The impossible IS possible

20 May 2013
Written by Vanessa Kenny
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Mind over matter often is all it takes to overcome our deepest fears, as Vanessa MacDonald discovered when she took part in a fire-walking ceremony


My journey to wellbeing has always been varied and maybe a little unusual. I have always been interested in the mind/body connection and fascinated with how these two aspects influence our human/spirit. My quest for an understanding of such things has led me down some interesting paths, some of which I shall continue to share in the pages of MyMag.

Many years ago while living in Scotland I came across a notice advertising a fire-walk. As a seeker of adventures and new experiences I decided a fire-walk was the next one to be had.  Crazy? Maybe.  Naive? Probably.  Scared? Most definitely! Yet still the lure of walking a path of the ancient ones was calling me. 

According to (yes, there actually is one!):

‘The ancient practice of, fire-walking is considered a wonderful example of the mind-body connection at work and a means of demonstrating that we do have control over the process. Fire-walking has apparently been practised for centuries by shamans, priests and ordinary folk as a religious ritual and as a healing ceremony.'  I’m guessing I’m the ordinary folk.

Since pre-recorded history, cultures all over the world have practised the ancient art of fire-walking and fire-dancing rituals. Romans were exempted from paying taxes if they could demonstrate their ability to walk on fire without burning. Kung bushmen in Africa used fire dance as a powerful healing ritual for their tribe. Their ceremony not only included fire-walking, but also rolling on the fire. In Bali, fire-dancing is the coming of age ritual for seven-year-old girls. The Greek Anastenarides danced on hot coals for hours to honour Saint Constantine and Saint Helen. The Kahunas of Hawaii let molten lava harden just enough to hold their weight before walking on it. 

There is even reference to fire-walking in the Bible. I’m feeling very worthy now.

Travelling down to Strathearn in Perthshire - not the most likely of places to walk across hot coals – I contemplated the idea. My mind was bubbling with possibilities and ideas and I almost always finish these internal chatterings with 'well if other people have done it, it must be okay'. I swear there is logic in there somewhere!

Our day started with talks about the history of fire-walking and a safety brief.

First off we were instructed to use our energy and mind to chop a 3-inch-wide block of wood with our bare hands to gear us up for the fire-walk. How that prepares one for walking over hot coals, I dared not ask, but I swiftly realised it was a mental build-up, albeit an interesting one.

Being a determined kinda girl, my first attempt at using my hand to chop through a solid wood block ended in searing pain through my hand and an unbroken block - OUCH! The second time though my mind must have strengthened somewhat because, blow-me-down, a clean sweep, no pain whatsoever and a beautifully broken block of wood lying on the ground. The relief and adrenaline was strong and for a few minutes I felt like a kung fu master and contemplated a new direction in martial arts.

I admit I felt powerful and strong, invincible and a little surprised at how nicely my second attempt went. It got me to pondering how I got it so wrong first time around. My second attempt felt effortless compared to my initial brute force approach – ah well, I live and kind of learn.  

So lesson number one: with conscious effort and focus (putting brute force aside) I am able to accomplish difficult physical tasks.

Fast forward to later that afternoon and on to the big event. I do remember there was a fair bit of singing and chanting going on. I most definitely was focusing so hard on singing that it helped take my thoughts away from the actual fire-walk - what if I go up in flames, will I be the only one who gets burned?  

Chanting has long been known to be a way of engaging and focusing the mind and I was giving it my all. Then our teacher spoke quietly about feeling for our own timing…when to walk and when not to.

I distinctly remember being amazed watching the first guy walk across, he stepped up fairly quickly, too quickly it seemed as he was the only one who got burned - ah yes, that brute-force thing, I knew that pain well. Then a few others danced across the hot coals and again I watched in surprised at their progress. Somewhere in my head I was thinking if they can, then so can I. Something welled up inside of me, I felt the urge to go and tried to keep my focus, blocking my thoughts from interfering in my newly laid plans. I stepped out and onto the path and then the shock of “I can’t believe my feet aren’t burning” it felt like walking across crunchy popcorn, weird, no temperature and quite disconcerting. I slowly but surely walked to the other side and felt in awe of the experience.

There was no big fanfare at the end as you might expect. But this was Scotland after all and not the USA where I would imagine lots of hollering and whooping would be going on and I’d probably be right in the thick of it. 

There was a quiet respect for the path just walked, the listening to our own inner voice and timing but also the mind shifts of even the impossible is possible. If I can walk across hot coals, what else might I achieve? Indeed.

The fire-walking secrets are in the coal, our feet, our walk and our mind.  Wee words of warning…don’t try this at home.

First Light Flower Essences of New Zealand® were co-created by Franchelle Ofsoske-Wyber and Tony Wyber.
In 2008 Franchelle was awarded the New Zealand Health Industry Distinguished Services Award for Research and Development.




0 #4 Vanessa Kenny 2013-05-25 13:28
@Asa I am glad you enjoyed the article wishes Vanessa
0 #3 Asa 2013-05-21 21:41
Yes, a good read indeed.
0 #2 Vanessa Kenny 2013-05-21 13:05
Thank you for your lovely feedback...bles sings Vanessa
0 #1 Sue 2013-05-21 08:52
A really good read. Well done you!

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