, I was really struck by Starhawk’s discussing the flow of energy as part of her chapter on Fire in The Earth Path. I’ve been more careful about salvaging kitchen scraps for the compost bin because she makes the excellent point that every bit of energy we take from the Earth and don’t put back weakens it that much more, which is why we have such overfarmed soil in so many places. As I mentioned in my com-post a few days back, whatever you throw into a landfill isn’t going to decay–it’ll just sit there, a toxic welt under the skin of the Earth. So I return everything I don’t use, within acceptable composting limits. The ends of the carrots, the cracker crumbs at the bottom of the box–those are all energy that has been taken from the Earth.
Fire isn’t just energy, either, and it isn’t just the nice warmth of the Sun. Fire can also be painful. In my personal life I’ve had to deal with some really difficult decisions, things that weren’t easy to deal with, where there really was no right or wrong decision, but either way someone was going to get hurt. In these cases, fire is useful for cleaning out the situation. Like a wildfire cleansing a forest of the underbrush so that everything built up gets cleared out, seeds are spread, and the forest has a chance to rejuvenate its floor, so sometimes our tough decisions cause us to burn out the excess and really look at what’s left. And, to use a more cliched example, Fire tempers us. It may be a painful process in the flames, but when we come out, we’re stronger for it, no matter what we become.
And it is change. That’s probably one of the oldest associations I have with it. Of all the directional totems I work with, the totem of South, which I link to Fire, has changed a number of times, and currently is represented by Fox. Change can be painful, but again, like that forest fire, it can clean things out so we can start all over again. Fire helps harden the steel, turn it into something stronger.
I don’t always want to deal with Fire, especially when it comes in its “You need to learn about pain” guise. But I also am not a victim of it. Fire, like any other element, has lessons to teach, and it’s up to the individual to learn how to hear those lessons. Since I’m not as attuned to Fire, sometimes those lessons have been more difficult to appreciate–there are times where I just feel like I’m getting unfairly burned. But even the wild fire leaves the ground bare for new seeds to grow.
So I’ll continue with my Fire month. I may not come out having as strong a connection as I do with Earth and Air, but I’m further along than I was.