Lessons from the Wildfires - The dance of Fire and Earth
The other day, giving a bodywork session to a very fiery client of mine, I received a powerful image of her standing in her full power, a priestess-like woman, fierce look in her eye, juggling fire in the air, feet firmly planted on the Earth, thick roots growing down into the soil.
I knew instinctively that in order to hold and wield the power of fire, one must be incredibly grounded.
One must have deep knowing of the Earth, and channel the Earth in order to balance out the power of the Fire. Otherwise, that level of fire can consume you, can act out rashly and destroy you or others.
As I’ve sat with this image over the past few days, it’s struck me that on the medicine wheel I work with, the wheel of my ancestral peoples, the element of Fire resides in the South, and the element of Earth resides in the North. These elements create a polarity, a balancing point for one another.
The fires burning across the West the past week have been ravaging, devastating, impatient, ravenous. They’ve been stunning in many ways. I truly believe what we see externally is very much a projection of our internal landscapes, both individually and collectively. How we treat ourselves is how we treat the outside world. What is out of balance in ourselves becomes manifested externally as we perpetuate the imbalance in every thought, action, and form.
And I think of how far off balance we’ve become over the past centuries in regards to our collective relationship with Earth and Fire. Specifically in relationship to our bodies and community; to our anger and our sexuality.
It's fascinating to look at. For example, our anger is generally either shunned and silenced or explosive and dangerous. Where is the healthy container that anger can feel safe to reside inside? Where is the strength, safety and security of the Earth element that has the capacity to hold space for all emotion, including sacred rage?
My questions then become:
How can we strengthen the capacity to listen to the wisdom of our bodies?
How can we build our foundations strong and sturdy, so that they can withstand the inevitable storms of emotion?
How can we allow more emotion to flow through our bodies, allow anger and joy and ecstasy and grief to all dance together inside the sacred container of the body without needing to immediately discharge onto someone or something else?
How can we grow the capacity of the archetypal Mother, the great nurturer, the wise, strong, tender, devotedly loving, steady, and strongly boundaried Earth Mother within ourselves and our culture?
How can we learn to hold more than the binary, the polarity, the left vs right, right vs. wrong, truth vs. fiction, us vs. them mentality?
We need stronger containers! We need to be able to hold more nuance! We need wider, deeper, vaster containers to hold what we’re all growing into. We need these containers to be able to hold our angry child and our raging kin - to see them, to hold them, to witness them.
From what I’ve seen for myself and others time and time again, is when the container is held for one's full fire to be seen and not feared, expressed and heard, it pacifies itself. It calms down. It is not an insatiable monster that will consume me and everything around me. It just needs a strong, safe container to express and to be heard.
And yet we don’t allow that. We don't allow our fire to be nurtured in sustainable, healthy ways.
We want Black voices to be softer and nicer in order for us to decided to listen to the fact that they’re being lynched and murdered.
We’re afraid of our own creative voice because it might mean dissenting from the capitalistic model.
We’re afraid of our beautiful and complex sexual power and suppress it's expression, yet rape, sexual addiction and predation are far too common
We use a narrow version of distorted sex to sell products, with the aim of insecurity. Consumers feel bad about their own bodies so they buy and consume more, believing the product will give them access to their dismissed full sexual power.
We’re afraid of letting children think creatively and ferally, putting them into standardized boxes of learning and standards of behavior.
We are expected to work non-stop, to always do, go, produce.
The element of fire is wildly out of balance in our culture.
And what about the element of Earth?
For one, we perceive the slowness of the Earth archetype as lazy and unproductive. Not recognizing fallow/rest periods as equally important as times of growth. And tenderness and care doesn't sell as easily as fear, as the warrior, in the news. We close our elders out of society, and deem them obsolete.
Where are the community programs that have our collective wellbeing in mind?
The sense of safety and welcoming and home?
Where are the wise councils?
Where are the voices of the elders?
Where are the support systems in place for mental health? Where is our sense of community, of generosity and sharing resources? Where are the foundations of a safe, nurturing society that can give us space to freely express, creatively grow, rage and scream and be witnessed and heard?
There are many incredible organizations and folks on the ground doing this structural, Earth-building work to nourish the above areas in our society. And the revolution in our streets, the Black Lives Matter movement, is calling for these exact structural pieces to be funded right now. I'm so grateful for those showing up for this slow-growing, community-building, Earth work
Without these important containers, these foundational pieces of Earth, the Fire will surely continue to rage louder and more fiercely until we finally listen to what it’s trying to show us.
So what can you do?
Look inside yourself at your own balance of Earth and Fire.
Which tends to lead the show? Which needs bolstering or nourishment? In what areas can you stand to honor your sacred fire? Do you fear or suppress your anger? Do you let it lash out in harmful ways rather than allowing its energy to bring clarity, action and boundaries? Where could you bolster your container, your foundation? How is your relationship with your body? Do you override their messages? Are you trying to force something upon your body that your body rejects?
It’s time to get deeply exploratory and curious about ourselves and how we exacerbate the current cultural climate both within ourselves and externally.
Call on the element of Fire. Light a candle, meditate with the flame. What does fire want to teach you right now?
Call on the element of Earth. Build yourself an altar. Stand with your bare feet in the soil or the grass. What does Earth want to teach you right now?
Are you available to offer support in some way to a community organization or infrastructure to help them expand?
We all have a lot to learn.
We are not simply individuals floating around able to do whatever we want without repercussions on the collective.
It’s time to grow up out of our irresponsible and adolescent phase. And recognize we’re all in this together.
This is a teaching of the Earth.
Let’s lean on one another, uplift one another, nourish one another. And begin to take responsibility for the impact of our actions.