Fire Ceremony for Serpent Wisdom

Begin by opening sacred space using the invocation in the Appendix of the Wisdom Wheel book. Have a journal or notebook and pen by your side to use for having a conversation with the power animal you encountered on the Island of the Sacred Animals in last month’s blog or in the Wisdom Wheel book. It will act as a sacred witness to your work and help you awaken you to your natural instincts, offering up wisdom that can assist in your evolution. Do this after your initial work with the fire—before you close sacred space.

To do the fire ceremony, you will work with a pile of small sticks—even ordinary toothpicks—that you can burn in a candle or a small bowl if you cannot work outdoors in a firepit in an area where there’s no chance of a spark setting off a larger fire. In the Amazon, shamans release to the fire what they call “death arrows,” which are sticks into which they have blown the story and energy of whatever they wish to shed. The fire will consume and then transform these energies. Then the shaman releases life arrows of intentionality, of new dreams they hope to see made manifest.

Make sure you have something to extinguish your fire if it becomes too intense and there’s a chance it might escape its container—for example, have some water to extinguish the candle you place in a bowl to work with when doing this ceremony. Then, take one stick from your pile and blow into it the feelings associated with a story that you want to shed.

Start with stories you’re thoroughly sick of and know are holding you back. Shed personal stories first and then collective ones, which can be harder to identify because tragic and painful stories we share with others can often give us a comfortable feeling of belonging. We bond over shared suffering, but even stories of collective pain need to go into the fire. Shed stories that are shared by humanity. Trust that Spirit wants people to let go of those experiences, those memories of how we have hurt one another, Mother Earth, and her creatures. For example, shamans in the Andes shed the story of the conquest and the persecution and torture of their ancestors so that the energy of those who suffered can be transformed into healing energies.

As you work your way through the pile of sticks, begin to shed the golden stories, the ones you long to cling to. Release your stories of personal accomplishments and triumphs. Then, release the stories of your community, of your country or people, that have given you pride and a sense of connection with others. Trust in this process as you release the stories one by one into a different stick for each.

Now shed your genetic legacy of developing dementia or heart disease in old age like others in your family. Shed the notion that you are doomed to develop cancer, to die in pain, to die before you have really lived.

When you have finished releasing all these stories and your fears about them, blowing their energy into death arrows, it’s time to burn it all away in the fire. You do not need to remember what each stick represents. In fact, it is best if you do not, as you have let go of these stories altogether. Hold each toothpick between thumb and forefinger and bring the tip to the flame. Watch as it catches fire, how the flames slowly consume it and with it, your story.

When the stick is fully extinguished, pass your hand through or over the fire and touch your hand to your forehead, bringing the fire’s transformative power into your third eye chakra to the wisdom center. Then do it again and bring that energy to your heart chakra, your love center. And do it a third time, bringing the energy of the fire to your belly, your second chakra, to heal your instincts and awaken your ability to manifest your highest dreams and to create. You are bringing healing energies from the vast field of possibilities into yourself.

Now that you have released your death arrows into the fire, prepare four life arrows. First, take three sticks or toothpicks and blow into the first the healing that you wish for Mother Earth, for nature, for the animals and the forests. Imagine the rivers clean, the oceans free of pollution, the air pure and humans living in peace with nature. In the second stick, blow your intention to bring healing and peace to a loved one in need. And in the third stick, use your breath to anchor your intention to have the health and courage you need to bring beauty and peace to the world. Then, take a fourth stick, which will be a life arrow for yourself: for growing a new body, for changing your DNA, for giving birth to a new legacy, for creating a new you who will live a new life from this day forward.

Begin to release your life arrows individually to the fire so that it can send the energy into the wind for Spirit to bring into form. In this way, you exchange the power of the stories you wish to shed for something better: the power to heal and to create something new. Share your longing, however unformed, with Spirit, knowing that your wisdom will meet with spirits in the field of possibility.

Then, call upon your power animal to help you further. Take your journal or notebook, draw a line down the center of one page, and pose the following question on the left side for your power animal to answer:

Is there anything more I need to burn away in the fire to meet the challenge of serpent and access her healing and wisdom gifts?

On the right side of the paper, write down any words and draw any image that comes to you; this is your answer. If your power animal has suggested burning away something more, create a death arrow and cast it into the fire.

Then ask your power animal the same question again, writing the answers that arise in your awareness. Then, if your power animal has suggested there is something you need to bring forth or experience to help you meet the challenge of serpent, create a life arrow for it and cast the life arrow into the fire.

If you sense you should ask more questions of your power animal, continue this conversation, blowing energy into life and death arrows to exchange energy with the fire if that’s what you’re guided to do. The idea is to learn from your power animal what you’re resisting so that you can break out of denial about any changes you’re being challenged to make. When your intuition tells you that all is good—you have done enough work for today, thank your power animal for its guidance. Close sacred space, thanking each of the directions for helping you and remembering that you’re never alone in doing the work of the wisdom wheel: you are always receiving help from the invisible realms.