[based on my talk from New Year’s Eve 2021: A New Beginning]

sparks from a burning campfire

No one needs to be told that 2020 was a difficult year. We all know the reasons why. But we may not realize that there is a gift in all that challenge: fire by friction.

Have you ever started a fire? Probably. Certainly you’ve lit a candle, with either a match or a lighter. Some of you may have even worked with flint and metal, creating that initial spark to ignite tinder. And a rare handful of you reading this may have actually made fire (or attempted to, in my case!) with a bow drill or hand drill: the ancient method of true fire by friction.

This primitive way of igniting fire with a drill is very difficult. It takes strength, determination, and lots and lots of friction between one piece of wood and another. That abrasion builds heat enough to finally create a spark. Whether you use that method, the flint, or a match or lighter, the spark that lights the flame requires some sort of friction to initiate it. You strike the match against a rough surface, and viola’, a flame appears. With that, you can light your candle or fire.

A Year of Friction

The challenges that we endured from the pandemic, systemic racism, isolation, financial stress, fires, and floods – to name a few – may have served us in a strange way. They have revealed fears, beliefs, and perceptions that cause us pain. It’s not the events themselves that are so problematic as it is the way we think about and respond to them.

Those painful and stressful thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, and emotional reactions create an internal friction. We are rubbed up against what is most uncomfortable within us. We can’t deny it anymore, as it is too painful and too apparent. 

What’s good about this is what is revealed can be healed. If we don’t recognize what limits us and keeps us small, unhappy, or suffering, then we can’t do anything about it. These problematic thoughts, emotions, and perceptions triggered in 2020 (and beyond!) create the spark of internal and external friction, and provide the fuel for the fire of transformation to burn.

The Awakening

That spark initiated by the friction of our inner and outer challenges is a new awakening. It’s a shift in consciousness. We gain new insight about ourselves and our world, if nothing other than the declaration, NO MORE! 

We need that initiatory spark to wake us up and spur us on. No fire will begin without a spark. In order to create positive change in our world and ourselves, we need this awakening.


After friction creates the spark, the flame is lit from our kindling of outdated mental and emotional blockages, and fire brings heat. We know that heat warms us, cooks our food, and creates transformation. 

That warmth or heat from the fire gives us the energy, passion, and determination to create change. We know that our world needs a lot of change right now. We have been separated, lonely, and suffering, living in fear and under oppression. We must create solutions to our problems with unprecedented understanding, from dealing with the pandemic to solving systemic racism, from healing the planet to bridging the divide between differing perspectives.

We need that spark to initiate the changes, give us energy, and light the flame of inspiration and determination as we step forward together to heal our world.

Fire Transforms

In the health science of Ayurveda, the fire element in our bodies governs all forms of transformation, from digesting our food to deeper metabolic processes in our cells. Fire transforms.

2020 and today’s current events reveal many things that are ready to be burned away in our consciousness as well as our society. Illusions and obstacles are kindling and wood that are ready to be put on the fire and allow to be transformed within us. 

When the wood burns, it leaves us with ash. In a fire ceremony in the Hindu tradition, many things are offered to the fire, which represent both our devotion as well as these rough places within us that no longer serve us. The transformed ash that remains is considered sacred – a blessing. Notice what ash may be left behind in new perceptions and inner peace, as you allow these unnecessary places within you to transform in the sacred fire.

And remember always that the Phoenix rises from the ashes – in fact, it can’t be reborn without that transformative fire.

The Divine Light

That friction within us created the spark of awakening, built the heat of necessary energy to create change, transformed us, and ignites our Divine Light within. When we strike a match – the friction – and light a candle, we can see in a dark room. 

Light brings clarity. What was previously obscured is revealed clearly in the light of a fire or lantern. The more light, the more we can see, recognize, and know.

This light within us is actually lit by the very dark places within us that created enough friction to spark it. And in fact, this Divine Light shows us the way in the darkness. Many feel that we are living through a dark time. Allow that inner Light to show you the path to healing and empowerment through these challenges.

The clarity and vision that this spark of Light brings will reveal to us our inner Truth. This is the spiritual Truth that is beyond the appearances in the world, or even what we believe about ourselves. Allow it to be illumined within you. Listen to your intuition and see beyond fear and projections. There is a higher truth at hand when we tap into that inner Light.

As we allow the friction of this last year to continue to light a fire within us, recognize that you can be that beacon for others. Let this “fire by friction” give you energy and cleanse the perceived darkness. Although the legacy of 2020 has been difficult, it’s not been in vain. It has initiated a powerful process. Through this burning away of our limitations and fears, our inner Light will shine forth, illuminate the way for others, and spark inspiration and a higher vision for our world. 🙏


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