Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Four Elements: Hearts Afire

Part 2 of 4

© 2009 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved.

Chances are early man first observed a naturally occurring fire from a lightning strike--some say, as long as 40,000 years ago. It may have taken many generations before Homo erectus figured out how to strike two rocks together to start a fire on his own. Once these early men got that know-how, they had overcome one of the biggest hurdles to evolution. Life would never be the same. Now meat could be germ-free, and eating it would take less gnawing, which led to a smaller jaw and teeth. With more digestible nutrients, both their brains and bodies increased in size. Fire allowed creation of better tools for more effective hunting, ensuring a steady food supply. Fire kept carnivorous animals at bay that preyed on humans for food. It provided warmth and comfort.

And that’s just on the physical level! We might still be squatting in caves without it, and, ladies—heaven forbid—cavemen might still be dragging us around by our hair bearing a club. These are reason alone to light candles on our altars, paying homage to the element fire. We wouldn’t be here now—in our present shape, form, freedom, and capabilities—if it weren’t for the fire discovered and perpetuated by our earliest human ancestors.

Fire is this and so much more. When we’re excited, we say “we’re all fired up.” When we’re passionate about something we’re doing, we’re “on fire.” When stress takes it’s toll, we’re “burnt out.”

These expressions all suggest what Fire means in Chinese medicine. I have used acupuncture as one of my main healing modalities for nearly 25 years. In that system, Fire rules the heart and circulation. Before traditional Chinese medicine practitioners knew about the nerves and glands, they called these systems The Triple Warmer or sex energy. A person with excess fire in Chinese medicine terms is high-strung and highly stressed. Conversely, a person who lacks fire would feel burned out and may suffer fatigue, restlessness, and disturbed sleep among a bevy of other potential symptoms.

It’s the connection to the heart that makes fire so important. It is our spark and the seat of the warmth we are able to give each other. There is no love without fire.

The astrological Fire Signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.

One of my favorite songs of all time is Hearts Afire by Earth, Wind, and Fire. (Could I really do a series on the elements without mentioning this band I fell in love with in the ‘70s? I’ve always loved their astrology-inspired name.) I was mad for the TV series of the same name starring the late John Ritter, Markie Post, and Billy Bob Thornton during its short run from 1992-95.

Passion is heat, whether it’s sex or anger. We refer to a sexy man or woman as hot or a hottie. When an e-mail or internet post is angry, mean, or spiteful, it’s flaming. It’s often not easy to contain, that’s why the astrological fire signs have their challenges with reeling in their anger or urge to go forward (the Aries temper and impatience), their pride (Leo boastfulness) or opinions (the Sagittarius know-it-all).

In Native American spirituality, Fire is associated with the direction South. Its color is white for peace and happiness. Its season is summer, a time, of plenty. Perhaps the old “rule” for wearing white only in summer till Labor Day came from this association.

Fire is Eros—our life force. In mythology, the god Eros is the patron of male love. (Aphrodite rules the love between men and women). Still, sexuality is only one aspect of Eros, even though the term erotic is derived from it. Eros is our flame, the passion that fires our work in the world, and our life energy itself. It’s what makes us shine and fires us up to get the job done. In one of the astrology books that most changed my life, Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets, Barbara Hand Clow links eros with the kundalini or awakened life force. The idea is to have this energy flow freely through all our chakras from the base of our spine to our third eye. The kundalini rises naturally at the Uranus Opposition, according to Clow, which happens when we are around 40. The Uranus Opposition is one of the midlife transits that associated with "midlife crisis." The sexual side of that energy is often what causes otherwise “normal” people to leave spouses, have affairs, or buy a hot red sports car! Ultimately, when kundalini rises through all seven chakras, we have harnessed the life force in its full possibilities and become balanced, warm, and often overtly spiritual people.

Don’t play with fire, but do experiment with it! From candles to a roaring fire in the fireplace, watch it on your gas range, barbecue, or try some Tiki torches on your patio. If there’s a controlled burn or an unexpected fire in your area, watch from afar and see what you learn just by observing this element. It’s fast and furious, it can be quickly destructive, but it also can provide everything that nurtures us—hot food and drink and a snuggly temperature for hugging.

Fire is the life force, and most important of all, the love force. Of course, there’s no difference:

"The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire." ~ Pierre de Chardin


Photo Credit: FIRE HEART © Silverv |Dreamstime.com

Four Element Series

Air - Air Born
Water - Wetting Reception
Earth - I Dig Earth!


How Was Fire Discovered
Fire and Early Man
Fire Chinese Element Symptoms
Native Spirituality


Eileen Williams said...

As I've mentioned many times before, Joyce, you really make me think!
Now, I'm remembering several instances when fire has played a part in my life: from sitting around a campfire as a girl scout, to holding a sparkler in my hand, to lighting a candle in remembrance of my mother's death, fire is a part of many of our most profound experiences and rituals.
In fact, we acknowledge our birth with fire. And lately my birthday cake is ablaze with candles--how lucky is that?!

Joyce Mason said...

What a wonderful addition your thoughts are about these rituals, especially birthday candles! I love it, Eileen. Now I'll always think of my growing number of birthday candles as reflecting my inner fire and lust for life.

Pop Art Diva said...

Funny you should mention Hearts Afire - I was just thinking of that show the other day and remembering John Ritter and Billy Bob, of course.

I thought you'd be interested to know I am using fire as a positive/feng shui kind of ritual - writing down what I want on a piece of red paper and then burning it. I guess the smoke carries the thought to the Universe? Hey, can't hurt, right?

For me Fire is warmth and excitement and color as well as comfort and power.