by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen
Returning from this year’s Twilight Covening, I am struck once again by the power in a community working ritually together on a deep level. Each year we create a spiritual bridge together that brings us from the season of summer exuberance and brightness into the dark time of introspection and germination. The effect of this special and potent time stays with me all through the winter.
This year’s Visioning Ritual on Sunday was about the essence of fire itself, its many aspects and our relationship with it, as the humans that we are. It was about getting outside of our assumptions and symbolic minds and approaching a natural and elemental force – open and listening. It was a journey to learn, to shift and to gain a new companion in our continuing travels through our spiritual life. Here is the story that that was told to begin the journey. May it inspire you to travel further.
Deirdre Pulgram Arthen, October 11, 2009
You are embarking on a journey to find a vision; to seek a path to follow into the winter.
Let me tell you a story about someone who was on a similar journey not so long ago.
A young man left home to seek a future for himself. He knew it was time, though he had no particular goal in mind. He just knew that if he looked hard enough he would find his way. So he wandered for months and had many wonderful adventures, but as the winds grew colder and the nights grew longer, he began to feel afraid that he would be pulled along into the cold dark time with no direction or path.
The stranger he met on the road one day appeared old and quiet. They traveled along together for a while side by side, and then the young traveler asked the wise woman, for that is who she was,
“What am I to do? The winter is coming and I am travelling without direction. How will I know which path to chose? How will I find my way?”
“Fire is the key”, she answered. “Fire transforms. You give fire one thing; it gives you back something else. You must get to know fire, for if you do, fire can offer light to show you a path to chose and the power to follow it”.
“Know fire? I lived with fire my whole life; I already know fire” the young traveler responded.
“No”, the wise woman said. “What you have is assumptions about what you do or do not do with fire. What you have is a head full of stories about what fire “means”. Leave these assumptions and stories behind, and let yourself gain a new companion on your journey. Fire is not an easy companion, but it is a strong ally. It is obvious that we are made of earth and air and water, getting to know the fire itself brings us closer to knowing the fire within”.
And with that, she turned and walked away.
Not really understanding exactly what the wise woman meant about “knowing” the fire, the young traveler decided to see what he could find out about what it meant to know fire. He went to the first fire he found and joined the crowd around it; he listened and he watched. Eventually, he came to do as the people around that fire were doing, and after a short time said to himself,
“Ah, now I see, now I know fire and can ask for its help finding my way”.
But the fire answered, “No, there is much more, seek another fire.”