Fire: An Element

I was born into a fire sign, an Aries child in a time of turmoil in the 70’s.  I have always been surrounded by fire symbols and tend to have fire represented in my life in so many ways from passionate exchanges on topics I adore, to a volcanic temper when allowed to erupt.  I am for sure a go-getter and like things to spark, but that is not the path for everyone, however, fire as an element in casting and ritual plays an important part whether you are a water sign, earth sign, or an air sign.  I wanted to look more into the element and the role it can play in my rituals and how I can balance my energies more.

I wrote an article on Ash Wednesday about some of the property of ashes and the energetic significance of that holiday for Christians. Here’s the article link if you are interested in reading it:

Prometheus, who represents forethought, is famous for giving man fire against the wills of the Greek Gods, earning him an eternity of punishment. He was chained to a rock or pillar, as an eagle daily ate his liver.  The liver grew back every night and continuously allowed for Prometheus to endure the daily torture.  Zeus’ gruesome consequence for the gifts of fire and metal work seem to punish Prometheus really for giving humans, the spark of idea.  Interestingly, in Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with wood element and the emotion of anger, an emotion most associated with fire in other traditions. It is also associated with planning and creativity, sudden insights, and immediate solutions to problems.

The alchemical symbol for fire is an upward triangle, the magical tool associated is the wand, the Archangel connected with fire is Michael and in Hindu and Vedic traditions, the deity is Agni and comes in three forms, fire, lightening, and the sun.  The element of fire is often associated with the sun, intention, creation, and light.  In ritual it is the fire under the cauldron, the flame of the candle, the spark of intention with which we create ceremony and spell work. It is the direction of energy with the wand point and with our pointed intentions.

I touched upon the transformative properties of fire in my previous article, and I think that looking further into that is a good place to continue from here. For me ceremonial ash is very powerful.  I use it in many protection and clearing rituals, but it is an end product of an action.  It is the ash from sage or Palo Santo after smudging.  It is the ash of a charcoal circle for herbs in ceremony, it is the ash from wood from my ritual fire and from scrying; it is in essence a by-product of something else. It uses the energy of fire to transform an object into something else with a new form of energy and power.

I have used fire as a purifier as well.  My path is that of a traditional witch and from time to time people who know me pass on to me objects from the natural world.  This can be anything from rocks to animal bones, skins, or other parts. I find that the spirit of these things talk to me and often give instructions on what to do with them. It is not uncommon for them to ask to be released through fire and return the spirit to the original animal. I remember the first time I did this, I was in my early twenties and I was gifted a crow foot that had some bear fur attached through a binding.  The marriage of these two energies was not a happy one and the bear wanted to be released through fire.  I really had to check my ego in my desires to keep the bear fur, something at the time that I valued greatly and did not think I would be able to find again in such a fortuitous manner. However, the spirit of it was so sad and I knew that the right thing to do would be to return it to the fire for purification and release.  It would never provide good medicine or be helpful in magic workings, resulting in both the crow foot and the bear fur being miserable.  Some person had bound them together in a disrespectful way.  Once I unbound them, the energy of such an act nearly blowing me back, allowed each animal to reveal its truest intentions and needs.  The bear indeed needed to be freed, but the crow foot was happy for the unbinding and willing to work with me, so I kept it, but built a fire for that night’s drumming circle.  There was a moment in the drumming when I knew it was time to let go of the fur, and with a blessing, I let it fall from my fingers and into the sacred flames of that fire.  I was overcome with emotion, clearly the spirit of the bear upon its release and found myself faced with the spirit of Grandmother Bear in the dancing flames of that fire.  She thanked me and I knew that it was right what I had done.  The fire had purified and transformed more than just the bear fur that night.  It was a powerful lesson and I keep a small amount of that ash as a reminder of the lesson on ego and release, respectful magic, and the harm we can do when we force our will on the world.

Fire is a powerful element.  It can be the focus in candle magic, lighting the way for energy and spirit alike.  It can be beautiful and also destructive if left unchecked. Many a great fire started with just a spark. I think of weather magic and the power of the lightning here in the desert during monsoon season.  I can feel the electricity in the air and smell the charge of it as it builds; it is an amazing thing to witness and harness for castings.

In Hawaiian culture, the Goddess Pele is dominant over volcanoes and that energy so closely associated with fire and its force.  It is birth and death, like the symbolism of the phoenix, reborn from ash again and again after its own destruction.  Fire is often associated with the underworld as well. Think of hell fires from a Christian belief system or the core of the earth and that molten energy.  It is heat and light, summer, and the return of light at Winter Solstice.  Many of the Celtic rituals are fire rituals, embracing all of the characteristics that fire has to offer.  Fire is a powerful tool when harnessed correctly and devastating when allowed to be mishandled. Think about new ways you can incorporate fire into your ceremonies or really consider the many ways in which you are already using it.  Identifying how it influences you in ceremony can only add a deeper level of understanding in your magical castings.

2016 copyright by Katie Pifer


2 thoughts on “Fire: An Element

  1. Beautiful article; filled with the pure essence of fire, I do have one question though. You associated the tool of the wand as a Fire energy tool, I have always found the wand to be an Air energy tool, generally of Earth based materials, such as wood, and or crystal, would the Fire element associated wands be made of smelted or forged metals? I ask this because I have always used the ceremonial knife, many call it the Athame as my Fire tool.


  2. As I said on my fb page, Jason, my thoughts were of the intention and directed energy of wand in terms of the spark of inspiration and energy as a fire component. Also, my wand has a copper core, metal as well as other materials that made me lean toward a fire element. My athame is steel and bone, also a combination of things, earth and fire, so I suppose it depends on what materials and your perspective.


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