Born from fire
Imagine the time before the discovery of fire. Then imagine one day witnessing a strange phenomenon of a bolt of light flashing through the sky, and a tree exploding into bright dancing colours. Scared and curious at the same time our ancestors may over time have approached that tree, and discovered this strange new sensation of extreme heat. Watching the fire engulf the tree, sparks darting off into the sky, flames dancing. Maybe they were mesmerised, what is this strange being. It made them warm, maybe they took a burning branch back to their shelter.
Those events and our ancestors learning to control and use fire changed the course of human evolution.
You could say we are born from fire.
It is thought that it took a very very long time, for our ancestors to learn to make fire, they would have kept the fires burning.. Imagine the fire going out, with no means to light it – what would you do? Go looking for other peoples and beg\borrow\steal their fire. There are many old stories from indigenous cultures of how people\animals would steal fires from others, usually through trickery!
Over time, our ancestors eventually learnt how to coax and welcome fire, maybe through accidentally dropping rocks and seeing sparks, maybe through witnessing natural phenomenon such as trees being violently and vigorously rubbed against each other in high winds and smoke emitting from the friction.
Old stories tell of how fire was taken in by the trees and the only way to coax the fire out was through friction.
Over a long long time, they learnt how to coax the fire out. Can you imagine how that must have felt, and those who could make fire must have been revered, maybe viewed with some suspicion and superstition.
That also then shaped the ongoing evolution of humankind.
You can understand why fire was worshipped.
Today, humankind takes fire for granted, along with everything else! Without fire we would not be where we are today (whether that is a good or bad thing!) I do think humankind as a whole thinks it’s above nature, rather than being a part of nature (anyway that's a whole different subject!)
The main reason I started teaching myself friction fire, wasn’t for bushcraft or survival but to be able to light fires in a sacred and honouring way. To honour the fire, which you could say humankind has stolen for it’s own selfish needs. And you could say that each time I coax the ember, I’m stealing it for my own needs too!
My focus has been quite practical to date (including my videos\posts), but over the last year I’ve become more absorbed in the old stories and sacredness of fire. The welcoming of fire through friction has now become more of a practice for me (like yoga or meditation.) And that is where I wish to try and re-focus myself, rather than just focussing on the skills in a practical way, teaching in a more holistic way drawing on the old stories and indigenous cultures, respecting and honouring fire and the natural environment, and with awareness, and if I do eventually decide to run my own workshop it would be more of a ritual as the welcoming of fire through friction can be seen as a ritual in itself, without even trying or being aware of it!
Sparks of Possibilities
It seems that sparks of possibilities born from my practice of friction fire are flying everywhere! Ideas have started to zip zap through my mind recently, so thus I have decided (prompted by my beautiful wife) to blog about it.
Sacred Hearth Friction Fire seems to be evolving. I have ideas, lots of them, and so lets see what unfolds over the next few months \ year as this is fitted in between work and family life. I had an idea to maybe write a book the other day so started some research, and have started discovering some very interesting myths, stories, articles and books, which made me realise that this could take some time! I can get rather obsessed at times and throw myself in but some restraint , structure and order will be required. My idea is to bring together origin of fire legends, the sacredness of fire, how fiction fire is still practiced by indigenous peoples today and practical information on friction methods maybe. There is a lot of information out there, and I wish to validate\cross-check as I go so time will be needed. So I may focus on topic by topic and blog about it as I go.
I was looking to see if there was anything similar already out there and came across "Myths of the Origin of Fire: An Essay by Sir James George Frazer" from the 1930s. It seems that this will be very useful in my research, of a place to start and to start cross-checking\validating. I don't like the language used to describe our ancestors and indigenous peoples and it reminds me of how badly indigenous peoples have been viewed and treated - and still are today (and one reason why I support Survival International." ) However, it will still be a very useful tool, and I'm trying to get my hands on a real copy rather than just the ebook - but they aren't cheap!
I've also come across some very interesting information regarding ceremonial use of friction fire in different traditions and also the comparison of friction fire with the divine coupling of male and female.. So there is a lot out there to cover..... I just need to structure myself! All very exciting.
Also, at some point in the future I would love to hold a "workshop" around fire, ritual and story. Encompassing the ritual lighting of fires using friction fire, weaving in stories and the practical teaching of friction fire but in a sacred way with awareness. For now, I will just start to gain experience by continuing my practice and gaining knowledge, holding demonstrations of friction fire, supporting people I know on their workshops, and gaining experience through my involvement with Spirit Horse.
Exciting time ahead.....