Ireland: The Global Vigil Fire
The End of the Fire (photo by Jón Ágúst Guðjónsson)
A three-day vigil fire by shamans from across the world was held April 24 through 26 in Dunderry Park, Co. Meath, Ireland. Additional fires in support of the vigil-- as many as 100 or more-- were held in other parts of the world. The idea was for about 40 trained shaman of many traditions to gather in Ireland and to dream the world into being, to shift the world into greater peace, abundance, and collaboration, to turn from a personal or community focus to a broader, worldwide one, to put our focus on walking in beauty and gratitude on the earth. We had done this before. We will, I hope, do it again.
When we have such a fire, I am reminded of the Hopi prophecy that when there are a million fires there will be peace on earth, and Pachamama will be healed. I think about this often.
The fire was tended in two-hour shifts. I arrived at about 2 am on Saturday morning in a light but windy rain and fog to find Lisa and Bob and a large, hot, wild fire. My shift with Sinead was to begin at 4 am. All of us stayed until after 8 am to listen to the first birds singing, to watch the sun rise (an important reason for taking the 4-6 am shift), to play, to tend the fire, to talk, to drum, to dance and sing, to offer to the fire and ourselves whiskey and incense and stories and jokes and anecdotes, to send through the fire and out across the planet our desire for peace, abundance, healing and cooperation, our prayers for Mother Earth, Santa Tierra, Pachamama.
Tending the fire might be sacred work, or it might be profane, or it might be a delightful, lovely human mixture of the two. There are no real rules. Except one. It is important to have fun while preventing the fire from being extinguished by rain and wind. The fire must be fed and nurtured. It ought not to go out.
The character of the fire changes, depending on who is tending it. I find that fires I tend are large and wild and quite hot. I like that. Others make the fire peaceful and calm and receptive. Some fires are masculine; others, feminine. Some fires listen, others speak. Some fires bring out singing, others like silence. Some fires bring introspection; others, expression. Fires have qualities reminiscent of personalities, and are both as different and the same, as members of the same species.
In the midst of our tending the fire, a sudden, strong gust of wind managed to rip a tent from the ground and throw it into the pasture. We immediately decided to retrieve it. Bob and Lisa went after it and easily ducked under the electric fence to get the tent. For reasons I do not fully comprehend-- I have an electric fence at my home and have had it for many years-- I thought that the fence must definitely be turned off. And here is the strange part: I decided to check this hypothesis. I have no idea what I may have been thinking, if anything, at the time. Accordingly, I intentionally placed my bare, wet right hand on the already very wet wire. This was not a good idea. In fact, it was a very stupid one. I was immediately treated to a gigantic shock of high amperage and low voltage. I was shocked. Literally. And figuratively. I do not accept that there was a blue spark that jumped from the wire to my hand. I do not perceive that I started to glow. I did immediately growl and roar. And curse. This, I am sure, disturbed the donkeys. I do not think it disturbed my companions, all of whom were surprised by my outburst. There is an irony, of course, that the fence was there to keep jackasses in or out of the pasture. You can draw whatever conclusion you wish from this. I was not, however, mortally wounded. I was ever so embarrassed by the large outpouring of energy I experienced. I consider myself unworthy of such electricity, of such energetic attention. I am now seriously considering becoming a Luddite. I have also reaffirmed my position that electroshock therapy is inhumane and barbaric in all cases.
At the end of the fire, on Sunday morning, we all stopped feeding it, so that it could slowly consume itself. We placed around it all of our prayer bundles, mesas, and malas in blessing, as you see in the photo. When the fire was out, I collected in a small plastic bag some of the ashes. These ashes contained ashes of other sacred fires, fires from Tibet, fires from Africa, fires from North America, fires from Australia, hundreds of fires from sacred sites across the world. I brought the ashes home. They are sitting on my altar. When we have a fire this week, I will add the ashes to my fire circle, and that will add my fire to the web of past and future vigil fires across the world, all asking for peace, abundance and the healing of Pachamama, Santa Tierra.