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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Fire

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It's a crisp night in late October. A friend and I have driven out to the annual “Burning Man Midwest” event that for the past decade or so a local couple has hosted at their place in rural Wisconsin. A stiff breeze is blowing out of the northwest. We process through the woods with jack o' lanterns, and circle up around the Wicker Man.

He's a Cornstalk Man, actually—this is the Midwest, after all—a 25-foot wooden armature covered with bundled cornstalks that we'd harvested earlier that day. As we arrive, we set our pumpkins in a circle around him, at his feet.

The ritual continues, and we all know where it's headed. But Fire has other ideas. From the candles in the jack o' lanterns, the Man lights himself, in several places. The dusty, dry cornstalks kindle with a crackle, and the fires mount alarmingly fast. In a nightmare moment of awe and terror, the separate fires merge into one, and their united voice roars with the terrifying freight-train roar of a tornado.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    For what it's worth, corresponding the elements with the directions goes back at least to Agrippa, and probably further. However,
  • Mabnahash
    Mabnahash says #
    That should be whom I am calling, not who, but I can't edit the comment. Also, after several years of ranting against them as a
  • Mabnahash
    Mabnahash says #
    Michelle- I don't understand what you mean by calling the directions. The compass points are hardly sentient. I certainly invoke a
  • Michelle Simkins
    Michelle Simkins says #
    Mabnahash, I mis-typed. I meant to write "I struggle with calling the elements as if they aren't ever present." I agree that creat
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Michelle. So far as I can tell, the assignment of elements to quarters originates with Eliphas Levi, which isn't very far

His-story. It's dark, and the air is chill--Summer is a'comin in--but not quite yet. You're standing in a circle around a tall, dark object. You can just make out its narrow limbs; arms and legs formed by tightly tied bundles of twigs and straw. Suddenly, flames blaze up. In the crackling firelight you can see the figure at the center of the circle--the Wicker Man.

The lighting of the Wicker Man is a very old tradition that we know little about. Of course, there's the obvious: a Wicker Man is a human figure made out of wicker, straw or twigs, but he's built hollow so that things can be put inside him. But how this tradition started is a bit of a mystery. The ancient people who first built them--the Celts--didn't write about their practices. The first person to actually record anything about Wicker Men was Julius Caesar, and the picture he painted wasn't pretty. He wrote that the Celts created huge, human-shaped wicker figures, and inside they would put small animals, grains and slaves (yes, people), to be burned inside as an offering to the gods.

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After I wrote about liminality recently, I have been thinking about change and how we create it in our lives. Affirmations are a magical tool that can be very powerful, but only when constructed well. Using the present progressive tense to craft affirmations puts them in a form that draws on the Element of Fire and makes them much more effective tools for transformation.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Desire carries the implicit possibility of change. Relationship requires that possibility to become a reality.

This year was the first time I had the opportunity to leap a (small, thankfully) fire as part of a Beltane ritual. I was surprised by how much it made me feel in my flesh and bones the way that Beltane is about the potential for transformation.

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