Fast Wisdom™, Newsletter of Holden Healing Studio
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August 2018

By Lonner Holden


I endured the aching in my arms, shoulders, and back as I persisted with the hypnotic pulling and pushing of the bow drill with my right arm; back and forth, back and forth, rapidly turning the drill, adjusting the downward pressure from my left arm to hopefully create the optimum friction on the fire board.

A minute had passed slowly and my kneeling legs were burning as they resisted the upper body effort. I was nearing my physical limit, ready to quit again when a slim, almost imperceptible sliver of blue-white smoke threaded up from the tiny bowl where the drill met the fire board - the much sought ember was rapidly forming. A few seconds later and the smoke was heavy. I stopped the bow, laid it quickly aside, wrapped my fingers gently around the fire board, raised it over the tinder bundle of dry grass and reverently tipped the ember from the tiny wooden womb where it was born into the bundle. Standing with the smoking bundle cradled in my hands, I blew gently into the growing cloud of smoke, as if my lungs and body were communicating in some deep way with the ember, the smoke, the grass... A deeper process of communion was happening which I could only feel, not name. All of me was unified with the spirit of the ember. Suddenly, a thin finger of flame burst within the bundle. I was suddenly holding fire in my hands. Something inside of me ignited too. Something very, very ancient, yet something very human.

My first entry into making friction fire connected me instinctively to my, and your, early human ancestors. The oldest known evidence of human control of fire was found in Wunderverk Cave in South Africa. We have been using fire to our benefit for at least 1.2 million years.

Fire occupied an alter of safety and ritual as we gathered around it for protection from predators, to cook food, dance, sing, tell stories, perform ritual, healing ceremony, and illuminate stone cave walls as we expressed our connection to the natural world with early paints.

Fire still holds that sacred place for us, though. As modern humans, we have replaced eland antelope steak with S’Mores. We burn candles on birthday cakes and make a wish; light candles in churches; on the table for a romantic dinner; stoke up the fireplace and stare silently together into the flames; cremate our dead - all symbolic of something deeply human, something that connects us to a force greater than ourselves which our lives are subservient to, and which unifies us. Something in us knows we cannot live without fire.

Creation myths of so many cultures have light, the Sun or fire at the heart of the beginning of life, of the world. So fire renews life, brings peace, healing, wisdom. The sweat lodge is a ritual of purification of body, mind and spirit. Like at a friend’s wedding party years ago, the men’s “Bachelor Party” was an evening sweat lodge on a private beach in Northern California (witnessed by a family of Grey Whales who hovered close to shore for the duration, whom we would join in the ocean waters as we cooled our naked bodies between rounds). Most of us know the rejuvenation from the sauna or steam bath. The Sacred Fire is universal among indigenous cultures where grief is communally released into the fire. Modern families who embark on a Sacred Fire three day ritual experience deep healing, and return to bonded connection where there was alienation before. Maybe for generations.

The fire in our body is our heart. The only organ that is literally ignited by a spark from oxidized phosphorous. Fire sustains our lives, the fire of the Sun feeds the plants which make our oxygen to breathe, and for all life to thrive.

When we hear a good story, we are energized, a fire gets lit inside of us. The fire of imagination, of awakening to new possibility. A good friend wrote to me last week of how his extended solo time in the wilderness of the High Sierra challenged him physically and mentally. The resulting liberating insights he experienced inspired him to return early because of all the creativity that rose up from within him. He said, “[I returned home] all fired up.”

So what is it about fire that we are called to it like moths who cannot escape its allure? Is it the timeless tether of primordial light from the Sun communing with its essence as it beats in our hearts? Is healing fire simply the connection between one’s source and oneself being restored? Is our apparent worship of fire a sacrosanct recognition that we could not have survived as a species without being able to control fire - that Creation allowed us to blow its heart awake in a tinder bundle just enough to make all the trouble of creating us worthwhile, that we would have a chance to perpetuate Creation’s wish a bit longer?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, or the thousand questions that radiate from the mystery of fire and life. Maybe you can generate a few of your own. For me, it’s time to blow out the candle now which has accompanied this writing before I leave the house to meet with others whose flame burns bright.

PICK OF THE MONTH: Jin Shin Jytusu Intensive, Marin, October 19 - 22, 2018
Lonner Holden:
Being a Jin Shin Jyutsu acupressure practitioner for 27 years has helped me understand the healing potential of the body and the whole person.  A published poet and backcountry guide educated from early life by the natural elements and animals of the Alaskan wilderness, and with Animal Track & Sign certification, my knowledge of dance, trail running, yoga, meditation, body awareness disciplines and indigenous nature connection practices, I bring poetry, nature mentoring and a lifetime of nature awareness to Vive!  Nature Wander™ urban and wilderness treks to enhance awareness, creativity, vitality, health and well-being.


VIVE!  Nature Wander™
Marin County: September 22

Marin Tracking Club:
Point Reyes: September 30th

Sun Valley Tracking Circle:
San Rafael: Next Meeting TBD

Into the Wild Journeys:
Grand Canyon 2018


See events on calendar »




Fast Wisdom™ is the newsletter of my Holden Healing Studio practice.  Each issue explores a theme of living  in the context of healing so you can live a happier and more vital life infused with well-being, improved health and more effective and empowered recovery.

© 2018 Lonner Holden
Fast Wisdom™
Copyright © 2018 Holden Healing Studio, All rights reserved.

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