Last weekend I came face to face with fire… Wildfire!
I experienced first hand how quick and unpredictable this natural element can be.
The Valley Wildfire started burning during last Saturday’s new moon, a few miles from where I was attending a Tantra Festival near Middleton, CA. In the first 24 hours it had burned over 30,000 acres due to high winds, consuming the retreat center I was at along with most of the town of Middleton. Fire fighters are still working on completely containing it, and last I checked it had burned over 73,000 acres, 550 homes and structures, and left 5 dead.
Because the fire was moving so quickly, by the time we got the call to evacuate the sky was dark, smoke was thick in the air, and ash was falling from the sky like snowflakes. As we drove toward safety, I saw the inferno just a few miles in the distance, consuming the entire hillside just outside of Middleton.
I felt concern for the people I saw standing in the streets watching, fear for the fire fighters doing their best to protect homes... I felt the massive power and spirit alive in the dark clouds swirling above, and the flames which I could hear crackling as they consumed things. This was beyond human control, this was something much larger.
I share this not to be dramatic, or to bum you out. But because of the respect and reverence I have for nature and the lessons it continues to teach me. I have never been this close to a wildfire before, and the intimate encounter left me with a new understanding of the Fire Element.
I felt the hunger and passion with which fire consumes, I saw how it transforms everything it comes into contact with leaving nothing the same, I see how it clears the past leaving a cremation ground in its wake, I witnessed how it confronts us with loss… loss of control, loss of what we have become attached to, loss of life.
Fire is not just an element, it is an energy with specific qualities. Ones that we experience in our bodies, in our relationships and in our lives. Have you ever felt fire in your belly? We may use that term to describe having passion or fervor, but in Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda it could also describe good digestion. Have you ever had a fiery friend or lover? If so you know how their passion can consume and sometimes overwhelm you, they can be unpredictable, sometimes destructive, but also mesmerizing. When fire shows up inside us, or our relationships, it can destroy or transform.
When we learn how to work with the elements, we can use their energetic qualities to support and empower us, instead of being victims. Nature is an incredibly intelligent, organized system, it does what it needs to do to keep evolving. And through embodied practice we can learn from its infinite wisdom.
This is the kind of thing we’ll be exploring in my 5 week Tantric Yoga series, where each week we’ll be exploring a different element and how it can support us in our lives. If you’d like to join us in this exploration get more info below.