Nature’s timeless gifts – like the elements of fire and honey – have featured in rituals since deep time. As humans, we have a long-established relationship to the beast of ritual, dating back to our cave days. It is a mysterious beast that yearns to be courted through the evolution of our ages, morphing with the changing cultural contexts and the diversity of ways we show up as individuals. Today, we often feel the numbing absence of intimacy with ritual, just as we can feel enlivened by the original creation of meaningful ceremonies. The beast lies dormant in its cave and longs for the touch of new beginnings, new impulses, to reawaken.
So where can we look to reinvent meaningful ritual? How about the living world that makes us, shapes us, informs our senses, feeds our imagination, weds us to wonder, and sustains us?
When we decide to interact with nature’s elements in a way that is mindful and infused with intention, these elements can help us make sense of our lives. When we allow our inner musings to meet the qualities embodied by beasts, plants, or elemental processes, our own intimate wrestlings are given a form, a gesture, an image to rest in. Suddenly, we are no longer gazing at a landscape but peering into the eyes of a moss-laden mirror. We see ourselves in a new light.
Let us take the elements of Fire and Honey…
Fire has crackled in our hearths, in the heart of our homes, since times immemorial… Fire brings us together, cooks our food, creates sacred space, warms our bones and souls… When we gather around fire, something vital happens: we remember ourselves. We enter deep time,
we tell stories, we share dreams and encounters, we dance, sing, drum… We remember our mythical dimensions, as keepers of stories, as humans embedded in a living world that flourishes between heaven and earth.
Today the tradition continues as we make bonfires under the stars, or light candles to celebrate birthdays, mealtimes, or simply to quiet ourselves and create a mindful coma in the narrative of our day. Fire connects us to the essence of our lives. As I write this, the candle dances beside me and I feel my flickering desires, wondering what needs to be freed to dance alight in my life and, also, what can be released into the flames. Each day, a renewed intention, a flame lit anew – experiencing the power of simple ritual.
When we pass through the heat of crisis and come out of the fire transformed, there is sweetness to be savoured and celebrated. After journeying through what can feel like an endless and sometimes cold, black night, dawn breaks with its tender breath. We stand quivering at the threshold of a new day, basking in fresh insight and in the glorious fragrance of having made it through the darkness. We harvest the honey of our hardship.
Often in the heart of crisis, we remember what really counts, we take stock of what slipped out of balance, we open to new possibilities, and we reorient our inner compass to better align with our heart’s whispers which we’d muffled out. Going through change, it is helpful to remember that human transitions are as alive as any other process in nature, and that endings/deaths preceed new growth. Dawn comes after night. Yet… for the new day to be different that the one before, we need to engage the struggle for meaning and make it our sacred work. That’s where bees and honey come in…
Bees teach us to harvest nectar and then transform this substance into nourishment through heat processes and the hard work of love. I read somewhere that for a pound of honey to be produced, two million flowers must be visited. When I am trying to weave meaning in the thick of night, I like to think of my heart as a hive, filled with bees flying in and out of my days to tap into the nectar of my experiences, filling the honeycomb of my mind with gratitude that will carry me through the winter spell. Always knowing, remembering, that a sweet offering is silently being created in the darkness…
I gather myself and my family around fire’s flickering flames – be it a bonfire or a simple burning candle – to honor and celebrate and grieve and pray. I bring honey to the table – be it on a spoonful, in the comb, as a glassfull of mythical mead, or in the fragrant perfume of beeswax candles. I create a temple in my days, just as the bees make a temple of their hives, storing what is most precious to them within the hive’s embrace: their honey, their eggs, their babies. I connect to the alchemical processes of these elements – honey capturing the nectar and love life of the flower, fire offering heat through the phoenix of transformation – and I am reminded of the magic and myth of existence. I see how I can store in my heart’s embrace what is most precious of this life.
With love and wild blessings,
Copyright © 2020
Fire & Honey Ceremonies