Enjoy Life Unschooling is hosting it's first blog canival, with the topic of New Beginnings, and when I read the list of prompts for writing a New Beginnings themed post, one of them stood out to me:
How do you celebrate new beginnings in your life?
When I was a child, I loved mythology. All mythology. Anything I could get my hands on. Once, I read a novel about an Indian dancer, and in it the main character worshiped the god Shiva, who is both destroyer and creator, benign and terrible. Shiva is also often associated with fire. In the book, I remember reading about Shiva, the god of fire and dance, who dances the destruction of the world, then dances it's rebirth.
That must have made an impact on me, since the memory of it has stuck with me for years.
To me, fire is like that: the creator and destroyer. Bringer of endings and beginnings.
I like to have ritual in my life. It makes me feel calmer, more grounded. It's a way of both connecting with the wider web of life and of centering myself. When I forget to mark passages, and changes, and holidays, and the turning of the season through ritual, it saddens me, and even makes me feel a bit lost! It's something that I forget about too often, but that adds greatly to my life.
Fire has always felt sacred to me. Anyone who's ever stared into the flames knows how you can fall almost into a trance while doing so, how fascinating and exciting it is, the warmth and light of it. Fire is both comforting and dangerous. So it's not surprising, I suppose, that fire plays an important part in ritual, for me.
And what I want to talk about now is endings, and beginnings. Because the two are inextricably intertwined!
A few years ago, instead of just making resolutions at New Years that I won't keep anyway, and will just feel bad about when I break, I wrote down, on a blank sheet of paper, all the things I wished for in the new year. New friends. Good health. Discovering new places. And I went downstairs, along with my family who'd chosen to do the same thing, and in the dark-warm-stillness of past midnight, we placed our papers in the wood stove and watched then curl as they burned brightly, the smoke carrying our wishes up the chimney and out into the night.
I've also used fire to symbolically cleanse bad things from my life. To burn bad memories and feelings, release them in a tangible way so that I can move on in my life more freely. Regrets can weigh so heavily, make you wince, and want to just curl up in a dark corner and forget about it all. I think that too many people carry heavy regrets with them long after they should have been put to rest. The past is past, and can't be changed. You can never fully get rid of regrets, I know, but I'm constantly trying to lessen the burden of my regrets, and to realize that every moment is a new beginning, a time to do things differently, to move further toward what and who you want to be in this new moment.
Fire is both endings and beginnings. It's change. It's wild and warm and life giving and life taking. It's spontaneity and it's meditation.
And it helps me to remember that life is moving, not static, and to mark those passages, those changes, those new beginnings.