Fairly regularly, I’m asked why I firewalk. Not only that, but why did I train as a firewalk instructor… it’s crazy enough that I choose to tread barefoot across red hot coals, without teaching others to do the same, isn’t it?
People choose to firewalk for numerous reasons: to raise money for charity, to push through their fears and blocks, as part of a ceremony… the motivations are endless.
For me, wearing my shamanic hat, it’s about building a relationship with the fire, raising my energy, learning lessons, growing, developing…
It should come as no surprise to most of you that I’ve always had a special relationship with fire. It’s my element. That’s not to say that I don’t balance my energies to work in harmony with the other elements of the medicine wheel, simply that fire is where I feel most at home.
When I’m standing before the fire, I’m using my breath to attain a trance like state; for those familiar with shamanic work, my firewalks are a middle world journey. I’m physically meeting the fire, raising my vibrational body to meet its energy and asking for teachings. And the teachings are often deeply profound, enabling me to learn and grow.
IT’S NEVER A COMPETITION
Raising my energy to the level of the fire is never about being better than, or even equal to, the fire; let me be very clear about this… fire is the teacher, a pure elemental with valuable teachings to share with those who work with humility and respect.
HAVE I EVEN BEEN BURNT?
The simple answer is yes. I’m placing the unguarded soles of my feet on embers sometimes burning as hot as 1200 degrees and sometimes, just sometimes, the teachings come in the form of a small burn. Those in the trade often refer to them as ‘fire kisses’, which seems to soften the impact somewhat, but make no mistake – they’re still burns.
For me, ‘fire kisses’ tend to happen if I’ve not taken myself deeply enough into the journey/meditative state and act as a reminder to get my head OUT OF THE WAY.
To be clear, I’ve NEVER been severely burned. The kind of fire kisses I’ve received have resulted in the same kind of blisters you might receive from a pair of new shoes, or from working hard in the garden. Every time, I thank the fire for the teaching and go to bed that night knowing they’ll be gone by morning and, on each occasion, even if the mark is still present as a reminder, the physical discomfort has totally disappeared.
For me, the point is being able to create a strong intent and to hold it for the required time. When I’ve firewalked with other groups particularly those with lots of left-brained individuals, the same rules seem to apply. Even if we look at firewalking from an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) perspective, it’s important for the firewalker to be able to get into state and hold onto it.
In my experience (and I’ve been firewalking for a number of years now, even before I trained as an instructor) it’s when people aren’t entirely sure or, perhaps, walk for the wrong reasons that the fire kisses start to appear.
If people believe the fire will burn them, they’ll usually be right. Likewise, if people walk with no respect for the fire’s power, or believe they’re bigger than/better than the fire, they might just receive a lesson they didn’t expect.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY ‘THE WRONG REASONS’?
Self-responsibility is hugely important in firewalking. If someone isn’t feeling in quite the right state to walk, if their energy has dropped, if they’re not in the right frame of mind, they need to be responsible enough to choose not to walk this time.
Sometimes, people choose to ignore that tiny voice of reason and walk anyway – maybe they don’t want to lose face, maybe bravado is kicking in, or maybe they’re feeling peer pressure; whatever the root, if you’re not in the right mindset, stepping back and enjoying the fire from a distance is usually the wisest choice, and self-awareness is always the warrior’s stance.
BUT ISN’T IT UP TO THE INSTRUCTOR TO RAISE PEOPLE’S
ENERGY TO THE RIGHT LEVELS?
Yes, absolutely. If a person isn’t able to raise and hold the energy of the people present, they have no business putting themselves in the position of instructor.
That said, once those energy levels have been raised, once those individuals are ‘charged’ and ready to walk, it’s up to them to manage their state and choose when to stop walking or, in some cases, not to walk at all.
The instructor should be there to help hold the energy, to aid and advise, but the choice of whether to walk is always, ALWAYS, down to the individual.
Whether you believe in mind over matter, spiritual trance or any other reasonable ‘state’ for firewalking, I’ve found that same state has a huge bearing on how much people are bothered by their fire kisses. I’ve seen people with relatively large blisters smiling and walking around with no bother, but I’ve also seen people with small hot spots crying, complaining of intense pain and wondering if they’ll ever walk again.
It seems the fire continues to teach for some time after the walk has ended and, quite simply, when people choose to channel all their energy to the ‘pain’ in their feet, they seem perfectly capable of manifesting the problems they perceive.
If firewalking is one of those things on your bucket list, I leave you with this simple advice:
- Make sure you are walking with someone fully trained, aware and responsible – someone who has the certificate (and insurance) to prove they can and a track record, personality and energy you know you can trust. If you’re in the UK, there’s a firewalking academy in Peterborough, so you can always ask for a referral from the lovely and knowledgeable team there www.firewalk.co.uk. If you’re in the US, or elsewhere in the world, look up Tolly Burkan – the man credited with being the founder of the modern firewalking movement. The UK guys I mentioned are affiliated to, and trained with, Tolly. www.TheFirewalkingCenter.com is a good place to start.
- Make sure you’re walking for the right reasons – ego probably shouldn’t be your main driver!
Enjoy, experience, be safe.