Exploring the Elements: Fire
Fire seems like the perfect place to start as it is the element of summer, and it is mid-summer in Europe. Our shining ball of fire, the sun shines it's strongest and provides heat which is an energy of passion.
I can not do justice to each philosophy’s approach to the elements, but shall give a brief overview of my experience and what I have learnt from each philosophy. I encourage you to discover your own relationship with the elements and how to use them in each day to help you connect back to nature and your inner peace.
My Candle Flame
My entry into loving fire was the candle flame. Each evening I love to burn a candle with essential oils for an hour before bed to connect to my sense of smell, that helps calm me before bed. My second love of fire came from a candlelight gazing meditation that I wrote about in this blog post, called ‘Trataka’. As I shared previously, this candle gazing meditation can produce profound shifts in building an inner strength that is calm and responsive to your individual needs.
Later on one of my retreats, I felt it important to introduce a fire ceremony under the full moon to provide the group with an experience that would embed into their mind and emotions, where they let go and set intentions. A ceremony with fire builds a strong image that embeds the moment when the intention was set, thus it becomes faster and easier to access those feelings in recall. The more times that experience is recreated, that feeling of that original intention and it’s purity, the more accessible it is to manifest that intention in life.
My next lesson about fire came from the Shamans that I studied with in Australia. They taught me that a candle for 1-2 hours before bed clears the energies in the room so that you can sleep well. Now I carry candles with me as I travel to always have a focal point in a room that takes me to the present (an altar as discussed in this post), reminds me to connect back into something pure and simple, and offers me an opportunity to take a Trakata practice.
I took this fire back to the UK with me and used it to burn all of my childhood letters that reminded me of my depression. As I stood watching the flames I wept and let go of the past. I transformed my pain and set it free with the flames. My fire burned strong to get me through my depression, now I am harnessing this fire within me to help others.
For me, fire is a transformation element it destroys and changes the substance of things. It releases an old substance of energy to become a transformed new possibility of energy in another form. This excites me. There is freedom in a fire that nothing needs to be permanent.
Chinese Approach to Fire
During my days of extreme chronic migraine suffering, Traditional Chinese Medicine was a huge relief. In Chinese philosophy, the fire element is expressed through emotions of laughter, love, passion and enjoyment. In the summer many things blossom and come to full fruition, and for a human, it is the time to expand into one's full potential. Fire forms the earth through volcanoes and ash, and it melts metal (air).
Too little fire can result in a body slowed down and sluggish, chills in extremities and irregular circulatory function. When in excess overly dry symptoms are exhibited such as overly talkative, excessive laughter or an inability to wind down and have a calm moment.
The symptoms exhibited within the body often correspond to lifestyle, such as food and exercise, but also to the spiritual connection. Balanced fire produces a mature and harmonious nature.
To balance your fire in the Chinese philosophy is to allow time for fun and laughter, listen to others, get physical and move your body, and live your passion - find what you love and do it each day.
Yogic Fire is Agni
Agni in yoga philosophy means the fire element and also a Hindu god for sacrifice and Divine knowledge. He protects home and hearth, a messenger between the gods and humans in our quest for divine knowledge.
Agni burns through the toxins within the body, provide the purification of the mind and directs the fire of purposeful living. Agni is located within the upper abdomen to provide healthy digestion, good metabolism and immunity for the body. This rings to the Chinese approach of how fire supports the physical function of the body. When in balance you have clarity, happiness and a loving mind.
According to ayurveda, when agni is in excess with air the body becomes dry (skin, hair, cracking joints), and feelings of fear or anxiety may arise. Perhaps excess appears in excess appetite, or acid indigestion and acne or hives with feelings of irritability or overly critical thinking. Underactive agni is a lack of fire where digestion may be slow, diabetes and clammy skin may arise with emotions of lethargy and over-attachment. Ayurveda recommends different foods and lifestyle changes depending on your constitution and imbalance.
To awaken your agni perhaps try kapalbhati breathing, core activation movements like nirvasana (and many Pilates exercises) or try our Dragon Journey yoga nidra here.
The zodiac signs are grouped into elements too, and Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are the fire signs. Fire provides light and heat but requires others to fuel it. These star signs are often strong leaders, charismatic, passionate and driven with a decisive and healthy gut instinct. Potentially a little volatile they can transform state quickly - moving from passion to jealousy smoothly. Often devastating fires in mid-summer dry heat can leave huge sorrow when our relationship with nature is out of balance.
In Greek myths, fire was originally reserved only for the gods as to give man fire was to empower him to become a god for himself and lose sight of the divine. For fire was essential to transform human brains into those that are much more functional and capable of our modern thought. Without cooking food and transforming the nature of calories into something easier to digest, humans would still be eating raw food most of our waking hours. Thus, the Greek gods were correct that fire transformed humans to become their own gods.
Fire may be associated with red, orange and yellow colours but it is also white, blue and violet when it interacts with the air. It dances and moves to itself, and this reminds me of numerology, tarot and some shamanic traditions - that fire is each person’s inner light. The responsibility to shine brightly for yourself and share your light with others.
Visualise yourself a star shining in space. Shine brighter and brighter. See your radiant mixture of colours constantly changing and dancing, suspended in space. Bright and expanding your vibrations forever in all directions of the universe. This is the unconditional love of who you are. Shine bright your beautiful soul.