I took a workshop this weekend with the Celtic author, psychologist, and mythologist, Sharon Blackie alongside around 250 women and a few men.
The event explored a set of stories born in this place between – as Sharon put it – “the slow emergence from dark dreaming days of winter, into the rise of spring”.
We explored the element of perpetual fire, around which many of our traditional cultures were raised. While following the folklore and tales of Brigid as she transformed, over time, from a Celtic Goddess associated with the landscape in this season (Imbolc) to a Christian Saint (Candlemas). A transformation which found her preserved in texts alongside her archetypes as a Poet, Alchemist, and Smith, which offered plenty of symbolism for the current cultural issues we face.
In alchemic tradition, metals born in the womb of the earth are believed to be incubated by its fire and deemed to be as alive as you and I. The development of these living metals is accelerated by the Alchemist, who helps nature find balance through the art of transformation.
Pre industrialization, the Smith’s job was to transform those sacred metals into tools. Which, as Sharon shared, were considered almost magical, because of how precious those metals are and the skill necessary to forage tools from them.
In many ways, fire is what made way for the evolution of our society. It’s also one of many elements we lost touch with as our kinship with the earth severed. This has led the majority to misunderstand and fear fire, “demanding fire always be put out rather than letting it burn for the sake of renewal”.
In our culture, we tend to deal with ‘fire’ (literal and figurative) like a phoenix, letting it burn unmanaged, hot and fast. But as another participant, Sian of Mother Becoming shared in the session, this unbridled burn leads us to “become the light without intention, and we burn out”.
How do we find that intention?
Applying this knowledge to literal wildfires offers a soft metaphor: when land is tended to with the tools of sacred land practices, which remove, rearrange, cultivate and convert vegetation, it mitigates the ‘destruction’ wildfires ‘cause’, cultivating renewal and balance in its place.
These same tools of intentionally removing, rearranging and cultivating what serves renewal can be applied to our personal/societal growth too. So that when ‘fires’ burn, in our person or society, we learn to sit with the heat as the Smith does. Forging tools of transformation for a new world to be born, rather than focusing on the destructive noise of the flames.