"From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring..." JRR Tolkien
I adore fiery natures and the colour of red, by fiery I don't mean explosive... Unregulated, misdirected anger brings harm... I mean the life-giving force of a fire-driven being who can hold the creational flame of inspiration in a respectful manner. When a flaming heart has learnt to play humbly with fire without getting burnt, or burning others, they are unstoppable!
I have been stopped in my own tracks by fervent friends and family whose words are like flame throwers, their tactical weaponry however is mostly coming from a place of concern. I have learnt a lot from 'soul fire' people. These types do have your back, and a harsh honesty that keeps you from going off track.
My son Andrew happens to be one of those passionate spirits. He is a handsome warm-hearted soul, with a deep empathy that runs through his fiery veins. He has grown into a responsible and humble man, who has dispelled wounded patterns deep within his lineage. He has both drive and humility. Polar qualities that contribute to his genius and uniqueness. As a young boy he had a cherubim quality about him, yet his arrows were not cupid's arrow's. They were flaming arrows of burning honesty that seared my heart with a wisdom that was beyond his years. In hindsight I should have listened more... And yes, through my naivety I got burnt...I was like Icarus from Greek mythology who ignored his father's warnings and flew to close to the sun which resulted in his own demise... My son also has the attributes of the archetypal father figure. An endearing quality that I admire, it both amuses me and intrigues me, as it was not learnt it was inherent. I now witness his true potential as a loving father, and I am so proud of his natural skills and his learnings. He has taught me the goodness of the masculine heart and the protection it has to offer. (Just a sidenote... my youngest son Hugh has also afforded me these laudable gifts from the masculine, he will be in my future writing).
My eldest son's wisdom was imbedded into his DNA, mine is experiential and gained through 'trials by fire'. Unlike Icarus... I have resurfaced after my demise... My scorched wings healed, and I have learnt to honour the flaming hearts of the passionate...their anger is sacred, and it brings protection. If you can stand in their flame, they will transform you! They firewall bullshit and bring warmth and connection to the world. Their dynamic dispositions burn off the dross and purify hearts.
The living lessons of the fire element are potentially both harmful and transformational... and as the phrase goes..."If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" ... I can stand the heat it has molded me into the person I am today...literally... and working in commercial kitchens was one of those initiations that fortified my spirit... I've watched people fold in this formidable environment...The heat and the intensity teach you resilience, self-restraint and patience ... I learnt how to dance in the fire and the importance of structure in containing the creative flame.
Kitchen work not only forged my strengths, but it also forged a friendship with my fiery spirited friend Jodie, another flaming heart who brought warmth into my life. We worked side by side for many years. Her friendship was invaluable, she was inclusive and kind. We connected at a time in my life when I was rising from the ashes. Through her loyalty and humour she ignited a deep human connection that belongs to lifelong friendships. When I think of her, she warms my heart... a comic, a cook, a creative soul, a light-hearted flirt whose playfulness lightened my world!
The gift of fire transformed the world, and I have been gifted with another fire friend who has transformed my world. Her name is Georgina, she is a 'fire fairy', who flits through life like an ember on a breeze. She moves lightly, but with intensity. She will burn you to the ground, if you are not in integrity. Her burning truth is admirable, she has heart wisdom, observational intelligence and is well-read. I love our vibrant conversations; they are like fireside talks where I am safe to thaw out and speak my truth.
I was not surprised when this flaming beauty told me she had planted a Flame Tree in her back yard. I was thrilled because my next piece of writing was about this iconic tree that was akin to her spirited nature.
The Australian native flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) is called the Illawarra Flame Tree, it grows in tropical and temperate climates. It's a deciduous tree that loses all it leaves before it comes into full bloom. A reminder that sometimes we are stripped bare prior to our blossoming. They flower from late spring to early summer. Their red bell-shaped flowers blanket the whole tree. It upstages the surrounding flora with its scarlet hued exuberance, illuminating the landscape with its vibrant colour.
The younger trees have palmate foliage, meaning their leaves are hand-like. The essence of this tree and its leafage characterizes the warmth of an outstretched hand. (Ian White, author of Australian Bush Flower essences, speaks to this analogy in his book). Flaming hearted people don't hesitate to give a hand to those in need. Their hot-blooded natures will always champion for those who have been left out in the cold. Connection is their super-power.
The Illawarra Flame tree is also called the Lacebark Tree. The inner bark was used by indigenous people for making string, fish nets and traps. The edible seeds of the tree ripen from May to August. They have a nutty flavour and are rich in protein, magnesium and zinc. The seeds are hairy and can irritate the nose and throat, so they must be removed before consuming. They can be roasted or eaten raw. The young roots of the tree are also a natural food source. The Flame Tree does not only provide bush tucker, but it also has medicinal values. The crushed leaves were applied to wounds and bark infusions were used as eye drops to alleviate sore eyes.
The Illawarra Flame tree represents vibrancy and the confidence to stand out. This "showy" tree personifies self-empowerment through our abilities to display our passions and creativity. It thrives in the full sun and requires good drainage. If they are over-watered, they cease to flower. This is a symbolic reminder and a cautionary cue for us to remove ourselves from situations that dampen our spirits... And to place ourselves in an environment that strengthens our life-force and fires up our creative spark.
Fire is creational. I spoke earlier of learning the importance of containing our inner fire for the purpose of life-giving creative outcomes. Figuratively and literally speaking.... Indigenous cultural burning is a prime example of this. These fire management practices are 60,000 years old and hold a wisdom that is purposeful, direct and in sync with the cycles of nature. Deliberate, intentional fires that are of low intensity can be controlled through techniques that do not harm the fauna. The keepers of this ancient knowledge utilize fire by burning off leaf litter and dry grasses. This serves as a protective measure that allows for the regeneration and propagation of flora. The element of fire is sacred, and it serves the biodiversity of life when it treated in a responsible and respectful manner.
Taming our fire is a rite of passage. It is a maturation process that refines passion and enhances the creative spirit, rather than extinguishing it. Simmering in conscious intentionality is how we refrain from 'burn out'. Often our life lessons are like manageable spot fires. However, there may be times when we have to undergo a process of self-combustion that transforms us into a new state of being.
Fire represents passion, motivation, warmth, connection, transmutation, vibrancy and creative power. It lives in hearts, it speaks to us through the healing flame of love or sometimes anger...just as love purifies, so does anger... anger in its purist form is an ally not an enemy. It is a loyal opponent against destructive influences and abuse, when channeled wisely it creates boundaries that protect and sustain life. When the raw energy of fire is contained and managed in a loving way it becomes an enriching element and a benevolent guardian.