Lighting a Fire

Fire in fireplaceby Tanis Helliwell

I think continually of those who were truly great…

The names of those who in their lives fought for life.

Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.” Stephen Spender

Joys of a Wood Fire

Living in rural British Columbia I heat with wood. A wood fire gifts all our senses. It brings light to darkness, warmth for comfort, cracking for companionship and smells of good times sitting around campfires that hearken back to our ancient animal-like beginnings.

Being brought up in cities I know a great deal about heating with oil, gas, even electricity. All you have to do is turn that little knob on your wall to 70 degrees and voila you have heat.  Heating with wood is a different story and, among other things,  a great teacher of patience. Not that I have started from scratch. In my former condo  I had a temperamental fireplace and so had learned the benefits of fire starters and processed logs. No such crutches assist me now.  I’ve gone cold turkey into the world of fire lighting skill … ……or not.

I have two wood stoves in my current home. The largest one is situated in the kitchen, surrounded by three solid brick walls and lighting it, even for me,  is fairly fool proof. Pull out the two knobs, one to open the damper  to let in oxygen and the other to make sure the fire burns fast and hot to start. Then I put in some paper,  kindling, light it and poof …a fire. Then I add larger pieces of wood, push the knobs back in and I have  a good fire for five to eight hours.

Small is Beautiful

I know that my large wood stove in the kitchen will keep me warmer,  but I’ve formed an attachment to my little wood stove in the living room. It has a glass door and I can watch the fire and hear it crackling.  All very cozy. However,  lighting it and keeping the fire going requires skill—skill that has taken me a year to acquire. Last year  I tried several times without success and finally abandoned  the idea while taking heart at my ability to keep the larger wood stove going. I have even received some comfort that the kings and queens of fire lighting find it difficult to light my little stove. Each of these men and women, who have taught me fire tending,  have added to my knowledge and  this autumn, backed by their teachings,  I decided to try again….and succeeded.

By persisting in learning how to light my little stove I have had learned much more than if I had easily achieved my goal. It has been a wonderful teacher to me and each time I succeed in lighting it now I pat myself on the back again. Its greatest gift to me has been to increase my patience and  I have learned several  things from this experience that carry over into other aspects of my life. I would like to share these with you.

Plan Ahead

The most important thing  we need both to start a fire and to keep it going is to use dry wood. Some wood, like maple, takes up to a year to dry so it is essential to plan a year ahead I have found that this lesson applies to many aspects of life where planning ahead prevents crisis.

Diversity Creates Better Options

Not all types of wood burn the same. Fir, for example, burns hotter and longer than poplar or ash, but  the later woods are easier to light. This means that by employing diverse woods at different times we will be able both to easily light the fire and keep it going for a long time. People exhibit many of the characteristics I have noticed in wood. Some people, like ash, are enthusiastic and quick to start new things, but they might have a tendency to  lose their enthusiasm over the long term. Other people are more like fir. They may be slower to start, but they will keep their energy  and commitment burning longer.  We need  the characteristics of ash and fir, of enthusiasm and  persistence, if we are to be successful both in starting projects and in seeing them through to completion.

Dream Big and Start Small

To start a fire we need  kindling and small pieces of wood. Putting large pieces on a flickering flame will only put it out. Do we have a big dream, like a roaring fire, that we want to manifest? Perhaps we want to have a healing centre,  to be Prime Minister or to be financially independent . Each big dream needs to start with kindling which are the small steps necessary to light our fire. Our small steps could be to learning a healing technique,  joining a political party or consulting a financial planner.  By achieving these steps we get our fire going. Only then,  can we add more wood in the form of speaking to others about a healing centre,  running for political office, or investing our money wisely.

Prevent Smoke

I used to think it was good to see the fire smoke as that meant it was going. Not so. Smoke smothers a fire. In life, smoke can take the form of clouding our minds with negative thoughts or of associating with negative people. Negativity will put out the fire of our enthusiasm and let’s not do it.

Oxygen is Essential to Health

A fire needs oxygen,  both to get it going and to keep it going. We create this by pulling out the damper or leaving the door of the stove open a bit to give the fire more oxygen. People, like fires, also need oxygen in order to have a healthy body that is full of energy for doing things. The brain, for example, consumes more oxygen than any other organ and if we want to have ‘ah has’ and creative thoughts we had best feed it. We can increase oxygen by vigorous exercise or by walks in nature.

Conserve Your Energy

Once the fire is burning  we do not want to waste wood. So reduce the oxygen supply and damp down the fire so that the fire will burn longer and put out more heat. In life we must also learn to conserve our energy  to achieve the most with the least amount of effort. How is that possible? The first thing is remember that once our fire is well lit a momentum is created, and it takes less effort to keep it going. This is the time to relax, move into enjoyment and don’t  interfere with the fire. Too often I have tinkered with a fire that’s doing fine only to gutter it. I am learning to wait longer before intervening and trust the fire to keep going.

Recommit During Setbacks

I discovered that despite my increased fire tending skill the fire occasionally will not light or, having lit, goes out.  Occasionally by adding a bit more paper or kindling  and blowing on the embers I am able to re-start it. Sometimes, however, even this does not work and I have to take the old log out of the stove and start again from scratch. I noticed that initially when this happened I reinvigorated my past history of failure with fires and thought it was my fault. Now however, I realize that  despite my best efforts sometimes what we have come to depend on working just does not work. That’s life. So I no longer blame myself, the stove or the wood I just patiently start again.

Tanis Helliwell is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (IIT), which since January 2000 has offered programs to assist individuals to become conscious creators to work with the spiritual laws that govern our world. Tanis, a mystic in the modern world, has brought spiritual consciousness into the mainstream for over 30 years. Since childhood, she has seen and heard elementals, angels, and master teachers in higher dimensions.

Tanis is the author of Summer with the Leprechauns, Pilgrimage with the Leprechauns, Embraced by Love, Manifest Your Soul’s Purpose, Decoding Your Destiny and Take Your Soul to Work.

For information on courses and services please visit www.