Thursday, January 22, 2009


Jenny asked that I write something about the elements. In numerous books and courses you can find detailed knowledge about using the traditional western system of earth, water, fire and air or the Chinese system that adds metal to the list. As you can tell from previous blogs, I believe its important to include direct experience in any process of designing, building and inhabiting. Sensory experience is the link between mind, nature and architecture. It's the reality check that what we create actually fulfills our intentions.

A number of years ago, I worked with a couple in Utah to design their home. To gain insight into the sensory experience that would provide a structure suited to them, I asked them what images they associated with each room of the house. In room after room John said, "Fireplace." After the fourth room, Suzanne asked, "What's up with the fire place in every room?" John closed his eyes. After a few seconds, tears rolled down his face. "I haven't thought of this in 30 years. I grew up in my grandparents house in the Midwest. They always had a fire burning in the fireplace, even in summer." In this case, fire was an organizing element in designing their home. 

John's precise associations with fire weren't as important as creating a place that honored fire. To do so, honored the psychic glow and warmth that linked him personally to home. Fire and the other elements are sensory thresholds between the seen and the unseen, between matter and soul.

How do you relate to fire? Do you see it as a friend or an enemy? What experience have you had with fire's color, light, and warmth that you would like to include in your home? Notice your encounters with fire today and see how it's passion and transforming power influences your life.

1 comment:

  1. In the Medicine Wheel my Circle walks, fire is the element of the East Lodge in which we begin each year anew. As such, for three months a year we journey to the element of fire and to the rising sun, seeking their wisdom.

    My first tattoo is of a spiral sun, a reminder that the light always exists, even when completely out of sight.

    There are candles throughout my home and we are blessed with two fireplaces, though our use of all of the above is sporadic. Reading this makes me wonder if I should incorporate more candle light rituals in my day, even if only to light one candle at evening's end.

    Thank you, Anthony.