I had been fasting and walking without purpose for many days, aimlessly searching for a way to forgive myself—to forgive the world for being merciless. As dusk began to fall, in a valley between mountain peaks, blanketed in purple flowers, I came upon several people who seemed to be waiting for me, who had built a structure next to a fire. Below was a spring of water bubbling hot from the Earth.
Inside the structure was an old man with strikingly clear eyes and long, stringy hair who began to sing. At first I felt out of place, but he motioned for me to take a seat in the circle. He sang his song in a language I did not recognize, allowing it to build as he poured more water onto the hot stones, sending out waves of heat. His feet became drums as he sang, following the cadence of blood pulsing through my body, resonating with the beating of my heart. “This was my brother’s song,” he explained. “Every man searches for his song when he goes from boy to man. He searches for a vision. And when he becomes a man, he tries to do it with humility. He is humble. But he has that heat, that fire within him, and it comes from the Earth and the trees and the rocks around him, and it enters us through the water. It becomes that fire within us.”
I walked down to the black water and swept my eyes across the smooth obsidian surface reflecting the night sky before stepping in. I became buoyant in the water, beneath the stars and the crescent moon. Bats darted across the sky, visitors from the belly of Mother Earth–a sign of rebirth. I floated with my arms outstretched in a gesture of receiving. The big dipper above was generously pouring its blessings down on me. Submerged in the water, with my blood pulsating, the pounding of the drum again sounding in my ears, I allowed the fire to enter me.