Fire is both creative and destructive. Its reputation is often largely as something destructive, and yet it gives life, as well.
The humble candle can lead to a house fire, destroying lives, possessions and a sense of history. Or, attended and respected, it can create a sacred atmosphere, a romantic environment, or even a place to engage divination and intuition.
Let’s take a couple of fiery examples—big ones.
Sun and lightning. Forces of life and death.
The sun, its gravity, its fiery heat, the energy of that heat, and its role in photosynthesis…All these lead to life. The cycles of water through the ground and atmosphere come from these powers and so do the greening of the trees. The photosynthesis necessary for plankton in the sea to release their oxygen—oxygen we need so desperately—could never happen without the sun. And the sun even helps heal wounds, when “applied” judiciously and consistently.
And yet as we pollute our atmosphere and trap more and more heat, we turn the sun gods into greater and greater war deities and less and less healing ones.
Deserts expand. Wildfires last longer and grow larger. Skin cancer kills people. Storms grow. The temperature increases. Habitats change and organisms become extinct at an alarm rate.
The sun, Sol, is the source of life. And it also deals death.
And take lightning, lightning that bring thunder rolling over the hills and plains. Lightning is a fiery force that many people fear and believe has no beneficial qualities, nor ever has. It is just an unfortunate and dangerous side effect of storming.
It is certainly true that people, livestock, and trees struck by lightning may be destroyed, and wildfires begun.
And yet the fire of the lightning has also ignited the prairie fires that increase biodiversity. According to Tallgrass Restoration, Inc., “Until recent times, fire was a natural part of life for our native woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. Ecosystems native to the Midwest depend on periodic fire events to rejuvenate growth and ensure long-term survival. Modern tendencies to suppress fire allow invasive plants (weeds) to out-compete our native grasses and forbs, therefore reducing plant and animal diversity.”
Biodiversity is essential to the well-being of habitats. Lightning has ignited the fires that, as the quotation above says, “rejuvenate growth and ensure long-term survival.”
Not only that, but it is possible that lightning is in part responsible for Earth’s life. Yes, gravity, water, the perfect distance from the perfect heat, the excellent atmosphere…all of these are needful. But where did the spark of energy come from over the primordial sea that changed otherwise inert molecules to life?
I love the idea of lightning over the water. I love to watch storms out at sea—and yes, they, too, are frightening and damaging for sea-faring folk. But I love thinking about fire and water engendering life as I watch the storms out there. (I am a huge fan of both thunderstorms and the ocean, so for those who know me, this delight in reflecting on lightning and the sea comes as no surprise.)
Tomorrow, September 15th, I will host a free call on The Elemental Wisdom of Fire. We will discuss many manifestations of fire, both creative and destructive. And we will engage a practice that can help anyone use their imagination and intuition to help them find answers they need.
I invite YOU to join our call at 8:15 pm Eastern time and 5:15 Pacific. Bring a candle and something to light it with, and go ahead and sign up here.