The Dark Hearth
Over the last couple of years I've tried to honour the New Year with a new fire, which is a tradition dating 1000s of years. The Aztec New Fire Ceremony was a ceremony performed once every 52 years, and (apparently) a new fire would be lit through friction by the priest performing hand drill on top of the person being sacrificed! I left that bit out this year :) So on this New Year's Day after a lovely family day out , I declared on the return trip that I was going to honour the New Year with a fire and everyone was welcome to join me. The lure of sofa's and TV was far too tempting for this tired lot (it had been a late New Years Eve), so I ventured out into the back woods feeling a tad tired and nursing a hangover and I started to attempt to tease the embryonic fire out of the wood. I started with the Fire Churn (a traditional Celtic method apparently), but after a while and lots of heavy pulling it collapsed. I was already starting to feel a tad worse for wear (cold sweats etc.) at this point but I then went onto the bow drill and after several attempts and different hearth boards, and me getting more and more tired and the dark coming in, I decided to stop. So this New Year it would be a Dark Hearth. In the Aztec culture this would mean the end of the world was nigh! But nah. For me, it's not doom and gloom, but something can be learnt from this dark hearth, lessons can be learnt from the darkness! Things aren't always easy, you don't always get what you want first time, and sometimes it's just not to be and also I was alone in the wood with my family tucked up in the house, so I thought " nah this is not the way this should be done, it should be more of a communal honouring, time to go in and rest my weary bones with the clan."
It's quite uncommon that I can't light a fire with friction methods so rather than struggle on or revert to modern methods I took it as a sign that this wasn't the right time, and I'm sure the right time for relighting the hearth fire will present itself in due course!