The Flame Narrative

Beltane and the Beltane Moon

Saturday gratefuls: I’m OK, you’re not. Thanks, Tom. Kep. A very good workout session. Warm days. Cool nights. Solar power. Mini-splits. Kate, always Kate. Diane. Joe and Seoah. Rich Levine. BJ and Sarah and Annie. Felix and Oscar. Alfieri and Eddie. SMT memorization technique. Learning lines. Workouts over the last week. Especially the trail hikes.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Kate and Richard Bresnahan

Tarot: #13, The Journey

“Many false interpretations of the Journey have been made over the years in an effort to avoid referring directly  death.

This is the time to face unchangeable facts. Let the nature of everything be exposed to the bone. Only then can we understand the deepest fears and desires in our souls. Do not be afraid to change because this is the time for purification and washing.”


Johanna kiln firing. St. John’s Monastery

How stunning to pull this tarot card after deciding to write this post about the flame narrative. Death. And the journey after. Whether for the soul departed or the soul journey of the survivors. And all the vast and wondrous changes.

A flame narrative, Richard Bresnahan explained, is the mark fire makes as it moves through the Johanna kiln and over the pottery waiting in one of its many chambers. The Johanna kiln is the largest wood-fired kiln in North America. A dragon kiln means the fire blasts through several distinct chambers as the chambers crawl up a hill. Wood burns at its base and flares through all of the chambers on its way out of the kiln.

Johanna kiln

The urn that holds Kate’s ashes came from an early firing of the kiln. Not long after the first firing in 1995.* A Woolly Mammoth retreat at Valhelga and a visit by all of us to Richard’s studio. He served us tea, gave us each a tea bowl, and we made purchases from his stock.

Our life and our death are a flame narrative in the universe. As we pass through on our short journey, we change the glazing of the cosmos. Each one of us. Some more obviously than others of course. Wonder what the universe will look like after its final firing? Your life changed its nature and its direction, wrote your name in fire across the heavens.

Flame narrative. Ancientrail. We each also carve a path, an ancientrail of life lived and extinguished. Ancientrails are similar. We are human.  They could all be unique. We are human. We gain nothing if you try to walk your ancientrail as others advise. As society dictates. Only when you forge out on your own, following the truth given to you, the gifts given to you, will the journey be your own. And, by that fact alone, a contribution to the long sweep of humanity’s own ancientrail.

This is the ancient way. The way a soul follows the winding watercourse of birth to death.

Make your life a blaze of truth and glory, mark the universe with your unique gifts. It’s what we all need.


*”The first firing of the Johanna Kiln–the most special in the life of any kiln–began on October 13, 1995. This firing lasted nearly five weeks: three weeks to load a full capacity of 12,000 works in clay, nine days to fire, and several days to cool and unload the kiln.” csbsju

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