Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hearth Fires

During the Ohio event (PSG) there are a number of spiritual events planned. I was asked to help with the Saturday evening ritual, the last of the event. My part was to call in the North in whatever way I wished, as long as it reflected the themes of the ritual and the event - the theme of both being "Bring the Spirit Home". This year's event focused on how people integrate their spiritual and mundane lives instead of separating them.

Of course, I sang in the North. I wrote a little piece just for the occasion (I plan to turn it into a song for next year's concert season, though).

I won't go into all the details here, but I want to share one part of the ritual that I found lovely and rather powerful.

Throughout the year, they've had people all over the country collecting fire for this ritual. That doesn't mena carrying live flame around with them - they lit candles or bits of wood in one fire, extinguished them, and kept them safe. The spirit of the fire remains, even when the flame has gone. The people them brought these fires to PSG for the ritual.

There was a smaller fire to one side of the main fire circle. Into this, various people cast their bits of fire from various places, explaining where it had come from. In this way, our fire was connected to those other fires, and communities. The final piece was presented by a gentleman who had traveled to Kildaire, Ireland - a place where fires have been lit for the gods for thousands of years. Archeologists have, it seems, dug down to the deepest layer, the bottom most fire. The gentleman had a piece of that charcoal, thousands of years old. It was perhaps the size of the first length of my pinkie finger, but it was huge in symbolism. As he cast it into the living flame, he connected our fire to one thousands of years old, and to every fire after it. His most prized possession, he cast into the fire, a gift to his community.

Those of us who called in the directions had another part to play - we carried large candles to the fire, lit them from this combined flame, and brought them back to our quarters. We had people helping us, and they handed out smaller tapers to everyone in the circle. The small tapers were lit, sharing the combined flame out to the whole circle. People then extinguished the flames so they could take the candles, take the combined fired of generations and communities, take the spirit home.

When the circle was opened and everyone scattered (a storm had been in the offing for the entire ritual, waiting only for us to finish before cracking open the sky), Mum and I lit perhaps a hundred or so more little tapers, extinguishing them by pinching out the flame, so that anyone not at the ritual could have one, or they could go back to the organizer's home for use there. We walked back to our camp in the light sprinkle, ducking under our canopies just as the heavens dumped their contents on our little patch of Earth.

I have two of the tapers here with me. I like the symbolism attached to the ritual, the idea that, in spirit, we are all connected by one of our most primal elements, most primal tools - fire. I like the idea that I can pass this connection on to others, a visible reminder of the spirit we all share.

How do you bring the spirit home?

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