James Taylor, song lyrics*
Question: What do Groundhog’s Day, Candlemas, beeswax candles, and St. Brigid all have in common?
Answer: They’re all celebrated today, on February 2nd!
In many cultures and spiritual traditions February 2nd is an important day. It marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, thus the significance of the groundhog seeing its shadow (or not) in order to decipher the remaining winter weather patterns until spring. Interestingly, many of the celebrations of the day have to do with the element of fire (and its balancing element water). Candlemas is a Christian feast day marking the ritual purification of Mary after giving birth to Jesus. Her ritual purification would have been done, according to Jewish law, by immersing herself in spring water. Christians have traditionally marked this day by blessing and burning beeswax candles. The Pagan holiday in Ireland on this day is known as St. Brigid’s day, a day of celebrating her sacred flame by burning candles and by immersing oneself in healing wells and springs. Farmers in eastern Europe on this day spread ashes from their fires on fields to fertilize them and leap over bonfires to purify themselves. In ancient times in Greece and Rome, the period was set aside for the infernal gods for fertility and purification. And relatedly, since this is also February, the month of Valentine’s Day, the season of Eros, it is a time modern Americans celebrate passion, red, and love—all fiery energies. (The early Christian Valentines were celebrated as persecuted martyrs—fire energy, too!)
This year, 2012, we’ve got it especially hot! According to NASA we’ve just had a severe solar storm that knocked out some satellite reception and thus GPS didn’t always work and plane routes had to be rerouted. The storm resulted in a radiation storm hitting the earth this week and even triggered a rare geomagnetic storm around the earth. NASA photos have showed the aurora borealis in beautiful, vibrant forms over the planet’s poles. In addition, Mars, the planet of fire, is in retrograde right now, meaning there is a lot more of its energy around. If passion, anger, anxiety, emotional or physical pain, love relationships, or other situations in your life have been intense this week, now you know a strong reason why!
Question: Are you on fire?
Of course, we can look at this from a detrimental point of view as to “burning up.” We can also look at it positively, as Victor Frankl, Jewish psychiatrist and Nazi concentration camp survivor said, “What is to give light must endure burning.” Or, as an energy that propels us to pursue our dreams with passion, as in “I’m on fire! No one can stop me now!”
In my family this week, we celebrated my dad’s retirement from 49 years as a volunteer firefighter and 20 years as fire chief! In my own body, my nerves have been especially fiery, which has happened before during intense solar storms. The extra heat in my body has been releasing some toxins from my kidneys, a purification for sure. Energy work on myself didn’t help alleviate the heat much, so I’ve been balancing the fire by going to bed with a big ice pack on my back where my nerves were especially hot.
Fire and rain. Fire and water. Fire and ice.
It is good to have fire, to have passion. The trick is balancing it, holding it, working with it, without burning yourself, burning yourself out, or burning others with your zeal or temper flares. Passion is a lower chakra phenomenon, meaning strong feeling or suffering. Compassion is a heart phenomenon and means, “to feel or suffer with.” In other words, compassion means to understand another’s feelings or suffering and want to help. We can move our strong lower chakra fiery feelings and energy into our hearts, which are then balanced by being aware of and caring for the feelings of others. We can also make sure and clarify what our passion is for in the first place.
Question: What is your passion for?
Is it to meet basic hunger drives: food and sex? Is it to meet basic emotional needs for safety? Is it primarily centered on your own needs? Are you devouring others through lust or anger or control or are you devouring food, sex, or drugs to try to feed the fire? How is that working for you? Is there a way you can channel that fiery fuel into forward motion to pursue a dream of yours? If your dream is to help others or the planet are you balancing that with enough self-care so you don’t burn out? Are you so ardent for a cause that you attack your opponents without seeing they are just as passionate and feeling as you and learning from them as mirrors?
Question: What is this passion fire teaching you right now?
Looking squarely in the eye at all your lessons with passion helps to purify your motives. Ironically enough, this type of purification is humorously depicted in the movie, Groundhog’s Day! Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell are the main stars in the film, and in the plot, Bill Murray’s character relives Groundhog’s Day over and over again (a trial by fire!) until he learns to purify his love for others. You can also help purify your passion by setting the intention to use and balance fire energy appropriately and for the highest and best of all. Then ritualize this. You could burn a beeswax candle (fire) in the bathroom while you take a bath or shower (water); take a deep breath or do some breathwork (fire) and before and after drink a lot of (water); or maybe make a small fire outside, leap over it if you want, and then extinguish it with water. An extreme ritual would be to make a big bonfire on a beach and do an arctic bear plunge in icy waters. Perhaps you can come up with a unique fire and water ritual for yourself today.
Fire is a powerful element in our lives to help move us forward as individuals and society, even burning things up like phoenix fire, if necessary, to enable us to rebuild and be rebirthed in ways we previously could not or would not. Fire is powerful and beneficial, but like my firefighting dad always taught me, you have to be careful with it and you have to respect it. My highest and best intention is to “Be on fire for Love!” and to hold this passion within the cooling energy of universal Awareness.
*James Taylor wrote these lyrics in part after undergoing shock treatments (fire) for depression as a teenager. These treatments would end with cold showers (water/rain). It was also written partly to express suffering during times of great loss or struggles with success.