fire and earth


My action need to follow my passion. I can't forcibly instill passion into my actions.

An insight I gained through a visualisation exercise.

I began to write this after Curt Rosengren posted about his deeper motivation for doing what he does. This entry has been gathering dust in my 'drafts' folder for some time now. I had it outlined and I'm very sure of what I want to say in it, but it never seemed to finish... That's the problem with outlines, they tend to stay in that fashion.

Way back in the almost forgotten summer of this year I took part in the 'International Festival of the Animals'. This is a yearly meeting of people who are in some way involved or interested in the the 'Personal Totempole Process'. I will not go into that deeper here. It is basically a kind of visualisation method where one learns to get into contact with the 'inner animals' or guides. Now this may sound very mystic and esoteric, but actually it is not.

In one workshop I attended, we were introduced to the handreading work of Richard Unger. It is a very personal kind of determining the basic 'type' of person by the form and look of their hands. Richard Unger describes four basic types: fire, air, water and earth. Most persons/hands combine more than one of these. From the combination and possible conflict of the types can be read very much aboput the conflicts, motivations and outlook on life that make a person...

So when it was my turn to determine my basic type something surprising showed up. My hands show a very destinct combination of fire and earth. Without going into too much detail about the basic types let me say that I would have readily thought I might be 'air' (thoughts/words). Fire was not so surprising to me (action/temper/passion) as I can be very passionate about things and also tend to be short tempered at times.

What surprised me was the earth component that forms the basis of my 'hand'. The earth type tend to be persons that act instead of talk (huh? me? I'm a dreamer!). That seemed odd. I am known too use words to get what I want, and I'm better at it than many. Deeds instead of words? Hm. I know I can be all hot air and no substance. I'm not famous for my ability to 'just do things'.

But when seen from the emotional side it made perfect sense: earth types don't show emotion through words or symbols, but prefer deeds. I'm absolutly not a flower person!

And when seen in combination with the fire component it makes a lot more sense. When I am passionate about something, I can definetly get things done. But this passionate nature also leads to the problem of boredom when passion is not involved. Motivation can be a real problem then.

So that was the analytical part of that workshop. All that was very interessting and insightfull, showing me new aspects of myself I hadn't seen before. Selfexploration like it should be.

But what made this workshop so very much more was the visualisation exercise that followed.

In this 'meditation' we were asked (after coming into a state of relaxation etc) to visualize (to 'call' or 'invite') the aspects we had identified earlier and then to see how they interact with each other. To note any conflicts or needs they might have. (It might be added that these aspects often appear as animals or inner guides, much like the totems of shamanism)

So in my case what came wher two very different pictures. One of a warthog and one of a fire-sprite, a little flying thing always flirting about and impossible to touch.

How could these two come together? I spent some time trying to visualize them working side by side. The fire-sprite tended to sit on the warthog, buring it badly.

So I was left with the smell of burnt pig and a very unhappy fire-sprite that wanted to move around far faster.

How should, how could I help those two work in tandem? How could I harmonise these two aspects of my own personality?

I was struggeling with this seemingly unsolvable problem when suddenly something unexpected occured: I had given up on the two working together, and the fire-sprite burst into the air, freed of this earthly burden. It shoot out and into a tree, striking it like a bolt of lightening. The tree burst apart and the fire-sprite rampaged around for a few more moments, but soon lost interest and left. The warthog had watched this whole destructive display from a safe distance. Once the sprite had left and the small fires had cooled down, it lazily trotted over and begann foraging through the shatterd tree trunk. Soon it was happily feeding on grubs and small insects that had been well hidden under the thick and thorny bark of that tree....

(Yes, these visualisations tend to have a very dream-like sense of watching the action. That is a very powerfull tool of learning more about oneself. It is actually a way to commune with the sub-conscious that will not be understood in words or logical thought but only reveal itself in pictures or dreams....)

After this exercise I've had a lot of time to think about what I'd had seen and experienced, and especially what I could learn from it. One thing was perfectly clear: I had spent the last half year trying to motivate myself. To find real passion for what I was doing for a living. To put more of myself into what I was doing. After this exercise I knew why that had neither really worked or felt right. I was forcing my passion to sit on my actions, when the other way around should have been the right way. I need to 'cast out' my passion, my enthusiasm, and let my actions follow. Let my actions harvest what my passion has laid bare...

I am still pondering on how to fully implement this insight. My earlier descission to walk down a new road similar to that Curt Rosengren has shown me has been depened by this insight.


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Martin Spernau
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