The slam of a Prius brought my attention away from the glowing coals inside the sacred fire pit.
Sarah had arrived and was making her way over, arms laden with a heavy cardboard box filled with
items from her past. She called, asking if there was something the spirits could do to help her move on
with her life after a divorce.
“I want to forget about him and move on. There are other things I want to focus on now” she said.
“Sarah, what you need is a Phoenix ritual” I told her.
“A what?” Sarah asked.
“A Phoenix ritual”, I explained. “We burn what we want to let go of or what’s stagnating life, let
the fire transmute the energy, then rebirth it, drawing new life up from the ashes.”
“Destroy what no longer serves then create? It’ll feel good burning the crap he gave me,” she
“Yup. Wham, Bam, cycle complete. Let me know when you want to come over, I’ll give you a
hand,” I offered.
The day arrived and I was prepping the fire, gathering wood, and telling the spirits what was
going to be happening while waiting. The fire was just a pile of hot coals now. I leaned in and from the
embers I blew breathe of life, air creating the flame which began to consume the earth’s wood. Nearby
sat a bucket of water which would in turn destroy the fire should it rage out of control.
“That was quick. Have you been doing this a long time?” Sarah asked.
Three days, I thought, I’ve been here for the last 3 days. Three days basking in the flames of the
sacred fire I built under August’s noon sun, breaking 100 degrees outside the fire. Hours spent
drumming, dancing circles around the pit, basking in its smoke as it washed out impurities, the sweat
and ash dripping from my flesh. I’m sure there are easier ways to bond with fire but spirit knows this is
my way, a shamanic way, a way of ordeal, over the top, fit for a Viking, and for me anything less would
Sarah’s right though. Fire is lighting for me quicker the longer I stay at this pit. Fire and I talk,
we merge. Intent and relationships are built. Fire, by its light, guides the way, the tinder sparks to life,
the kindling soon follows. I could not expect her to understand, can anyone truly understand the path
of another? So I simply reply, “Yeah, it’s something I do.”
Sarah takes out old photos, cards, writings, and an old t-shirt depicting a concert she went to
years ago. Her former life is tossed into the flames as I drum. She reads a short poem and reflects on
the pain being released, the heat and flames grow. Amidst the burning, consuming, destructive fire my
own thoughts go back to the last three days.
* * * * *
Heavy rocks, lugged across the field, under the sun, carefully placed to encircle this temple of
fire, as I called to the gods to dedicate it as a sacred site. Loki answers, coming in, taking control of my
arm and hand, to draw several runes bound together in the dirt while speaking one work.
“Muspellheim.” Similar to how one calls their astral temple, I was to use the runes and sacred fire pit
to anchor Muspellheim here for ritual that evening. One of the 9 worlds of the Norse, an inhospitable
plain of fire. Home to salamanders and fire giants, and ruled by Surt. If I believe the writings of Raven
Kaldera he’s supposed to be my godfather—a godfather to all of Loki’s children. He’s old, he’s fire, he’s
the spark of creation. He has seen gods and worlds made and destroyed. When he’s appeared to me I
see a large bald man, square face and jaw, black and red, pulsating with the magma that is his skin.
Just another family barbeque, nothing like an evening of steaks charred roasted in an elemental plain
with your dysfunctional relatives.
Opening the gates the rest of the world faded away and I became blinded by the smoke from its
“Who comes to Muspellheim gets burned”
Words whispered in my ear as I lay burning on the sands of the fire circle, no longer a circle but
a beach next to a fiery boiling ocean. I listened to the ocean steaming and heard the drumming of the
fire giants nearby. Shards of hot glass, sand transformed by heat, pierced my skin as I lay writhing in
burning agony on the sand. I silently praised my guardians, without whom I was certain death would
have already come. Of course, outside my own hallucinations, to any innocent onlookers, I appeared as
a raving lunatic rolling around screaming on a lawn next to a bonfire.
As I screamed and cried shouts for help, I heard whispered into my ear “ This Fire is Chaos. What
have we taught you about Chaos?”
“It will burn me?!”
Really? Now they’re going to question me? I’m being burned alive here. Dig deep Kim, find the
ability to respond if you want to get out of this.
“It’s always moving, always consuming. Creation and Destruction. Life and Death. Constant
change. Its opposite is order, yet chaos is order, it is its own opposite. Stagnation. Death without
renewal. To master chaos one first has to master order. Only by mastering order could one hope to
guide the chaos into shape. Instead of being consumed by total destruction one must learn to sit in total
harmony with fire reigning down on all sides. If chaos was emotion, order was the mind. Master the
mind to master order. Only then could you reach out and grab the fire without it consuming you.”
“You expect fire and brimstone here, so that is what you are finding.”
I hate when they point out the obvious. My emotions, my fear, my pain, all responding to my
surroundings and expectations–inducing panic, inducing my current reality. I breathed into my mind
and calmed it. Come on Kimberly, this is all in your head, now man up. The fire continued to burn at
me, the glass continued to poke at my skin, but none of it had an effect. I was free of the limitation I
believed I had here.
* * * * *
By the time I finished my own reflections Sarah’s items were ash and the energy was
rising just above the flames. She gave the phoenix a name, one that signified the new life she was
creating. It took form and flew off to set new paths towards creating the desired manifestation. As
Sarah departed we gave final gratitude. “And with that we’d like to thank the fire and gods. Remember
to act on any opportunities surrounding your intent, no matter how small. They are not coincidence, but
the universe answering.”
After her own gratitude I let her know one last thing, “Repeat this on your own when you need
it. I’ve shown you, now it’s your own ritual, your own responsibility to do.”
* * * * *
As I waited for the coals to die out, I circled the fire pit with the sun rising to high noon. Beads
of sweat dripped and I recalled an old Klingon saying. “Today I am a warrior. I must show you my heart.
I travel the river of blood.” The reply from the spirits came quick. “You are a priestess. You walk the path
of compassion. Let us show you your soul.” Please. Please do, I thought as I drifted ahead in time to the
fall to my planned trip to an active volcano in the Pacific, an otherwise lovely tourist attraction but for
me, a planned shamanic week. Though I would see plenty of beauty, it was education and with my
spirit friends I knew it would not be your typical tourism. Many tell me I should simply vacation
sometime and leave spiritual behind, but that’s not possible. There is no separation in mundane and
divine aspects anymore. Spirit is everywhere, I am its student, and anywhere I go there would be
education and lessons.
My thoughts wander further, setting in motion events only my own thoughts could create, and a
wonder if I will ever learn. I am certain it will be a grueling week. I wonder what deities I will find at this
major hot spot of fire activity, what challenges and adventures? What lessons spirit will show me, what
insights I’ll gather, or if I’ll finally become a travel writer, depicting a harrowing adventure tale of how I
escaped a volcanic temple after stealing an idol and being chased by natives and lava….
Before I can go too far through my imagination I am reprimanded. “That is the future. This is
now. See the coals? Bring them back to life. Raise the fire up again with but your breath this time.”
I do as my teacher bids. On my hands and knees, face into the hot pit, I bow to the great fire
and with my breathe and some more wood it is soon blazing anew. Soon I am dancing again, soon I am
drumming, soon I am once again drenched in sweat as my education continues. I have been told not
many journey to Muspellheim, but I know those that go are transformed and learn to call the fire home.
Kimberly Vale is a Shaman, a Priest, a Priestess, Massage Therapist, Reiki Master-Teacher, a Writer, and budding Fire Tender. As a Shaman, Catholic, Buddhist, and Pagan she finds herself working with people of all religious denominations to show them ways to reach the divine beyond what their traditional priests and dogma allows while doing what she can to facilitate healing in all manners available to her. www.KimberlyVale.com