With summer coming to a close and the wildfires burning in Siberia, the Amazon, and 1255 wildfires burning in the USA, I thought it was a good time to talk about working with the element of Fire. We all know that Fire is about power, transformation, will, and action. Most westerners do that part very well. In fact, we are called the Fire People.
But everything has a yin and a yang. The other side of fire is responsibility. If you look at the wildfire situation, I am sure at least some of those fires could have been avoided had someone exercised more responsibility. Without balance, Fire can take on very destructive qualities. Anything out of balance can be damaging.
Working with the element of Fire means allowing your ideas (Air element) to come to life. Put some effort and diligence (Earth) behind them to manifest them. Without the Earth, they are just wishes (Air). Add your love/emotion (Water) and you’ve created something holistic.
Yet our dreams have to be grounded in responsibility. Power run amok leads to violations of Sovereignty. We all have a responsibility to consider the impact of our actions on our fellow human beings and our brothers in the plant, animal, mineral, and Spirit kingdoms. We are not alone. Animism sees us in the web of life. What we do ripples out into the world in ways that are unseen. When our actions are grounded in love and responsibility, those unintended consequences tend to be positive and life giving.
So many people want to be chief. They want power. They want to be able to call the shots and not be subject to anyone else’s will because they are afraid of vulnerability. So they may grab or utilize power in ways that are not healthy or in ways that they are not yet ready for. Here are some examples:
- parentified children
- unearned privilege (maleness, being part of the majority culture)
- buying titles, positions, or experiences that they did not earn
- deliberately keeping others out or down
- holding positions of authority like judge, policeman, politician,
Here are some examples of how power (Fire) is abused:
Cyclists speed along a path designed for hikers expecting the hikers to hear them and make way even though the hikers have the right of way.
A driver cruises in the left hand lane preventing others from using it as a passing lane.
A college applicant with lower grades gets into prestigious school over one with higher grades because his parent went to that school.
A professor makes Buddhist and Asian jokes and dismisses it by saying “You know I don’t mean it.”
The drunk driver kills someone and gets off with a suspended sentence because he has a fabulous lawyer.
A workplace has a culture where men expect women to clean up after them, get them coffee, tolerate sexual innuendo and being touched.
A boss suddenly extends his vacation leaving his subordinate to work late to cover his duties.
A teacher asks his student for a hug. The student doesn’t want to, but doesn’t feel like she can refuse.
Someone offers a spiritual ritual for sale that is normally closed to outsiders and even some people in that culture, but they have the money, so they can participate.
The person that you’re dating wants sex. It’s too uncomfortable to say no so you go along with it even though you don’t want to.
Power works both ways. It’s up to both people to stand in their power and use their Fire well. However, when the power is unequal, it’s up to the person with more power to look out for the interests of those with less power. That’s what leadership is all about. That’s what the right use of power and healthy boundaries are about.
So, while summer is still here and the fires are raging around the world, use that energy to check in with how you are using your power. Be honest. You may think that you’re in good relationship with others. Look at your behavior to be sure. Look at the way people respond to you for clues. It is not about words or feelings. We are blind to our own stuff. If you want to know how you are using your power, look at your behavior.
Ask for feedback. If you need to make changes, do that. We’re near the Fall Equinox. It’s time for change. The force is with you.