Reconsidering the Elements: Fire
Fire is typically hailed as the creative and destructive element, but since all other elements also have a claim to creativity, you’re then left with destruction or sexual energy.
Which is honestly a bit of a cop out, because then you end up with some very strange Tarot readings with only those two answers for fire!
To understand fire’s role in magic and metaphysics, I think we first need to understand fire’s role in human culture.
I truly believe that without fire, we would have led the same existence as other animals. Without fire, it’s harder to digest animal and plant matter. Without fire, it’s harder to make effective tools. Without fire, it’s harder to stay warm. Without fire, there is no home. Without fire, grasslands would become ineffective and diseased, cutting us off from our main food sources. Without fire, you can’t see in the dark.
Fire is human beings taking something from nature, and controlling it.
The only other beings on Earth to use fire are certain plants, who wait for the grasslands to die, become hot, and eventually flame up, then causing these plants to spread their seeds. They require fire, but they don’t control it.
I think controlling fire the way we do is a purely human idea. Many corvids use tools to get what they want, sometimes even making a tool from something in their environment to aid them. But they don’t use fire. Elephants use tools and higher reasoning, so do chimps, even dolphins.
But none of them use fire.
There are so many myths and legends about fire, from all corners of the globe. Think Prometheus, think Brigid.
Fire is the bit of us that sits behind the eyes, that tells us to push. To explore . To take the other road. Fire is the voice that whispers ‘What if?’
And sometimes, of course, fire leads us astray. Fire is our greatest ally, but also our greatest enemy.
Without control, fire will destroy us. It can wipe away whole cities if left unchecked.
And that, I think, is what fire represents in Tarot, magic, and metaphysics. Control, or the lack of it.
If we control fire, we can live in luxury, with warm air, hot water, hot food and items made of metal, glass and plastic. We can achieve all our dreams with that voice that screams out for more, better, faster.
But if we don’t control fire, we die in agony, with everything we’ve built in ashes.
Fire needs respect, and if you don’t give it, it will run away and take down everything you love.
Fire is something almost unquantifiable in magic terms, it is a process, not a thing. And that is what makes it special.
If you want to work with fire, consider whether you are ready. Consider why you want to work with fire. Any magic that you want to enact great change will benefit from the use of fire.
But of course, use it wisely.