Awake in the World

In the South of France the summer solstice is a time of celebration. In Antibes, a bonfire is lit to pay tribute to the summer sun. Crowds circle around it and brave people jump the fire. This festival harks back to ancient festivals that expressed gratitude for the light that grows crops, brings warmth and opens hearts to joyful moments. Once the bonfire diminishes and the flames become manageable, the fire becomes a rite of initiation. Those who feel courageous leap over the fire. Some people leap alone and others hold hands and fly together. It’s a sign of courage and confidence and an exuberant celebration of the power of light to give and sustain life.

This ritual unites a community of people both old and young and from many nationalities. For ages this ritual has taken place. It reaches far back into time, probably farther back than the ancient Greek ruins of the city. It connects us with ancestors who labored hard and long for rare moments of ease and comfort. This ritual holds symbolic power. It gives a sense of unity to those who observe and a sense of confidence to the few who decide to leap the flames.

Though the scientific, rational mind often denies that something as simple as lighting and leaping over a bonfire can make any difference, on a psychic level, we know that it has a profound impact. It can send a message to our deepest, highest Self that we have the courage to face fears and leap the fires and obstacles of life. In this we gain an inner courage and strength. Rituals like these have marked the stages of life in many cultures. Baptism, graduations, weddings, taking communion. These all mark both inner and outer changes of situation.

One of my favorite rituals is to burn away attachments and obstacles using fire. On a piece of paper I write what is in my way (usually an inner obstacle) and then I burn it in a safe place – outdoors by the beach, in a fire pit or in an oven safe pan on the terrace. The gesture is an outward manifestation of the willingness to release. It’s active, energetic and it can make a difference.

Everyone has rituals that appeal to them – from taking coffee before work, to lighting a candle before meditation. Rituals can also be a great way to connect families and establish traditions. What kind of ritual might help you to grow?

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at

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