A Kata Story

June 19, 2021


The Seven Nations


For those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, the Haida First Nation story of how Raven stole the sun is familiar. Versions vary about who it was that had the sun captured and hidden in a sky long house, but it was always Raven who took pity on the people stumbling around in the darkness and craftily stole the sun to bring light back into the world. In all stories it was his flying through the long house smoke hole with the sun that turned him black for all time.

Throughout world cultures there are stories of how humans developed a relationship with the Fire Nation. Some are about the Sun, others are about the basic energy of Fire. It’s interesting how many involve assistance from the Asharaji/Creature Nation. Here is story from the Seminole People in Florida collected in 1940 through the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration.

Stolen Fire
A Seminole Creation Myth

Many, many moons ago there was only one Indian tribe that knew the secret of fire. The other Indian tribes tried ceaselessly to learn the secret. Each year when the Green Corn Dance was held, the Indians danced around a circle of fire. Indians from other tribes were always there, but could never get close enough to the fire to secure the secret, it was guarded so well.

One time the biggest, finest, handsomest rabbit the Indians had ever seen came to the Green Corn Dance, and begged to be allowed to dance around the fire with them. He could sing sweeter, dance better, and whoop louder than any person or animal they had ever seen. But the older Indians were suspicious of the rabbit; they thought he might be a disguised Indian from a rival tribe, trying a steal the secret of fire. The younger Indians were more susceptible to his charm and the rabbit was allowed to take part in the dance. He danced closer and closer to the blaze, extending first one paw and then the other toward the fire. Suddenly he reached forward, grabbed a burning stick and, before the startled Indians could prevent him, disappeared swiftly into the forest. After holding a council, the wise men of the tribe decided to bring rain in order to extinguish the fire stolen by the rabbit. The medicine men went to the spring, and, for four mornings, made magic by charming the snake who kept guard there. Torrents of rain came down, soaking the rabbit who was fleeing through the forest. The fire went out.

However, the rabbit did not despair, but attended the Green Corn Dance the following year. This time it was harder to persuade the reluctant Indians to let him dance with them, but finally they  consented. Again he seized a burning brand and escaped to the forest. The medicine men made magic the second time, causing heavy rains and the fire was again extinguished. For three consecutive years the rabbit succeeded in getting the fire, but each time the medicine men caused the fire to be put out by rain.

The fourth year the rabbit was wiser. After much persuasion, the Indians again allowed him to attend the Green Corn Dance. He obtained the fire and escaped. Again the Indians made the rains but, this time, the rabbit hid under a coral reef and protected the fire under the shelter of the rock. When the rain ceased, he hurried to his tribe with the fire, and now all the Indians know the secret of fire.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com 

A Heritage of Kata

June 18, 2021

The Seven Nations



Kata was an essential energy for all early people. Fire stories, myths, and legends are ubiquitous in the history and heritage of every world culture. Many cultures honored the Sun as a major deity. Ireland is not among them yet the Fire Nation was a major influence in their cosmology and daily life.

Holding the energy of transformation, the forge is one of the Goddess Brigid’s, or Brigit’s, primary symbols and when Catholic influences arrived this was so deeply embedded in the psyche of the Irish people that the church simply made her a saint and the patron saint of blacksmiths. Historically, blacksmiths in Ireland held a revered position in the community as their alchemy was a sacred mystery. The flame is another of Brigid’s symbols, signifying the fire of inspiration manifest through poetry and writing. 

A sacred fire had burned in Kildare reaching back into pre-Christian times when priestesses gathered on the hill of Kildare to tend their ritual fires while invoking the goddess Brigid. When St. Brigid founded her Kildare monastery in 480 AD she continued the custom of keeping the sacred flame alight. Tended by the monastic sisterhood, it burned perpetually until the sixteenth century. It was relit in 1993 the Brigidine Sisters who keep it burning to this day.

The early Irish people celebrated their major festivals with fire. Most notable of these is Bealtaine on the Hill of Uisneach, the ancient sacred site at the geographical center of Ireland. Beal means bright or brilliant, taine comes from the Irish word for fire. It is a festival of protection, purification, and healing. Before the festival, all household fires would have been extinguished to be relit with embers carried home from the Bealtaine fire.

Although the Irish didn’t worship a Sun god, the Sun, along with the Stars and Moon, were fundamental to their most sacred sites and ceremonies. Newgrange, Knowth, and other megalithic monuments feature carvings of celestial movements and are aligned with these celestial energies. We are only now beginning to understand the depth of these cosmic relationships.

Granted. For those familiar with Ireland’s heritage and mythology, this is just a passing glance at the Irish relationship with Kata. Perhaps not even that. It is a rich and deeply rooted heritage of fire and I encourage further exploration. Yet this is but one heritage of Kata. That there are so many others, so many myths and legends, speaks to the fundamental and global importance and power of this amazing force of life and for life.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Kata. The Fire Nation.

June 17, 2021


The Seven Nations


Fire is the energy of transformation, consumption and action.

The Kata Nation holds immense power. Consider the Earth Fire at the core of our planet, a dense iron solid mass at 4300 degrees Celsius. Consider the Sky Fire or Sun which is a source of light and heat. And then there is Lightening which is also of the Kata Nation. All formidable forces and energies we can access at any time. These fires without fuel the fires within, fires that are part of our very metabolism that help our organs function and cleanse.

To even have a thought, you are using Fire in your brain.
To eat, your body metabolizes with Fire.
Call to the purity of Spirit that is Fire, in the Sky,
in the Earth and within us that we may live.
Mukanda Dawe

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Note: Mukanda Dawe is an ascended master and one of my spiritual teachers. These are his teachings.

A Shoka Story

June 16, 2021


Stories of the Nations are embedded in lore and legend from cultures around the world. This is a story that was included in my first book, a collection of sacred stories, and although I don’t work with the idea that stones hold the energy of fertility, they do hold the energy of the supernatural. As do all the Nations. 

I also find it interesting that I collected and wrote this story years ago, long before I started working with the knowledge of the Nations. As stones are often considered the bones of the Earth, in this story they are the bones of creation.

People of the Stones
An Aboriginal Creation Story

The Ancestor carried the sacred stone in his dilly-bag, together with six small replica stones. Each holding the energy of supernatural life and fertility. When the old man took the small namatoona stones from his bag and anointed them with lizard fat, they transformed into men, skilled in the ways of tracking and hunting

One day the Ancestor sent the hunters in search of food while he lit a fire with green leaves and grasses, sending a billowing column of smoke into the air which he knew would attract attention. And before long, six young women approached the fire filled with curiosity.

He welcomed them to sit by the fire and began telling them stories. The women were mesmerized by his tales, losing all awareness of their surroundings or the passing of time. As night began to fall he invited them to stay and share a meal, but the women looked around and saw no provisions.  “But you have no food,” they said. 

The old man laughed, “Have no worries, there will soon be plenty to eat.” And just as he had spoken these words, the six hunters returned from the bush each bent under the weight of the animals they had killed. The women were very impressed and then astonished as the old man introduced the young hunters as their husbands.

“These are my sons.” the old man said. “Each one a good, strong and honorable man. Now we will prepare a feast and celebrate the marriage that is your destiny this night.”

The young men were indeed strong and handsome, and the women were soon enchanted, singing and dancing through the long night that ended with the sleep of fulfillment. As the pale light of dawn rose in the sky the next morning, the old man quietly moved from sleeping woman to sleeping woman, gathering the namatoona stones that lay beside them.

When the women awoke they were bewildered to find the men gone and only one trail of footprints leading away from the camp. Only the ashes of the fire and the scattered bones of the feast were left for them to know it had not been a dream.

In a distant valley, the old man was once again rubbing lizard fat on the namatoona stones and lighting a fire of green leaves and grasses. And so it came to be that hundreds of babies were born from the journey of the Ancestor. And so it happened that people came to the land.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Shoka. The Stone Nation.

June 15, 2021


Stone is solid, grounding, supportive, an anchor, trustworthy and consistent.
Stone holds peace.

Stone is a bedrock element for us. Pun intended. It’s in our blood, bones, organs and tissues. It’s in the streets we drive on, the cars we drive in, the buildings we live and work in. All metal comes from the Stone Nation and most technologies use Shoka in some form, including the minerals we take for our health. When our ancestors wanted to leave messages that would endure through time, they carved them in Stone. We may not always understand the mysterious petroglyphs, but 4,000 years later we can still see them. In contrast to the increasing frantic pace of our lives, the energy of Stone invites us to a slower and more eternal perspective. 

Instead of trying to force yourself to calm down,
breathe with Shoka and you will slow down.
Mukanda Dawe

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Minding The Marvelous

June 13, 2021


Let’s not isolate from the marvelous.
Martin Shaw

Marvelous. A word that holds the energies of amazement and wonder. Indigenous peoples who lived in close relationship with the natural world would not have been particularly amazed. While not at all mundane, the natural world was familiar to them. And this is possible for us. As we are culturally separated from the natural world, separated by our own contrivance, there is the opportunity to shift our relationship and become more intimate with the world around us. Intimacy. Into me see. There is the invitation to amazement.

Yes, there is the amazing beauty we behold. Yet there is more here. There are the energies that the natural world holds, energies that are manifest in the complex harmony and web of all life. The question becomes how to connect with them, how to be in intimate relationship with them. Of course there are many ways to do this.

In my Earth meditations I connect with each of seven distinct Nations. The ceremonial invocation of earth, air, fire, and water is probably familiar. However there are seven to consider in the whole of it: earth, air, fire, water, stones, plants, and creatures. In my spiritual tradition we name these nations Asha/Earth, Arrai/Air, Kata/Fire, Loma/Fire, Shoka/Stone, Prana/Plants, and Asharaji/Creatures. We name them Nations because they are alive just like groups of people. They have importance, value and deserve respect each in their own right. 

All the essences of the Nations
are in your spirit, mind, life and physical body all the time.

It is helpful to become aware of that, to bring yourself back to the truth,
and to let what was die and be reborn into what can be.
To feel the strength and ancient beingness
of the Earth, the soil, and all Life changes you.
Mukanda Dawe

In the next few blog posts, I invite your introduction to the Nations. To engage with their essences and step beyond our isolation from the marvelous.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Keeping The Smoke Hole Open

June 12, 2021


We may have to seek some solitude,
but let’s not isolate from the marvelous.
Martin Shaw


I first saw Martin a couple of years ago when he spoke at Tor Ballylee, the ancient stone tower where WB Yeats wrote much of his work, which is just down the road from the cottage in Ireland. I was enchanted. An artist, writer, and mythologists he is an amazing storyteller. Yesterday I was on a zoom cast offered by Emergence Magazine and listened to Martin share the story of his pandemic time journey and his new book. The resonance with what I’ve been writing and thinking was profound and inspiring.

The writing below is an op-ed he wrote last March when the world went into lockdown. It was the seed of the book, Smokehole, he would write for his teenage daughter – and clearly the rest of us. Yet he didn’t write the book until it was right time. The book landed last fall and Martin wrote it in five days. Profound insights on these times we are still navigating because now, as it was in the beginning of the lockdown, it’s still important to keep the smoke hole open. 

In Siberian myth, when you want to hurt someone, you crawl into their tent
     and close the smoke hole.
That way God can’t see them.
Close the smoke hole and you break connection to the divine world.
Mountains, rivers, trees.
Close the smoke hole and we become mad.
Close the smoke hole and we are possessed by ourselves and only ourselves.
Close the smoke hole and you have only your neurosis for company.
Well, enough of that. Really, c’mon. We’re grown-ups. Let’s take a breath.
We may have to seek some solitude, but let’s not isolate from the marvelous.
High alert is the nature of the moment, and rightly so, but I do not intend to lose
     the reality that as a culture we are entering deeply mythic ground.
I am forgetting business as usual. No great story begins like that.
What needs to change? Deepen? What kindness in me have I so abandoned
     that I could seek relationship with again?
It is useful to inspect my ruin.
Could I strike up an old relationship with my soul again?
You don’t need me to tell you how to keep the smoke hole open.
You have a myriad of ways.
We are awash with the power of words—virus, isolate, pandemic—and they point
     toward very real things. To some degree we need the organizational harassment
     of them.
But do they grow corn on your tongue when you speak them?
Where is the beauty-making in all of this?
That is part—part—of the correct response. The absolute heft of grief may well be
     the weave to such a prayer mat.
Before we burn the whole world down in the wider rage of Climate Emergency, of
     which this current moment is just a hint, could we collectively seek vigil in this moment?
Cry for a vision?
It’s what we’ve always done.
We need to do it now.
Martin Shaw

So many of us are crying for a vision. So many of us are aware that we are indeed entering deeply mythic ground. And we know instinctively that we must keep the smoke holes open and make beauty in all of this. Let’s continue to embrace the marvelous!

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Artwork by Martin Shaw

Natural Allies

June 11, 2021


Filmed through a complete cycle of the Earth’s seasons, the Bakhta documentary painted a vivid image of the villagers’ profound and intimate relationship with the rhythms of the natural world. For them it’s an alliance and in that subarctic landscape it is literally a matter of life and death. I would argue the same is true for all of us. We just don’t choose to acknowledge it and we look away at our peril.

The natural world has thrived and flourished through all time without creating a toxic wasteland. Of course humans are part of the natural world but when we evolved to see ourselves separate from and superior to the natural world everything changed and now the natural world is struggling to flourish. Landscapes are devastated. Species are decimated. Toxic wastelands are becoming ubiquitous.

There is something to learn here. And for those of us who are horrified by the current trajectory of human impact, the Earth is a source of wisdom, resilience, and power. She is, as she has always been, our teacher if we are willing to attend the lessons. And if we continue to embrace our willful and arrogant ignorance she will restore the balance even if it means humans are expelled from the natural world.

Is covid19 part of this balancing and purging? I don’t know. It’s plausible. It is certainly a wake up call and it is time to wake up. Long past time.

When I feel powerless in the face of this trajectory of devastation, I turn to the Earth. I turn to the power and harmony of the natural world for there is tremendous power to inform and inspire. I choose to step into alliance with Earth energies and live in resonance with the Earth song, the music of all life in harmony. I am just beginning to experience the possibilities and they are both amazing and mystical. 

Our natural allies are all around us if we are willing to see them. If we are willing to embrace the beauty and power and mystery of them. It begins with seeing, truly seeing, the natural world and knowing that we are not separate from it but one thread in it.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Note: I understand that since the 2010 documentary the village of Bakhta has become a tourist destination. I can only hope that the very short summer tourist season will minimize the impact on village life and culture.

A Cold Reality

June 10, 2021


He lost me at 30 degrees below zero. There was no consolation in learning this was a warming trend. However I imagine others would have been equally horrified not by the temperatures but by the fact that this subarctic village has no electricity, running water, or cell phone and internet service. How on earth do they cope?

Watching this documentary I remembered taking photos at the Boulder graduation celebration when one of my sister’s friends leaned over and told me, “Ah, I miss my small phone”, adding that she was forced to get a newer and bigger iPhone. My small phone is one I finally purchased years ago for Ireland. Folks who know I have one are often frustrated that I hardly ever use it here in the States, frustrated because having and using the latest technology is embedded in our cultural narrative and implicit in our story of entitlement. I want it. I need it. I have to have it. I can’t live or function without it. Even though it’s become a shared reality, it’s an illusion.  

The Werner Herzog documentary is titled Happy People for a reason. Those who live in this small village of Bakhta in northern Russia are completely happy with their life and lifestyle. It’s a life not at all hindered by the fact that they are so isolated the village is only accessible by boat and helicopter during the short summer months. The rest of the year they are completely on their own, thriving with the customs and traditions that have been passed down through generations, thriving in absolute harmony with the seasons and cycles of nature. Beyond the addition of ski mobiles and chain saws, daily life has changed little in over a century.

Although Dennis and I lived in a tipi for a year and then for eight years in the house we built without running water and electricity, I find the Bakhta village experience daunting. While we believe in living lightly on the Earth, over the years we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Stuff, I’m reminded by this documentary, that we really don’t need. 

No. I’m not advocating that we all give up our stuff and aspire to the Bakhta lifestyle. But it is a reminder of the vast chasm between what we think we need and what we really need to thrive. Considering this chasm and the impact our consumer lifestyle is having on our planet can be a cold and sobering reality. And it’s a reality we can change – without moving to Bakhta.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Happy People Documentary Trailer

Titantic Times

June 9, 2021


Dramatic, perhaps. But I think it’s the perfect metaphor for these pandemic times. The extent of our collision with COVID was the result of inept and arrogant navigation. It was malfeasance and many people died while the administration focused on rearranging the deck chairs and playing music no one was dancing to.

In the US the pandemic killed more than half a million people and traumatized millions more. It will take time to work through that trauma. And although I’ve been less
traumatized living here in the forest, I appreciate that it’s very real for so many. After I
wrote about the Boulder graduation event, I dear friend who teaches high school sent me this video, Numb, created by student Liv McNeil who welcomes this being shared with credit to her and M83, the band who made the music. It’s really well done and powerful. Here’s the link: Numb

So yes, the Titanic was sunk by in competent navigation and an iceberg which was seen too late. And they only saw the tip of it. What was underwater was much more dangerous. Such is the nature of icebergs and such is the nature of our relationship with the pandemic.

Entitlement is the iceberg that has traumatized us. I will step around issues of gender and race because this is far more pervasive. We didn’t choose this entitled attitude. It’s a consequence of our cultural conditioning. But here we are. 

We believe we are entitled to lives and lifestyles of our own choosing and making, lifestyles we’ve become comfortable with and accustomed to. And we are not happy when that entitlement is challenged by change. Change is generally not popular, especially when it is beyond our control like the whole world being slammed into pandemic isolation. The problem is that change happens and if our entitled perspective drives us to rail against the change and focus only on returning to the way things were, we miss the opportunity to navigate the change with resilience. We miss the opportunity to evaluate the-way-it-was and whether that really served us well, as individuals and a global community. We miss the opportunity to work with change rather than against it.

These are Titanic times. The question I sit with is whether we will be able to navigate these waters and avoid more collisions with entitlement. 

Judith – judith@stonefires.com