In "The Healing Wisdom of Africa", Malidoma Some' writes the following:
"When a culture is caught on fire,...they rush ceaselessly forward with a consumer's mentality, they pollute everything in their way, conquering and destroying anything that interferes. Fire culture promotes consumerism and cultivates scarcity in order to increase restlessness, then uses the restless, burning psyche as energy water to increase production and consumption. Meanwhile the culture on fire is fascinated with violence. As a matter of fact, violence proves to be highly marketable and stimulates the fiery nature of the culture as a whole. Consequently, a fire culture is a war culture. It sees solutions in terms of fire and conflicts as fire that can be resolved with more fire. Such a culture will require a lot if water to heal." (pg.171)
Some''s perspective is important, salient and functional as it shows the genius of the indigenous mind/heart-set in understanding the emergent nature of social conflict and the path forward to true resolution of some of the deepest problems presented to us by modernity, that which has deemed itself more important than all of that that has come before it, which, again, for the record amounts to a quantitative deficit of about three million years. The qualitative deficit is of a more voluminous nature.
Fire carries within its physical, physiological and meta-physical make-up an energy that has a particular imprint on the environments, material and ideological content and systems that come into contact with it. Modern science actually does a good job in quantifying some of the effects of fire, heat and other manifestations of molecular excitation. Where modern science and, thus, modern culture falls short is in the validation and engagement of the deeper understandings of the effects of fire in our bodies, our spirits, the World of Spirit (which science is just beginning to sheepishly acknowledge, mostly due to the residue of it showing up on their machines and meters) and our productive and social systems. The above quote points us powerfully to a more expansive understanding of the role of energetics in sensing pathology, hopes for healing and resolution and providing a context for a deeper spiritual understanding of our presence and processes in the world.
Energetics, the sum total of knowledge and embodied practice of spiritual work in the indigenous context, is well defined by the Dagara perspective as shared by Some'. The nature of fire is clear in the increased freneticism that capitalism and it's number one son, consumerism, creates. One can see this in the rapid pace in which capitalist production creates and manufactures new and often unnecessary items for the sake of itself, for the sustenance of its own life, just as a fire will quickly heat anything close to it and will find ways of turning it into new fuel, bursting it into flames within minutes. If we are victims of this fire out of balance, and the Dagara perspective would say just that, then it stands to reason that the rapid pace of urbanization would be a concomitant result of capitalism as it wants us, its willing kindling, to be as close to each to each other as necessary, so that the heat growing in one of us can effect the energetic nature of others around them. Another element to consider in this urbanization is the increased occurrence and acceptance of violence. Not that urban centers are the only bastions of violence, for lynching of Africans in America happened in the blessed bosom of nature's rural surroundings and the physical debasement and destruction of women has tragically known no societal barriers, but we can see, if we choose, how urbanization fits neatly into the incendiary plan of capitalism.
One need look only to the increasing occurrence of new software, digital technologies and pharmaceuticals into the limited social consciousness. All three of these industries suffer from sometimes fatal and oftentimes debilitating outcomes born out of the lack of proper testing, consideration of side effects, research and even quiet consideration and observation that would come from a more watery energetic perspective that Some' suggest is the hope for healing in this larger sense. Most members of modern society would clearly agree that these technologies and products are rushed to market without proper and sensible consideration, but an understanding of the energetic nature of fire would help us see why we feel to busy, too rushed, too driven to engage the fleeting remediations of spark-fast instant gratification that keep us from engaging the cooler prospects of a slower, larger, broader, intelligent understanding of ourselves and the forces that effect us so deeply and fatally.
We might look to the humbly short, but provocative animated documentary, "The Story of Stuff", to help to ground our connection to the reality of Some''s offering here. This challengingly simple expose of the process of natural resource extraction, manufacturing/processing, commercialism and disposal makes surprisingly accessible the view of capitalism's blind and insatiable burning consumption of all that it can get into its factories and big-box stores. On that note of consumption, consider that even capitalism is agrandizing the process of consumption of small stores, banks, media systems and markets by larger, hotter, more mean and mean configurations of capitalist power and uber-masculinized prowess, much like the nature of any fire, looking for any opportunity to find and be fed by more heat, more fuel, more powerless kindling (and what is kindling, but the small disembodied pieces of wood cut off from the tree of life) that can be subsumed into the combustive fracas and made into an inferno with no hope of release into the cool waters of peaceful sanity. We could also go to sources such as Nkrumah, Rodney, Nyerere, Shakur, Chomsky, Perkins, Zinn and many, many others for this, but we needn't unchain those coyotes here. Annie Leonard's discourse is deep enough to get us to the next level of the game.
Mythology and pop culture "news" is full of fire metaphors with respect to war. One would have to fully understand the energetic of fire to see how difficult it truly is to turn around the war machine (probably a combustion engine...no thank you, Daimler), what energies are necessary to abrogate and remediate it and also what would a world without dependence upon war and fire look and feel like. An energetically informed perspective is necessary to fully assess the energies at play, to find their sources and to effect change in a serious and fundamental way. If we don't understand fire and its energetic nature, we don't understand ourselves.
Though we can gain much from a look at the Dagara perspective, we must see also that many other cultures contribute to our understanding of the energetics of fire. We can find much insight from the cultures of the Quichua in Ecuador with their embrace of the sacred volcanoes, many if not all of the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (north America), the indigenous people of Hawaii, China, India. Where there is a fire god, goddess or spirit revered, there is also fire energetically understood with a deep, embodied understanding I define as "informed intimacy". Modern thought would still suggest that indigenous people, "primitive" people engage nature and especially fire out of some sort of ignorant-childish, primal fear, but anyone on the receiving side of that sort of brazen, ignorant disrespect would clearly say they've been...well...burnt.
Energetics recognizes the spiritual power that defines and animates all things, abstract or concrete, corporeal or esoteric. Energetics expresses and seeks to give context to the power and importance of the indigenous perspective on the spiritual, inspired nature of the universe and that it, in and of and because of itself, is a key and indivisible part of the indigenous conception of life, nature and All That Is. Energetics is inseparable from indigeny. Indigeny is inseparable from the human experience. Indigeny is inseparable from the future of humanity on this earth.