Weaponizing Fire

Ah, Monday. Yesterday was record warm and windy; Saturday was just record warm. Today is seasonably cool and dark, thick cloud blocking much of January’s wan sunlight.

The weekend was not just record warm. In much of New England temperatures were six or seven degrees above the old records for the date. This, probably inevitably, was both a welcome intermission in an already warm winter, and fuel for discussions of climate change.

Some very accomplished meteorologists spoke about the warmth and, noting this is an El Nino year, encouraged viewers not to ascribe the heat to climate change. Climatologists seemed to have a different take. Certainly record warm occurs during some strong El Ninos, but record highs have historically been mostly a degree or two above those of the previous record. In the last decade, this has changed, with the differential steeply climbing. Was our weekend warmth driven by climate change? Probably. Was El Nino the means of delivery? Probably.

I’ve been thinking about Ipu, my friend and teacher. He was a guardian of the Amazon and her people who passed away more than a decade ago. I am sad he is gone, yet happy he does not have to witness the destruction of so much, and so many, he loved.

I have been remembering Ipu and his beloved Fire Ceremonies. I remember being with him at his compound on the Amazon’s River Negro. Each day for several days we prepared for a fire ceremony, and each day just as we were about to light the sacred Fire the skies opened up and there was a deluge. After four days we stopped trying.

Now the Fire Ceremony is conducted with the intention of bringing the participants and the world into balance with Fire. Paradoxically, that year drought had come to the Amazon so it was peculiar that the rains only came as we were about to do ceremony, and lasted only long enough to make fire starting impossible. I wonder, was it coincidence (I doubt it) or spirit’s commentary on the already intensifying use of fire to destroy the Amazon? We shall never know for sure.

Ipu used to say that in his many decades of “doctoring” he had never encountered a patient who was truly “possessed”. He often wondered about the West’s obsession with possession, and noted that many shamans had died at the stake over the centuries of European oppression. Such deaths were often clergy’s attempt to address their fear of the devil’s possession of individuals and cultures. Fear and projection are powerful forces!

Clearly, Fire can be, and often is weaponized. In this year in which much of the world has experienced unprecedented wildfires, we can safely say that fire is being used as a weapon against the dreams and aspirations of Pachamama, the poor, and Indigenous people everywhere. Fire has become a means of possessing the land at the expense of all beings, as are the lies and misinformation that are used to justify its use. Even in the myriad instances when the fires are not set, governments” refusal to acknowledge their implications becomes a form of weaponization.

I wonder, were Ipu with us now would he see our leaders’ firm denial of climate change as possession? If so, I imagine he would not try to force out the devils. Rather, he would bargain with the devils in an attempt to free the politician’s souls. But he would only have done so at the politicians’ request and with their permission.  I like the image of the politician”s approaching an aging shaman for help!

Certainly Ipu would have approached aiding them with gentleness and concern. He would not tolerate a scorched Earth policy, even for a “good cause”.


14 thoughts on “Weaponizing Fire

      1. Right now I am having issues sleeping. I have lost too many people recently. Time to burrow in under my comforter. Fear is a weapon, I realize. I will remain calm. Thank you Michael. I appreciate you!

      2. Lara, you are more than welcome.

        The other night I had a phone conversation with a friend who is a physician. She lost friends and patients who she loved last week. She works too much. We talked about being older and life being brief, and about the necessity of being here for our loved ones, moments of magic, and the beauty of the world. Yesterday I met with clients who expressed profound anxiety about the world, and noted how that anxiety dredges up prior trauma.

        Then last night I sat with about twenty very diverse people and we talked about the state of the world, and the challenge of remaining present. Afterwards, I awoke twice, feeling with dread. This morning dawned dark gray, as though Mordor were on our doorstep. Thee was an email from a friend about a group of New Age shamans who are influencing some of her students. Sometimes I wonder whether we all live in the same universe. Anyway, I grabbed a camera and headed to the marshes which were beautiful.

        Maybe we can remind each other to sleep well and keep breathing?

  1. A lovely recount of your friend, the Amazon shaman’s wisdom and knowledge. Gentle souls like Ipu are frequently not acknowledged. Indigenous ways and coloniser ways are at odds.

    At this time of intense fire, a lot of people are drawing attention to Aboriginal ways of managing the landscape. It is an interesting development as most of the time white Australia dismisses Aboriginal knowledge of Country.

    However our current Liberal “leaders” are too white and too arrogant to listen. They are too reactive.

    I suspect that when rain comes, most people will go back to being complacent. And the argument will be rehashed when fire comes again.

  2. Nice memories about your friend Ipu, Michael. He sounds like a special caring human. We could use more of his kind as leaders in our world.
    The fires all over are very terrifying and so many souls loose their life for greed.
    I talked with my son shortly ago and we came to talk about the changing weather too. I moved from Denmark in August 2012 and in the last 3 winters before, we had snow and some years so much, that it was difficult just to walk outside.
    My son told me, that this winter hasn’t even been really cold, not yet, and he didn’t remember last time, as they had snow laying for more than a day or so.
    Here in Spain, where I live right now, it can be cold in the night, but real winter we don’t have. I moved to Murcia area in December last year and here is also more warm than usual, also in the winter.
    It would be nice, if we could learn to take better care of our world, also the politicians.

    1. Irene, the El Nino does impact much of the world with increased warmth. Still, the level of warmth is unnerving isn’t it? I am in touch with people in many parts of the world and everyone’s climate is out of order. Still, we can enjoy the world and do what we can to change things.

Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.