In the Chinese 5-Element system, the season of summer is associated with the element of fire.
The events taking place in our world right now — coronavirus, the racial equality movement — invoke the qualities of fire.
We are in fire season.
This is our collective trial-by-fire.
These “cultural fires,” at first glance, feel destructive.
COVID–19 has now killed over 500,000 people around the world and 115,00 in the United States.
Beyond the human toll, it’s also destroyed our way of life: work and school routines, how we gather in community, how we pray, how we travel, how we shop. It’s killed graduations, proms, weddings, and funerals as we once observed them.
Fire destroys, but it also illuminates. COVID has illuminated both deep flaws in our systems and just how many jobs can be done remotely. It’s not all bad — some people have discovered a new way of living and working that they hadn’t before considered to be possible.
The Black Lives Matter movement and renewed passion for racial equality have destroyed the naivite of white people who wanted to believe we weren’t part of the problem. The fire of this movement has illuminated for us the depths of this systemic problem, and the degree to which we were blindly complacent in perpetuating it.
The effects of these events are that the old systems and structures are falling: the way we work and live, old ways of policing, processes and protocols.
Maybe you look around and see only destruction. Everything you have known about how the world works and your place in it has been upended. Perhaps things you thought you knew about yourself have been destroyed.
You may be longing for a return to how things were. But that’s not how it works.
As we have seen in states that tried to open up too soon and go back to how things were, there is no going “back to normal.”
A trial-by-fire is something you go through in order to emerge on the other side. We are crossing a bridge and burning it down.
Consider: What if the fire of destruction is necessary to create a new way of being?
Fire is also an element of creation. It is an alchemical agent — helping us take one thing and turn it into something else. Fire sterilizes water to make it drinkable and cooks food to make it edible. It offers heat and light.
All destruction also involves creation, and all creation also involves destruction; we cannot have one without the other.
One way that fire’s destruction leads to creation is by burning away what is no longer necessary.
Each of us has this awakened being within us; a core of love and inner goodness, a compassionate and wise heart. It’s like a golden orb that sits in the center of our being.
To protect it, we layer over it with masks and armoring. These layers insulate us from the harshness of the world.
A trial by fire burns away these protective layers. It strips us of all that no longer serves us, and illuminates our inner truth and the radiance that lives within.
What Does This Mean For You?
Now that you know we are in a fire season, what do you do with this information?
A few tips:
- Seek out guides who have navigated through fires before.
- Learn how to work with fire without being burned.
- Look at your life and decide what’s most worth saving and what you’re willing to release into the fire.