My fire ceremony set-up is modest, yet earnest. A collection of re-purposed condiment and coconut oil jars and old votive-candle containers hold the items to be given to the fire: rice, samagri, sandalwood powder, ghee, supari nuts, and blessed water. All the items are kept in a roll top desk that used to be my grandmother’s. I keep squares of dung in one drawer (for under the camphor) and strips of dung in another drawer for lighting the camphor.
It may sound disrespectful to keep dung in a roll top desk that used to be my grandmothers, but, as the dung, and all the items, are blessed, sacred, and to be used for a Divine ritual, I decided it was OK. Besides, every time I prepare the materials for the fire, I feel as though I am attuning myself to my maternal ancestors on my father’s side through the desk. I have been learning the energy of the Divine Mother, and welcome any opportunity to gain more insight.
The havan kund sits across from the desk on a makeshift alter—old floor tiles and fire bricks, sitting on top of an old table, with a few items to represent the Divine.
There is nothing fancy here, not like I see in pictures, or in my imagination.
When I first organized my set up this past June, I wanted—wished for—it to be perfect. I wanted beautiful rugs to sit on, an alter with flowers, crystals, mandalas, yantras… I wanted the havan kund to sit on a beautiful textile, surrounded with similar beautiful things as well as beautifully framed pictures. I wanted the set up to be a visible acknowledgement of the gratitude and sincerity I feel about being given the gift of doing fire ceremonies.
It was not long in preparing my set up that I knew my ideal was not to be. The reality is that the only place for me, in suburban New Jersey, to have the privacy for doing a fire ceremony is my dilapidated old porch, with an old curtain hung up so the fire does not attract the attention of the neighbors, with an old table as my alter and roll top desk to keep my supplies.
If I’ve learned anything since doing the fire ceremonies every third day since June 12, I’ve learned that gratitude, devotion, and sincerity adorn the ceremony better than yantras, crystals, or gilded frames ever could.
So often, I approach the ceremony thinking things like, “I don’t know what I’m doing…am I doing this right?” (I’ve never been “formally trained”), or “OK, what do I do? How do I do it? What comes first? What if I forget something important, and offend someone?”
There have been so many feelings of inadequacy, clumsiness, that I’m not good enough, that the presentation isn’t good enough, that I’m not doing it “right” enough.
But I do it.
Every time, I just do it. Whatever I am, whatever I feel, whatever I can offer in that moment, I do so with as much gratitude and devotion as I am able to at that time.
I’ve found it’s not just enough. It’s perfect.