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From Campfires to BBQ´s, Fire Rituals are how Humans Celebrate Summer

2019, Jun 21 | A Practice for Summer

STORYTELLING: THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

Burn baby, burn.  This is no disco inferno. SUMMER is HERE! And are you all fired up? In Copenhagen we ARE! Bonfires were burning all over Denmark at the summer solstice.  Why? Well those pesky evil spirits begone from the fields.  The food, it needs to grow so we can guarantee a good harvest and life in the dark and lean season. After all, what comes after the longest day of the year? The darkness begins to return as the long march through the regenerative cycle of the year winds down from renewal to death. Mmmmhmmm…that is deep and dark and scary.  And for all of those emotive reasons, we humans have developed rituals that help us to bond and control and feel secure. When the only thing there is to be secure about, is change. ⠀That is why for millennia people in Northern Europe have burned bonfires at the summer solstice, particularly as the growing season is so very short this far north where sunlight is a precious commodity most of the year!

Bonfires are built to ward off evil spirits so that the crops, they grow!

We try so hard to control, to make things work in our favour. Yet, at the same time, we know on a certain level that we have to surrender.  That the idea that we control the future (or nature!) is an illusion.  The tradition of building bonfires on midsummer to ask evil spirits to leave the crops alone embodies our understanding of both. Ultimately, what we are doing when we build that bonfire and watch the flame burn is letting go of our fears, surrendering ourselves to the outcome of whatever weather or pests shall come as the planted crops grow.  AND…at the height of the year! Midsummer! The longest night of the year! We see our lust for LIFE in the flames. ⠀

What stories lurk in your favourite summer rituals? 

BEGINNER´S MIND

Why does the living feel easier in summer?

This is the Beginner’s Mind question that will aid you in your nature relatedness practice by expanding your curiosity and helping you build your fluency in the language of nature – a language you intuitively know as nature is not something that is OUT there, it is everywhere you are because you too are a part of nature. Asking questions is a critical part of developing a deeper understanding of what it means to be fully human and to not just tune into what makes you tick, but to develop new knowledge that helps you translate thoughts into more eco-friendly actions that serve you and the planet.  Here´s something to chew on in this week that summer arrives:

RITUAL: Give me S’more of those fiery days of summer!

Be it a woodland campfire or a backyard barbecue, come summer we humans love to sit outside around an open flame. This is nothing new.  Our early ancestors used to ritually jump through rings of fire to honour the fertility of high summer.  A “sure fire” way to pregnancy, literally, so they thought. Honestly, can you really deny that there is something primal about cooking over an open flame.  It takes our high tech world back to basics.  

Why do we love sitting around a campfire so very much?

It isn´t just the s´more that tastes so damn good.  It is the sound of crackling wood, the scent of smoke and burning marshmallow, the warmth of glowing embers that soothes our soul on some level.  A deep level that helps us appreciate the elements and our connection to all of nature.  Why? Because you too are a part of nature.

Most all of us practice nature relatedness with fire rituals in the summer.  Yeah, that might sounds bonkers.  But, it happens!  Unless you are the ghost of Johnny Cash, you probably aren´t playing around with burning rings of fire. Yet, you are probably ritualistically sitting around one from time to time and LOVING it.  Why?  Asking that question is that beginning of a mindset change towards living a more nature related life.  And rituals, like campfires, are ways to transition thoughts into actions to begin living a life that more sustainably mirrors your values.  

We need to change our mindsets before we can develop new behaviours that support well-being for all. Slow down and stare into the embers of a campfire or a grill this summer and tune into how it makes your body feel and then ask yourself WHY.  In this way, your BBQ becomes a meditation that helps to reinforce the fact that as a human you are a part of nature, constantly in exchange with all other parts of nature.  To experience the mental well being impacts of a nature relatedness practice which evolve into behaviour change in all aspects of your life, deeply absorbing your identity AS nature is essential.  Let summer show you the way.