There’s something about fire. We can’t quite put a finger on it but it lights something within us. Humankind has marveled at the flame for as long as we’ve known about fire. Ancient cultures, the world over, built hearth fires in their homes for warmth. Sacred fires were lit in the center of villages and venerated as a source of light for everyone. Ceremonies were conducted at the ends of seasons where the sacred village hearth was alighted anew. We would mark the end of a season and allow the kindles in our homes to die before praying to our ancestors and relighting our hearths at home from the sacred fire. Celts. Desert nomads. Kemet. Mongol. It doesn’t matter as the sacred hearth has one meaning.
One source. One light.
This tribal ceremony has been carried on through countless cultures. From passages in Leviticus marking “a continuous fire” burning upon the altar to Greek Temples with perpetual fires for the goddess Hestia fire has been crucial to our spiritual lives. In fact, most of our global faiths have some form of fire in the mix. Why? What does fire represents?
Purification- A pot for silver? Regeneration- A furnace for gold? Salvation- the light that shines in the darkness?
These are all right answers and yet, somehow, fire means more.
Heraclitus thought of fire as the symbol of our Souls substance, the essence of life itself. Now, when you think of the ancient world with its vestal virgins and concepts of sacred fires giving us light it’s not that crazy to make such a claim. Is fire not a symbol of light as old as humanity itself?
Nowadays, we’re all more comfortable with the idea of energy. Sprinkle in energy being light and heat we step into a place where we’re not so different from our ancestors. All life, from bacteria to human brain functions or the universe itself needs energy to exist. From the time you came to be the very cells that made you, and every action you take requires energy to do so.
Once we take in that most of what appears solid mass is nothing more than energy we begin to grasp what sacred fire symbolizes. Everything has energy stored within. I believe it was Einstein who first attempted to track how much energy is required to make the appearance of mass. Since then, we have been slowly learning how the material and immaterial worlds are both comprised of energy.
“New idea,” you say. Hardly!
“Everything is an exchange for fire, and fire for everything—as goods for gold, and gold for goods.”-Heraclitus
We’re still talking about that sacred fire- that sacred source.
Even the way our thoughts duplicate upwards from their Russian doll network into our waking minds is a form of bio-chemically produced energy generated at the cellular level. Sodium and potassium interactions fire electrical impulses across our nervous systems and stream vital messages needed for us to function. This energy fuels all these neurotransmitters responsible for movement, heart rate, and regulating our moods.
From sound energy to thermal energy absorbed from the sun our bodies break down and coordinate information flow and use it in ways we still can’t duplicate. It’s an amazing study.
Of course, the scientist is striving to understand natures various transformations in a mechanical sense while the mystic strives to understand the Spirit but still… We are interconnected. Nature is the natural world of which we are all a part. As we deepen our understanding of how nature effects us through our sensory perception we note how our thoughts and feelings affect nature. We see the interplay between the two which naturally leads to spiritual discipline.
I am well aware of the sacred fire burning within. Many of us have been called to be a light to the world. No matter the path anyone who hears those words understands their meaning. There is nothing that needs spelled out as they too feel the fire burning within. There’s something ancient in the symbol of fire that transcends our consciousness and cuts straight to the heart of mysticism.
“I purified my lips with sacred fire that I may speak of love,
but when I opened my mouth to speak,
I found myself mute!”-Kahlil Gibran
And in that silence we find God.