The Other Kind of Fire: Soul of the Wounded Healer
Fire calls us forth to intermingle, laugh, love, and enjoy, yet so many are feeling lonely, exhausted, isolated, and bewildered even as we come out to socialize after the Great Loneliness of these past three years.
Summer is the season of the fire element bringing warmth, connection, intimacy, ripening, expansion, circulation. Fire also purifies, clearing out the what is no longer useful to be recycled into nutrients for soil and new growth. Indigenous peoples teach that there are ways to help the earth by setting contained fires to prevent the build up of understories that have become congested with overgrowth or that have lost their vitality. The nutrients from the ash feeds the earth and creates fertile soil while preventing natural fires from burning out of control.
I can see how this is also a metaphor for our own psycho-spiritual health internally.
As multitudes of fires burn out of control across the body of Gaia each summer, I can feel how she struggles to nourish all her children, even as we continue to harm her. I wonder about how our own bodies are responding as I take off my sandals and step into the salty water. What happens to the earth happens also in our bodies.
A warm, golden presence imbues the water’s edge and wraps itself around my ankles, saturating my being. Two bald eagles circle silently overhead and I spread my arms to soar with them as my feet follow their circular patterns. My heart flows out to eagle, sky, sea, earth of its own accord. It is mutual. I am deeply humbled and share my gratitude, taking it with me as shards of swirling thoughts gather within and begin to center and re-form.
As I continue along the shoreline I think about how we as a planetary culture are in the midst of an immense threshold crossing. The gaps between self and other, what was and what will be, seem insurmountable at times. Without acknowledging and honoring the growing pains that come with this immense transition time we are in and responding to our true needs in body, mind, and spirit with compassion and openness, how will we be able to fully show up and meet all that we are faced with, or be able to create something truly new?
As we are rocked in the tumult of changing tides it is easy to feel like anything we do as an individual is too small to matter. Yet when counted together with the billions of others on the planet, there is nothing we cannot do if we so choose.
This wholeness that we each have been working toward our whole life is not selfish, but necessary to the Great Work1we are in the midst of. We do not need to be perfect, just sincere and devoted. Our own inner healing serves others. Our deepest wounds and most shameful parts, when transmuted, become medicine that can be shared. The path of the wounded healer includes all beings, even Gaia herself, whose soul lives and moves within each of us, calling to expression our unique gifts.
Transmutation—the complete change of states from one thing to another—follows geological and cosmological time and cannot happen without fire. In our bodies, fire is associated with the heart which cradles the spirit of pure consciousness and guides our life journey. Fire is also associated with the small intestine which sorts the pure from the impure, the pericardium which regulates what reaches the heart, and the triple warmer or san jiao which circulates fluids and warmth (water and fire) through the interstitial spaces, nourishing the entire body/mind/spirit, and bridging inner and outer.
The san jiao is unique in that it is not associated with any particular organ like the rest of the channels. It resides in the empty space—còu li—between the skin, muscles, organs, and cells. Còu means to gather together or collect. Li has to do with organic patterns that move in accordance with the Tao.
Còu li is the gathering place where energies from source join and work together with energies that have been refined and transmuted. Together they connect not only physical places and functions in the body, but also multiple realities, dimensions, time, and space.
Because the sanjiao regulates both fire and water both physically and energetically, it holds the capacity for the union of opposites—for alchemy—for transmutation.
The medicine of the san jiao/còu li seems particularly vital at this time, not only in our bodies, but in the way it reaches out into the world toward all life. What might be possible by joining together and moving with the organic patterns of the Tao?
There is the fire we know, but there is the fire that we do not know—an Other Kind of Fire that is at once of the earth and not of the earth. It moves in the space between form and formlessness, spirit and soul, something and nothing. It comes not only from above, but also rises from below—from the watery cavern at the center of the earth, from the center of existence, from the center of our bodies (in the womb space).
The Other Kind of Fire wants to show us what is possible beyond the one dimensionality we call life in modern culture. It comes from the heart of unity and leads us through the gate of separation toward reconciliation, forgiveness, healing, peace.
The Other Kind of Fire speaks through our bodies, instincts, inspirations, visions, creative impulses. It loves. Oh, it loves. It is fluent in the language of bewilderment and wounding and sings its medicine song over lost souls, broken bones, cleared forests, toxic watersheds, gentrified communities, racial divides, gender divides, refugees of war, economic, and climate disaster, dying species, jaded hearts.
It moves though emptiness along bloodlines, fascial planes, neurons, river beds, forests, mountain ranges, deserts, shorelines calling us home. If we recoil or resist its wisdom, it’s movement, its call, we will never find out what lies beyond the border of what has become familiar, especially when ‘familiar’ is suffocating, anemic, poisonous.
There is another kind of fire that moves between soil, flesh, and star calling the ancestors forth from our bones so that we may be guided by their wisdom. Moving steadily though the contractions of pain and suffering, the Other Kind of Fire delivers strange and beautiful medicines. The future calls us forward through wild eyes in a darkened wood, the cry of the wild coming from our own lips, the sun’s golden tendrils spreading across oceans of possibility, the whale song of deep remembering.
Perhaps this need for more alone time is Gaia is pulling us back in to our own inner earth because she has not yet finished dreaming us in to new ways of being. Perhaps this Great Loneliness is the void left by the loss of so many of our plant and creature kin where our hearts break open to one another, the earth and all her life forms, where the Other Kind of Fire can rise to warm new life into being.
How is it in your body right now? What is the sacred flesh of your body telling you? Is there something stirring deep within that does not yet have a shape or voice? What might it need from you? What if you could surrender to your true needs without forcing or judging what you think you should be thinking, doing, or feeling? What if it is okay to simply be with the discomfort and offer it your loving presence? How does that change things? What if all that you are experiencing right now is taking you somewhere that is vital for not just your own healing, but for the earth as well?
There is, all around us,
of original fire.
You know what I mean.
The sky, after all, stops at nothing, so something
has to be holding
in its rich and timeless stables or else
we would fly away.
off the Cape,
the humpbacks rise. Carrying their tonnage
of barnacles and joy
they leap through the water, they nuzzle back under it
They sing, too.
And not for any reason
you can’t imagine.
Three of them
rise to the surface near the bow of the boat,
deeply, their huge scarred flukes
tipped to the air.
We wait, not knowing
just where it will happen; suddenly
they smash through the surface, someone begins
shouting for joy and you realize
it is yourself as they surge
upward and you see for the first time
how huge they are, as they breach,
and dive, and breach again
through the shining blue flowers
of the split water and you see them
for some unbelievable
part of a moment against the sky–
like nothing you’ve ever imagined–
like the myth of the fifth morning galloping
out of darkness, pouring
heavenward, spinning; then
they crash back under those black silks
and we all fall back
together into that wet fire, you
know what I mean.
I know a captain who has seen them
playing with seaweed, swimming
through the green islands, tossing
the slippery branches into the air.
I know a whale that will come to the boat whenever
she can, and nudge it gently along the bow
with her long flipper.
I know several lives worth living.
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
even the great whale,
throbs with song.
Humpback whale photo by Todd Cravens on Upsplash
1 “The Great Work (Latin: Magnum opus) is an alchemical term for the process of
working with the prima materia to create the philosopher’s stone. It has been used to
describe personal and spiritual transmutation in the Hermetic tradition, attached to
laboratory processes and chemical color changes, used as a model for
the individuation process, and as a device in art and literature.” From https://
About the Author: Monique Gaboury is a licensed acupuncturist, in Freeland, WA, specializing in Alchemical Acupuncture. She loves sharing her passion for natural healing at her clinic and through writing her blog ‘Re-membering Wholeness, Belonging and Kinship Through Changing Times’.