For the love of good fire: Bonfire

“Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
Where everything shines as it disappears.”
-Rainier Maria Rilke

Just before dusk, I built another bonfire. I had limbs and logs, fallen from live oaks and water oaks that grow on Allee de Lune. They needed to be burned of course, but I intuitively long to sit by an open fire and it is my favorite part of winter. Now as summer approaches, a fire keeps mosquitoes at bay out here in the jungles of the South Carolina sea Island of Edisto.

The word Bonfire is said to be a contraction of “bone fire”, but may derive from the French for “good” and refer to any “good fire.” The practice is believed to derive from the Celtic festival of Samhain when animal bones were burnt to ward off evil spirits. My artist self is fed, for whatever reason, by the ever changing dance of a bonfire. The colors and heat of the leaping flames fuel my imagination. A fire for me “clears the air” and renews, in some way, my ‘fire within’ – my energy – what stirs me. My love of a bonfire is like a painting I start without knowing what it is about. I just need to make it. Later I will know why. It is about trusting the process. Sort of like life and those wise folks who suggest our taking it one day at a time.

So of course, to confirm the principle of serendipidy a book arrived in last week’s mail, one that spoke to exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it, a book I even forgot I ordered late one night with the seductive one click button, from an Amazon used book seller. Dancing in the Flames, is about dancing in the heat of what life offers, about mining our dreams, about inviting the unconsciousness that lives in the dark to come out to dance. It is another invitation to courageously live in the heat of a life lived fully. Anais Nin wrote that “woman is the mermaid with her fish-tail dipped in the unconscious.” Living here so close to ocean, I like that image.

So I think the bonfire is invitation for me to be brave. To be willing. Not to be afraid of a little heat – a reminder that a good fire lights the dark places and burns out the chaff. And according to the alchemists of the ages past, there is a process involving fire that, in the end, yields pure gold – the purest, most fragile gold leaf – coming from the experience of playing with a little fire. Imagine that.

I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

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Posted in art, Arts & Culture, beauty, creativity, Poetry, religion, spirituality, Writing
8 comments on “For the love of good fire: Bonfire
  1. kk7002 says:

    Another inspiring post by you. Thank you! The photo is great, too. It actually is glowing. Recently, I came across this fitting musing on fire: “…Fire represents the heating factor that burns the past and brings rebirth. In Alchemy, fire is the element of metamorphosis and distillation. …”
    Cheers, Kirsten

    • Sometimes people add to the ‘available stock of reality’ in this life. Leibe Kirsten, you are one of those. Thank you for being a fellow pilgrim on this journey of metamorphosis. Here’s to the fire, my redheaded friend.

  2. Roy Coker says:

    Just came across your blog recently and really enjoy it. My wife and I have been making a pilgrimage to Edisto every year since 1985. It refreshes our soul each time. We may not be able to, but we would love to retire there. For us, it is paradise. I look forward to reading your blog more in the future.

    Roy Coker

  3. Jae says:

    Loved this one Charlotte it reminded me of a night when I was sitting by the fire with my son, he started asking questions about “Big Foot”. The glow of the fire on the trees made the trunks of the tree look like there were a thousand faces…so I weaved a story. The bonfire gives you inspiration, the ability to be mystical in today world of technology and logic. We who are story tellers and artist love the fire because it opens our third eye to the other world. Its sister water also gives us entrance to a deep place of imagining.

  4. featherheart says:

    Wonderful post Charlotte. I was hooked as soon as I saw the quotation by Rilke (one of my favorites)…. and now I’ve got to look for that book! Love your blog!

  5. Alan says:

    very nice – reminds me of the great bonfires we have had at the farm. haven’t been to your blog in way too long – looking good, lady.

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What’s this?

Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.

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