Welcome to part 2 of my 5 part series of living a balanced life. Today I want to talk about our fire aspects. Anyone who knows me knows that I love fire. Fire is warm, comforting- we see it as creativity, passion, drive. I like to think of our minds- our intellect and interests as a well cultivated fire.
I know, that sounds a bit weird. If we think of the things that stimulate us- that stimulate our brains- what we read, our hobbies, our passions, our art and stories- the things that make us interesting, varied and passionate, these are our flames of humanity. These differentiate us from other animals and keep us from being worker drones. Not enough fire leaves us cold and in the dark, lacking passion, stimulation and drive to find joy in life.
Of course, like anything, this is about balance. Too much fire- in this case, too much thinking- can ruin a good thing, right? Just as too little fire leaves us lacking, too much can leave us without other important parts of the world. For example, we as the kind of pagans that perhaps want to research and understand and learn about the worlds outside of our own, and the Gods that call to us, have to step back and allow room for faith. In my opinion, it’s great (and super important!) to delve into the academics of pagan history, to study the ancient cultures from which our ancestors were once a part of. But there is also a point where we can’t apply the modern perspective to the ancient one. We can’t simply go and re-create to perfection the ancient ways. There will always be things lost to history. There are things not compatible with our modern lifestyle. We’re not going to start cattle raiding with our neighbors, sacrificing our enemies to appease our Gods, or letting dangerous types of xenophobia, or superstition dictate the treatment of others to their detriment. We’ve changed and grown as humans, and so have our relationship with the Gods. I would say that the Gods themselves have evolved as well.
Now this isn’t meant to be a discourse on pagan history, or the problems with over-intellectualizing our spirituality. This is about keeping balance, not only as a whole, but within each aspect. We should be honoring our minds and the fires within. When we are out of balance by not having our minds stimulated, we’re bored, we feel lacking. Our inspiration to create, to enjoy the world, to feel passion and be stimulated intellectually disappear. These are the things that keep us interested in life- they are our hobbies and the things we do for both fun and pleasure and for work, particularly if we have a job/career we enjoy. Losing our “lust for life” is dangerous. Those without meaning wander into dangerous places, and sometimes let fear and despair set in.
It also becomes dangerous because those who don’t value learning can believe some pretty damaging, dangerous and outright wrong things. Without a well-tended fire, and discernment, people stop questioning and simply believe whatever they are told. We see this every day, particularly these days where even things like simple science is ignored, or we believe everything we see and read on the internet without question.
Feeding your mind also has a lot of benefits: it keeps your brain young, it improves your memory, and your mood, and science has also shown that people who keep their brains active and seek out new skills and experiences have a lesser chance of developing Alzheimers. Active minds can also deal with depression and anxiety better.
Our minds need to be fed. Here are some ideas on how to feed your mind. I chose to keep the list short because honestly, the list is endless:
Learn a new skill
Learn a new language
Do a puzzle
Play a game
Develop a new hobby
Listen to music
Learn and Play an instrument
Play brain games
Play Board games
Play a video game! (Yes, this totally counts!)
And remember part one of this series? Exercise actually improves the functions of your brain too. As does feeding your brain. Foods rich in nutrients, like blueberries, nuts, broccoli and salmon are great choices. Go Science!
Our brains are super important, and properly stimulated brains make for a happier, healthier you. I say properly stimulated because you want balance- overstimulated brains aren’t good either. This might mean things like getting off the internet more often. I know that as we hit May of this year, I realized my own attention span had gotten worse as my brain got used to an incredible amount of constant stimulation as I had used the internet more and more during our quarantine. It’s gotten a little better since I reduced my internet time, and got out more again.
For me, honoring my fire aspect is the easiest aspect to honor- I love to read and write, and I have many hobbies. Sometimes there are so many that it’s hard to pick what to do. But I’d rather have too many choices as opposed to no choices and boredom. Being balanced is important, and being stimulated mentally is crucial to that balance. So get out there, read, write and find a hobby that interests you. Even something small will make a difference.
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