On a warm January day, laying up on the prairie at Harmony Farm, a soft breeze blew threw me. I did not feel the wind on my skin, but heard it in the trees, and then felt it gently move THROUGH my body. Because I did not feel it on the outside, I asked my friend Kate if she heard the wind too. She had, and I was not imagining things. So, the element of the East made itself known in the most gentle, intimate and tangible way it could. I received its blessing, and assurance that the Spirit of the East is present with me at the farm.
I have been wondering when the Spirit of the South, with the element of fire, would make its presence known. And it has. There is a fire burning through me. My skin bubbles and boils in the form poison ivy blisters. In sweat lodge, the most challenging round for me has always been the round in the South…the round of the physical plane. This “round” in the Sweat Lodge of Harmony Farm proves no exception. Every moment I remind myself that I am not my body as I go back inside the burning itch and experience it fully–sometimes pulled back out of my body by the intensity of the sensations. For the most part it is doable, but there are times I want to retreat back to the safety of my previous life…before the bugs…before the ivy…before the sweat, blood and tears. But I know that is not possible, and so I sit in patient acceptance while the fire burns on.
At the advice of my new dear friend and Grandmother, Minisa Crumbo Halsey, I have taken the fire into my heart, so that it does not consume me. I fed it chicken livers, and so it burns hot, but it is no longer insatiably hungry. And I rest in the assurance that the Spirit of the West is coming next. And with that direction comes water. Cool, clear, soothing Sister Water. For now I endure what I know can not last forever. It is leaving its mark, altering my relationship with the land and myself, but will probably not leave a permanent mark on my body. Everything has a purpose, and the purpose of fire is cleansing and purification. What does not destroy me makes me better, stronger, wiser, more flexible and compassionate. And out of this will come that new insatiable young green growth that always follows a forest fire. And in that, I take comfort.