Gathering around a fire during the night awakens atavistic memories hidden deep within the flesh and blood and opens doorways unto the Soul which connect us on levels beyond the limitations of mundane time / space. A guiding light in the deepest recesses of the night, the spirit of Fire protects and illuminates all spaces, religious or mundane, physical or metaphysical.
The elemental intelligence of fire, Agni, is one of the most important forces in Vedic esotericism and the foundation of the Vedic system of medicine, Ayurveda. One could easily say that Vedic gnosis and Ayurveda are literally systems of incendiary revelation, transformation, protection, and healing, “systems of Fire.”
As said in the Rig Veda I.1.1: “I invoke Agni, the Priest, Deity, and Master of Sacrifice!”
And the Katha Upanishad 2.1.13: “That being, the size of a thumb, is like a flame without smoke. He is the lord of time, past and future, the same today and tomorrow. He, verily, is the immortal Self.”
The metaphors of Agni are potent messages for the modern world. In dark times we must invoke the Inner Flame, the Inner Priest, the Master of the Sacrifice of our lives.
Our lives should be lived and embodied in such a manner as to stoke the flame of the Soul, calling upon Agni, our inner guide, to awaken within the flesh and blood and to awaken within the space of our mind.
We must awaken the fires of the mind and body to guide and protect as we undertake the arduous journey of self-transformation and Self-Realization amidst the darkness of the modern world. The fire of the mind is in many ways the most important fire we must stoke and cultivate as it is that which guides our attention and focus, and that houses our deepest goals and aspirations.
Yoga psychology provides deep insights into the fire of the mind when revealing the five states of the mind: deluded, distracted, restless, focused, and a type of deep calm disassociation.
We must take the time to examine the actual state of our minds if we wish to achieve any type of significant self-transformation whether it be mental or physical! We must determine if we are calm, focused and not distracted by mundane ephemeral desires in order to navigate the darkness of the modern world.
The mind is constantly fed false images and information via the media and societal conditioning, a type of mental manipulation created by a steady intake of “mental junk food”. Our intake of impressions is literally a type of food for the mind and our mind is created on a day-to-day basis by this intake, termed manasic aharas in Sanskrit.
To truly build the foundation of individual liberation and self-transformation, we must cultivate a “fire of wisdom” or jnanagni and a “fire of detachment” or vairagya-agni. This is a complex subject with many diverse practices however one of the most important methods for cultivating both of these mental fires is by closely controlling what we feed the mind. The study of sacred literature is one fundamental method for cultivating these mental fires. What do you spend the majority of your time reading? This is as important as what you are eating.
We are fueled by our mental nutrition just as much if not more than our physical nutrition. We should detach ourselves from senseless and shallow mental intake and feed our mind on words which inspire, transform and challenge us.
This can be heightened by setting aside special time for reading sacred literature creating personal rituals with texts and taking time to journal after reading to assure that we are digesting the mental intake. The use of physical texts is important in this practice, moving away from digital “books” and allowing ourselves to hold the text, trace the text with our heart and hands making notes in our own words into the body of the text, transforming the text into a talismanic device for self-transformation. When we do this, we can create a sacred ritual space every time we open the book and feed our mind.
Another important method for cultivating the mental fire of wisdom and the fire of detachment is to spend time at the end of each day gazing into a physical flame. We can sit and create a fire or light a candle and bring our focus and attention into the elemental intelligence and offer into the flame our worries and frustrations, as a symbol of our offering these into the fire of the Soul, the true cremation ground of our Being.
We should fall asleep each evening offering all worries and frustrations into the fire of our Soul and know in our deepest core that we gave all we had within us on this day leaving behind all mental ghosts and shadows. This is an important practice to clear the mind before entering into the night of sleep so important for mental rejuvenation.
We can even write down our worries and fears on pieces of paper and offer these into the flame allowing it to burn away all mental obfuscations. This is a very powerful method for ritualistically clearing the mind-space each day and should be practiced frequently to clear the dross of the mundane world from clouding the vision of the Soul which is the true source of our mental fire.
We can also create simple rituals to the five elements to clear the mind on a daily basis. Flowers represent the element of Ether, Incense the element of Air, light or flame the element of Fire, offering of food the element of Water, and the scent released via the liberated essential oils the element of Earth. This is why pure incense is so vital for clearing the mind and mood, as incense can even represent all five elements: the herbs as water and earth, the lighting as fire, the smoke as air and the lingering scent as ether.
This is a simple ritual offering which anyone can offer on a daily basis to honor the five elements and clear the mind-space of the residue of the daily world. When we do this simple ritual act each night before retiring, we can enter into the sacred Night of sleep without the dross of the mundane weighing us down and awake rejuvenated and inspired the following day.
Cultivating a dedicated and consistent meditation praxis is also vital to stimulating the protective fire of the mind. When we spend time in silent meditation we allow our senses, the gateways unto the Soul, to rest and rejuvenate. We can use the element of fire as a visual symbol in meditative states as well as using the actual building of the fire or offering of the elements during ritual as a pre-meditative state of contemplation.
The stronger the fire of our mind, cultivated by deep study, meditation and sacred contemplation, the less likely we are to be manipulated; we can manifest our true Soul potential in a world empty of Soul essence; we can navigate the dense forest of the world with our Soul as compass without fear of being lured off the path by egoic manipulation or fear.
The mental fire is in essence the reflection of the Soul providing guidance and protection for all who can manifest the flame. The fire of the body is also our key elemental force for protection and guidance. This corporeal flame manifests as a fever in the prodromal signs of viral infection and gastric enzymes which cook and digest our intake of food to name just some basic examples.
Through dedicated physical exercise and physical training, we are able to stoke the corporeal flames and vitalize the physical body keeping it warmed with the fire of our Elan Vital. The unique aspect of physical training is that it takes time to manifest, revealing the instrumentality of time or Kala. With patient and dedicated physical training we cultivate a deep flame referred to as tapas, a type of creative incubative heat which also functions on the mental level as well.
This is why physical training is so important: not only does is stoke the flames of the body, it also cultivates a deep level of mental fire as well. This is why the practice of marital arts is so powerful for physical and spiritual transformation. Over a lifetime of dedicated study to martial arts, we are transforming our mind and body into a sacred alchemical alembic, a true temple of the Soul. We have stronger bodies, yes, but we also forge stronger minds — two key tools for navigating the feral currents of the turbulent modern world.
Fire can be passed on via thought, word and deed as the fire of inspiration. This is why the aspect of brotherhood or sisterhood is so vital in the modern world. Bonds formed on the battlefield are forged in the flames of the dark night of the Soul, and this is adumbrated in the bonds formed among fellow practitioners of martial arts or spiritual communities.
The modern world offers an ersatz vision of supposed individuality yet this is a marketing image, an empty promise which in actuality is a camouflaged method of standardization and commodification; everyone becomes like everyone else and any flame of individuality is stamped out with a boot on the face.
We can stand together in brotherhood or fraternity and support one another by accepting the responsibility of the cultivation of the inner flames and pass these on, keeping the primordial Flame of Agni alive in the darkened modern world. We must become like flames lighting up the world with our creations, passions and achievements and, in turn, pass this flame on to our brothers and sisters who have earned the right to accept it.
When we gather together around a fire we are awakening this mytho-poetic ideal and calling upon the Soul to incarnate within the flesh and blood transforming us into incendiary vessels of fiery individuality, each flame being unique in its own shape and form yet radiating a collective fire which can slash and burn the egoic parasites awaiting us in the modern age.
In the darkest hours of the night spend time gazing into a fire. Listen to the voices of the flames as they are awakened from their sleep hidden deep within matter. This is the symbol of the Soul manifesting Its presence in the material world so empty of vitality; this is the living reality of the awakened flesh and pulsing blood. Listen to this Soul resonance deep into the night and always remember that you carry this primordial flame within the mind and the body. Agni is your constant companion, the witness of your birth, and the solace of your death. The flame is you.