Today I thought I would tell you a little about the fire ceremonies I do at the retreats. It can sound a bit ‘whoo’. And you may be concerned that there would be chanting, or singing, or something else that might make you feel uncomfortable, but my fire ceremonies are more chilled. They are quiet and reflective, and a bit magic, but not in a ‘whoo’ way.
The first fire ceremony I facilitated was for my sister’s hen weekend. It was full of laughter, but also serious. We shared how we knew her, and then gave a gift to the fire that represented what we wished for her and her marriage. It brought us all together, sharing a simple ritual, and as the sparks flew up to the night sky, we felt a connected; connected to each other, to nature, and to something bigger. There was a deep sense of connection to the past and to the future.
Fire ceremonies are most well-known from the Native Americans, but they occur in almost every religion and culture. We even have a fire ceremony at the Olympics. Fire ceremonies are held for healing, rites of passage and to mark key events; and often at New Year to let go of the past and step into the future.
Fire is cleansing. It clears the old to make way for the new. It connects us to the cycle of life. It connects us to nature as we sit in the outside, smell the smells, listen to the sounds, feel the textures, taste the air and the smoke, watch the fire, and our surroundings.
Fire connects us to the air and to the heavens, as we watch the flames flicker with the breeze, the smoke and sparks rise into the air. Sitting by a fire can a mindful experience, a time for reflection, pause, and renewal.
The fire ceremony at my retreats is an opportunity to further reflect and connect with nature and the present moment.
To consider what we want to cleanse, renew.
We can give thanks for what has been, to let go of what no longer serves us, to set intentions, and to ask for and receive blessings for what is to come.
It is a quiet ceremony with periods of silence. I read some poems, and invite you to sit with your thoughts. There is no need to share your thoughts.
The Tofte Manor fire pit centre is a yin yang symbol, representing the duality of life: joy and sorrow; holding on and letting go; the inner soul and the outer life. The seating is made from fallen oak branches, some have been beautifully carved.
The outer ring is a stone ouroboros , a snake circling around to eat itself, representing the turning of the year, the circular nature of life, rebirth, and renewal. A fitting setting for our contemplations.
During the fire ceremony I invite you to burn bits of paper on which you have written, drawn, scribbled, what you want to let go of, and your wishes for the future.
I also invite you to give a gift to the fire: a twig, flower, or herb. You have the opportunity to bring something from home, something you have collected during the retreat, or one of the selection I bring with me.
In English tradition, and traditions around the world, trees, flowers, and herbs have been given meanings, and you are invited to select something that resonates with you. As you put the offering in the flame you can tell us what it is and say the wish out loud or you can just say one or both in your head.
Below is a list of trees, flowers and herbs with the meanings traditionally given to them.
Apple – youth, happiness, beauty, health
Ash – Connection, wisdom
Beech – tolerance, patience, lightness of spirit
Birch – new beginnings Cherry – awakening and rebirth, romance
Elder – new life, renewal
Elm – inner strength
Eucalyptus – wealth and abundance
Fir – fortitude
Hawthorn – contradiction, relationships
Hazel – wisdom, healing
Holly – protection, overcoming anger, hope
Ivy – determination, change, patience
Oak – courage, strength
Palm – peace, bending yet not breaking
Pine – reaching for the stars, eternal life
Redwood – ancient wisdom, forever
Willow – fulfilling wishes, intuition, vision
Flowers and Herbs:
Aloe – healing, affection, protection
Basil – good wishes
Bay – glory
Chamomile – patience
Coriander – hidden worth
Cumin – Fidelity
Lavender – devotion
Marjoram – joy and happiness
Rosemary - remembrance
Sage - wisdom
And this is when the magic happens.
You are fully grounded in the present, in the space, aware of the nature around you, the people around you, the wood you are sitting on, the stones under your feet, and the breeze on your face, but at the same time you are also in the past, your past, the whole past, and in the future, your future, all future.
The stillness, the quiet, the inner and outer peace, meaning you can just be. Be you. Just be.
We watch the smoke, ash, and sparks spiralling upwards and it feels like a moment apart, like the world has paused. We sit in the circle, in the community we have created for the day, and we just accept each other, accept ourselves, accept the world around us.
If you would like me to run a fire ceremony to mark a special time, then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
This photo was taken at my Midwinter Soul Warmer retreat in January 2020, at Tofte Manor.