There is something incredibly comforting about communing around a fire. I’m often put into a trance by the sacred power of this beautiful element as shapes and images dance within the flame. The warmth and hues, along with the crackling sounds, bring me ease. Recently, when I was invited to participate in a new baby blessing — a fire ceremony — I was intrigued.
These experiences offer a moment of reflection, bonding, and sharing of community. Gathering in a circle around a fire promotes a spiritual healing when exploring intentions of release, curiosity of knowing, and authentically receiving energy. Often, these rituals are held on a new or full Moon, as it is believed that fire ceremonies open a door to the spiritual world.
Ceremonial fires have existed for centuries, within multiple cultures and religions, and for varying reasons. It’s thought that human interaction with fire may have been as early as 1.5 million years ago, in Africa. Indigenous Australians acknowledged ancestors through smoking ceremonies using Emu Bush. Sacred stories describe how Teotihuacanos conducted a New Fire Ceremony at certain times to renew the sun, the single most important event on the Aztec calendar.
Through fire ritual, we are able to evoke and communicate with our higher being and the beings that surround us.
As I stepped into the circle of friends and family for this new baby blessing ceremony, I saw a brilliantly burning, controlled fire, outdoors around a fire pit. The parents invited us to sit in a group, write on individual cards a blessing for their soon-to-be welcomed child, and offer declarations as we placed the cards into the fire. Smoke rose to the spirit world and took our blessings with it. The entire ritual was truly moving and something stirred within me. I felt connected to myself but also to this group as a whole. Our energies joined together forming a single sacred baby blessing.
We can all learn from unique moments and events new or unknown to us. For those of us who have not had the fortune of attending a fire ceremony, the experience awaits.
The baby blessing inspired me to create and offer a ceremonial fire kit that might inspire you to heal and cleanse. You might connect with the spiritual world in your own home with family and friends for a special event, or make it a regular ritual for your life.
We partnered with California’s own Spiritual Kindling, to experience Esalen in your own home this holiday season. Each new Esalen + Spiritual Kindling Big Sur Ceremonial Fire Smudge Box is hand made and extraordinarily crafted by founder Mei-Ling Lee.
Inside, you’ll find a mini fire starter bundle, which includes: medicinal herbs, wood, lavender sourced from a small farm in Ojai, plus, dried roses and foliage; a moon intention card pack; a white sage + lavender pouch; a sage smudge stick; and a tree branch-carved pencil for writing your intentions. Every item within the box, including the box itself, can be burned and offered up in her three-step ritual or a ceremony you can design on your own.
The sage itself is harvested from both Lee’s own garden in Malibu and a small, 30 year-old, organic farm in San Diego, California, supporting the sustainable and regenerative values we uphold.
“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.”
“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.
What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?
As always, when you make a purchase through our online or retail store you are supporting Esalen. All purchase dollars go back into the care of this astonishing land.
Heather Martin is the Buyer and Visual Merchandiser for Esalen’s retail and online space. As a certified Reiki Master Teacher with experience in many facets of retail, Heather layers her ability to create beautiful spaces with her love of wellness.