..Take a moment to watch a candle burning. See how the wax forms a puddle at the base of the wick and is drawn up the wick to feed the flame, as the air feeds it from above. See how this combination of liquid, solid and gas comes together to make Fire, which transforms its fuel to light and heat. Yet another of the mysteries of our world...the way that fire can transform anything we feed it to pure energy, leaving only a small amount of ash...which is itself a nutrient for the soil...
...whether it is the miracle of a single candle flame, or the raging destruction of a forest fire, Fire is an element whose power for transformation is immediately apparent...
Perhaps the greatest source of Fire we know is our Sun. This ball of burning gasses provides all living things on Earth with warmth and light. Without it, life as we know it would be impossible. By the miracle known as photosynthesis, our cousins the plants are able to capture the energy of the Sun in a form that both they and we can use for nourishment. The sugars made by plants using the light of the Sun form the basis for all foodstuffs...and when we eat these sugars and starches, we break them down to release the energy they have stored.
Energy is the currency of life. It is the vibration of the molecules in our cells that allow those molecules to come together so that our cells can be built. Energy allows us to move our muscles to go in search of food, to gather and prepare it, and to consume and digest it. It is the heat that makes us respond to the opposite sex and the fuel for the acts that reproduce the species. Our brains, hearts, and bodies require it to function.
As above, so below. The Sun burns above us...and its energy supports life. The energy we consume we can translate into useful work. That work we can trade for the things we cannot do for ourselves, and our work supplies the needs of others. Any energy that is in excess after our basic needs are met, we can burn off in the pursuit of pleasure.
....Think for a moment about what energy means to you. Most of the time we think of having energy as being awake enough to keep our minds on whatever we do for a living. But it takes energy to propel our bodies out of bed and into clothes and into our cars. We know it takes energy to propel those cars to where we work. It takes energy to make the buildings we work in, and to light and heat those buildings, and to run our computers. And it takes energy to heat the water to make the coffee that gives us the feeling of awakeness that we need to concentrate on what those computers are showing us....But it's the sun's warmth captured in the molecules of caffeic acid that gives us that sense of energy...
Fire is associated with the South in this hemisphere. Certainly it is easy to think of the great deserts and tropical jungles to the south of us. Even on the shortest days, the Sun rises in the South and shines upon us from this direction. Fire is associated with noon, when the sun is at its zenith in the sky. It is associated with Summer, that time when the Sun is with us for long days that ripen produce. It is associated with young adulthood, that time of life when we expend huge amounts of energy training and making careers for ourselves...the time of life when we expend large amounts of sexual energy to find the mates we wish to have children with...and to produce those children.
Sex and passion are definitely associated with Fire.
...Think for a moment of Summer. The Sun is high and hot. The crops are planted and ripening...or the lessons are learned and the kids are on summer break....or the paycheques are in the bank and you are given a holiday. And the weather is good, so you want to travel. It's a time for seeing new sights and traveling in search of pleasure...and oh, what pleasures can be found. Everyone is dressed as lightly as possible in the heat, and we see displays of flesh that get our hormones pumping. We can renew our pleasure in our partners or meet new partners in our travels. We get out of the cities and feed our souls with the beauties of the natural world...or with the cultures of other civilisations. It's a time when everyone is moving, everyone is socialising, and everyone is eating well of the foods that are ripening to fuel all this activity...
Movement is one of the themes of Fire, and when we build the great bale-fires at the Sabbats, we often raise energy by dancing around them. Dancing is one of the most effective ways to raise energy and alter consciousness that we have: it keeps us in our bodies but makes our circulation of both blood and energy increase markedly. It is a wonderful way to dislodge blockages by increasing the energy flowing by them. It also pulls people together, moving to the same rhythm, creating a movement of bodies around the fire and a movement of energy in harmony.
Magical techniques associated with fire are candle magic, burning of anything, scrying in flames, and dancing around fires.
...Find some music that has a very strong drumbeat. Light a candle and turn out the lights. Put the music on and let your body start to move with the rhythm and flow. Feel how your muscles and joints loosen up as you move them. Feel your connection to the earth and how it is broken and reformed each time you lift and replace your feet. Feel how you begin to breathe deeper as you move, and how your breath molds itself to the rhythm. Let yourself dance freely. Dance with your shadow. Sing along if you can...use a rattle if you have one. Keep dancing for as long as you have energy and enjoy it...and stop...
...and tune into your body...hear your heart pound...feel the energy in your legs and arms....feel the depth of your breath and feel how warm you are...you've been burning lots of energy doing this...and feel your energy flowing...feel how everything is speeded up...feel how it flows...
...and realise how outward movement can make things move in the hidden parts of your being...and the subtle, energetic parts of your being...
...Do some light exercise while you slow down and drink lots of water...and record your experience...
Fire heals by getting things moving. It can help one overcome the stagnation of apathy, the heaviness of depression, or the distant coldness of intellectualisation. It also heals by transforming one form of energy to another.
Fire corresponds to Will, that force within us that keeps us selecting goals and moving toward them, dealing with the obstacles and challenges we find in our path. It's the spiritual quality of strength of purpose, and it helps us deal with obstacles and challenges. It motivates us and helps us motivate others to work with us for common goals. It gives us courage (from coeur, French for "Heart") when we are dis-cour-aged or dis-heart-ened.
...Think for a moment about a time when you felt discouraged....when it seemed like you had come up against an insurmountable obstacle. And think about the different ways you have managed to move beyond obstacles. Sometimes we attack and try to destroy them or defeat them so they'll move out of our way. Sometimes in attacking, we can scare the obstacles off. Sometimes we try to scramble over them. Sometimes we try to find a way around them, using cleverness to sneak by. Sometimes we go another way. Sometimes we can take the time to befriend the obstacle so that it no longer wishes to impede our progress. Sometimes we try to find out what the person or thing in our way needs and provide it so that the obstacle can move on.
...Think of times when you have used each of these strategies. Think of other ways you have been able to proceed in spite of obstacles. Then think of an obstacle you are facing now. What is your instinctual approach? What are some other possibilities you could use to be able to continue on your path? Talk about some of these possibilities with a friend and then try them out. See how they work....perhaps you now have some new tactics for getting where you know you need to be... Flexibility and Creativity are among of the gifts of Fire.
The magical tool associated with the South and Fire is the Wand, which conducts and aims the energy of the practitioner out to his/her goals. Actually, the athame and sword are often used in much the same way, and sometimes the assignments of these tools are reversed, with the wand in the East and the athame in the South. I prefer to place the Wand in the South because the Tarot suit of Wands corresponds to Fire, the suit of creative work, energy, and overcoming obstacles... Major Arcana associated with Fire are the Emperor, Strength, the Devil, the Tower, and the Sun.
One of the magical functions of Fire is protection. It is the energy that sets boundaries and rings alarms when those boundaries are crossed. Many techniques for self-protection involve surrounding oneself with light. That light might absorb any negative energy that comes toward you, or it might transform it, burning it in the way of fire to create a neutral energy. The technique that surrounds one with purple flame, as described in Basics of Personal Energy Management is particularly effective this way.
As one progresses on the Wiccan path, the question of will comes up many times. First one embraces the Rede which commands that we not harm others and that we learn what our will is and do it. It commands that our actions must be directed by our own wills...not by the whims of others or by our fears, reflexes, or addictions... but by what we have consciously chosen as our will. Then comes the realisation that when we search for our will, this means looking beyond convenience or habit to look for a higher will or purpose. A Wiccan might not say, as Jesus did, "Thy Will not mine be done." But we do learn that there is a higher Will related to a higher good, and sooner or later we who pledge ourselves in the service of the God/dess will be looking for ways to bring our own wills into alignment with Her Will.
....take a moment to sit in silence, and let your mind become very still. Ground in the way you normally do and feel your body....feel its solidness and its flows...feel your heartbeat and feel the flows of energy in your body. Center in the way you normally do, and let your thoughts still as you focus on the light in the center of your head...
...now let that centered focus drift downward through your being, so that you become aware of the bright light burning in your heart, and let it drift further down so that you come to a place in the very center of your being, somewhere between your solar plexus and your navel. See the light that shines there. Breathe deeply to feed the flame. Use your breath to draw the energy of the Earth and the energy of the Heavens into that flame and see it flare brighter. See it burn like a small, brilliant Sun in the center of your being...
...and think of a question you have been looking for an answer to. Ask this question and let it burn in this flame of golden light. Let the smoke be carried to the Goddess...and wait for an answer....
....if the answer doesn't seem to make sense...or if it seems like something unattainable, ask how you could proceed if you wanted to bring it about, and wait for an answer. Keep this light burning as you map out the first steps you would take to bring this goal about...
...and when you know how to proceed, offer a prayer for the strength, clarity, and will to succeed in your aim....and let the light in your center flare a thank you for the guidance you have received....let that light spread through your being for a moment, to empower you to do what is necessary to meet your goal...and let it fade into an underlying awareness that you know your Will and how to achieve it....
This light of Will that burns at our core is sometimes called Spirit. People define Spirit in many different ways, and my own definition is still evolving: for me it has to do with this process of aligning my will with Divine Will and my light with Divine Light. Many esoteric traditions put this quality or aspect of being called Spirit in the South with Fire. Some place Spirit in the Center of the circle, where all the elements come together.
The angel associated with Fire is Michael, chief of the archangels, known as the Warrior of God. I don't see Michael as a Rambo of the heavens; he is an arm of the God/dess and his flaming sword dispenses justice, balance, and protection to all the children of the One. He is often depicted in armor, like the ideal chevalier of the Middle Ages, protector of the weak and helpless. Like a true warrior, he would rather settle disputes peaceably than with violence. He is dressed in red and scarlet, the colours of Fire, courage, and honour.
All the elements have a destructive side; hurricanes, floods, and landslides can kill as surely as fire. But there is something about the consuming hunger of fire that strikes fear in people. Certainly the virtues of this element...transformation, protection, and fighting spirit...need to be carefully contained and directed or they can also be destructive. Certainly the warrior spirit has gone completely out of control many times in human history.
I also believe that the Catholic church had a stroke of genius when they elected to use Fire as a tool of execution for those who strayed from their teachings. They also made fire their symbol of eternal suffering. By creating an almost universal fear of fire, they also made us afraid of our fighting spirit, our will to communicate with Divinity in our own way and work toward our own goals, afraid of our very creativity. It was a wonderful weapon to keep people from expressing individuality and independent spirit. I think that the witches' willingness to embrace the Fire in their being is far closer to the "devil worship" Christians fear in us than is our gentle horned God.
Fire is about facing fears and overcoming them.
....Sometime around the first quarter moon, think of something that you have always wanted to do but let fear hold you back. It might be facing up to a particular type of authority figure. (like your father or boss) It might be acting in a way that would give you a feeling of freedom (like making love outdoors) It might be trying a new creative outlet. (Like belly dancing)
....Whatever it is....write it on a piece of paper, and put that paper under a red candle. Light the candle and watch the flame. Get yourself centered in your power center as in the exercise above, and envision yourself doing this thing. See the obstacles you will have to overcome, and make plans to get around them. Feel the freedom, excitement, and empowerment of doing this thing within that flame of Will inside. Do this every night until the full moon....and then do whatever it is that you have been building the courage to do. Once it is done, burn the paper, and offer the light as a thank you to the Element of Fire...and the ashes to Mother Earth...
The fire elementals are called Salamanders. They are brilliant, ephemeral creatures that dance in flames. They will help you overcome obstacles, and they like people who have the courage to act on their truth. They will help you protect yourself when you must...and have little patience for willing victims. While they enjoy playing in flames and will come when you light candles or fires, the gift they appreciate most is an act of courage.
Magical Goals Aided By Fire:
Competitions and contests
You might wish to make an altar in the southern part of your house to honour the Element of Fire and the Salamanders. Drape it and decorate it in red and orange. Offer candles, snakeskins, sand, desert roses, and red stones. Welcome the Element and the Salamanders to make this their home. Then light the candles on this altar when you ask your Higher Will for guidance or work on your fears.
When invoking the Element or elementals of Fire use the symbols offered in the background of this page. A Fire Invoking Pentagram starts at the top, moves to the lower right, and continues around to repeat this line. Fire can also be invoked using the circle with a triangle in the middle, or a red triangle. To release the element, draw the Air Releasing Pentagram shown in the bottom left corner, which is a reversal of the Invoking Pentagram. If you use the red triangle or triangle in a circle, see the flames burning out through it, then see it folding in upon itself and disappearing.
Psychological Qualities Associated with Fire Balanced Fire
You can ask the Element of Fire or the Salamanders to help you develop any of the postive traits listed above.
Creatures Associated with Fire
Lions, Tigers, Cougars, Panthers, Housecats
Snakes, Lizards, Scorpions
Fiery Creatures from Myth
Fire Dragons, the Phoenix
Herbs Associated with Fire
Wood BetonyBlood RootCactusCarnation
GorseHawthornHigh John the ConquerorHolly
PineapplePoke RootPomegranatePrickly Ash
SaffronSt John's WortSarasparillaSassafras
TormentilVenus FlytrapWalnutWitch Hazel
Gems and Stones Associated with Fire
Agate, fireAgate, redAmberApache Tear
Jaspar, redLavaRed CalciteRuby
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Dragon's Blood
1 part Red Sandalwood
1 pinch Saffron
a few drops of musk oilFire Oil
3 drops Ginger
2 drops Rosemary
1 drop Clove
1 drop Petitgrain
1 ounce carrier oil
Other correspondences include the astrological signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, and the Sun and Mars.
A Sample Invocation to the South and Fire
Guardian of the South, Mighty Michael:
Hold this corner of our circle and let the flames burn in it.
Send the clever Salamanders to help our healing work.
Bless us with the movement and energy of the flames,
With the passion of the summer heat,
With your own strength and courage,
And the pure clear glow of Will.
We feel you and welcome you.
Blessings of the Fire to you...