Kindle a Fire
The word “kindle” is defined in two ways: “to ignite, start or light” and “to inspire or arouse”. Kindling a fire is an act that includes tending the hearth and lighting a fire in the literal sense for some, an act of inspiring others & an act of defiance to others. Fire has many associations in Pagan cultures that include using fire to purify land of waste, undesirable weeds or pests & fortify newly tilled earth with the ashes. It represents passion, transformation and inspiration. It was so important an element in Greek mythology that it was used only by the Gods. It was guarded and kept from humans, until Prometheus stole it from Mount Olympus and delivered it to mankind on a lit stalk of fennel.
Although fire can be seen as a destructive force, such as an uncontrolled forest fire, it can also be the source of creation, like when a controlled burn of a harvested field is used in order to reduce excess plant material and hinder pest infestations. This process allows the field to be better prepared for the next time it is planted.
In my life and in the Pagan communities I have been a part of over the years, I have always been encouraged to kindle a fire. We, as Pagans, dance around bonfires, sing songs about the fire, pay homage to the element, light candles, burn incense & cast spells with its help. Fire has and always will be an element I feel a close connection to because of how integral it is in my personal craft. As a child of Brighid, I find that the fire of inspiration can be channeled through the poetry I write and its ability to cleanse & purify is channeled through my hands as a healer.
In the bible in Isaiah 50:11 it says: “Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.”
Like many of the bible passages about free thought, inspiration and basking in your own glory, this one frowns upon those who would kindle a fire of their own and light their own way. It challenges those who do so to “go ahead and light your fire & walk your own path with that light and see what happens!” As if it were a mystery, the bible offers torment as a reward. So what’s so dangerous about kindling a fire of your own & lighting your own way? Why would the bible offer torment? Well that’s simple, anything not lockstep with what the Christian religion promoted in ancient times was seen as a problem to be dealt with. If people started having thoughts about things without the influence of the church, surely they must be wicked! This must have been very confusing for ancient Pagans, because they were only doing what they had always done. I’d venture a guess that the influx of Christian churches in areas where most rural folk practiced Pagan beliefs must have been alarming and intimidating. To be called wicked, bad or evil simply because your practices or beliefs differ from someone elses is terribly ignorant and short-sighted on the part of those condemning. Sadly, in a lot of corners of the world, this school of thought prevails.
Recently my thoughts have turned towards the kind of fires I want to kindle in my life and also in the community. Obviously in my life I want to kindle the sort of fires that create and change my life in positive ways. Sometimes that can mean the smallest thing, for example: inviting a friend over, calling my Dad, smile, kissing my love, getting enough rest, surrounding myself with uplifting & inspirational people, finishing my homework, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, offering prayers to Brighid or listening actively.
In the community though, more specifically the local Pagan community and even more specifically the circles I lead… contemplating ways in which I can kindle fires in others is something I really want to actively work on. Sometimes with the hustle & bustle of daily life it’s easy to lose track of making it a point to strive to be an inspiration. I’m not saying that I want others to aspire to be like me necessarily. However, I want to be someone that others might like to be like. Someone who uplifts others and makes them feel inspired through my actions as well as my words. Someone who is a positive example of what it means to be a witch. I think that if more people strive to be an inspiration, they would find that inspiration would come back to them in a big way. I want that in my life.
Fire is both a destructive force & a creative force. Maybe it’s a good time to ask yourself what sort of fire it is that you are kindling. Are you helping to ripen the soil of others who cross your path or are you burning down forests & small woodland creatures? The choice truly is yours.