The Sacred Fire lies deep within.
The Sacred Fire brings life to all
The Sacred Fire is where the water flows,
The Sacred Fire is where the earth holds firm,
The Sacred Fire is where the wind blows strong
Great Spirit of the Sacred Fire.
In a quiet village, sitting just below some wonderful mountains, a young man spends his days. This young man, who we can call John, was feeling that he didn’t belong. He felt that he had no real purpose within the village. He wasn’t old enough to go on the hunting trips. He felt he had no more to learn for the village elders, he felt to old to be part of the children. He felt that nobody really noticed him. Within himself, this started to turn towards anger against the village. “How can they not see what I have to offer?” he would say to himself. “They just ignore me and pay no attention to me.”
Now this carried on for quiet a while, with many in the village starting to distance themselves from John because he always seemed to be in a bad mood. This, of course, then fed the isolation that John felt. He turned more and more inward, ruminating more and more. One day a little thought entered his head. He had heard stories of a sacred fire in the mountains. The ancient stories would tell that this fire would give life to people, it would heal the sick. This fire was always at the centre of any village that had it. So the idea of finding the sacred fire and bring it back, started to grow and grow. John was telling himself “If I bring it back, I will be a hero to this village. Then they will pay me attention.”
So after a few days of planning, John headed out. He didn’t tell anyone of his plan, he just quietly left the village. He knew of the ancient rhyme, which he had been practising to make sure he had it right. John headed up the mountains. As he left the village he felt a surge of strength, knowing that this quest would define him as a person, define him as a man to the village. So, with this vitality, he easily found himself at the point where the undergrowth thinned out. This was the point where the paths became less clear. This was the point where few people went. John paused. He took a few deep breaths and then carried on. After a few hours more he reached a peak.
Below him the ground opened out to reveal a beautiful valley, which in the distance rose up again to a range of high mountains. The valley was crowded with birds singing, with trees swaying in the breeze, with a cacophony of colours that nearly overwhelmed the senses. John stopped to take it all in. In the distance, there was a break in the mountain range. He thought he could see a river flowing through this break, and he felt drawn to it. He turned down to go into the valley and headed towards the gap. Now usually it would be difficult to navigate where to go, as he lost sight of where he was in the thickness of the tress. But whilst he was walking he continually felt drawn towards the gap, even when he couldn’t see it. Even when it had been some while and he had been walking in every direction through the irregular paths, whenever he came out of the thick trees and could see the mountains he was on track.
Slowly John found himself climbing back out of the trees and the gap had become closer and closer. After a little more time he came to the place, where the water was flowing rapidly past. It had an intensity and a speed that he loved. It sounded like the water was talking to him, saying ” keep going, keep going.” So he decided to push on despite the fact that the light was starting to fade. The gap was getting more and more narrow, and with less light John was stumbling on a few occasions. Tiredness was starting to set in. It was also getting harder to walk as the wind had picked up. But John still felt the deep urge inside him to keep going so he pushed on. As the light overhead continued to fade it seemed that there was another light around that was flickering. As he carried on up this light became more intense. He felt the excitement rise within him. He knew he was nearly there.
As he rounded a slight corner he saw a flame. The further round the corner more and more he saw. Then eventually he saw it all. On the waters edge, on raised rock was this fire that seemed to be fed by the wind rising through the gap. He looked around to see if there was anyone else around. He could see no one. He could hear no one. He walked around the edge of the fire gazing into it’s magnificence. It captivated his whole soul. He felt alive for the first time. He tried to work out what was fuelling the fire. He couldn’t see any wood nor any other type of fuel. It was so intense, so bright that he couldn’t see into it’s centre.
So John made a decision, he decided that he was going to take some of this fire back to his village, as he had set out to do. He wanted to be able to show them what he had achieved. He was going to be the bringer of this great sacred fire to the village. So he went back and found a branch that was lying on the ground a bit away from the fire. He picked it up and set it alight. He decided that he must head straight back to the village to ensure that the flame was still alight when he got there. So he walked, at times almost running where he could, back to the village. It took most of the night.
So it was almost dawn when he was descending down into the village. John was breathless, scratched and basically looked a mess. But it was all worth it, because here he was with the sacred fire for the village. As he approached the village he started shouting “Here, look what I’ve brought” The villagers started to stir but very slowly. He started to see a few faces as he was waving the branch around with great ferocity. He wanted to show them what he had done. What he didn’t notice was that all this movement had start to dampen the fire and very gradually it started to go out. Then finally the flames were gone. Those few villagers who were there listening to his incoherent ramblings about his story just smiled, laughed to themselves and turned away. Eventually it was just John with a burnt branch sitting all by himself. He started to weep. He cried and cried but no one in the village took any notice because it was just John being John.
John went away and hid. For all his efforts he had achieved nothing and had become even more of a laughing stock within the village.
As John hid, there rose within in him a determination. The determination that comes from the depths, that says “I’ll show them”. John reflected on what went wrong, and felt that he needed to take more care of the fire and ensure it was burning brightly on his return to the village. So a couple of days later at the break of dawn John set out to repeat his journey. He quickly retraced his steps and after a few hours he was once again standing by the sacred fire. As he looked at it, he felt himself disappearing into it. But the determination to show the villagers how successful he could be once again arose within him. So he search for a long branch of hard wood that would hold the sacred fire for a long time. After quite a few minutes of searching he found one and returned to the sacred fire. He lit the branch. He allowed the fire take hold before setting of, with a determined pace whilst ensuring the fire kept it’s hold.
As dawn was breaking over the village, John approached, slowly, cautiously, as the branch was still holding the flames well. He entered the centre of the village and sat in the middle, waiting for the villagers to awake. As he sat, a wind arose around him that grew and grew. It was so strong he had to close his eyes from the dust. Then inside he knew, he knew that when he reopened his eyes the sacred fire would be gone. Slowly he opened them, holding every hope in his heart that the flames would still be there. He couldn’t see any light. The more he opened his eyes , the more his worst fears came true. He was sitting in the centre of the village with a burnt branch in his hand. Once again he had failed. He quietly left the centre, so that no-one would witness his repeated failure.
Again he hid. This time not from the villagers, this time from himself. He would spend the daytime indoors and would only go out at night. He was always alone. He was defeated. He had nowhere to go from the darkness, it was inside him and all around him. It enveloped him. He wept alone.
Gradually over time, a flicker of hope returned. He so wanted to connect with the sacred fire. He wanted to be with the sacred fire. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought. This determination built and built. Eventually he decided to make the trip again.
This time it was a slow trip. John was in no hurry. No one in the village had been paying him any attention so no on knew he had gone. He would take his time. He spent the first night in the woods. As he slept he heard the trees talking to each other as they moved in the breeze. He saw the stars beaming down brightly, with a magnificent detail that he had not noticed before. It was as if each one wanted to see what he was doing. He awoke in the morning refreshed and energised. He had more vitality in him than he had had in a long time, if ever. He followed the meandering path of the river upwards towards where he knew the sacred fire was. With each step he felt his nervous energy grow, he some how knew that this time would be different.
As darkness fell he approached the place where the fire was. As he turned the corner once more he saw it. As bright as ever. He stopped to look at it. He felt it drawing him in, so he sat down beside it. Feeling the intense warmth on his face. He felt tired and so without realising it he fell to sleep.
When he woke the next morning he shook himself and recalled the vivid dream of the night before. The sacred fire had started to call his name, repeatedly with a gentle insistence. The sacred fire had drawn him in. As he had got closer he felt an intense warmth but never felt too hot. He got closer and closer. He found himself at the centre of the flame. He and the flame were one together. They danced together, they laughed together for the whole night. It was like an all night party fuelled by an unstoppable flow of love. One where you never grow tired, always feeling uplifted and loved.
As he relived the dream in his mind, he felt the warmth of the love inside him, he felt the flames inside him.
No longer did he want to take the flames back to the village. It did not seem right to put on such a show. He did know that he had to return. He was needed back in the village. So he gathered his things and gently set back. There was no rush, as he continued to replay and replay the dream in his mind. Each time the sense of dancing with the flames growing within him. At night there always seemed to be a glow around him, although he could not see where it came from. It was easy to just keep walking.
Once again it was close to dawn as he came into the village. He went to the centre of the village. A tiredness arose within he, so he lay on the ground and went to sleep.
When the villagers awoke, they found a sacred fire in the centre of the village. They called for John, as they knew this is what he had been looking for but they never found him. Eventually they gave up looking and their memory of him drifted away with the seasons. The sacred fire stayed in the centre of the village, it never needed any fuel. It provided heat and love for the whole village. It would answer their prayers and provide wonderful healings. The villagers honoured it and gave thanks for it’s love and beauty. Over time the stories developed of how the sacred fire came to them. The stories talked of gifts from the gods, of lightening strikes and earthquakes. Never did they talk about a young man called John.