FireplaceIn the winter months, when things are dark and cold, we think of fire as life. It is the warmth that we snuggle into, the symbol of hearth and home, the physical manifestation of the connected and safe feeling we get from community in harmony, the mellow light by which we see the internal world. What we don’t think about much is that this internal fire, like all fire, has the power to transmute. We know it consumes because whether it’s gas or electricity or wood, don’t take those resources out after burning, we have to put more in. Fire takes those components, mixes them with others inside itself and converts them into the light and warmth we need to live.

Winter’s fire also transmutes us. During these months we move inside ourselves, like the moments right before the day begins and just before we sleep, we convert the mundane, the known, the factual into a symbolic knowing where we can see the connections and the essential meaning underneath the shells. Within the banked, glowing, pulsing fire of Winter is the alchemy of transformation. Given attention it will transmute the stories we have been told about ourselves and the world. It will burn away the outer shell, harden the essential truths, lay bare the before unseen structure of things, and gift us with a newly forged knowledge and experience of ourselves.

If we don’t tend the fire it can go out leaving us cold and struggling.  If we let it go unchecked it can rage out of control, consuming the structure we need to survive. It can be hungry, the fire of Winter. It can seek to expose everything, transmute all around it into ashes in one blaze of insight.  We have a choice in how we wish to interact with that fire. Do we want to feel warm, letting the old burn off of us leaving a new strengthened inner core to start the new year? Are we willing to forgo the fire in order to preserve our resources and keep the status quo? Or do we want the freedom of letting it all go up in a blaze of glory?  If we don’t choose, the fire may choose for us.