A Filipina Firewalks. Part 1 of 2
I’ve firewalked three times. I’ll tell you how I did it and why. I relate my experience of the two most recent ones in reverse chronology:
January 2, 2014:
It’s morning, I wake up and start walking around. I notice nothing. I do my workout, meditate. Still nothing. I shower and change, then I take out my baon and get ready to go to work.
Then I notice something. The something is nothing. I feel nothing on my feet. My feet feel no pain or tingling!
I sit down and take a look at my feet by the window where sunlight is streaming in. I see clearly that the fire kisses have healed. The small, watering, burn blisters that I’d gotten last night are now dry and closed. They’ve completely healed. I had walked on fiery coals only 10 hours ago.
January 1, 2014:
It’s morning, I’m greeting my mom a happy new year and chatting with her, on the other side of the globe, on Viber.
I just told her I was going to do another firewalk later in the evening. “I know the trick,” mom announces.
“What is it?” I asked, smiling because she’s used to my unusual hobbies by now.
“The coals are NOT hot!” She pipes up. “The part you walk on is black and not hot anymore. The fire is out by the time you step on it.” She seems satisfied with this reasoning.
I laugh. And I tell her that the burning embers I step on are truly hot. I relate to her that I even walked over freshly raked coals when they were glowing red-hot.
“The real “trick” is…” I start out. My mother is quietly listening.
But before I finish telling you readers the trick, I’ll tell you what’s been going on in my life leading to this point.
Again. My devout, Roman Catholic, Philippine mother has come to accept me doing strange things. Things she never would do.
I grew up the normal goody-two-shoes and eldest daughter of three kids. I was popular in school. But as I became an adult I’ve done many things that my mom and none of my family would or will ever… I do paint… but painting? Not unusual—my great-grand uncle Jesse Ayko and cousin Richard paint. Alcohol and smoking—nope, I don’t do that either, but for some people, that stuff’s normal. Still I’ve essentially become the black sheep of the family (without black sheep drama. I get along with almost everyone in my family despite my differing views and hobbies.) After leaving my Bacolod home starting off for college in Manila, I became a student activist, started talking about oppression and injustice, embraced the animist beliefs of indigenous Filipinos, studied and honored the Sacred Feminine, took on a practice of yoga, chanting and meditation, stopped dying my hair before I turned 50, explored fused glass art… and a few other unusual things.
So when I announce something weird like firewalking it does not surprise my mom. I tell my mother a few things about the whole firewalking affair.
Facts about the fire
We walk over embers of cedar wood that burns to over 1100 degrees fahrenheit.
The fire is prepared by a group of women that I personally call the Fire Maidens or Maidens of the Hearth. They are friends of the firewalk facilitator Heather Ash of TOCI and they start a large bonfire with dry cedar wood (plenty of that in the Austin, TX area.)
While the Fire Maidens tend the fire, Heather talks to us about the element of Fire. About our notions of fire of obstacles. Our fear and perceptions of fire and obstacles. What do we do when we encounter fire obstacles in our lives? Do we touch fire and get burned? Do we encounter obstacles, grumble and bitch? Do we call a friend and relate the latest drama of our lives unfolding? Do we scream in frustation? Heathers talks about overcoming obstacles and pre-conceived beliefs. She asks us to identify these and to come up with answers and solutions. I listen to others’ answers and I nod. Yup. That’s what I do. Yup that’s how I get stuck or how I figure it…
Then later Heather teaches us the so-called “trick” to walking on fire. And I tell my mom.
“So, Mom. the trick is to bring up your Num,” I finish telling her. “Num is Kalahari for “energy.”
“Mom, you have to raise your Num or your energy, and bring it up higher to match the energy of the fire.”
My mom actually believes me. Between the two of us, we both respect the fact that there are unexplainable, mysterious things, beyond our comprehension, beyond scientific explanation, happening in our world and the Universe.
I’ll share the other trick and the rest of the details with you in A Filipina Firewalks, Part 2 >
Omehra is also known as Inday Perla, Perla Daly, BagongPinay and NewFilipina.
She has been publishing websites to empower Filipinos for 20 years. More about her art, blogs, events, publishing and organizations at BagongPinay.