The Firewalk: My Path to Personal Freedom
Publisher of Skeptic Magazine Firewalks
Introduction to the Firewalk Possibility
Firewalking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers or stones. Walking on fire has existed for a few thousand years with records dating back to 1200 B.C, has a long history in many cultures as a test or proof of faith, and has been practiced in spiritual, emotional and physical healing.Firewalking is about squarely facing our fears and giving up belief patterns that have held us in a reality too small for our spirits. This process toward collective empowerment and healing was introduced to me at St Paul Community Baptist Church in 1997 by Jeffrey Vincent Noble (motivational speaker, relationship counselor, and success coach).
While the men set up outside, heating the coals and roping off the path, Jeff prepared us inside by working to raise our energy level to equal or exceed that of the fire. Only then would we be able to walk safely on it. Jeff explained the firewalk ritual and shared his firewalk experience with us. When he initially asked how many of us were planning to try it, I can assure you that many a hand did not go up, including mine.
During the preparation, we were guided through some meditation exercises, visualizing our trials, traumas and victory. We were told to determine what our place of victory would look and feel like, and then to select a representative color that we could recall later in challenging times. Finally, we role-played walking through the firewalk ritual in the sanctuary. All in all, it was like a spiritual pep rally that proved to be effective because when Jeff asked again, “How many of you are planning to walk?” several more hands went up. Mine however, was still not included. In fact, I did not do the firewalk on that first night.
Frozen In Fear
Two nights later, on Saturday, September 27, 1997 when I felt the Holy Spirit leading me, my hand went up to do the second walk. After the firewalk preparation, firewalkers were lined up in a single file while non-participants gathered along the outside of the ropes to cheer us on. The high energy saturated the air and was maintained by the intensity of the drummers playing and the people chanting – “Freedoooom, Yes Lord Yes! As the second person in line, I felt the need for some extra power so while everyone else was chanting, I was mentally reciting scriptures. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13); I look to the hills from whence cometh my help (Psalms 121:1); God has not given me the spirit of fear … (2 Timothy 1:7).
As I approached the coal-lined path, I stepped on some hot embers that had fallen from the shovel into the grass. All scripture recitation was immediately halted by this resounding paralyzing thought, “Oh no! if I can feel this, what’s going to happen when I step onto that 15 foot, 1200 degree bed of hot coals!” I dragged my foot against the grass in an unsuccessful attempt to scrape off the clinging embers as my steps faltered into position at the head of the coals.
Physically frozen in fear, I heard a quiet reassuring voice filtering through the loud drumming and chanting, speaking steadily in my left ear: “This is the moment you’ve been preparing for … think about all the things you want to overcome in your life … you can do it!” Sensing my hesitation, Jeff had instantly stepped into action with motivating words of encouragement. My thoughts raced, “I can’t stay where I am because I’m holding up a long line of firewalkers; I can’t turn back and let fear defeat me now and haunt me later at the crossroads of future challenges; if I don’t cross at this moment, I probably never will; help Lord!”
Oprah Walks on Fire
“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)
Suddenly, transcending peace calmed my mind and spoke to my spirit. I felt and heard the Holy Spirit say, “Even if you feel it, I will not allow you to be harmed, those are dancing feet.” I pressed forward with determined steps, propelled by a new level of faith, the rhythm of the African drums and the chanting of the saints.
I victoriously crossed over to the other side unburned and full with praise and thanksgiving to God! There were two men waiting to grab hold of each arm and spray the soles of my feet with water. However, they seemed to have missed the spot where the stinging embers took up residence. My sister-friend Cassie was also waiting for me with a hug and reminder to step into my color and center myself. As I visualized my color, purple, a series of piercing screams erupted from what felt like the depths of my toes and worked its way up through my body and out of my mouth. It was rooted in emotions that had long been suppressed and seeking release for over 25 years. Although liberating for me, Cassie was unfortunately locked in my exuberant embrace of joyous jumps and sanctified shrieks. Where I lost an earring, she most likely experienced partial hearing loss. As for those hot embers that had lodged in the bottom of my foot, I was thankful because they temporarily left 3 indentations that served as a confirmation to the realness of the event (I had previously heard skeptic stories like, “The coals used in Firewalks weren’t really hot and don't burn”). They were also a reminder of my accomplishment and represented the accompaniment of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, safely guiding me across the coals.
In the face of fear, God resurrected my courage and continues to motivate me with empowering peace, confirmation and scripture. Crossing those hot coals revealed my limitless potential, demonstrating “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). In addition, I continue to praise God, heal self, and edify others through encouragement, praise and worship, dance with a collective or solo; whether my body is feeling well or ill, I press forward knowing that “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
***NOTE: I have done the firewalk twice without incident since that first time. What I experienced was a great sense of empowerment in the ability to face my fears and crush them underfoot while walking into an expected prosperous future of healing and wholeness. Doing it afraid is not just a cliche; it is the courage to press pass your fears and stand victorious on the other side!***
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