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A Conquest of Fire by the Human Body

Man is entirely a mental creature; he is a mental statement of what he believes; his body is mental substance, and has been built by his thought, his thought as expressed in belief. If it were not for this fact, there would be no use in trying to conquer death. If we were made of dead matter, and if dead matter were subject to decay and dissolution, then, of course, our continued existence, so far as life in the physical form is concerned, would be impossible, and not only impossible, but undesirable—undesirable, since the true personality of the man would not be in the physical, but would have to carry the physical—a dead weight to itself—all through the ages.

But man is altogether mental. His body is mental, as well as his thought. His thought is—so far as we now know—the finest strata of his personality. Next to his thought comes his brain; then his nerves; then the blood vessels; then the other parts of the body.

No one knows the precise process of body building; but a little is known about it; and this little suggests more that seems true, and that I fully believe to be true. We know that from the brain there proceeds a regular system of nerves, and that nerves go with each blood vessel. We know also that the blood builds the body, muscles and bone and all the parts. What we have not considered is the starting point of this building. It begins with the deathless principle of the seed germ which is in the brain, and every part of the body is built by direction of the brain, and always was, and always will be.

If the brain had no messengers with which to send its ideas to different parts of the body, there would be no body; nothing but brains; but then again, if there were no body there would be no brain, because the body feeds the brain. The body and brain are reciprocal in their action; the body sends food to the brain, and the brain sends thought to the body.

The brain sends the best thought to the body that it has. If the brain is ignorant of the great truths concerning its own powers that I have been telling of, the thought it sends into the body is as liable to be error as truth.

Every particle of disease originates in the brain; every particle of thought that shows a lack of knowledge of the power of the individual to overcome all sorts of weakness, and establish his mastery over all things and conditions, originates in the brain.

Weakness originates in the brain during the period of man's ignorance concerning himself and his relation to the Principle of Being or the Law of Attraction; strength will originate in his brain, also, as soon as he learns this relation, and thereby comes into a knowledge of his own power. If the Principle of Attraction, the spirit of all organized forms, is powerful, then man must be powerful also as soon as he knows this, since he will also know that he is one with it—its spokesman, as it were, its manifestation drawn into shapes that are available in use.

Man in his ignorance of his high connection with the infinite power that infuses his body with life, is necessarily weak. No wonder he calls himself a worm of the dust. He sees all the elements of his destruction, and none of the mighty powers latent within him, the development of which will make him so strong as to lift him above the death plane of humanity.

But there is absolutely nothing on earth that can lift him above the death plane but thought. And it must be a different kind of thought from any that he has ever yet entertained.

He has been generating beliefs of disease and death in his brain all these ages, and the nerves that run from the brain to every part of the body have carried these beliefs, and the body has accepted them and showed them forth. The body could not help, but accept the beliefs sent through it by the brain, because it is negative to the brain; that is, it is less intelligent than the brain, and the more intelligent part of anything rules its less intelligent parts.

The nerves not only convey messages from the brain to every part of the body, but they make a turn at the extremities of the body, and go back to the brain; they are carriers both ways. The brain has a firmly fixed belief that fire will wither up the human flesh and destroy the life of one who is too severely exposed to its heat. Therefore, when the hand touches fire, the nerves tell the brain instantly, crying out, "I am burned." The brain accepts this as an undeniable fact, and replies, "Yes, you are burned."

But there are people today who heat immense furnaces as hot as fire will make them, and who go into them and walk about and sit down on the stones that are white with heat, and talk with each other, and come out without a hair of their bodies being scorched.

It is easy enough to deny these matters, but they are absolutely true, as has been proven beyond contradiction. We have taken the greatest possible pains to ascertain the truth of these statements, and are entirely convinced of their correctness.

Fire will not burn the body if the brain sends word to this effect along its nerves to the surface of the skin. It is essential that the brain should have knowledge unequivocally that the body will not be hurt, and in the test the body is not hurt.

It makes no difference what the brain tells the body it can do, the body will actually do it, provided the brain entertains no doubt about the possibility of its Icing done. In the first instance, which I reproduce here, together with copies of the photographs taken on the spot, the actors in the marvelous performance no longer hold to a belief in the legendary account of how it was first given to the members of their family to withstand fire; they only know that they can do so, and that their savage ancestors for generations had possessed the same power. They do not understand how it h that they can do it, neither do they know how the first progenitor learned how; they have a belief which, being absolutely perfect, amounts to the knowing, and the result is in accordance with their perfect faith.

The account which follows first appeared in a London (Eng.) magazine, and after full investigation by us and satisfactory proof of its genuineness obtained, was reproduced in Freedom, with illustrations made from photographs taken on the spot. It was called, "The Fiery Ordeal of Fiji."

The account of this most remarkable affair is taken principally from an extended article by Maurice Delcasse, which appeared in the May, 1898, number of the Wide World Magazine, published in London, England. The article did not, however, come to my notice until two months later, when I at once wrote to London to obtain, if possible, some further proof of the authenticity of the statements made, and also to procure illustrations from the photographs, if satisfied of their genuineness.

From the editor of the Wide World Magazine I received the following:

"London, 5, 10, '98.

"In answer to your letter, I beg to say that the Eight Honorable Lord Stanmore, Ex-Governor of Fiji, has seen the ceremony time after time, and the photos were taken on the spot by Mr. Lindt of Melbourne."

The photos referred to are those from which the illustrations accompanying this article are made, and were procured through Knops Electrotype Agency, 19 Ludgate Hill, London, Eng.

And this is the legend lying back of the performance as told by the Fiji natives:

"There was once a storyteller in the village of Narakaisese, and when his story was done on one occasion, the spokesman among his hearers asked, according to custom, what each of the listeners would give on the morrow by way of recompense for his entertainment. Each then proceeded to name the offering lie would present, and one, Tui Qualita, said that his gilt should be a fine eel. Now, Tui Qualita was a man of renown in the tribe, and he went out on the morrow among the hills, until he came to a pool at Namoliwai, which seemed a likely place to catch the fish. There was a narrow mouthed hole by this pool, into which Tui Qualita promptly thrust his arm, and began feeling about for eels. After a time, he grasped something, which, on being pulled out proved to be a piece of wasi—a waist-girdle. Tui Qualita thrust his hand in again presently and enlarged the hole. By groping about, he found it widened into a cavern, and at last he succeeded in catching a living form. What was his amazement on drawing it forth to find that, instead of an eel, he had secured the storyteller himself, Tui Na Moliwai! Moliwai, finding himself a prisoner, proceeded to beg for mercy.

"'I will watch over you,' he pleaded to his captor, 'and be your war god.'

"'That won't do,' replied Tui Qualita, doggedly. 'Don't you know that my tribe is always victorious, and that I am its foremost warrior?'

"'Then let me be your guiding spirit in dancing and song.'

"'Not enough,' was the reply. 'Every time we dance, it is Qualita's tribe who leads the van. It shall be your fate, Moliwai, to be baked in the love with the masawe for four days and four nights.'

"Then Moliwai recommenced his entreaties and promises.

"'I will be your guardian spirit at sea,' he said.

"'No good,' was the reply. 'I am no sailor and I hate the sea.'

"Next the fairy promised to be his captor's god of riches and bring him wealth, or his god of beauty and make him beloved of fair women. It was all in vain, however. At last the Moliwai said, impressively, and desperately, 'Tui Qualita, I will do all these things and more. If you will let me off, and not insist upon baking me with the masawe for four days and four nights, but merely allow me to walk through the oven, I will ordain that, in future, when the masawe is baked, you, too, may be baked in the love with it and yet shall emerge unscathed.'

"This tempting offer was at once accepted, and Moliwai was immediately liberated, lie then gathered the stones and brushwood necessary, and made an oven in the ground. Next, when the stones were red hot, he led Tui Qualita into the furnace, and they sat down together on the red hot stones, which, far from hurting them, were merely cool and pleasant to the body. They did not, however, stay the full four days in the oven, but on coming out the fairy said to the Fijian brave, 'This power shall be yours and your descendants' forever. Both you and they shall at all times walk unharmed in the masawe oven.' And having said this, the fairy, Tui Na Moliwai, vanished forever."

It appears that the ceremony was formally performed only in secret, and most probably as some sort of religious rite, but of late years has been frequently witnessed by white people, including officials, missionaries and others. The statement is made that some of these have attempted to pass through the oven, with most disastrous and horrible results.

Of the photos from which the illustrations were made," Mr. Delcasse says:

"It is questionable whether more picturesque compositions were ever produced by a camera. There was no posing, or anything of that kind, mark you, the natives simply going about their curious business in their own way, quite unconscious of the fact that they were being photographed. I desire to acknowledge here my indebtedness for the loan of the photos, to Lord Stanmore, some time Governor of Fiji."

The Island of Benga, where these photos were taken, is not far from Suva, the capital of Fiji. This mysterious fire-walking ceremony has puzzled experienced scientists who have witnessed it, and no satisfactory solution of the feat has yet been discovered by them.

The Island of Benga, where this fiery ordeal took place, was the supposed residence of some of the old gods of Fiji, and was, therefore, considered a sacred land. Naturally, also, its chiefs took high rank. First of all, it is necessary to explain the native low, or oven, in which the masawe root is baked. This oven is merely a more or less circular hole, or hollow, dug and prepared in the ground, with a diameter of from eighteen feet to twenty-four feet. The oven is next filled with rough logs of firewood, piled up nine or ten feet. The photo shows the natives preparing the oven at this stage. On the logs are placed a great number of water-worn stones, varying in weight from eight pounds to one hundred pounds.

The fire for the ordeal is lighted in the masawe oven before daybreak, and burns for several hours—that is to say, until all the stones on the top, big and little, have fallen through into the hole and become almost white with heat.

Then, of course, nothing remains but a quantity of charred embers and a few half-burnt logs. The heat given oil' by the red-hot, stone-lined pit, was so great on the occasion we are describing, that Lord Stanmore's aide-de-camp declares it to have been intolerable, even when he was standing ten feet from the edge of the oven.

In due time the embers are dragged or fished out by means of vines attached to long sticks, the end of the vine having a running loop which is placed over the log. The partially burnt logs and embers having been removed, long green sticks, eighteen or twenty feet in length, are then inserted into the oven among the heaps of hot stones, and using these as levers, in the manner shown in the second photo, the stones are distributed evenly over the surface of the whole floor of the earth oven.

Sometimes the heat is so terrific that the operators are unable directly to manipulate the levers themselves, so they are compelled to rest the poles on the side of the oven, and then pull on them by means of vine ropes. The Fijians who take part in this ceremony make for themselves out of the broad banana leaf a special kind of garment, to shelter their bodies from the heat given off by the white-hot stones.

When the big embers have been removed, the wood ashes are swept away by means of whisks fastened to the ends of long sticks, as shown in the picture, and then nothing remains in the oven save the clean layer of glowing stones. These preliminaries, after the fire has burned itself out, occupy about half an hour, and then all is ready for the ceremony itself. At a given signal, the performers, bare-legged and bare-footed, excepting for the anklets of dried fern leaves, crowd into the pit and commence walking leisurely about as if on a fashionable promenade. The illustrations show this in the most vivid manner possible. Here is the narrative of a person who witnessed the ceremony:

"Jonathan, a native magistrate, led the way into the pit, closely followed by fourteen others. They marched round about the oven, moving slowly and leisurely, and treading firmly on the red-hot stones. The spectacle held me spellbound. Every moment I expected my nostrils to be assailed with the smell of burning human flesh, but it was not so, and as I looked in the faces of the men strolling about in the lovo I could see no emotion whatever depicted, but merely the inscrutable impassivity of feature common to many savage races. Some of the bystanders threw bundles of green leaves and branches into the oven, and immediately the men inside were half-hidden in the clouds of steam that arose from the hissing, boiling sap. Handkerchiefs were also thrown in, and afforded an unmistakable proof that there was 'no deception.' Before these lace trifles reached the floor of the oven, they were alight, and almost consumed by the great heat. Presently Jonathan and his followers marched out of the inferno, and were promptly examined by the Governor's commissioner. Not only was there not the least trace of burning, but even their anklets, which were of dried fern leaves, and, therefore, extremely inflammable, were not so much as singed.

"Jonathan himself was closely cross-examined by the Government official present—of whom he stood in great awe —and he declared with perfect candor, 'There is no trick; why should there be? I and my forefathers have done this thing for generations, long before the white man came into the island. Some of us may not believe the legend of the fairy chief Moliwai, but I do believe that it has been given to my tribe to pass at all times through the masawe oven.'

"Another official witness state that 'the men had not anointed themselves with anything whatever.' To a statement made by someone that the soles of the feet of the natives became so hardened that they could walk comfortably over stones heated by the sun, until they would blister a white person, Lord Stanmore replied to Mr. Delcasse in a letter that this was no explanation even if true; which it was not, as he had himself seen the natives repeatedly run to escape the heat of stones when passing bare-footed over beds of 'shingle' along the banks of water courses. Beside which is the fact that the dried fern leaves of which the anklets of the performers were made were not burned, while handkerchiefs and other articles thrown into the over were."

I now submit another account of a similar occurrence. It is from the New York Herald. Evidently, the Herald account is of the ceremony held upon a different occasion from the one just given. In the former, fourteen persons took part, and there were present Government officials. In the Herald account, there were but seven islanders entered the pit, and the principal witnesses were the two physicians mentioned. The Herald says:

"Two New Zealand medical men, Drs. Hocken and Colquhoun, recently visited Fiji, where they had an opportunity of witnessing the now rare fire ceremony of the natives. It is so rare that the power is now confined to a single family living on an islet twenty miles from the Fijian metropolis, Suva.

These people are able to walk, nude and with bare feet, across the white-hot stony pavement of a huge oven. An attempt was made on this occasion to register the beat, but when the thermometer had been placed for a few seconds about five feet from the oven, it had to be withdrawn, as the solder of the covering began to melt. The thermometer then registered 282 degrees, and Dr. Hocken estimated that the range was over 400 degrees.

"The fire-walkers then approached, seven in number, and in single file walked leisurely across and around the oven. Heaps of hibiscus leaves were thrown into the oven, causing clouds of steam, and upon the leaves and within the steam the natives sat or stood. The men were carefully examined by the doctors both before and after the ceremony. The soles of their feet were not thick or leathery, and were not in the least blistered. The men showed no symptoms of distress, and their pulse was unaffected.

"Preliminary tests failed to show that there had been any special preparation. Both doctors, while denying that there was anything miraculous about the experiment, expressed themselves as unable to give any scientific explanation."

The next mention of this subject is found in Freedom of January 25th; here a ceremony similar to those already described is given. It occurred in India, land of many mysteries. It is copied from The Lahore Civil and Military Gazette:

"It was during the recent convention of the Theosophical Society that a good many of us who are interested in the life of India below the surface, being present, some Hindu friends arranged with a certain sect of Shivaite Hindus, who claim the power of rendering fire harmless, to give an exhibition of their powers. Accordingly a trench was dug in the grounds of the Tagore Villa, about fifteen feet long by four wide, and this was filled with logs of wood, which were left to blaze all day. In the evening the trench was filled by a thick layer of glowing coals, giving off a tremendous heat. At seven p.m. we repaired to the scene of action. Our party consisted of Mrs. Besant, Countess Wachtmeister, Dr. Richardson, late professor of chemistry at University College, Bristol; Dr. Pascal, a French doctor of medicine; Mr. Bertram Keightley, barrister-at-law; Miss Lillian Edgar, M. A.; Col. Olcott, and others. Chairs were arranged for us on a kind of dias formed of the earth thrown out of the trench, and about eight feet from it. This was the nearest point to the big fire at which one could bear the scorching heat. At our back, and surrounding the trench, was a dense but orderly crowd of hundreds of Hindus. All awaited with eager expectation. At last a hubbub approaching from the gates of the villa announced the arrival of the procession.

"It consisted of a chief priest, who presided, carrying a sword; two others who were going to pass through the flames, and an image in a glass canopy borne along by others. The leader intimated that his two colleagues would pass through the fiery furnace, and afterward anybody who liked of the male persuasion might follow them through unharmed, but no women were permitted to go through. Then ensued a most extraordinary, and in some respects painful, spectacle. It is a doctrine of Hinduism that all the functions of nature, fire, rain, etc., are presided over by nature spirits. This particular sect of Hindus claims to have preserved the secret of being able to control the fire spirits, so that for the time they are unable to burn. Whatever may be the explanation, these are the facts.

"Certain mystic ceremonies having been performed, and cocoanuts having been tossed into the flames, the two junior priests apparently became possessed. With frantic shrieks and cries, they passed twice around the blazing trench, preceded by the chief priest with his sword, and followed by the brilliantly illuminated canopy. Then, still in a frenzy painful to behold, they plunged up to their ankles in the scorching furnace, and passed backward and forward several times, the rod-hot coals and sparks scattering about their feet. The crowd followed in their wake, first one or two individuals, until the others, gaining confidence and caught by enthusiasm, rushed through in hundreds, even little children of four and five years old running up and down the trench over the burning coals exactly as if it had been a soft carpet. All were unhurt. Among those who ventured was a brother of one of our party. This gentleman walked through the trench twice very slowly, and described the sensation afterward as having been like walking over hot sand.

"A skeptic among us having propounded the theory that the feet of natives were covered by an integument so dense that it was proof even against live coals, Dr. Pascal carefully examined the feet of this witness immediately after his performance, and found the skin of the soles was of the normal thickness of European feet, and that they were untouched by the fire. I saw one man deliberately pause in the middle of the trench to pick up a handful of the flaming embers, which he then carried through to the side. A linen turban which fell from someone's head lay on the coals without igniting, as did the cocoanuts. The priests remained on the scene for about twenty minutes, during which time the two apparently possessed men were held by others. After they left, the crowd was advised to cease experimenting with the fire, and no more passed over. At this stage Dr. Richardson and myself left our seats and attempted to approach to the brink of the fiery gulf, but the heat was so great that we had to turn back."

The next time this subject appears in Freedom, is the issue of October 4, 1899. It is headed:

Walking Through Fire

"I am printing this week another account of the performance above named. It was sent me from Fiji, and was published in the Fiji Times, July 22, 1899, and sent me by a friend and student of mine who lives there.

"This friend promised me that she would go to the next of the fire-walking performances that occurred on the island, and she did so. She went to it and saw it for herself, and I am giving her letter in this issue of Freedom without the alteration of a word.

"Question: If people can walk through fire without being injured, what can they not do? Is there any greater proof than this that mind is all, and that our beliefs determine our conditions? I now give the letter:

"'My Dear Mrs. Wilmans:—The much talked-and-written about fire-walking ceremony was held at Beqa on the 25th of July, and according to my promise to you I went with the excursionists to see if it were a feat as wonderful as it is reported to be.

"'We left Suva in the steamer Upolu, one thousand tons, at nine a. m., and reached the rocky and hilly isle of Beqa, at about twelve noon. It was not a favorable day, as rain was falling all the time. We had to anchor some considerable distance from the shore, and take to the boats. Still later we had to resign ourselves to the arms (or back) of the natives, who did not fail to Silim yarama (a shilling, lady,) or Silim turaga (a shilling, sir,) as the case might be. Presently we came to more shallow water; here the natives promptly set us down, and we plodded along the mud-flats for some distance, alike wet under foot and over head. On, over rough, loose stones, then through a bit of scrubby land, and a native village, or koro, and amidst surrounding coconut palms, we came to the lovo, or oven.

"'This was a hole in the ground probably eighteen feet in diameter, filled with burning logs and stones. You could not possibly have better illustrations than those given in Freedom on 23rd of November, 1808.

"'There is no possibility of doubting the genuineness of the fires which were still glowing red amongst the stones as we crowded round the lovo; immense logs were still burning on top, and, indeed, underneath, and were dragged out with great difficulty.

"'The stones were at white heat, but it took fully half an hour to level them down for walking on. I had been told that the natives merely walked hurriedly through the lovo once. But they went round quite leisurely, and presently when one sat down it gave me quite a shock, for I thought he had fallen. He then began to strew green leaves over the stones, and about a dozen of the men sat down with him. There is no need to question what they do to their feet; they would need to prepare their whole bodies, as they kneel and sit amongst the stones.

"(Signed.)

M. E. Bishop.

"Nansori, Fiji."

In Freedom of November 1, 1899, I find the following account of this wonderful performance, copied from the Springfield (Mass.) Republican. It is entitled: WALKING ON GLOWING COALS.

UNIQUE PROCESS OF PURIFICATION AS WITNESSED IN A JAPANESE TEMPLE APPARENTLY A PAINLESS FEAT.

[Springfield (Mass.) Republican.]

"We found our friends, and on again a half hour more through the crowded streets to the temple. There a crowd was gathered. It was about five o'clock, and at dark the priests were to begin to walk over the fire—for that is what we were there to see. Twice a year the gods are prevailed on to take the heat from the fire, so that the devout may walk upon it unharmed. The skeptics in our party outnumbered the believers, but you shall see.

"At the steps we must take off our shoes and contribute our one yen to the support of the temple. Arrangements had been carefully made beforehand, and for the Europeans a small veranda was reserved directly opposite the whole length of the fire, and so close that our faces grew hotter and hotter as it burned brighter. Half Tokio was there; Russians and French, Swiss, Germans, English, Scotch, Americans. Some of us slipped away to see the ceremony preceding the fire walking. In the temple a crowd was collected, and in the chancel, as I may call it, for want of another word, two rows of priests sat facing each other. Several were in robes of white silk, one in blue and one in green. The effect was brilliant and made still more picturesque by the close-fitting horsehair caps with long tails of the high priest and his subordinates.

"After some muttered invocations, the high priest turned to a cupboard-like shrine in one corner of the chancel, where he burned incense and performed other acts of devotion, apparently. Behind him in two long lines, like a flying wedge in a football game, knelt the other priests, now joined by two women of the temple with reverend faces. The half-intone service was not unlike a Gregorian chant, and was accompanied by a continuous response from the congregation. Throughout the latter part we stood in the doorway of one of the temple apartments opening out of the chancel. Here refreshments were provided for guests—oranges, tea—and for courtesy, not for payment. Later, in response to thanks, the high priest presented his card to one of the visitors.

"As the priests filed out of the temple, we took our places on the veranda, a proceeding less easy than it sounds, as we had to find ourselves places on the already crowded floor, and sit or kneel in them as gracefully as might be. The bed of charcoal was already lighted when we arrived, and was now fully on fire. It was, we agreed, some sixteen feet long, four feet wide, and perhaps a foot deep. It was in a space fenced off from the courtyard, and on the side opposite us the crowd of men, women and children pressed against the barrier. The fire was at present covered with ashes, but soon attendants entered the open space, and with long-handled fans blew away the gray covering and fanned the charcoal until it was a mass of blazing, glowing embers. Little flames sprang up over it in all directions, and one lady among us put up her umbrella to protect herself from the heat. Another of the party began to feel the headache which the charcoal always caused her. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the fire was hot— blazing, burning hot, and something like sixteen feet of it, too. 'O, les malheureux, les malheureux!' exclaimed an excited French woman, as she fancied walking over those embers.

"When all the ashes was fanned away and the fire had been beaten to a fierce glow with long poles, white-robed priests entered, one of whom, taking salt from a supply placed near us, attended the high priest as he went to each of the four corners of the pile. At each he clapped his hands, clasped them and raised them high as if in supplication, bent his head in prayer, and ended by strewing a handful of salt about him. It was the motion of a man sowing seed, and but few grains can have fallen in anyone spot. At the middle of each side and end this was repeated. It was now growing dark and the blazing embers threw a glow over the white dress of the priests. The high priest was a striking man. His motions were quick, decisive, intelligent, as he rapidly passed from one place to another. We could see his face distinctly, we were so close.

"The darkness lent added effectiveness to the next ceremony. Each corner and side was now purified again, for purification it meant this time. The attendants struck a flint as the priest prayed, the sparks flying off in thin, yellow lights against the rich, glowing, red mass of charcoal and the darker crowd of figures beyond.

"A drizzling rain was falling, but it affected the fire little. It was now beaten with poles until it glowed again as the high priest ended his invocations. And before I understood what he was doing, a little scream from one French lady startled me into realizing that, making no break or pause, with one of his swift motions he had stepped out and along the fire path. The glow of colors from below on his white dress and dark skin was worthy of Rembrandt. He trod on the fire firmly but quickly, and the other priest followed. The high priest walked nine times. He set each foot down firmly and only once appeared to feel the smallest discomfort: then he stepped somewhat to one side, by mistake, it seemed, and visibly winced, carrying it off by a series of affected steps, high in the air, as if it were all in his part. After the priest came the crowd—women carrying children, a man with a sick person on his back, boys of all ages. Each stepped over a wet mat, through a small pile of salt, on to the fire. The salt was ordinary coarse salt (we had it analyzed). At least six steps were necessary to cross the fire: some walkers took more; nearly all were fairly deliberate. One or two, I fancied, felt the heat uncomfortably, if not painfully, for on coming off the fire they wriggled their feet about in the pile of salt at the farther end, as if it cooled them.

"Most of them disregarded it altogether, often stepping across it without touching it. One child was afraid to walk and threw up its arms before its face, as it stood by the fire, as if to ward off the heat; it was finally persuaded to venture, and, stepping bravely on to the coals, apparently felt no discomfort. As pain would be a confession of impurity, of course there is a premium upon concealing it. But there was no concealment in the old woman who tucked up her kimono and trudged along the fire as prosaically as if she were going to market, planting one sturdy foot after another in the red charcoal.

"We left them still walking, men, women and children, as they chanced to leave the crowd, the high priest stepping forward now and again and tramping across with his spirited, quick, audacious tread, as if he defied the fire to harm him. We left them walking and set out to ride miles and miles to Szabu, an hour away, in kurumas. The stars were out after the rain and the city was very still. Behind the shogis we could see the lights of the lamps and the shadows of those within, but the streets were empty and dark. Now and then a guruma, gay with paper lanterns', passed, but few walked. It was a long, tedious ride, but the pleasant cosmopolitan high tea which awaited repaid us for all. At one hospitable table English, American, French, Swiss and Scotch guests sat down together, equally tired, equally hungry and equally grateful to their hostess for her bountiful supplies. We reached Yokohama at midnight; we had set out before nine that morning, but we had seen the new blossoms and a miracle. One day was not too long."

I have introduced the foregoing accounts of walking through fire, because fire is considered the most deadly foe to human life that is. These facts prove that any certain beliefs that destroy for a time man's fear of fire give him mastery over it, and are incontrovertible evidence of man's power to conquer death here in the world, and at the present time. I now pass on to still farther establish the truth of this assertion.

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Helen Wilmans

  • Born in 1831 and died in 1907
  • Studied under Emma Curtis Hopkins
  • Was a journalist and author
  • Was active in the Mental Science Movement
  • Was charged with postal fraud for healing through mail. Fighting this charged caused her lose most of her fortune.

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