In Honor Of Fire (Agni)

The country is on fire in all the ways possible. As desert and forest lands burn, along with animals, amphibians, and insects, fire rages in the streets and in the hearts of many. It burns in people’s speech and actions, it is evident in their eyes and movements. The fire element governs transformation, it is neither good nor bad. Fire serves a valuable purpose, and can also be used a weapon. All substance and energy can be medicine and it can likewise be poison, depending on how one engages with it.

In the physical body, fire is digestion, assimilation of nutrients, gastric enzymes and secretions, vision, and intelligence. Fire is responsible for transforming every substance we put into or on the body as well as the transformation and digestion of thoughts and experiences. It is visual acuity as well as inner vision. The ability to keep focus, be organized, and move with purpose is a gift of the fire element. It gives us clear, sharp speech and the ability to think critically.

Excess fire, particularly when combined with the air element can become dangerous. It can look like anger, rage, and judgmental criticism. Rashes, acid indigestion, ulcers, some headaches, and heat related inflammation are often associated with the fire element. The burst of a temper tantrum or violent act is an explosion of fire out of control.

The fire element brings us radiance and illumination. Shining light on what may otherwise not be seen, and offering the opportunity for transformation. I’ve been wondering recently if there is a difference between transformation and destruction, and continue to listen for pieces of the answer. Perhaps the difference is negligible, maybe they are synonyms, and what actually matters is how we engage with the aftermath. Death, in the broadest sense of the word, could be looked at as destruction or transformation. We experience many deaths (or losses) in a single lifetime before the body takes its’ final breath. Each one an opportunity for transformation, growth, and renewal.

A small, contained fire will transform slowly and steadily, while a huge blaze being blown about by wind has the ability to destroy swiftly and without discretion. Either of these types of fire can be a medicine if we are willing to see beyond, and embrace what lies ahead. Sometimes there simply is not time for a slow burn. A fire that has been subdued for far too long, moldering and smoking, may suddenly ignite with a gust of wind (or inspiration) in order to swiftly clear the path for growth and renewal in our own body-mind-spirit or the macrocosm of the world around us.

Fire gives us heat, with its’ main quality being hot. Other qualities associated with fire are dry, light, sharp, penetrating, and spreading. Fire spreads. We see this in the way ideas, emotions, and information spread among communities and the way a rash might spread on the body. Medicinal or healing ideas and emotions can be spread just as easily as poisonous thoughts and messaging. Most leaders have a significant amount of fire in their constitution, which is why leadership is such a huge responsibility. We see this in the way different leaders have acted historically, and the results of their ability to spread different kinds of messages.

With any transformation, there is loss and grieving. In order to build something new, we must let go of what is not working. In order to transform a diseased society or ones’ own body-mind-spirit into health, we must identify and release the cause of dis-ease. It is in the letting-go and grieving process, the digestion of feelings and emotions, that transformation occurs. In becoming humble and bowing down to the fire, rather than fighting against it, healing begins. The cool, gentleness of humility, which is associated with the water element, softens the hot, sharp, and penetrating qualities of fire.

As summer continues, heat (fire) accumulates in the body-mind-spirit. The macrocosm affecting the microcosm. Some of us will be more sensitive to heat, based on the unique confluence of elements in our constitution. This is a time to acknowledge and honor the fire element by humbly adjusting diet and activities accordingly. As you notice what is happening in the world around you and within you, remember that opposites balance. We can honor the beauty and medicinal gifts of the fire element within and without by accepting its’ presence and power. Likewise honoring the gifts of the other elements; water, earth, ether, and air, all of which have cooling qualities, will allow for transformation (and/or destruction) to occur while moving forward into what lies beyond.

In this time of transformation and destruction within the micro and macrocosm, my hope is that we collectively harness the power of the fire element in order to make necessary changes in ourselves and the world around us. The opportunity for change is here, every day, and the possibilities for personal and societal change are not restricted by walls or borders, real or perceived. As you honor the fire within and without, I encourage you to see beyond what may appear as an obstacle, and instead see it as an opportunity.