Sunday, September 23, 2012
Autumn Equinox Fire Ceremony
On the first night of the fall equinox, my husband, two friends amd I attended a fire ceremony in a Chicago suburban backyard. We were here to take a look at ourselves, at the new season and to possibly change and heal ourselves. Would gazing into an outdoor campfire of crackling logs set us on that path?
Some drawbacks: there were too many people in the backyard, too many lawn chairs huddled together, with the warmth of the campfire too far away on a night that dove into the 40s. Nevertheless, after some initial discomfort and disappointment, I chose to ignore these inconveniences. Being here with like-minded people who wanted to use fire as a meditative focus was all that mattered.
The leader started the ceremony. She talked about fire, about rituals, about Native tribes and had each of us, in rotation, throw a small tobacco offering into the flames. It was in thanks for the earth on which the fire stood. It was in thanks for trees and air which feed the fire. She explained how the ceremony would serve to help us release what no longer serves us, such as fear, and set intentions for what we wish to manifest, such as a fervent dream of ours.
Subsequently, we each privately examined that which we most feared. During this fear meditation time, the leader drummed on a bohdran-type handheld drum. Afterward, we each cast a sprig of cedar into the criss-crossed flaming logs. This served as a symbol through which we might banish the fear we identified. In response, the fire rose up briefly in acknowledgement each time. Afterward, we internally cast our thoughts into our dreams and wishes - again more drumming. Then we each tossed a small amount of sage into the fire.
After each segment of the ceremony, two or three of us teamed together to share our thoughts, our fears, our dreams and what we saw through our meditations. I had fulfilling private visions, a mind's-eye visitation of a bluejay, and creative ideas that seem to emerge from nowhere. What blessings!
To me, the fire, tobacco, cedar and sage are all instruments of God and are servants of God. Going through an autumn fire ceremony is a human way to ritualize new beginnings and take a meditative look at what we hope for our futures.
My friend Raminta, though of few words in between the ceremony segments, said she got much from the event. She had arrived on the scene with her mind awhirl, she said, but over the course of the ceremony found peace, relief and relaxation. She looked refreshed with her eyes dancing with new life! ◦