Traditions? Ashes or flames?


Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes.”
Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer and conductor, 1860-1911

I found a version of this quote in Annette Høst’s article “The Legacy of Seidr: History, Experiences and the Path Ahead,” in the latest issue of A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism (Vol. 6, Issue 1, Spring 2013), the membership publication of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners.

This is a spring-cleaning time, whisking out a lot of accumulated excess stuff, especially that stuff that – even if it blazed bright in the past – is now no more energetic than a pile of ash.  Physical cleaning is great and cathartic, but the inner cleansing is vital, too, which means out with the beliefs and ideas that no longer serve me.  Honoring  the past and its lessons doesn’t mean getting stuck there.

So… Bravo for the past service of some items and ideas, but it’s time for dead ashes to be swept away, the better for fresh flames to burn clearly.  And Beltane approaches, a good time for inviting fresh fire energy.


Mahler etching by Emil Orlik, c. 1903.  This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.


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