I have my whole life struggled with illness, or rather the struggle was not with illness but with health. Illness was easy, dis-ease came to me freely and without hindrance, but beyond this unhealth, or beneath it, lay a host of other ghosts; depression, P.T.S.D, emotional ineptitude, increasing intolerance to stress. When I recovered from one set of symptoms, more would appear, or old ones return. As I slowly learnt the vagueries of being healthy, I also discovered the roots of health/disease, the dormant seeds of consequence that were there all along. People in the West view illhealth as offensive almost, as a sign of failure. They won't say this and will nod and simper and tut like the best of them, but at the same time inwardly they are painting a cross on your door, and likewise inwardly I would paint a cross on my door. As the emotional foibles and lifestyle misdemeanours fell by the wayside, I began to sense the invisible self, the part of me that was ignored, not looked at; I became aware of how I was building me, everyday, every layer of thought added a multitude of cells. These cells hung about in groups, some were happy, boisterous groups that reflected my happy, energetic thoughts - but others were singularly unfriendly, bitter cells full of self-loathing pallisades.
My health still fluctuates now, except the previoulsy overlooked beginnings of each episode, surface faster, because I let them. Instead of running for painkillers, and antibiotics, I pick up each sensation as it enters my consciousness and I savour it. Maybe it's a horrible sensation of not being able to breath, or of my skin becoming sore - but instead of lookimg away, I look at it. I feel it fully, I allow it to be, after all it is me. You may wonder what this has to do with positive impact living/wilderness survival. Well, once I let these sensations be and withdrew my judgement of them, I realised I was doing what nature does with us all the time. Nature never judges you, it never paints crosses upon you, it does not keep your misdemeanours piled up in it's head to feed upon at a later unforgiving date. Nature simply is. If you want to learn and understand about life you have only to watch your experience of life, the events as the pass, the seasons as they change. As most of us do, you could attach a label of 'good' or 'bad' - but nature doesn't and if you don't too, something amazing happens.
I'm writing this as a prelude to my lessons about fire, and as I am going to write about the creation of a spark, an ember, a coal - the beginning of fire I wanted to set this piece in a psycho-physical context, a bit like fairy tales with their hidden wisdom. I've been feeling a bit low recently, full of an unremitting darkness, that I haven't really allowed until now. I've been constantly keeping it at bay, but it is an appropriate beginning to write about making fire, because it is darkness that waits for us outside the flames of our own making and it is the darkness that we once held childish fears about. It is the darkness that surrounds our planet in an endless space, and it is the darkness that we have to face when we behold our own minds, the origin of ourselves, our souls, our loves, our desires. It is out of the neutrality of nature that we take, wood and stone and fashion tools, that enable us to witness a blaze of flames that eat and devour, fuel and forge, without distinction .
It is strange that human beings are the only ones to judge, to prefer or avoid, to assign assignations, you are this and you are that. It is strange that we all share the same terminal illness called life, a devil of a disease because it strikes without warning, at any time, to any number of us. It is a disease that renders us equal, yet few of us ever acknowlege it, look at it, consider it. Of course we are all forced to eventually. you might think I'm being very pessimistic, well, not at all - I am being very realistic.
Death makes all of our attempts at life utterly meaningless, laughable, ridiculous almost, yet we continue, most of us with our singularly particular neuroses. Our unusually acceptable manner of thinking that bids us to fill our lives with kinds of fascinating objects that allow us to avoid the subject of our own deaths. Nature has a wonderful perspective on death, one that it is continually sharing all the time, it does not consider it either bad or good. Death just is, death just happens, the same way shit happens. Nature does not personalise it, it is us who take it personally. Nature does not ignore life or avoid it, or desire it. Nature simply is and does. Fire is a magical experience, it creates, it destroys. Fire is life supporting and life thwarting, but it is a dispassionate entity, it requires fuel, oxygen, structure, and heat to exist - the right conditions and so do we. We require the right conditions and they as I understand it, are rare, and precious and hard to come by. When you are in need of a fire, you must fulfil the conditions. The outcome is fire, the results of the energies of fuel, air, a source of heat and a structure. We share a similar number of requirements for our existence; there are always; a place/time that we are in, a lesson to be learned, a teacher to teach, and a student to learn. Those are our human conditions. When these are fulfilled we have fire, it may be a smouldering ember, a spark, or a blazing hearth. When you go out to gather your tinder, to collect your kindling, to chop and store logs for the winter, to cut peat or gather dried dung; share the impassive eye of nature and all these ingredients will be within reach, for though nature does not seem to act in it's own interests - allowing itself to be chopped, exploded, flooded, built upon, tarmac'd etc, it extends from the reach of your fingertips all about you and is no more seperate from you than all that is in contact with you right now. So when you hold the thought that it is tinder you are after, and into your head pop images of tall dry cattail heads, rosebay willow herb fluff, clematis or old mans beard; or bark (birch, western red cedar), scraped and buffed up, or char cloth that you've carefully prepared in a tin - whichever, don't forget to remain aware of who it is that is searching for tinder, of what is observing the hedgerow. Don't forget to question the origins of you, or the lesson that is to be learned in this very moment, the purpose of darkness and the light you search for to fill it. It may be that in the substance that we surround the emptiness of ourselves with, is always burning with the very brightness of our own minds.
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tags - Fire, making fire, birch, betula pendula, uses of, structure, heat, oxygen, fuel, ancestors, tribes, match, tinders, resins,
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