Tending The Fire

Dec 6, 2016

Tending The Fire | www.nalumana.com


We got a fireplace last winter.


Having built only a handful of fires in my life before then, I was naive as to the complexity of the art.

I knew:  you start with something that burns easily – newspaper or an egg carton – and then you add kindling in a teepee-type shape overtop.  You light a match, et voila!

I would pile everything into the fireplace, in just the way I was supposed to.

When the flames would start to flicker, I would impatiently pile on the larger logs.

And watch as my fledgling fire slowly flickered out, leaving a pile of half-burned, smouldering kindling.

My husband, patiently watching, having been told not to say a word, would kneel beside me at the hearth.

A fire-builder his whole life, he would remove most of my pile of burnt detritus from the stove, hot-potatoing it to the hearth below.

He would reconstruct the teepee of kindling.  

He used more kindling than I had even imagined should be used; I was trying to make do with less.  I was assuming that because my schema of myself is one of capability, that I could build a fire without wasting all that precious, carefully chopped kindling.  I didn’t need the right tools for the job; I was capable enough to compensate for the lack.

I had gotten a bit of a flame going, and piled everything on top.  I relied on my schema of capability and a heavy dose of trust:  I trusted that with flame and a bunch of flammable substances all in one small space, how could a fire not start?

He waited patiently for the kindling to catch, to sparkle and roar, and added one larger log at a time, blowing, oxygenating, tending the flames.  He relied not entirely upon alchemy, but also on a methodical, intuitive nurturing.

This winter, I’m hoping to become a proficient fire-maker.

I wonder if my life might follow suit.


The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!