Honoring the triple fire

Tonight Three Cranes Grove celebrated Giamonios, the Gaulish end-of-winter moon. It was a small group of us, just four — we celebrated the Thargelia in honor of Artemis and Apollo as our public spring cross-quarter ritual just yesterday, so most people elected to stay home. But our intimate gathering provided a relaxed, informal resumption of our outdoor druid moons, where we cleaned out the firepit in our nemeton and rekindled our fires. At this moon we honor Belenos, god of the fiery sun, and honor the triple fire of sacrifice, inspiration, and fellowship. Our working in this small-group setting gave us the opportunity to speak from the heart: each person volunteered to speak on the fire in one of its three aspects, and I volunteered to tie them all together. So, with appreciative credit to Lisa Lea, Jan, and Thorne for their explications of the fires of sacrifice, inspiration, and fellowship, respectively — and with apologies for my rephrasing and reconfiguring of their words — some thoughts on the fire at the center of all.

The fire of sacrifice is central to our practice. In it we cast our offerings, removing them irreversibly from human use. It is the fire that sanctifies, that makes holy and sets apart. And when we bring sacrifice to the holy ones, we also often bring sacrifice to the folk: sacrifice of our belongings, but also of our wealth, of our time, of our energies, of our talents. And just as we give material objects irreversibly to the fire, so too do we give our intangible offerings irreversibly, without expectation of return. But that is also the mystery of the fire of sacrifice, that even as we sacrifice truly and fully, with a complete relinquishing, we are gifted with joy and blessings and fulfillment in return, so that there is no emptiness in sacrifice. Hail to the fire of sacrifice!

The fire of inspiration is a transmission — the flame on the hearth lights the fire in our heads, which in turn sets ablaze our words and deeds. It is the fire that stirs us, motivator not only of poets and bards, but of all who do the work of the Kindreds. It is the energy that sends us out into the world to do what we are meant to do. Further, the transmission doesn’t end with our ignition. Rather, we are inspired to do holy work, and our work in turn inspires others. And those others inspire others themselves, and they inspire again and again, a fire of inspiration spreading from ear to ear, hearth to hearth, heart to heart. Hail to the fire of inspiration!

The fire of fellowship is all but instinctual: we come together around the fire as a community, warmed and gladdened by its light. It is a flame against the darkness, but also a flame that mirrors the lights of the day and night, a sharing of light with each other and with the world. In the Hávamál, we read about the importance of fellowship: “When I was young / and walked alone, / alone I lost my way. / I felt rich / when I found company” (v. 47). The fire of fellowship is a beacon away from lonesomeness, a source for finding company, not only with each other but also with the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones. The fire is a conduit for our offerings, yes, but also a welcoming place of gathering and togetherness for all beings. In the fire of fellowship, we draw each other together and rekindle bonds of community. Hail to the fire of fellowship!

When we consider these three fires, we may think of them as separate fires, separate ways of approaching the flame. But they do not stand apart; instead, they are a cycle. We give to the fire of sacrifice, wholly and without condition. And by the gift of our hands and our work, we carve out space for others to grow. Those who benefit from our sacrifice then have the space and breath to stoke the fire of inspiration till it pours forth from them. And their inspired work, transmitted from heart to ear to heart, guides others to the flame, feeding the fire of fellowship, until at last those drawn to the fire, buoyed by fellowship, may be inspired to sacrifice their energies and talents, that the circle may begin anew. The three fires are, in fact, one cyclical fire, ever reaching out and drawing in, breathing and growing and living in each of us, both separately and together. Hail to the triple fire that burns at the center of all!

Header image: Jan Avende for Three Cranes Grove; used by permission.

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