Auckland, New Zealand. 5th January 2020. Lunchtime, and an eerie orange cloud mass begins to roll across the sky from the West. I am swimming naked in the ocean with a friend after rich and lively conversation about sexuality and the explosion of sexuality-related trainings and workshops across the world in the last few years. The atmosphere has the feeling of a gathering storm. By three o’clock in the afternoon the dark orange glow has lowered the natural light level so much that cars are having to drive with their headlights on. It feels like night-time. The cause of this unusual phenomenon of nature is smoke from the Australian wildfires, carried over two thousand kilometres by a westerly air current in the upper atmosphere.
A couple of weeks earlier at full moon I had been deeply privileged to observe the man I was spending time with building a full-moon fire for our night together on a beautiful wild beach. He went about this process with incredible focus and care, first building a wall-like container around the slight pit in the sand where he was to lay the fire and then light it when the time felt right. This process of containing the fire and taking so much care to place the walls and wood so precisely, taking into account the prevailing wind direction and peculiarities of the landscape reminded me of the deep focus and presence I had observed in the fire-keepers at sweat lodge ceremonies.
Fire is a powerful force for life when it is contained and tended with focus, care, and attention. It warms us, allows us to cook, cleanse, purify and in old times to keep away those that may harm us. When fire is uncontained and caused by inattention, lack of presence, carelessness, or sometimes by wilful and deliberate fire-starting, there is often devastation, death, destruction.
Small naturally-occurring and self-limiting wildfires are necessary for the regeneration and enrichment of the land at times and are welcomed as part of the cycle of life and death in some environments. When things are in balance these natural fires burn themselves out, or the rains fall and quench them.
So what is the current scale and devastation of wildfires in the world drawing my attention to? Things are out of balance, yes. But more specifically it calls my attention to the parallels with our own sacred fire – our sexual fire, our creative fire, our anger, the life-force that infuses our being. This is a force that when contained and worked with in a sacred manner can bring about enormous change, purification and transformation. But when unattended and allowed to burn out of control it can create devastation, damage, destruction and trauma.
Containing our fire is very different from repressing or suppressing our sexual energy or our anger. The gift of our sacred fire must be released if we are to be free to love fully; to release ourselves from the shackles of shame, guilt, and convention; to express ourselves creatively and fully, and to use our powerful sexual energy and the force of our rightful anger for change and transformation. It must be released and contained. If it is released without awareness, skill, focus, and the presence required to contain it we run the risk of it running out of control and becoming damaging to ourselves and those around us.
With awareness of the sacredness of our fire and the need for containment, let’s consider whether in facilitating the unleashing of our individual and collective fire, any given organisation or individual also supports, promotes and teaches the containment of this most sacred and potent energy? Or do they facilitate and feed an addiction to wildfire (dressed up in seductive rhetoric) which serves to feed the hunger of those in positions of leadership, power and authority, and with all the associated potential for damage and destruction?
My own journey with this means that I can no longer be seduced into flying round the world (the environmental impact of which would make another whole blog post!) in order to attend expensive sexuality courses and workshops. I observe the parts of me that respond to the rhetoric. I observe the parts of me that could quite easily be drawn in to repeat trainings, experience the highs, reach the next level, and the next, and the next. I observe the parts of me that have a hunger for freedom and belonging for which an international tribe of like-minded explorers seems to offer an antidote. I observe the parts of me that sometimes experience “fear-of-missing-out” as I choose a different path.
Consider this: we all have a local and regional community in which there are others who are seeking to experience, explore and express their sacred fire and who welcome an understanding of the need for containment. Seek them out. Open up conversations. Make community together. Find sources of learning, information and support that don’t require a jet-setting lifestyle. Seek out facilitators who know what it means to contain such potent energy and who have this embedded in their teaching.
And as for Tribe, it can be a powerful thing and it can also be divisive. Us and them. Exclusivity. Consider that most people at some level have an awareness of the power of sacred fire, a desire to use it for the good of all, and are seeking to express and explore in their own way at their own level. Welcome and bring full presence to it all. Support the ignition, and support the containment.
“Arohanui” from a pair of little islands in the Ring of Fire in the South Pacific called Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Louisa Chase emigrated from England to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2004. Her main passion and life-long inquiry is the nature of the relationship between landscape and body-mind-spirit. She explores this primarily through dance, art, nature connection practices and sacred-sexuality. Her background degree in Human Geography, and post-graduate study in Psychotherapy is complemented by two decades of study in an eclectic range of holistic and indigenous healing traditions.
Since moving to Aotearoa her inquiry has gained depth and inspiration through embodied exploration of a traditional saying of the Whanganui River iwi (tribes): “Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au.” “I am the river, the river is me”. The Whanganui river, one of the great traditional arterial routes through the North Island, was granted “legal personhood” by the New Zealand Parliament in 2017. It was the first river in the world to be granted this status.