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Tending Our Fires in Feng Shui
by Ann-Marie Holmes

Flames flickered in the green "criss cross" of the glass door. And the sounds and sights of our new wood-burning stove mesmerized me. It occurred to me that building fires in a new stove seemed like a perfect metaphor for looking at power in feng shui.

In the instructions with the stove, it was recommended to start with small fires and gradually build larger ones. The directions warned that building too hot a fire would harm the unit. Adapting the stove to its full use was a gradual process.

I watched the whole room shift with the advent of the first firelight. The glow on the walls creates a whole new feast for the senses in our yurt. The room opens up to its new member. It gives our room, dedicated to balance, another arm of expression - another layer of resonance. The fire is small but the charm of fires is ignited in the room. The fire goes out and the stove completely cools down.

We ignite a fire when we read our first article or first book on feng shui. We open up to another aspect of expression or layer of resonance to our living experience. We close the book and we step back from the intensity of the fire and let the inspiration sink in and blend with our whole life.

The force of the second fire brought out the smells of the new stove. A lot of open windows helped diffuse the aroma that accompanied the newness. This time I could really see the flames dancing inside and began learning how much wood I could place in order to maintain it "just right." Ah, the art of just tending a fire.

We dedicated this small green stove to Hestia, a goddess or archetype revering the art of tending, maintaining and renewing. It is such an ancient practice but applying fuel to our inner fires is an art as well. To illustrate, I had a client call after a consultation and say, " I finished all your recommendations for my house in three days. However, as soon as I finished, I got really sick. What does that mean?" "Well, I said, 'it means you did too much at once." The intensity of her actions was burning too hot for her system. She needed time for her "stove" to cool down and integrate. She needed to slow down in applying cures to her environment. I use a Chinese proverb from Master Lin to illustrate:

Take your Time
Savor the moment
Escape into the void whenever possible.

Tending requires rest periods too. These can be the most important times, it seems, in the learning process with feng shui. I brought the same items of match, paper and wood together and mixed them together in a similar way to create the third fire. Will this smell ever go away? This time with the larger fire, I can really sit and gaze at the fire and just be with the flames. Fires can draw us in to the experience of just watching, and with this third fire there was more time for that wonderful pastime.

In feng shui, can we really appreciate the process of observing and enjoying our present level of knowledge or skill? The learning process includes repetition of the same activities such as reading or doing cures with different perspectives each time. Each fire used the same ingredients; but each time was different because each day was different. And I brought more presence and experience to the activity.

Repetition is so important in developing effectiveness and strength in feng shui. Master Lin will teach the same subject many times. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the description of the ba-gua, a major tool for site analysis. Each time the concept is explained I hear something different. Because I am different, the group is different, the day is different. In my teaching, I will repeat certain topics often and many students will claim that the information was new. Our being learns in mysterious ways.

Finally with the fourth fire, the smell is diminishing. This gradual process of making fires is making sense to me now. This fire kept going out for a while. I had created fires three times so this should work. But it didn't. It just means, try again.

Sometimes, results in feng shui don't turn up right away. One client focused on her relationship corner to stir up opportunities. It worked but not for her. Her roommate met someone right away. "Don't get discouraged," I said. She refocused her intention and is happily dating now. It is such a dance of applying action to insight.

The fifth fire - my final commitment to such fine tending - started with ease. This time I could really feel the warmth and brilliance of our little stove and could concentrate on maintaining the fire now. There seemed to be a hum in the air, as all the parts of the process seemed awakened and working. I wondered whether my musings were generated with the activity of the fire or the rest periods in between? Do we learn feng shui by doing cures and reading books or resting afterwards?