Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In Praise of Fire

The vast majority of the offerings I make to spirits lately involve fire in some way. I light a candle each morning in the name of Astaroth. A little less frequently I burn mace blades for Scirlin and incense for other spirits. Fire itself is the medium through which I most often communicate with the spirits from the Grimorium Verum and in a sort of pyromancy I will often gauge my relationship with the spirit by the behavior of the flame during ritual. In this context the fire is a means to approach, honor, and propitiate the spirits. Only after I've burned offerings in their honor will I try to communicate with them by pendulum, scrying, or meditation.

Some time ago I had a conversation with another practitioner of magic who mused that it would be great if he could instantly summon fire. I knew at the time that he meant to be able to ignite things using only the power of his mind like in the Stephen King book Firestarter. But I teased him instead by pulling a Bic lighter out of my pocket and lighting a flame.  He was impressed by my flip response and the conversation subsequently went elsewhere but that interaction stuck with me.

In this modern age it is easy to forget how fugitive fire was more than two hundred years ago. Chemical matches were known to the Chinese before the Common Era but were not known in Europe until the voyage of Marco Polo. Before that fires were ignited using flint and steel or lenses with the sun. The modern cigarette lighter is just barely a hundred years old. Fire was a living thing that had to be cared for and fed if it was to persist. Who knows how to bank coals these days? Two hundred years ago the survival of your family depended on it.

Just as the concept of meat as food has been largely removed from the context of the animal for many modern Westerners, the living qualities of fire have been removed from flames.  It is so ubiquitous and easily come by that it has lost much of the magic it used to hold for people.

In many ways I see fire as an apt metaphor to working with the demons of Verum. A healthy respect for their potentially destructive powers is called for but when handled properly the benefits can be enormous. And, when dealing with spiritual forces that are described as 'infernal' fire becomes the model of their behavior. A couple of times over the past few years I was reminded how inappropriate it was to introduce a Verum spirit sigil to water.

And so I praise fire; that living thing of light and heat. Be my ally in my spiritual work.