Saturday 6 February 2010

Fire walking: facing one's fears

Walking on fire is the hardest thing I have ever done – yet, strangely it is also one of the easiest. It is just taking five steps, but those five steps require a tremendous amount of faith.

I don’t mean faith in a higher power – although many people call on their god or gods to help when doing a fire walk. It requires trust in those who have told us we will not get burnt by putting one bare foot in front of the other over a bed of glowing coals. It also requires faith in ourselves, that we can overcome our fears to do something that seems impossible.

The fire walk was put on by Survivorbility, which runs fire walking and glass walking events throughout the UK. These are often to raise money for charities – in this case those taking part were collecting sponsorship for equal opportunities charity The Fawcett Society – but everyone has their own reason for wanting to walk on fire.

Some do it for a cause, some because they enjoy a challenge, some do it for a sense of spiritual or personal empowerment, others think it sound fun. Whatever our reasons, walking on fire can give us confidence to tackle other problems in our lives that we are fearful of facing, such as addictions, damaging relationships, getting out of a dead-end job, or just wanting to overcome a general lack of confidence.

The Survivorbility website explains how doing a fire walk can help us change our lives:
“No matter how much you may understand the reasons behind a pattern of behaviour, that knowledge may not reach the deeper parts of you that the pattern is coming from. The act of walking across a fire pit, or over several metres of broken glass – despite being frightened – can prove to your deepest self that you need not be limited by fear any more.”
Humans have been doing fire walks for thousands of years. The earliest recorded event took place 4,000 years ago in India when two Brahmin priests competed to see who could walk furthest over hot coals.

Many people have claimed that only those blessed by their gods, spiritually pure or possessing psychic powers of mind over matter can survive a fire walk unscathed. This isn’t true. Anyone who can walk can do it.

Walking over hot coals, rather than walking through actual flames, is what a fire walk normally entails.

A fire is built up and then allowed to burn down to glowing embers. These are still extremely hot – twice the maximum temperature of a normal household oven. You could easily cook your dinner on them. If you were to stand still on these coals you would get burnt, but if you keep moving the heat does not transfer quickly enough from the fire through the thick soles of your feet to do any harm. Once you have started, you just have to keep walking.

Nevertheless, it isn't that easy to attempt.

From an early age we are taught to fear fire. We are taught that it burns, that we must not touch it, that we must keep away. By doing a fire walk we learn that we can throw off the shackles of social conditioning, that we can face our fears and do something seemingly impossible.

If we can do that, we can do anything. And that knowledge is empowering.

The photo above shows the fire being lit. The slightly blurry photo below shows me walking on the hot coals.

If you want to find out more about The Fawcett Society, or donate money, visit the website To find out more about Survivorbility visit the website



Antony said...

Wow go you. :D You look so slim burled lol.

A x

Badwitch said...

Maybe that's why I picked that photo :)