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How to Agonise before Fire-Walking - Let's Go - Go - Go.

Updated on May 13, 2013
walking across hot coals
walking across hot coals | Source

Fire in the Sole - Ouch

Have you ever considered walking across hot coals in bare feet?

Have you ever wondered why do people do it?

Is it possible to walk on hot coals and not experience burns?

Is the firewalking considered ‘mind over matter’ - or is there a scientific explanation?

Here is my experience as I joined a group of firewalkers to try out the experience.

1. What to wear?

An asbestos suit comes to mind.

I reluctantly settle for casual cotton clothes.

2. The ‘What If’s.’

What if - I begin to walk and freeze halfway across?

What if - I ignite from my soles upwards?

What if -I smear my feet with grease for protection? I think of sizzling bacon and decide against it.

What if - I change my mind? I can chicken out. Or become Kentucky fried.

3. The Destination

The ordinary back yard in the suburbs is disappointing.

I can’t stop the thoughts parading through my mind.

I want exotic. I want bongo drums, palm trees, waves lapping on a sandy shore, children laughing.

Bring on the natives with swaying hips and beautiful smiles.

The mood here is sombre.

4. New Best Friends

It’s consoling to bond with my fellow, about to be, firewalkers. We look for the fire but not a spiral of smoke is to be seen. The torrential downpour I’d prayed for is not about to eventuate either. It is a cool, clear, starry, night.

Our leader, Nick, begins to motivate us. He reminds us that fire walking in many cultures is customary.

Of course it is. I’ve seen them do it many times and they don’t ignite. They positively stomp over the red-hot coals.

5. Lighting the Fire

En masse we assemble and light a bonfire. It’s big. It roars into life. Flames leap into the air. I’m reminded of Joan of Arc. I’m reminded of funeral pyres.

Ritual is part of the catharsis. We write our fears down on pieces of wood and symbolically burn them. For someone who usually has heaps to worry about my contribution is limited.

I’m scared of fire, one in particular.

I’m scared of being burnt to a crisp.

I’m scared of everything.

Not long now.

6. Overcoming Fear and preparation

We are told that Western society has developed an aversion to fire. We know that it burns. We have grown up with the understanding – fire is dangerous.

Tonight, we are overcoming fear. There is no reasonable explanation of why we cannot walk on fire. It’s a proven fact. Overcome that fear now – you can walk across a fire in bare feet.

Whoopee. I am motivated. Bring it on.

7. Ready

My negative voice kicks back in. I burnt my finger on the stove yesterday. Ouch. It confirms a point – fire is dangerous. I’m sure I didn’t imagine the pain.

Time to forget such thoughts. Everybody else looks radiant. I concentrate on positive thoughts.

There is no reasonable explanation why I cannot walk on fire.

8. Steady

The fire is raked - a red molten glow. Silence descends on our group.

I can clearly see my epitaph – Tripped while fire walking. Huh. At least my grandchildren will have something to remember me for.

9. Go Go Go

Nick is first over the coals. I watch his bare feet crunch into the burning red-hot embers.

My own feet consult with my mind – ‘we are not going to do that. Right?’ Wrong.

What you are afraid of can be overcome.

One by one my new friends take the plunge. They make it.

If they can do it I can. I think I can. I think I can…I can.

I take my first step and the next and the next – look at me.

Look at me, almost strolling across the 300 degree burnng embers - suddenly I’m celebrating at the other end. I’m still intact.

Wow I did it. I consider I’ve conquered something inexplicable. Guess what? I want to do it again. And I do

10. Celebration

Our group is ecstatic. We’ve all made it unscathed. We’re noisy and full of praise for each other. I feel gloriously decadent and curiously self satisfied.

The evening concludes by cooking sausages on the sizzling embers that once held my feet. Frankly I’m proud of myself. I hope this feeling of elation lasts.

On the drive home I imagine throwing a barbeque and treating my guests to a new experience. But then I remember the rules – Don’t try this at home.

Walking on fire must always be under supervision.



Firewalking is one of the oldest rituals on the planet. For thousands of years it has been It has been practised all over world with records dating back to India, circa 1200 BC.

Christians in Bulgaria firewalk during a popular religious feast.

Japanese Taoists, Buddhists, Indian Fakirs, Polynesians, etc, all traditionally firewalk.

It is often used as a rite of passage marking a transition from one status to another, child to adult, as a test of strength, courage or faith. In many cultures around, people have used firewalking as a means of healing or purifying their communities.

And of course, in many places firewalking is demonstrated as entertainment for the tourist.


Today, firewalking is an incredible tool for modern humans to use. Corporate and team building seminars often use it as a way to instil self-confidence.

Many people consider firewalking to be a supernatural or paranormal event. The individual focus is so strong it presents as a mind over matter experience, a test of protective power. This is what we were taught before the firewalking event - we had to believe in ourselves.

There is an alternative, sceptical view, denouncing the supernatural theory and the belief that it requires a particular state of mind, or anything extraordinary.

This view considers the length of time the sole of the foot is in contact with the coals, suggesting the each step at half a second is not long enough to cause a burn.

Add to this the theory that wood is good insulator even when burning and charcoal is even better. Plus, the ash left from the charcoal is also an insulator and therefore can help to protect the feet from burning and blistering.

This doesn’t necessarily detract from the feeling of empowerment by having walked on fire, or that it may improve self-confidence.

It does denounce firewalking as a supernatural or paranormal event.

I am still out on the verdict.

Curiously, several weeks after my debut, a group of firewalkers were rushed to hospital with burnt feet. Does this mean the motivational failed? Or they walked too slowly or in the wrong place? There are no answers.


Other Fire Connections

Fire breathing is the act of creating a fireball by breathing a fine mist of fuel over an open flame. This is often used by street buskers.

Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) describes reported cases of the burning of a living human body without an apparent external source of ignition.

Nostalgia – Keep the Home Fires Burning – a British patriotic First World War song composed by Ivor Novello in 1914.

There is still debate how the earliest humans first used and controlled fire. Clearly it evolved to provide warmth and keep predators away at night. Cooking food and socialization also became a ritua

We still use fire in the most positive ways – cooking food, outside on a barbeque, warming the house with an open fire. Lighting candles to add atmosphere and relaxation.

Sitting and staring around a bonfire, the flames are mesmerizing, in this way we tend to socialise much as the ancestors did.

Fire can be a hard taskmaster. Living in a fire danger area I am always aware of the possibility of a out of control blaze and most respectful of it.

Fire in the Australian bush can lead to devastation both human and wildlife.

Let’s not forget the Olympic flame the origins hail from the ancient Greece Olympics where a fire was always kept burning. The fire was re introduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam and has played a part in every Olympic games since – bonding athletes and audiences throughout the world.

The Olympic flame London 2012
The Olympic flame London 2012 | Source

would you walk across hot coals in bare feet?

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    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from australia

      Hello Peg and thank you for being here. Have to admit this was not a recent experience - maybe I wouldn't venture again - but then who knows...glad you enjoyed the journey with me.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Fascinating to find someone who has actually done this. Your description to the build up before and the elation afterward was palpable. I once considered doing this when I was younger, but now, not so much if at all. Thanks for this vicarious experience.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      aud99 - thank you for your most thoughtful comments - it is an experience to remember - there seem to be spiritual and scientific reasons why it is possible - I'm not certain which is correct - just that it worked my way.

    • aud99 profile image


      5 years ago

      I have heard of people doing it during religious festivals like the Hindus. I thought it requires a pure mind or something spiritual to accomplish. Anyway, it is a great personal challenge to do this. The fear must be conquered.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      justmesuzanne - hello - appreciate you stepping by! Thank you for such fun comments and the votes -

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      5 years ago from Texas

      Great "step-by-step" guide! ;) I don't believe I would do this, but it certainly is fascinating! Voted up, interesting, tweeted, pinned and shared! :)

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Hi Walter - thank you for your comments -

      I wish I could answer the question - I am mystified at how it works.

      I thought the motivation was the key - and I believed in that. However, there is a division beween this theory and the scientific one.

      I'm just glad I did it my way - and perhaps one day it will all be explained.

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 

      5 years ago from Malaysia

      Travmaj, amazing! You're so adventurous. I'll never dare to try. You mentioned: "Curiously, several weeks after my debut, a group of firewalkers were rushed to hospital with burnt feet. Does this mean the motivational failed? Or they walked too slowly or in the wrong place? There are no answers."

      And that's what I fear most, LOL. According to Chinese belief, pregnant women and those having their period should not stand nearby when the firewalk is performed.

      Travmaj, how is it that firewalk doesn't burn the sole? I still cannot understand, after reading your hub. Maybe you should venture your best guess, after having gone through the firewalk yourself.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      DREAM ON - thank you again - yes I know of Anthony Robbins he does great work -

      Thank you for such positive comments - appreciate it.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      5 years ago

      I always loved Anthony Robbins and the work he does to motivate people around the world.Just wanted to say your enthusiasm for life is wonderful.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      DREAM ON - Thank you - appreciate your positive comments - yes, I did it and I felt great afterwards - but ohhh - the agony beforehand. Hope you get a chance one day - who knows...

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      5 years ago

      Interesting and now I finally can say I know someone who walked a fire on the burning coals.What a great accomplishment.Voted up.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Sueswan - yes it was certainly a good feeling after all the anguish - thank you for commenting and the vote - most appreciated.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Nell Rose - I agree. I don't know how it works either. I just know it usually does for that short stroll across -well it did that day!

      Thanks for being here -most appreciated -

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Colin - you say the best things, and I admit I love it. Thank you for the follow - I didn't know as I hear from you often anyway. Happy birthday - I hope the sun shines and your day is special. About those ten years - I wish! But I'm not

      All best wishes from down under - right now 5-50am monday morning. Cheers to you and Tiffy and Gabriel today.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Valley - good to hear from you - glad you approve of fire walking. Have to say - it's not a regular hobby! Yes, all well down under - hope all well with you and yours...

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hi Travmaj,

      Wow! I can just imagine the sense of accomplishment you must have felt.

      Voted up and awesome

      Have a great day. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Wow! Well done for walking across the fire! I always thought that it was a trick, maybe putting water on your feet or something. Then I remember reading about how they turned the charcoal and ash to make a layer. Whether it works or is true I really don't know, but it's a fascinating thing to see, good on ya! lol!

    • epigramman profile image


      5 years ago

      On your survey I said 'never' but I would walk over hot coals just to get to one of your hubs, lol.

      I so do love the offbeat choices of your subjects and you make each hub presentation uniquely your very own with inimitiable wit, charm and enlightenment. And oh yes I did something very honorable right now and with infinite good taste - I followed you, so sorry it was later than early but here I am better late than never, lol, 'cos you are just an awesome writer and wonderful person and I'm so glad we met.

      By the way it's my bithday on Sunday - I am ten years older than you now, lol, at 55 - maybe it's my birthday already where you live.

      Sending you warm wishes for your health and happiness from Colin and his cats Tiffy and Gabriel at lake erie time canada 5:45pm and listening to Horace Silver and his magic jazz stylings ..

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Takes some courage to do that Maj...You certainly have some interesting experiences to write about, and you don't half pack some fascinating information into your hubs...another thoroughly enjoyable read...thanks Maj..hope you are well:-))

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Renee - what great comments - I'm really thrilled that you found this so accessible. I thank you very much for joining me on the fire walking journey.Very much appreciated

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Hi Michelle - glad to hear your hubby had a firewalk also. Anthony Robbins seems very popular. I think Oprah did it also (which I must add to my hub! )

      It is bizarre and I never expected to do it. Still as a 'follower' I made it. Still not sure how it works.

      Good to have you stop by - cheers and thanks

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      janetwrites - Hello and thank you. I fancy myself as brave but I'm usually a bit of a coward. Something about connecting and manipulation works wonders. LOL Cheers...

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      elias zanetti - good to have you stop by. Firewalking in Greece must be an art, passed down through the generations and so meaningful. Many wonderful customs and traditions in your country. Thank you so much.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      tobusiness - thanks so much for your great response - nah - this only took a short while and then I was back to normal - just me again.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Mhatter - glad to have you here - appreciate your comments - I reckon you are much braver than me. Thanks

    • Renee Abbott profile image

      Renee Abbott 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      I was breathless reading this Travmaj. Just breathless. My heart was in my throat. Absolutely fantastic writing here, and thank you for sharing your experience. Wow..just Wow

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      My hubby participated in the Anthony Robbins Firewalk as a test of self-confidence....and he found that it taught him quote a lot. Thanks for sharing, Travmaj! You have much of your travels to share!

    • CrisSp profile image


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Wow! Salute travmaj! That's awesome! You are awesome...brave woman! Such thrilling experience and thank you for sharing. I also like the way you have presented it-easy to read and you kept me going.

      Voting up +++ and sharing.

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 

      5 years ago from Georgia country

      Travmaj, you are not only a brilliant writer but also a brave woman. Kudos to you!!! I think I would be to anxious to do that.

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 

      5 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Great hub! It is indeed a very old custom and still practiced here in Greece too. Really enjoyed reading but I think will never attempt something like this :)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Travmaj, a brilliant write!'re a better woman than I am, Gunga Din! :)

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      Fascinating. You did a good job covering this.Me? I have a hard enough time leaving my wheelchair. (balance)

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      wetnosedoga - Hello - so glad you stopped by. I guess this sounds impressive but sadly I'm not at all brave. I was invited to the event and somehow had to keep up with everyone. Looking back though it was fun. Enjoy your book and those furry friends...

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      kidscrafts - thank you so much , I like your style. Good thinking.

      It was an interesting experience and it felt very energising at the time. I was asked along to this event and really had to go with the flow. I'd probably do it again under similar conditions. Sending best...

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      5 years ago from Alabama

      Brave, very brave you are. I would be a chicken - I know I am a chicken - guess I better go read a book. LOL

    • kidscrafts profile image


      5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      What a great article Travmaj! Good for you to try this experience. I think if someone would offer me to try this experience, I would do it ....but I would walk barefeet for at least a month on the stones of my backyard to harden the sole of my feet.... less chance to burn them later ;-)

      Thank you for sharing that interesting and awesome experience!

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Annie - great to hear from you - thank you for your lovely comments. Much appreciated. Have a feeling you might give it a go in the right circumstances - we're tough from Lancashire! Sending best wishes,

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from australia

      Hello phoenix - great to have you visit and thank you for your positive comments and a fire walk.

      And a big thank you for the date prob - fixed I think. Funny to have an image from the future! LOL. Cheers...

    • bac2basics profile image


      5 years ago from Spain

      Hi Maj. You have just amazed me. I can´t see myself copying this in a million years, you must have been so well motivated to even attempt it and I still can´t imagine anyone ever talking me into doing the same. Well done you :)

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Loved, absolutely loved this hub. I've never known anyone who has walked on fire. It's nice to hear from someone who has had the experience.

      Just one thing; you might want to check your date in the caption for the Olympic Torch.


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