Secret Visions from the Flame
The old witch added a whitish powder to the fire and waited as the flames grew strangely green. “I see forms taking shape… visions… A tree! No, it is a wheel! A wagon wheel, on a wagon with horses!” She turned back to her guest and asked in a knowing voice: “Are ye planning a journey, perhaps?”
For as long as there has been fire, people have seen visions in it. Shamans would see visions of a good hunt in the campfire and then use its ashes to paint the visions on the cave walls to bring them about. Perhaps the oldest form of divination, fire scrying is one of the most primal (and beautiful) methods a witch has for “seeing the unseen”. It is not an easy form, to be sure, but it can produce clearer results than any other method if done well.
Basically you look into a fire and see the shapes there. Take the seeds of images that the fire gives you and apply all the visualization skills you ever learned to get a coherent vision out. If you are not a good visualizer, this method is not for you. Then you have to figure out what the vision means. Yes, you saw a wolf chasing down a cloud and eating it, but you were wondering if you should take that class at the community college. Finding an appropriate meaning is often the really hard part.
Those searching for visions should find a dark, quiet, and open area. Cast a circle to set up the ritual space. Then invoke the flames, lighting the scrying bowl at the end of the invocation. Detailed instructions on preparing and lighting the scrying bowl are in the side article. How you invoke depends on your relations to fire. Keep it simple if you are not a fire person, go all out if you are a closet pyromaniac.
I like to take a long candle (or long lighter), light it, and draw three invoking pentacles in the air with the flame. The chant of “Fire, Fire, Flames Grow Higher!” punctuates each pentacle, one word per point. Then I bring the fire to the center in front of me and say: “From the fires of the stars, to the fires of our souls, Fire be with us. As you burn in the sun, giving us all light and life, burn for us here and now. Burn through the veil that separates the worlds and let us see that which is unseen.” Then I focus my mind on what I want to know and light the bowl with the fire.
Use as little light as possible while casting and invoking. That will help set the mood and will make it easier to see the flames. Any colors you may see will be enhanced by the darkness. Fire is finicky. If the invoking flame keeps going out or the bowl just will not light, don’t force it. Let it go and try again some other time. You don’t want to see the visions that come from unwilling flames coerced into life with the repeated application of flammable liquids and mechanical aids.
Sit comfortably and stare into the fire. Watch the flames and see what shapes they make. Open and shut your eyes repeatedly. Try to make out the pattern the fire leaves behind your eyes. At first your mind will say it is just the shape of the fire, but put that aside. Picture the shape that it is most like. See the form it takes. This is not easy. It is the same process you use to see the shapes in the clouds (something we, here in Seattle, have a lot of experience with). When you get a vague image, go with it. Let the shapes change as your vision focuses. Open your eyes again and get a new form to help the vision continue to grow. Shapes can change and the vision can move. Just let the flames shape the images they will. With practice, you will move from an image to a movie in your mind.
For instance, I just did a bit of test scrying into the candles I’ve lit to write this by. I saw the flame which made a circle in my mind. Rays came out of the center of the circle and turned into clock hands. The circle turned into a clock face. As I realized what it was, the hands started turning backwards. It probably means I should have started writing this article earlier or something….
After you have your visions, thank the now departed fire, open the circle, and try to make sense of what you have seen. Think about what you saw and ask what it means to you. In my sample, I had a clock moving backwards. Clocks mean time to me. Backwards brings to mind the past or a while ago. Since what I wanted was something for my article, it probably meant I should have started writing this earlier. Or maybe I should rewrite what I did a while ago. Another interpretation occurs to me, the hands were going counterclockwise, or Widdershins. Anyway, that was my vision. I could go for another one for clarification, but that could also just confuse things more.
With practice, anyone can see the visions in the flames. It is interpreting the visions that separates the oracles from the players – with – entrails. Just as anyone with a book can do a tarot reading, it takes skill and work to figure out what it means. I find most symbols to be too personal to give a general meaning list. If you are doing a reading for yourself, whatever you think the symbols mean is probably what they mean. If you are reading for someone else talk to them and ask lots of questions. If they don’t know, suggest what you think, but their meanings are probably the best. If you have trouble coming up with meanings, a book on interpreting dreams will have most of the common symbols and their meanings listed.
The final thing you need is honesty with your vision. Many “life is a bowl of crystals” tarot readers often reinvert inverted tarot cards because “there are no bad things, just challenges.” This neuters the readings. Life has bad things in it, to believe otherwise denies the Dark Goddess. Sometimes you have to eat your own young, figuratively speaking, and it is not pleasant. If you see your yourself being burned at the stake, go with it. Mentally forcing it to be you, as May Queen, being tied to a maypole will invalidate the vision. Not everything you see will be happy. That is why Cassandra, the ancient Greek prophet, considered her visions a curse.
Puzzled, for she wasn’t planning a journey, the woman went home. The next day, at the supermarket, she hit another car in the parking lot. It was a Jeep Wagoneer. “Damned visions! Always right but never right enough!”, she muttered as looked about, hoping no one had seen her.