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Fire has been central to our existence as humans since the time before time. Fire helped to bind us to each other. This is where I find light.

In Latin, the word focus meant fireplace, and it came to be used for fire itself. It may have been used metaphorically for the notion of the hearth, symbolizing the center of the home, the center of our attention and intention. Humans have always had fire as their center. Fire gave us our humanness. Fire is seen as residing in the heart.

Fire was, and still is for many, central to the homes that people inhabit, whether it be a cave, a tipi or a house made from wood or earth. The hearth was where the family gathered for cooking, meals, socializing, warmth and light. It was our opportunity to commune with each other, to see each other’s light, their fire. Some say that fire as the gathering place for our ancestors helped to promote language and exchange.

Over the years this has shifted, and we now regulate the fire that warms us to a closet, a garage, a tv set or a phone/computer screen.

An example is the Huichol people of Sierra Madres in Mexico. Fire is core to their lives. Tatewari, Grandfather Fire, is the original shaman. A God that is central in their daily lives and who they receive guidance from. Their ceremonial house, a Tuki, has in the center a fire pit. Fire is at the center and connects life for the Huichol.

So how do I bring light into my life? How do I bring warmth, connection and movement into my life during these times of polarizing influences and the traditional time of darkness, cold and going within, I sit with the fire and invite others to come and talk and share.

Winter is a time, traditionally, when generations gather around the light and warmth of the fire and listen to stories from their elders and learn about their ways and the way to live a good life, a proper life in community. An opportunity to slow down and be embraced by what binds us as a people, to renew our values, beliefs and experiences.

Sitting with the fire, the rugged individual, or at least individualism that is perpetuated in America, becomes softer and more open. As one sits with the fire in community and we talk about our lives, a common, primordial bond that we each have, our humanity, our light is rekindled.

Come sit with the fire.

Peter Brown lives in Olympia.
Peter and his wife host fires.
To learn more, email Peter.


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When I moved to Olympia in the spring of 2000…