In Celtic Tradition our world is composed of Three Realms, those of Land, Sea, and Sky. In the midst of these Realms we find the Sacred Grove, the place of flowing together. There the Sacred Fire burns, by the Well of Wisdom, beneath the World Tree. Sacred Fire is that which weaves itself throughout the Three Realms. It connects us and all of life to the Realms as well as to our gods and goddesses. Fire is Sacred Spirit, Sacred Inspiration, without which life would have no meaning.
Fire is the spark, the flame, the heat of passion. It is what ignites our creativity, fuels our passion and fires our hearts to love. It is the Dance of Life, the joy found in movement, sexual energy and the warmth that germinates new life in seeds. It is the warmth of sunlight on our skin and the ecstatic pleasure of orgasm.
Fire is that which transforms fuel to light and heat as it can transform anything we feed it to pure energy. We associate Fire with the Sun which provides all living beings on Earth with warmth and light. Without it, life as we know it would be impossible. The Sun burns above us…and its energy supports life.
In magical traditions, we associate Fire with noon, when the sun is at its peak in the sky. We also associate it with summer, that time when the Sun is with us for longest days in the year. It is associated with the active phase of our adult lives, the time we expend the most energy. It is the time of creating families and careers. Clearly, sex and passion are all about Fire.
Fire also heals by stirring things up and getting them moving. It overcomes the stagnation of apathy, the heaviness of depression, or the distant coldness of always living in one’s head. Fire corresponds to our will. It is our power to choose, to make and keep goals and to take care of any obstacles that prevent forward movement. We use fire to remove anything in our way. Fire is what gives us courage. Fire is our independent spirit. We can use the magic of fire to face fears and overcome them.
We must also look at the destructive side of Fire. The consuming hunger of fire is what strikes fear in our hearts. Magically, then, fire is about transformation. Changing what no longer serves us and fueling what does. And as with any burning fire, we must carefully contain and direct it lest it burn out of control. We see Fire within us, when it is out of control, as destructive tendencies, aggressiveness, jealousy, hatred, resentment and vindictiveness.
Fire is at Center of the World. If asked the question, “where is the center of the world,” I have three answers. When speaking for myself, my answer is “where I stand.” To someone else in my family, it would be wherever we gather at the center of the home. In ancient cultures, that would have been the hearth or the center pole. Today, it may be at the kitchen table. And if you were to ask a Druid of her clan, it would be the sacred Bíle or sacred tree of the Gods. For one who practices, Celtic based spirituality, the Goddess Brighid connects all of these “centers” for She is the Goddess of Fire. She is Fire in the head and the heart, the Fire in the home and hearth and the Fire of smiths and poets. She is the magic that connects the Three Realms of Land, Sea and Sky. She is the Fire that transforms. She is the Fire that opens the way into the Otherworld, into Inspiration. For, it is Fire that gives inspiration to all creativity.
Author Tom Cowan introduced many to the term, “Fire in the Head” which he described as meaning to be called to another world, that which carries one who can travel to realms unseen by others and return with special knowledge.
Words, written a certain way, in their finest expression can set us fire. The Celtic expression “Fire in the Head” also makes reference to the passionate inspiration that leads us to our finest work, our most beautiful creations, our poetry, songs and written words.
Amergin, a great Druid whose name means “Birth of Song” said as he stepped ashore in Ireland, “I am a god who sets the head afire with smoke.” It was this “Fire in the Head” that fueled Amergin’s ability to “be” all he claimed to be and thus use that power to claim the land for his people, the Gaels.
We are at the time of Midsummer – the height of the Season of the Sun; the longest day of the year. Fire is an important aspect to Midsummer celebrations with bonfires on hilltops, at crossroads, or any place where folks could gather. The Midsummer Fire is traditionally kindled from the friction of two sacred woods, fir and oak. Nine different types of herbs are thrown upon the Midsummer fire. These consist of mistletoe, vervain, St. John’s Wort, heartsease, lavender, and a choice of four others chosen from herbs typical of this season such as yarrow. In Celtic traditions, it was nine sacred woods, thought to be the first nine trees of the Celtic Tree Calendar. Folks would feast, dance and jump the fire for luck and fertility. The herds were driven through the smoke to purge disease and illness from them. In the Isle of Man, fires were lit so that the smoke could pass over the corn fields. In Germany, Fire wheels hurtled down the hills representing the Sun’s movement. If the wheel flamed, all the way down the hill, farmers expected a plentiful harvest. If not, lean times lay ahead.
This is the time when the fullness of the Mother is evident in the lushness of growth around us. It is when the crops are ripening in the sun; the time the honey bee gathers in sweetness. We celebrate this season with dance, bonfires, and yes, sexual pleasure. This is the revelry of Midsummer and the Dance of Fire…
midsummer brings a craziness of spirit,
a wild urging to break loose and soar.
the drones impregnate the queen
and fall to death’s door.
my longing and lustful heart
seeks this ecstatic trance.
is it the horned Sun King
drawing me into the dance?
seeking the company of wild youth
to dance at revel fires,
drumming out nature’s rhythms
triggers my inner desire.
heat caught from the Solstice fire
and the sun on its longest day
arose this sleeping woman
now ready for sacred play.
I dance bare breasted in the sun
seeking the fire and the flame
my heart opens to all that is
my spirit wild and untamed.
Blessings in the Summer Solstice Season
Deanne Quarrie is a Priestess of The Goddess, and author of five books. She is an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College, teaching classes on the Ogham, Ritual Creation, Ethics for Neopagan Clergy, Exploring Sensory Awareness, Energetic Boundaries, and many other classes on the use of magic. She is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine, as well as The Apple Branch – A Dianic Tradition where she mentors women who wish to serve as priestesses.