1-2-3 Fire

You want to know more about fire? Why don’t you just go light one. Safely.

fireWhat other kinds of fire are there in the world? You got some inside you? You got some outside you? Alchemy challenges us to express the wishy-washy non-physical, in a language that lends itself to the material world. To teach a kid about cars I might point at examples like a Mustang, or a Toyota and say “that’s a car”. To understand the car they’d probably have toss a few examples to know the difference between a car and a truck. Maybe they’d go for a car ride and understand cars even more.

But say I wanted to teach that kid about something non-physical like passion or intuition. What would I point to? Maybe one day we’d see a couple kissing and I would say, “that’s passion”. But would the kid get it? Would they understand passion and how it feels in your eyes and how it lifts you a couple inches off the ground? How it can be directed at jobs, and self, and lovers, and ideas? How sometimes it goes really really well, and
sometimes it blows up in your face? I don’t think so. They’d have to see more examples and experience this abstract thing themselves.
candleThe fire concept seeks to teach us about something we might have trouble putting into words. Lucky for us, the fire analogy is not limited to alchemy. It permeates our culture. I could tell you I’m “fired up” and you would know what I’m talking about. There are no shortage of expressions that might help us reflect upon what the alchemist means when they’re talking about fire and heat.

“She’s got a spark in her eyes”
“Keep the home fires burning”
“She’s holding a torch for him”
“I’m about to explode”
“Wow, that’s hot!”
“She sets my pants on fire.”
“Somebody lit a fire under his ass!”
“Candle in the window.”…

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When learning about other aspects of the stone, remember the limitations of language in relation to non-physical. We don’t always have these hints from pop-culture to help us out. Know that you’re not going to understand it just by reading about it. You’re going to need some examples and you’re going to need some experience.