"Step into the fire of self-discovery. This fire will not burn you, it will only burn what you are not."
For centuries, the elements have been woven into some of our most intimate rituals. Water is used to cleanse and give life in Baptism. Flowers are given as a token of love. Shinto wind rituals is used to subdue destructive winds and drive out evil spirits, and Native American ceremonies venerate the Earth as Mother. And of course...there is Fire...
Fire evokes different emotions in each of us - warmth, reverence, awe, fear - and it is ever-present in our rituals. Candles on an altar. Songs around a campfire under a starlit sky. Burning incense. Smoking a peace pipe. Bonfire celebrations. Fireworks. Eternal flames at memorial sites. Fire dancers. Funeral pyres. We know that fire has the ability to spread rapidly and cause destruction, so we contain it in order to safely harness it's heat and beauty.
The image of fire is one that burns so personally for me right now. As part of my spiritual journey this past few years, I've participated in rituals where I had the opportunity to cast into the fire those aspects of myself that I was ready to let go of, to let them burn away. With outstretched hands, I released my need to "get it right". I let the flames take away my stories of what love is supposed to look like. I tossed my worn out guilt and shame into the blaze like threadbare rags. I carried some of my deepest fears to the fire and let them be dissolved to ash.
As I begin my training to become a Tantra teacher, I find that my soul is standing at the fire again wondering what needs to be released this time. I know that there are layers to my fears and my stories and the ways that I get in my own way, and yet my hands are empty as I approach the fire this time. My intuition tell me that I can longer stand at arms length and thrust away some aspect of myself that no longer serves me. It's about trusting the fire to know what to burn away and what to leave behind.
It's about stepping in. All the way. All of me. It is time to let the fire of life consume me and to trust that I will be transformed as I emerge from the flames and shake away the ashes.
Of course, this is all metaphorical. I will not actually be re-creating the final scene from the 'Fire and Blood' episode of Game of Thrones (where Daenerys calmly walks into her husband's funeral pyre), but I am giving myself completely to this process. I'm walking intentionally into the inferno within me, knowing that it is time to become more of who I am by burning away more of what I am not. The image of fire creates an internal ritual for me that supports me as I step beyond my fears and move forward into a future that has an element of unknown.
What are you ready to let go of? How might you create a personal ritual using an element (earth, fire, water, air) to wash away, blow away, or burn away whatever is not you?