In almost all cultures all over the world, the offering of fire ceremony or ritual is one of, if not, the oldest traditions known.
The element of fire was most important for ancient peoples, literally for survival. Fire helped keep them warm from the harsh elements, it cooked their food and protected them from predators. Also, the fire, the hearth was a central hub for the community or the family - meetings and councils were held including time to gather in traditional ceremony, rites of passage and respite.
Ceremonially, while we engage with sacred fire, we choose to connect "as one" with fire with all our senses - allowing the spirit of fire to inform and transform us.
In our work walking the shamanic path, we have also been taught to engage with four specific levels of engagement:
- Serpent, at the physical level - we know that we need to sit by the fire...
- Jaguar, at the emotional level - we realize that we must bring with us our love and curiosity...
- Hummingbird, at the mythic level - we offer our contribution without comprehending how it fits into the collective dream...
- Eagle, at the level of Spirit - we see the larger picture before us and know and understand the totality of the dream without being able to express it or define it. We choose to feel immersed in love and connected to all - as everything is connected...
During ceremony, we no longer experience the “I”... we engage mindfully along and with the power and wonder of spirit. Choosing to connect, "we" become the fire, the sparks, the light, the smoke, the sound of the wood crackling, the moon and the stars, each other and ourselves, no one and everyone.
The transformational fire ceremony is done on the full or new moon of each month - in the window of 1-2 days before or after. It is a time for us to come together as ayllu (community) to support each other in sacred circle - to create a safe, sacred container - to ask the sacred fire to help us let go "our stuff" - to let go of the heavy, dark energies (hucha or hoocha) - those energetic issues that no longer serve us.
"Hucha" is a Quechua word that means, "heavy and dark energy" - it holds no judgement, is not negative or positive - it's just heavy and dark, simple as that - no drama. Heavy or dense energy generated by resistance to life in the form of stress-related attachments. Resistance is typically fear-based - Its energy constricts. Fear hinders the natural flow of energy through the luminous body. When this occurs, hucha accumulates.
Accumulated hucha gets stuck in our luminous field - which can keep us bound in many ways. Hucha is only created between humans and we pick it up through our relations when we are out of "Ayni" of reciprocity, balance, harmony - right relationship; sacred interchange.
So, it's good to let go of our hoocha - like taking a bath (in water) for our physical body - we are cleansing our light-body, our luminous self with fire.
The sacred fire is a transformational gift of healing freely given to us. When we release hucha at the sacred fire, it becomes food for mother earth who then composts it and turns it into food that sustains life. Hucha is thus important to humanity. The act of releasing or letting go "our stuff' to mother earth is a sacred act of giving and receiving. I love knowing that I don't have to fear giving away my hoocha to her because it feeds her and she feeds me. I thank you great mother for this gift and for teaching me this.
sacred fire ceremony – outside wood fire...
In the Andean Shamanic Path, we are given ceremonial rites of passage in the (first) South Direction of the Inca Medicine Wheel - One of those rites is the seeding of the Ayni Karpays - where, an archetype is blown into each of our seven chakras.
Part of our homework/stepping into the path as shaman-healer, is to feed and grow these seeds/karypays with sacred fire. We are asked to offer seven individual fires for each archetype before coming to the next session of the West direction...
Before coming to fire ceremony, find a small stick in nature - perhaps one that calls you. With this stick you will create an offering to give away to the sacred fire to be burnt. We sometimes call this stick a "spirit arrow" or "death arrow" representing an issue or something you want to let go of.
To begin the process of letting go - that which no longer serves you, with the spirt of your breath (as your intention), blow your issue three times into stick - giving it away fully. We do not re-engage with the issue, we simply give it away. Doing this serves to focus your attention in an active meditation to prepare for fire ceremony. You can also write your issues down on small bits of paper and wrap them around the stick or decorate if you wish, though, not necessary - the intention blown-in is good. If you are adding to the stick, just make sure that you are using combustibles that will burn easily and safe for the environment. No plastics, etc.
Prepare a Pachamama Stick. Have someone choose and bring a "Pachamama stick" to circulate during the fire ceremony for prayers and intentions for Pachamama - to hold/intend/pray with mother earth's present healed state.
Set the fire prior to the ceremony. Someone will be the fire-keeper. Someone will be the space holder. Begin by placing the kindling in the form of a Southern Cross and then build a teepee of wood – starting to build from the east with 4 separate sticks. This process is a prayer – be mindful of what you are doing – creating ceremony, right action, right loving, right mind - give thanks to the tree people for offering their body for the fire.
The space holder will begin the ceremony with those gathered/ready around the fire-pit. For any ceremony always open sacred space – call in the sacred directions, south, west, north, east, mother earth, father sky.
The fire-keeper will light the fire from the east direction. Begin a chant and drumming/ rattling to honour and encourage the fire.
As the fire begins to burn, the space holder will feed the fire with olive oil three times: offered first to the four directions, then heaven and earth, and, last connecting the circle with the fire by honouring “all” those present, while holding the oil, one-by-one, acknowledging each person eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart - connect with them so they connect with you - for all to come to presence.
Test the fire for friendliness. The moment the fire becomes friendly it changes colour and burns in a different manner, settling down some. This change will be learned from direct observation and experience with the fire; it will be discovered by the student/space holder and those present.
When the fire is friendly, the space holder opens the ceremony of offerings by making their
offering first to the fire (with someone at their back - holding space for them).
All others then make their offerings to the fire coming in from the four directions. One person holds space behind each of them. Each person approaches the fire and silently puts their offering into the fire (with someone at their back) – letting go. Take a moment once you place your stick mindfully in the fire, be aware of what you are doing - connect with the fire as it begins to consume "your stuff". Be aware of the transformation occurring in this moment... your "hucha" is being transformed into light as it feeds the fire.
Let go by unwinding, with your hand (counter clockwise) from your three centers, one at time.. from belly, heart, forehead/3rd eye and give away any hucha/heavy energy to the fire. Fully let it all go - know it.
Then, after a moment, put your hands briefly through the fire (three times) drawing clockwise filling the energy of the fire and transformed healing light into your belly area (of right action), then into your heart (of right loving), and then the forehead/third eye (of right thinking/mind) – you are filling back up with that light (transformed). Feel this with all your senses - be present with this transformation of healing the fire is offering you. Give thanks for the gift of letting go, emptying and filling yourself back up with light and healing.
The only protection when touching the fire is to come before it with a pure heart. You can touch it lightly or go deeply into the flame. It is not meant to be sensational or dramatic, though rather a way to focus attention and energy upon one’s transformation.
Meanwhile, the Pachamama stick is being passed around the circle for all to place their blessing and prayers for mother earth... by blowing their sprit-breath into the stick... to hold her healed state in the present moment - we are the "ones we've been waiting for" choosing to hold and dream our world into being as we wish to dream it. Again, use all your senses during this process - as if the healing has already happened in the present moment. It is our resonance of who we truly are which will fuel our dreamings.
Next, after all the offerings are made, the oldest person or youngest person places the Pachamama stick in the fire. Sing and rattle the Pachamama Song as the stick burns.... singing three times is good.
As the fire burns down - this is an opportunity to offer prayers for the community, those who are close to us, globally. This is also a time to name those who have recently passed over - to lovingly let them know it's okay for them to go home to who they truly are. When everyone feels complete...
Close sacred space - giving thanks to the sacred directions and those spirit-helpers seen and un-seen who were present.
At least two people, ideally one male and one female, or who is called, stay with the fire until it is burned down to embers – let the fire naturally burn right out - please, no water on the fire. If necessary - in the case of an emergency, dirt can be used to smother the fire - use your common sense - if the fire needs to be put out in because of emergency, put it out as quickly as possible.
optional fire ceremony with an inside shamanic candle ceremony...
Walking a shamanic path is about engagement of beauty and intention - we can choose to engage with the transformation of fire in the presence of a simple candle indoors or out.
Preparation. Again, before any ceremony, or a shamanic candle ceremony, always create and open sacred space by calling in the energies and powers of all the directions... this is essential.
Light a beautiful candle and sit before it. If you are outside and it is safe and permissible, light your fire. Be aware of fire bans where you are (never leave unattended) making sure it is completely out before you leave.
Next, open your personal space around the flame as you light it. Open your wiracoacha (personal sacred space around you) Allow a few moments in meditation, honour the directions and anyone else including the spirits present. Then, offer to the flame all that has come up since the last fire ceremony, for purification and clearing – let go by unwinding with your hand (counter clockwise) from your 3 centers, one at time.. from belly, heart, 3rd eye and give away any hucha/heavy energy to the fire/candle light...
Growing the seed of your archetype/karpay... or, filling back up with light...
Connect with the archetype/karpay you wish to grow the seeds for. Connect with its qualities and its gifts you may wish to visualize the entire initiation process of the archetype/karpay.
Now, take from the flame the light and warmth into your hands as if you were holding a golden orb. Place this orb of light into your chakra (the one relevant to that archetype/karpay you are working with), begin to grow the seed in that chakra. Feel the power of the light and the warmth accepted and embraced by the seed of the archetype/karpay... use all your senses as you do this... feel it... know it... embrace it...
Allow the power of the archetype/karpay (or light) to expand and grow within you.
Finally, when feeling complete, rewind clockwise each center, belly, heart, 3rd eye....
Know that through the light and warmth offered at the fire ceremony, the seed is grown and strengthened within you until you fully claim and live the power of the archetype/karpay.
Finally, once you have finished the Fire Ceremony for the archetype/karpay you are working with, it is essential that you close your personal sacred space... Close sacred medicine space... if outside, make sure candle/fire is completely out and leave space as you found it – with no trace, giving thanks to the helpers + spirits who have come to guide you...
Continue to connect with each archetype/karpay in between fires... get to know them...
- 1st chakra Root: Great Serpent
- 2nd chakra: Jaguar
- 3rd chakra... Hummingbird
- 4th chakra: Eagle/Condor.
- 5th chakra: Huascar
- 6th chakra: Quetzalcoatl
- 7th chakra Crown: Pachakuti
By carol weaver - www.carolweaver.com
copyright © 2016 - all rights reserved
Resources from www.incaglossary.org and Alberto Villoldo, PhD - thank you!
Below, the chant, Karpay Rites - Welcome Song to the Archetypes - written + performed by weaver...