Copyright (C) 1998 by William Mistele. 

Introduction to Fire

When  we  explore  wind and sea,  we  can  savor  the  delightful 
sensuality   and  the  familiar  sensations  contained  in  these 
elements.   The  stories  of  sylphs and  undines  stimulate  our 
emotional life even as they call forth balance and  harmony.  The 
songs in water and air are of freedom,  gentleness,  and empathy.  
The  gnomes  also  are  not so distant  from  us.  They  are  the 
intelligence and the consciousness in the rocks upon which we sit 
or the mountains we climb.
     But fire is different.  Here we enter a domain of 
pure power and will. Volcanoes exploding, raging forest 
fires, lava flows--these exhibitions within nature strike 
a different cord as they resonate within our souls. 
     Fire is expansive and uninhibited.  We know what it 
is to feel exuberance, excitement, and exhilaration.  We 
have all been thrilled and enthralled.  In such feelings, 
there is a amplification and intensification of our 
energy.  And, at times, there is an explosion of vitality 
combined with zeal.  
     On the other hand, being obsessed, infatuated, or 
spellbound--these emotional states result in part from a 
weakness of the fire element within ourselves.  We have 
failed to master the sources of power which animate our 
souls. Consequently, there are times when we may find 
ourselves attracted to experiences or people who are 
unfamiliar and yet strangely appealing.  Captivating 
images may come to us in dreams or we may encounter 
ideals which bedazzle our imaginations. 
     Another person may bring into our lives a vision of 
happiness and joy we have never known.  A dream may re-
mind us of the  love we once shared.  An ideal may seize 
us, asking us to make a commitment or to live on a higher 
level.  A religion or a new set of beliefs may insist we 
make peace with ourselves. 
     However, we must be wise as we approach such radiant 
sources of inspiration.  They may seem to offer us feel-
ings of being more alive and energized.  They may appear 
to offer direction and purpose.  But if we are unable to 
find the light and power shining in these images within 
our own being, we risk becoming dependent on something 
external.  This need for external stimulation is typical 
in drug addiction.  
     Those, for example, with an addiction to amphetamine 
have the greatest difficulty living without the rush, the 
push, and drive which the drug generates within their 
nervous system.  Drugs may induce temporary but height-
ened states of fearlessness and aggression as adrenalin 
is released into the bloodstream.  The sympathetic ner-
vous system takes over.  
     The rate, force, and amplitude of heartbeat increase 
along with blood pressure.  Blood vessels throughout the 
body constrict.  The bronchii of the lungs dilate in-
creasing the body's ability to engage in vigorous mus-
cular activity.  The liver releases more glucose into the 
bloodstream.  The processing of glycogen to lactic acid 
in the muscles increases.  Muscles go taut, the mind 
     The lower brain takes control.  Our sense percep-
tions seem more acute.  Our pupils dilate. The sympa-
thetic nervous system increases our instinct for survival 
and, at times, our capacity to take charge of our lives.  
Yet the price the drug addict pays is also very great.  
Their bodies and brains become exhausted.  The fire, 
rather than illuminating and healing, burns up their 
health and devours their souls. 
     When we work with fire, we are working with will 
and  power.  Fire  is more wild and uninhibited compared  to  the 
other elements.   To that extent,  therefore,  we must always  be 
conscious  of  the purposes which we are  pursuing.   Since  fire 
increases our influence and our options, we must be careful about 
the choices we make as its power is amplified within us. 
     Traditional symbols handed down for many millennia 
have honored and paid tribute to this power and the wis-
dom within the fire element. Fire has symbolized a means 
for understanding how we shape our destinies.  Such sym-
bols still speak to us.  They remind us that fire is at 
the roots of our deepest motivations and sources of in-
     For example, the ancients decorated the night sky 
with their mythologies. Astronomy and astrology were one 
and the same. Consequently, cosmology and human destiny 
were not separate.  Human will and Divine will worked 
together in the unfolding the universe.  Is this such a 
quaint notion when we now know that the choices we make 
as a species will maintain or destroy the biosphere? 
     Consider that profession of disrepute known as alch-
emy.  Its practitioners, in part, sought to transmute one 
metal into another.  But we now create conditions in our 
laboratories in which atoms melt together.  Losing their 
separate identities, they form "superatoms", matter which 
no longer even exists in nature.  The human race is ex-
perimenting with the powers which gave birth to the 
stars.  Scientists are attempting to track down what 
happened in the first instant in which the universe was 
      As we unravel one secret of nature after another, 
it is easy to lose our sense of priorities in the excite-
ment to apply what we have discovered.  It is easy to 
deny our responsibilities.  At the last moment, when we 
witness the work of our hands, we may suddenly find our-
selves turning, like Robert Oppenheimer, to mythology to 
comprehend our orbit of action--
     As Oppenheimer witnessed the result of the Manhattan 
project which he directed--at the first nuclear explo-
sion--Oppenheimer quoted Sri Krishna from the Hindu 
Bhagavad-Gita.  Oppenheimer said, "I am become Death, the 
shatterer of worlds."
    Let us not forget that from the deepest visions of the 
heart and soul we shape our own destinies. The founda-
tions of society derive from our values and the pattern 
of life which we seek to uphold.  Not necessity but our 
greatest sources of inspiration empower our lives.  
     As  we  turn to fire,  let us consider the voice with  which 
mythology  speaks to us through the ancient system of  astrology.  
Let us consider the way fire bears on human will.   In astrology, 
we have three fire signs.  The first of these is Aries. 
     Aries, the ram, is the one who forges by his will 
the sacred weapons he needs to defeat all enemies and to 
surmount all barriers.  Aries, alone and without support, 
is empowered to cross through the unknown wilderness of 
the soul and spirit. He defies the darkness and all that 
opposes.  His very nature is courage.  He takes every-
thing that confronts him as a challenge which he will 
master.  He moves without fear and none may defeat him 
when his will is aligned with the universe.  
     There  exist  many traditions which insist we  discover  the 
great  spiritual  truths of life within the core  of  our  being.  
Belief may contain the seed we seek to bring to fruition.   But a 
path  of  growth  within the soul requires that we  confront  the 
actual powers which lie dormant and asleep within us. 
     For example, in some mystery religions, fire con-
tains a magic which relates to the strengthening of will 
power.  Concentration on the sensations associated with 
fire amplify this will.  Fire meditations can be used to 
build resolution.  The property of heat, for example, to 
expand indefinitely relates to will.  As concentration on 
the intensity in heat increases so does the feeling of 
being able to overcome obstacles with courage and without 
     The second fire sign in the zodiac is Leo.  Leo, the 
lion, shines like the sun and his confidence and leader-
ship is such that others find it easy to follow him.  
Aries, though the dimmest of the twelve constellations, 
has a fire which burns hotter than any other.  Aries can, 
then, intensify his will in order to destroy all 
obstacles.  In Leo, by contrast, fire illuminates the 
world. Leo offers a center of inspiration and guidance 
around which our actions may be directed.  Leo fashions 
and sustains a community by his will. 
     A second aspect of the magic of fire also relates to 
the sign of Leo.  This is the ability to condense and to 
contain energy.  Fire expands outward illuminating space.  
By will, we learn how to draw energy into a small place 
and to control it. In this way, we transform energy into 
light.  Rather than crushing or else allowing passions to 
burn wild and destructive, we learn to tame their powers 
for the purposes of love. 
     Fire, under the control of will, is directed so that 
it animates and nurtures the world.  The fire is con-
tained so that it is not a threat or a danger.  Simil-
arly, leadership offers a center of power and will around 
which others may be nourished and their lives fulfilled. 
     The power to rule, in part, derives from mastery of 
oneself.  Controlling great pressures and intensities 
within ourselves, we can direct desires to useful ends.  
We are also able to guide others' motivations in the same 
way we work with the drives and hungers within ourselves. 
     The third fire sign in the zodiac is Sagittarius, 
the archer.  Sagittarius seeks to find and proclaim those 
ideals and principles which illuminate our minds.  This 
sign seeks justice, wisdom, and the transformation of the 
world.  There is a purity in the Sagittarian vision which 
inspires the will to commitment and the heart to devo-
tion.  Sagittarians are the explorers who search for the 
truth.  They are tenacious and dauntless when it comes to 
fulfilling a quest.
     A third magic within fire is a concentration Sagit-
tarians possess.  Fire captures and focuses our atten-
tion. It sharpens our ability to remain calm and centered 
within ourselves.  Fire contains the intensity which 
leads to inner illumination.  When we discover this 
source of power within ourselves, nothing disturbs or 
distracts us--our concentration is unassailable. 
     Because this energy is so dynamic and yet directed 
by our will, there is no need for diversions or external 
stimulation and excitement. We measure and gauge the 
tasks we choose to fulfill in the world by the light 
illuminating us from within.  We set our priorities in 
accordance with how we wish to reshape the world.  Our 
movements are in accord with our inner being. 
    Fire takes the fuel it needs from its environment.  It is 
not hesitant nor shy.  Its will is ferocious and wild.  
But when fire is guided and controlled by a greater will, 
its power to transform, transmute, and refine is clear 
and unmistakable.  
     Fire is the sword of spirit which cuts through all 
obstacles.  Its warmth heals and regenerates.  Its light 
opens the pathways which lead out of darkness.  By its 
might are the worlds created.  Time and space unfold 
according to the plans concealed within it.  
     Fire is part of the symbol of Divine Providence, of 
the One Light which holds the universe within its palm.  
Those who would be born of the spirit, who would enter 
the mysteries, those who would accomplish their work on 
earth--they seek to master the sacred fires which burn 
within their bodies and at the center of their hearts. 

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