Living Phosphorescence

alive everyday magic fire element heart summer Jun 19, 2024

Glow worms, ghost mushrooms, lantern sharks, bioluminescent algae, and my personal favorite, the humble firefly, enchant us with their light, which is only made possible by the surrounding dark.


But apparently all living beings glow a little. In a study published in 2009, five healthy, young Japanese men were placed in darkly sealed rooms for twenty-minute intervals every three hours for three days. A highly sensitive imaging system found that all the men glowed, in varying levels throughout the day. The authors of the study concluded that “the human body literally glimmers. The intensity of the light emitted by the body is 1,000 times lower than the sensitivity of our naked eyes.” 


The ancient Taoists believed that we glow because of the celestial matter that we are imbued with at the moment of conception. A sort of sowing of stardust. The European alchemists called this scintilla, the Kabbalists refer to it as ohr, and the Taoists know this seed of spirit as shen. Our shen is particularly visible as a certain radiance through our eyes, which is easy to spot in young ones. Shen is the physical manifestation, the tangible luminosity of our authentic nature. 


On this precipice of the summer solstice, I am reminded that given the right conditions, it is our innate tendency to shine. As the flowers turn positively anti-gravitational and the earth achieves her most intense stretch towards the sun, there is no escaping that we are intricately intertwined in the lifecycle of light. We eat the sunlight of plants and live in a solar system, our only orbit a path of worship oriented entirely around the sun. 


As we move deeper in the Fire Element/Heart energy season, themes of full unfurling are mixed with emotionally-intelligent discernment so that our hearts are able to use their deepest sense of knowing, responding well to each individual moment. This prevents the over-extending, boundary-leaking, or over-consuming that can sometimes happen when we are swept away by the natural enthusiasm of summer spell-making.


Here’s to honoring Fire as an archaic creative force, an elder deity, a grandfather of the entire universe. I feel Fire right there in the center of all creation as well as in the digestive center of my body, lighting my many small pilot fires, initiating my metabolism, moving my blood, sparking my neurons, squeezing life into my beating heart. The Fire element scatters qi, disperses, moves through quickly, and we know it in the fleeting blooms of crimson poppies, or the way a laugh suddenly clears stale air, or even in the flash of an orgasm, the joy of union, the expression of healthy fire being able to merge and then separate again.


Wishing you copious amounts of summer radiance intermingled with periods of cool rest and turning inwards. The Fire element promises to alchemize and awaken us through a deeper intimacy with life, while it is ever reliant on its relationship with the Water element and the dark, yin counterbalance it provides. I watch this dance of hot and cold, dark and light play out each evening as the fireflies emerge. When they really get going it is a rapid fire of pinpricked light, and soon I can’t detect the separation between insect bodies and the stars above. The fireflies are fresh flint and spark while the stars are the archaic winks of fossilized gods.


So glad to live on this radiant Earth with you,


excerpt from the Summer 2024 newsletter

If you would like to receive my monthly love letters, click here.