Sunday, February 27, 2011

Secrets of Fire

-- The Song in the Glow

There are many joys of fire besides the obvious. Perhaps the less material end of fire-related activity has the most. Consider the contemplation of it. For me this is the fruition of firelight--sitting by the fire, gazing into the heart of eternity and soaking up the wisdom of ancestors and masters drawn forward to this time of renewing.

What is missed by those who do not know this joy? It is an experience that escapes the wording of it. Even though at this time in my life, not having a hearth in the house, I know well the love of the blaze.

It was early one recent morning, sitting quietly in contemplative bliss, that I heard a sound. It was an inner sound, that I could not readily identify as to what earthly equal was its counterpart. It was a sound I have heard most of my life--all this life, I suppose. I thought of the surf racing across dry sand on the beach. The wind causing the pines to whisper their song of love. I heard a thousand violins and the beehive abuzz. Yet none of these was an accurate intonation of my sound.

Then it came to me. Perhaps when the furnace lit and the room began to fill again with heat. I recalled the fire--recalled the campfire I stoked with a friend’s son late last fall. He was excited, and so was I. Why was that? It is the light. It is the sound. The flicker and crackle of adventure.

What sound is there to fire beside the crackling and snap, releasing sparks in an upward racing? When does the light become the sound? Is this really a question? Who cares? I do. And I had to know te answer.

From the past I start my search.

There were many fires in my childhood. Each held the heat of the hunt, a key to the secret of sound in the glow. And I do believe it can be known. I do. Yet wording it here is the challenge. So much is beyond the outer language, even beyond the mind. But to attempt it here in writing, I first, have to identify the four phases of fire perceived. There are four your know, not counting procuring the firewood, intentional heating and cooking, or disposal of ashes.

The are: 1) ignition; 2) consumption; 3) the glow; and 4) extinguishing. And like the similar stages of a love affair, each has its cycle in recognition and acceptance.

First, ignition. This is the bringing together of the components of combustion: fuel, oxygen and heat. Assure that the starter fuel is of a fine quality, paper, kindling. Strike the match or lighter. Assure the drawing off of smoke and clear access to air. Supply progressively coarser wood or whatever fuel aggregate of choice. (Liquid fuels may assist, but here I could start to drift in description to methods of destruction, or the explosive excitement of war. But in this study I will stick to the warmth and peace of hearth and home.) The fire is started. Ignition is successful. The heat, the sound, the light are the predominant addition to the room, and the mood. Passion and raging love comes to mind. Only withholding its care will cause its demise.

Second is the consuming, when fire is at primary intent. The blaze is stoked with ample carbonaceous sustenance. The flash of igniting has calmed to flicker. The poof of excitement is now a roar. The hiss and hustle has a gentle, and strong undertone. This is where water is boiled, baths are warmed, banquets are planned, and celebrations take place. Consumption of fuel is the recognition of plenty, the heating of the castle, the celebrations of life. This is the stage when other phases of fire are forgotten. This is the purpose of fire, of life, and of love. A time of action. Production. Advancement.

Then comes the glow, where the light becomes the sound, yet is not diminished by it. Where the colors of red and orange, yellows and blue, all are recalled and integrated in this white-hot vision. Where the sound is really the silence of higher thought and not a part of mundane reality. This is the true contemplation of the force of the gods--the Fire of God. Its full and higher potential is glimpsed. There is no stopping mind and soul from uniting and knowing all, becoming all. There are no more words to address it outside poetry and song. This is the fire of life that burns within. No need for the fixes of superficial accoutrement in this new paradigm of love. Gaze into the glowing embers and contemplate the mysteries of the universe, the meaning of life.

What is my origin? When was my first original thought? Where has the sleeping cat gone? Why do we travel without leaving the room? And, Who are we traveling with?

The questions lead to questions. And sometimes, answers.

Finally, there is extinguishment --a place of recognition & question. We recognize that we live in a world of duality, where we have and have not, hot & cold, past and present, then and now.

We question which is real--what is the highest meaning of this moment, of life itself. Even though the flames are out, the heat is not searing, there are embers still live in the ashes--spent ashes that may protect the heart of fire’s life from final extinguishment for a night or a day or more--depending on the size of the fire that produced them. Jewels of light and possibility. What appears as lifeless has the genesis of fresh sentience, vivacity. The incubation of new love. We rest in this acceptance. Live and let live. There is new life ahead.

For me, the True Sound, my inner sound, is somewhere between consumption and glow, or within them--yet it is recognized in each. It is beyond the sizzle or above it, within it. Look at its light and go into it. Travel there like Sky-Walker. Run with the wind. Bring the experience of journey back home. Tend the fire with care. With love.

Another way of stating the four phases of fire is as the stages of modern day space flight: ignition, contact, lift-off, and landing. We are on earth, but not of it. We can travel the universe of our highest state of being. We can live there. Fire is a tool of survival, and a symbol of love.

Was it not fire that marked the initial advancement of the human race?

How many lightning strikes of terror did it take to turn our furthest ancestors from fear and recognize the divine potential of the gift? At first perhaps it was the residual heat after a destructive conflagration. Or protection realized when wild animals retreated from its rage. Eventually, its use was in containment and control, reproducing spark and flame by striking rock to rock or the friction of sticks. Or, an ember, insulated by ash in a stone vessel is taken on trek by the nomad.

I travel with fire. Protection, warmth and power -- at my service. Replacing fear of natural law; divine law with the utility of survival. I am the nomad. I am survivor.

Where is my home, really?

I once installed a wood stove in a trailer house. I fitted the flimsy structure that seemed not much more than a paper box compared to the substance of the appliance in steel and its accompanying masonry. Retrofitting with reinforcement and shielding presented the extremes in our binary world. It brought together the past and the future, caveman and commerce. Like dwelling in a plastic box with the basic comfort of an earth-formed sanctuary in the side of stone mountain.

Where is home? On earth? Or is this planet foreign to Soul?

Gaze into the heart of the flame and ask of the Light. And of the Sound.

I have enjoyed many a fire in this life. Now I realize that the one that gives me the most peace is the song of the blaze within.

(c) 2011 Ardi Keim (Feb. ‘11)


  1. As I contemplated your words of wisdom I found myself studying a discourse on 'Truth' - Fire for me has been a symbol of truth. Universal truth, my truth and Divine Heart's Truth.

    1) ignition; 2) consumption; 3) the glow; and 4) extinguishing

    New truths to me ignite and in the consumption of the truth I bask in the glow. Then the truth is extinguished once I have experienced all that was needed from it for my journey allowing me freedom to explore another new truth to me.

    Embracing you with my heartfelt truths my Dear Brother :-)

  2. I like this(what you wrote)and have often thought of fire "within" me as soul, or however you want to interpret it. The inner core of soul through fire. The "light within" that is like a beacon of fire to soul...well actually I am not writing this well, what I'm trying to say, but you sure did in this post. Thank you Ardi.

    Hope you are well and hanging in there in this chaotic life around us.

    Love & Blessings,


  3. Rhi, Thank you. Words, written or spoken, can only hint at the Light within. Your rendering does show that the Light still glows in your heart. Keep shining that light for all.